When one third of your small town’s volunteer fire fighters and first responders lose their lives in the heart-wrenching act of sacrificing themselves while saving the lives of so many others, or when one more (apparently irrational) world leader threatens to unleash nuclear weapons with rampant disregard for the worldwide consequences, or when faced with innocent 8-year-old victims of explosive violence, what is there to be said that can offer any comfort or hope of understanding? How can we find the strength to continue to “mourn with those who mourn” and manage our own fears?
This week has been filled with one tragedy after another. We’re all struggling under a weight of sadness that has grown as the week has progressed. I don’t have explanations for the many senseless and tragic things that are happening around us. I do know this, though, the best way for me to face these things is to make sure I’m tending my soul well.
Tending to one’s soul is not escapism. It’s not trying to run away and stick your head in the sand, hoping if you don’t see the awful circumstances, they will somehow just go away. Tending to one’s soul is not selfishly focusing on yourself without regard for the needs of those around you. Tending to one’s soul is nurturing and nourishing, things that build you up so that you’re more able to engage in the life around you in a meaningful and positive way. I will be of no use to anyone who needs my words of comfort in the middle of their grief if I haven’t invested in my own internal reserves. In the wee hours when our fears are most likely to rear their ugly heads, I will not have the strength of mind to face down my fears unless I have been spending time filling my heart with things that are beautiful and good.
For me, soul tending includes practicing my spiritual beliefs of prayer and meditation, but it includes many other things, too. Taking two minutes to relish the visual contrast represented by the brilliantly coloured male cardinal highlighted in the sun as he perches on the branches of the cedar tree behind my house helps nourish my soul’s desire for beauty. Taking a moment to look at the faces of my family in the pictures hung on my office wall helps nurture my soul’s desire for connection. There are as many ways to tend your soul as there are individuals. A friend of mine posted a picture this week of the margarita and chips and salsa she was enjoying that evening with some family and friends, specifically because of the week she was having. She may not use the term “soul tending,” but I think that’s exactly what she was doing.
There’s a longer conversation to be had about the value of tending our souls well and why that is foundational to everything else we do, and I’ll be writing more on that in the coming weeks. For today, though, let me encourage you to take a few moments this weekend to tend your soul. Whatever you find beautiful, those things that fill your heart with grace, the things you know to be authentic and true, spend some time filling your mind and heart with these.
I would love to hear how you tend your soul well, or if this idea is new to you, how you plan to begin tending your soul well.
Photo: musical photo man