Another Adventure In Faith
“Finding” might not be the best word to underscore the main point of this, the closing conservation on the book, Care Of The Soul. The better description of the invitation is “Come realize soul in the midst of all your waking moments and dreams.” However, exactly one month later, my exploration with Thomas Moore‘s Care of the Soul, a New York #1 Bestseller, has come to an end. Yet, it is really a beginning, one in which my first conscious step was taken over 15 years ago. This book came to my attention as I was finding my way through some challenging experiences. Childhood sexual and parental abuse, domestic violence and a mind heavily burdened with society’s criticisms were among them. As the gospel singer Marvin Sapp belts outs in his very popular song, “Never Would Have Made It,” I truly was going through.
Although I have read this book at least twice or thrice before, this time was special. I knew it would be but why was unclear. Reaching Chapter 11, it clicked.
Whether you are religious, spiritual or atheist, Care of the Soul is for you. In the introductory post, this book was described as a “wonderful blend of psychological, spirituality and mythology.” Moore himself was a monk. Finding himself not fully connected to that experience, he turned to music and psychotherapy.
Finding The Connection
To some extent, my connection with what is Real was lost. Growing up, my mother would pack me off to Sunday School. She never attended church with me, not once that I can recall. That was the first disconnect between my home and religious life. The daily abuse and parental neglect was the other. Many broken links between home, society’s norms and my lived experiences would arise over the years. My religion faded and church attendance was no longer making sense. By the time my grasp became so tenuous, I stumbled along until finding a path that led me to a sanctuary where Care of The Soul was waiting to greet me.
My stay in that specific sanctuary would come to an end with migration to Canada. Months before that, however, I was finding something missing. It was as Moore describes. My quest for spirituality had intensified but I had come to the point where re-imagining was needed.
Chapter 11 of this book holds that the key: Wedding Spirituality and Soul. As in any ‘marriage’, the one between spirituality (religiosity) and soul is as challenging as it is sweet.
In our spirituality, we reach for consciousness, awareness, and the highest values. [In] our soulfulness, we endure the most pleasurable and the most exhausting of human experiences and emotions. These two directions make up the fundamental pulse of human life, and to that extent they have an attraction to each other.” Thomas Moore
“Wedding Spirituality And Soul”
Even at the darkest points of my journey, a measure of faith has always been with me. The wedding was the challenge. That was the ‘reveal’ of this latest reading of Care of the Soul – the marriage of my spirituality and my soul. Back then, the doors to teachings that matched my innermost thoughts and ones that clarified my expression of faith in the world were found. Yet, spirituality and soul had only the occasional hook up. Finding that everlasting connection was illusive.
The attraction was clear. That was never in question. There were times when I, like most of you reading this, was convinced soul and spirituality (religion) were conjoined twins. Sitting on the train this week reading, ever so quietly yet deeply stirring, it struck me – no they are not. And that is the connection that was missing.
As much as my spiritual life has deepened since 2002, it never dawned on me that it lacked soul.
What follows are quotes from the book that made the link for me. As well, I will point to possible caring measures, not cure that you and I might consider. These are in pink. My hope in sharing is that they will do the same for at least one of you. Note, “spirituality” and “religion” are used in this context interchangeably.
Look Within For All You Seek
- “Often, when spirituality loses its soul it takes on the shadow-form of fundamentalism.” Moore uses the word fundamentalism not in reference to any group or sect. He is referring to “a point of view that can seize any of us about anything.” Our intellect wants “a summary of meaning,” a fundamental ‘fact’ to hold onto. “But the soul craves depth of reflection, many layer of meaning, nuances without end…food for rumination.”
- “…Another way to be spiritual and soulful at the same time is to ‘hear’ the words of formal religion as speaking to and about the soul.” Moore points to Carl Jung’s exploration of the symbolism of many religious and spiritual institutions and paths. This approach he fears may “psychologize religion and reduce rituals and dogmas to psychological matters.” Instead, he suggests that we look to them as an“inexhaustible source for reflection.” Not words or rituals handed down from a place we call heaven and certainly not separated from our lived experiences.
- “The intellect often demands proof that it is on solid ground.” Soul, however, “likes persuasion, subtle analysis, an inner logic, and elegance.” How do we connect and weave soul into our spiritual life? “We are not going to have a soulful spirituality until we begin to think in the way of soul.” Moore states that the bias today is towards spirit. “A soul-oriented spirituality” requires full incorporation of soul qualities: subtlety, complexity, ripening, incompleteness, ambiguity, wonder.”
Much more could be written and listed but I will stop there.
The Divine Union
Again, you are invited to get a copy of this book through my Amazon link. Our world today might seem upside down from one perspective. Yet, the time could not be anymore right for this great “wedding.” When considered soulfully, these uncertain times have a constructive role to play. Some have given up on faith. Others never expressed any from the get go. There are those whose faith is faltering. Still others who are simply allowing the uncertainty to unfold.
What is common among them, although some would not admit it, they only want the “good life and times.” Moore writes that when we live only the positive side of faith we “create suspicion of others and of the changes life brings.” He says that we tend to “keep faith in a bubble of belief.” In that way, we do not see it as having “direct relevance in day-to-day living.”
The Soul Path
So many are cocooned in their fundamental belief of a second coming as preached. The writing is on the walls, they say. Others are on mountaintops deep in meditation, completely oblivious to the world around them. While they are at that, another group is hell-bent on satisfying their materialistic desires and need for power and control. Military power and might is the only solution. Then there are those searching, trying to make the connection between what is seen and not seen.
The soul path is how Moore names it and it is the one worth considering. I am diving in. It is wanting to feel existence. “Not to overcome life’s struggles and anxieties, but to know life first hand, to exist full in context.”
Giving the closing words to Moore and you are invited to consider the marriage – whatever your path.
Spiritual life does not truly advance by being separated either from the soul or from its intimacy with life… . Our depressions, jealousies, narcissism, and failures are not at odds with the spiritual life. Indeed, they are essential to it. When tended, they prevent the spirit from zooming off into the ozone of perfectionism and spiritual pride. More important, they provide their own seed of spiritual sensibility. The ultimate marriage of spirit and soul…is the wedding of heaven and earth…our highest ideals and ambitions united with our lowliest symptoms and complaints. Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul