Nurturing the soul

What if we lived in a world where music and art and things of beauty were considered devilish? What if we were in a world where to be known by your mother’s name (instead of your father’s) was considered obscene? What if we lived in a world where women were considered tools of the devil?

Unfortunately that’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. I got to thinking about this after reading a book titled Zeina, written by an Egyptian woman. (You can read more about my reaction to that book and the other one I’m suggesting for March here.)

When I listen to some of our current political “discourse”–especially as it relates to the issues of women’s contraception and the right of women to have say in decisions affecting their bodies–it feels like we live in a world where women (and women’s bodies) are considered devilish in some way.

I watch as cuts are made to school budgets–not to the programs that take the most money, but to those things that nurture our souls. Sports seem to be sacrosanct; their programs are the last things to feel the budget ax. Yet music and arts are seen as frills…luxuries…not something we really need to worry about.

But we do.

If we ignore the things that nurture our souls, we do so at our peril. We don’t have to all like the same kind of music and art; we need the variety of expressions that reflect the diversity of humanity. But we desperately need those things that remind us of beauty. Yes, they will challenge us…yes, there will be some versions that we do not like. But even those help nurture our souls, help us articulate what it means to be human.

In my faith tradition, we are told that we are created in God’s image. I realize that can be interpreted many ways–but what seems to me to be an important interpretation is that God is a creating God…and if indeed that is true, then we are also creating individuals. To ignore that is to remove from ourselves a significant part of our relationship with our Creator.

My faith story of creation also has this statement: “God saw all that God had created–and it was good!”  That includes those parts of creation that had “practical” uses–and also those things that (as far as we can tell) were simply created because they nurtured God.

We need those things that nurture our souls in order to truly be the creation God intended (and intends). A colorless world is not the creation I read about–nor is it the world I want to live in.

We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass –grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…we need silence to be able to touch souls….Mother Teresa.

We lose our souls if we lose the experience of the forest, the butterflies, the song of the birds, if we can’t see the stars at night.–Thomas Berry

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.–Oliver Wendell Holmes