Balance and Flexibility
The person who distributes the goods of the monastery should not be prone to greed, nor be wasteful and extravagant with the goods of the monastery, but should do everything with moderation and according to the abbot’s instructions.
-Rule of St. Benedict, Ch.31:12
We feed our minds. Again, we don’t want to assume everyone is nourishing their mind, but it does seem we feed it with…something. A lot of something according to phone, computer, Netflix, and Hulu usage. But hey, a lot of people go to college, feed their minds, and earn degrees too, from what I’ve read. We’re definitely feeding.
But our soul. Our soul is the core and the essence of who we really are. And our souls are living. Therefore, like all living things, our souls can thrive or they can diminish and shrivel. They form the very foundation of who we are, the deepest level of life and power in the human being. As Dallas Willard puts it, our soul is like the silent, invisible yet necessary central processing unit of our person. Our soul, and thus our soul’s health, is the driving force behind everything that matters to us.
So why the neglect of something so important? Maybe we don’t know what makes a soul healthy. Well, it’s not related to external circumstances, that’s for sure. Quite simply, the soul is healthy to the extent that it maintains a strong connection and receptivity to God. To nourish our soul, we must feed on God. For me personally, nothing nourishes my soul more or allows me to feed more directly on God than intentional times of listening prayer. Sitting in the presence of God, soaking it in, and just listening to Him for anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours. Also, I have found lectio divina and the examen to be extremely effective for nourishing my soul by feeding on God.
Often, symptoms of soul neglect include self-absorption, shame, apathy, toxic anger, physical fatigue, isolation, stronger temptation to sin, drivenness, feelings of desperation, panic, insecurity, callousness, a judgmental attitude, cynicism, and lack of desire for God.
Some symptoms of soul health would be love, joy, compassion, giving and receiving grace, generosity of spirit, peace, ability to trust, discernment, humility, creativity, vision, balance, and focus.
So there’s the balance of feeding our whole selves in order to be a whole person. Then there’s the flexibility with ourselves, others, and our circumstances required for living simply. I heard years ago that the average person is interrupted 72 times a day. So the way I see it, you have two choices: Be flexible, or be a grumpy, impatient jackass.
“How we do what we do is as important as what we do. There’s two extremes–sloppiness on one end, and perfectionism on the other. Perfectionists are never–or rarely–satisfied. Benedict says gifts are to be used, but only if they do not become a source of pride. Living simply means performing a task to the best of our abilities without letting it absorb us.” -Jane Tomaine
Living balanced and flexible lives brings a grace to us and those around us, as well as a unity that is felt because of the wholeness that it fosters.
**These numbers come from the CDC. According to their statistics, 68.5% of people in the U.S. are overweight and obese. 34.9% are obese.
The two paragraphs on the symptoms of soul neglect and soul health I took from Mindy Caliguire’s little book Discovering Soul Care.
In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria