The Devastating Beauty of This Life

Tradition teaches that Soul lies midway between understanding and unconsciousness. It is that earthy, complex and often mysterious realm of essence. Thomas Moore in his book, Care of the Soul, writes, "Care of the soul is not a project of self-improvement nor a way of being released from the troubles and pains of human existence."

The path of the soul takes us to the brink of precipices and sometimes over them...

This Life

Like you, I go on living as though this life
is not utterly horrific and utterly exquisite.

As though this life does not bring you to your knees
again and again,

Does not give you wings to soar over the canyons with ecstasy.

I, for once,
want to run to the village square
tear my clothes in fury
shake my fists to the heavens
and roar with rage
foaming at the mouth.

I want to fall on my knees in gratitude
let the rain of Grace fall upon me
turn my tear-washed face
towards the sky,

And sing the devastating beauty of
this life.

Mary Papacostaki in, Sister'sSinging


The Tiniest Generosity


You are assigned to be a beautiful, good, kind, awakened, soulful person, a true work of art as they say, a true human being. In a world filled with so much darkness, such a soul shines like gold; it can be seen from a far distance; it is dramatically different.

Anything you do from the soulful self will help lighten the burdens of the world. Anything. You have no idea what the smallest word, the tiniest generosity can cause to be set in motion. Be outrageous in forgiving. Be dramatic in reconciling. Be off the charts in kindness. In whatever you are called to, strive to be devoted to it in all aspects large and small.

Be brave, be fierce, be visionary. Mend the parts of the world that are "within your reach." To strive to live this way is the most dramatic gift you can ever give to the world.

"At this moment you can choose kindness or cruelty, love or fear, generosity or scarsity, joy or bitterness." Rabbi Rami Shapiro, the Sacred Art of Lovingkindness


O All-Nourishing Holy Abyss

From the National Catholic Reporter:

Inside this visible world is another hidden world, the subatomic world. The term used to describe what happens inside this subatomic world is quantum vacuum. Amazingly, 90 percent of each atom is empty space, a vacuum. And the electrons and particles inside each atom appear to be whirling around as they come forth from “nothingness,” only to again disappear back into it.

Brian Swimme, a mathematical cosmologist, explains this action as “elementary particles crop up out of the vacuum itself — that is simply an awesome discovery…that the base of the universe seethes with creativity.” He continues, “I use ‘all-nourishing abyss’ as a way of pointing to this mystery that is the base of being.” Has Brian Swimme’s “all-nourishing abyss” given to us a new wonder-soaked name for the Divine Mystery we so casually call God?

Hidden within everything
is a second energetic cosmos,
all-nourishing wonder
at the heart of all life.

(From A Book of Wonders by Ed Hays)


Better Than Before

One night four Rabbinim were visited by an angel who awakened them and carried them to the Seventh Vault of the Seventh Heaven. There they beheld the sacred Wheel of Ezekiel. Somewhere in the decent from Paradise to Earth, one Rabbi, having seen such splendor, lost his mind and wandered frothing and foaming until the end of his days. The second Rabbi was extremely cynical: "Oh I just dreamed Ezekiel's Wheel, that was all. Nothing really happened." The third Rabbi carried on and on about about what he had seen, for he was totally obsessed. He lectured and would not stop with how it was all constructed and what it all meant... and in this way he went astray and betrayed his faith. The fourth Rabbi, who was a poet, took a paper in hand and a reed and sat near the window writing song after song praising the evening dove, his daughter in her cradle, and all the stars in the sky. And he lived his life better than before.
Jewish Folktale

Who saw what in the Seventh Vault of the Seventh Heaven? I don't know. But I do know that "contact with the world wherein the Essences reside" causes me to know something beyond my usual hearing, and fills me with a feeling of expansion and grandeur. Carl Jung talks about "the moral obligation"... the idea that we must live out and express what we learn in our decent to soul or ascent to spirit. What do I do with the gift of being breathed upon or touched by, "The One Who Knows"? What is my moral obligation? Maybe its fairly simple. Maybe my work is to show it, give it out, sing it out and live out my life like the fourth Rabbi... better than before.


A Place of Divine Revelation

I just got back from 5 days in Utah. I've been going to the desert in late spring for almost a decade. There is just something about it's call that I can never seem to resist. The ancients called the desert the place of divine revelation. It's that, but it's more than that. Life is very condensed in the desert. The roots of living things hold on to that last drop of water and the flower hoards its moisture by only appearing in the early morning and late afternoon. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, "Life in the desert is small but brilliant". The desert is not lush like a forest or jungle. It is sparse, dry, wind blown and sun-drenched. It is intense and mysterious and most of what occurs goes on underground. I need periods of living a desert life: times of being small on the surface, but wild and intense underground. And I have to admit, wonderful things can come from that sort of psychic distribution. In the desert I am drawn to all in life that sustains me, I am drawn to the underground; that mysterious, lush and wild place of the soul. It is what happens there that makes the spectacle of the flower possible.


Awaken the Sleeping Spirits

The real work of this life is not what we do from 9 to 5. The real work is to allow ourselves to be who we already are and have what we already have. The real work is to be passionate, be holy, be wild, be irreverent. To laugh and cry until you awaken the sleeping spirits, until the ground of your being leaves and the universe comes flooding in.

-Geneen Roth


Anima Mundi

The breath, the life, the spirit, the soul of the world... anima mundi.
There are those who believe the world is a living spiritual being.
This was understood by the ancient philosophers and the alchemists who referred to the spiritual essence of the world as the anima mundi, the “Soul of the World.” They regarded the World Soul as a "pure ethereal spirit diffused throughout all nature, the divine essence that embraces and energizes all life in the universe."

Plato believed this. "This world is a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities." Many of the artists during the Reanissance believed this. They created as if nature was "permeated with life, divinity and numinous mystery." (I like how that sounds!) Carl Jung believed this. It is his thinking that there is a divine light that exists in the very depths of our psyches. My friend Jenny believes this. In her latest blog she writes, "everything is holy". Right on, Jenny! You're in good company.


The Soul's Quiet Voice

We hear the word soul in song lyrics and read about it in books and poems--it has been analyzed and scrutinized by songwriters, poets and researchers throughout history. Though soul may seem mysterious, it is hardly inaccessible. It is with us all the time, quietly waiting to be discovered. The soul is not only ephemeral but fundamentally ordinary and familiar. It is available to us at all times and exists in all things. Soul speaks to us through iamgery, imagination and intuition. It is our task to be awake to its calling.

"There is a great spectacle, and that is the sea.
There is a greater spectacle than the sea, and that is the sky.
There is yet a greater spectacle than the sky, and that is the interior of the soul."
-Victor Hugo