Speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.
Our soul isn’t something we have. It’s what we are. Genesis tells us that man became a living soul.
“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life, and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)”
Soul is the life pulse within us, that which makes us alive. It’s the life principle with anything that is living, animal or vegetable. It’s the energy that drives us, the fire animating every atom of our bodies.
We sometimes speak of soul music because it moves us profoundly. I remember the first time I heard Beethoven’s fifth Piano Concerto. I was eleven and it transformed my very being.
The soul isn’t only a form of energy. It is the glue that holds us together, the principle of integration and individuation. It makes us one. Soul draws together the aggregate of chemicals and elements, physical and psychic that is our total being. Soul is responsible for uniting all the different aspects of our organism into a unity. “I am”.
This entity that I am is my body, is also my soul and gives life to me as a human person able to relate to other human persons.
At the second of death, all the chemicals will begin to go their own way. Once the body is no longer a living soul it will disintegrate and decompose into its different constituents. Once the soul has ceased to animate the body it’s no longer a body but a corpse.
To lose one’s soul is to become unglued, to fall apart and to cease to be.
Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul? Jesus is speaking metaphorically.
Now he isn’t talking about death as such but of all those negative elements that stop us from becoming the vibrant, energized, zestful and spiritual beings that God intended when we were created.
When cynicism, despair, bitterness, or depression, paralyse our energy and zest, part of the soul is hurting, even dying before the natural death of our bodies.
A healthy soul keeps us alive, and gives us a sense of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.
When we stand looking into the mirror confused and uncertain and asking ourselves if there is any sense in our lives it is this other part of the soul that is limping.
Our principle of integration and bodily togetherness is at risk. Danger of breakdown is a real possibility. I suffered a break down a few years ago and it radically altered everything.
In a certain way we can look at the soul as having two principles that are important for its health and well-being. There is the principle of chaos and the principle of order within. Health requires that we give each it’s due.
Too much chaos and we break up. Too much order and we die of suffocation.
A healthy spirituality will have to worship God at two shrines, the shrine of chaos and the shrine of order. One will keep us energized that other will keep us glued together.
Creative tension is very necessary for us to function as real human beings. Part of being human is that we experience contradiction is our lives. Faith in God as the source and end all of our lives, enables us to live with these contradictions.
Energy and integration, passion and chastity, are forever fighting each other and each having its own legitimate concerns for our health.
We are complex human beings.
Recently I came across a very inspirational insight by Angelus Silesius.
The pearl is the dew, within the shell’s own depth
Generated and born, by which we are clearly told
What you fail to believe: the dew’s the Holy Ghost,
The pearl of Jesus Christ, and my soul is the shell.
The pearl that is born within the shell is initially an irritant,
The oyster’s natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself. The mantle covers the irritant with layers of the same nacre substance that is used to create the shell. This eventually forms a pearl. So a pearl is a foreign substance covered with layers of nacre.
The very contradictions and irritants that would disintegrate the soul and destroy its life become the very means of forming the pearl that is the life of Jesus within us. That is when we take all the contradictions and chaos to God. It is one of the reasons why the Eucharist is so important. The Eucharist unites us with the source of life, the LOGOS through whom all things came to be.