Keeping your soul alive
by Nancy Russell Catan

The other day I came across a little book “100 Ways to Keep Your Soul Alive” by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. As we had been discussing how God speaks to our soul in one of my discussion groups, I opened this book and began to read.

Our soul is the way God connects with our inner self, in the depth of our being, even deeper than our heart. If our soul becomes lazy or neglected, sooner or later our heart is contaminated. Result? Our emotions, character, physical health and relationships with others become distressed.

What interested me in this little book was that it was not so much about spiritual practices as it was about the practical ways to overcome our weaknesses and at the same time, build and strengthen our persona, our character. I thought “how appropriate especially during my birthday month.”

So I would like to share with all of you some of these ways in my columns this month. Many of these I have done and/or are still practicing. Others inspire me to search out hidden horizons in myself.

Unwrap the Ordinary. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every little thing, in every crumb. Spend a few hours on a treasure hunt for the beauty and holiness in your experiences of the past week.

Watch for Diamonds. Life itself is hazardous. There are sharp rocks everywhere. What changes through years of practice is coming to know something you didn’t know before: that the sharp rocks are merely covering up the diamonds. Reflect upon an event in your life which at first seemed unpleasant but turned out to be a blessing.

Create a Place for Silence. When we make a place for silence, we make room for ourselves. This is simple, and at the same time, radical. A room set apart for silence becomes a sanctuary, a place to breathe, a place for refreshment, for challenge, and for healing. This is especially needed in today’s chaotic and often confusing world. Decide what you need to do to transform a space in your home, even just a chair in your favorite corner, or under a tree in the backyard, into a place for silence. I am sure that even just 10 or 15 minutes a day in your silent place will make a difference in your day, in your life as it has in mine.

Avoid Labeling. Labeling sets up an expectation of life that is often so compelling we can no longer see things as they really are. This expectation often gives us a false sense of familiarity toward something that is really new and unprecedented. We are in relationship with our expectations and not with life itself. The authors suggest that for one day we consciously give up labeling everything, and accept others, people and events and things, for what they are, not for what we want or expect them to be.

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