Keeping your soul alive II
by Nancy Russell Catan

Last week I began sharing with you some practices to help you improve your ‘Self’ based on the little book “100 Ways To Keep Your Soul Alive”.

Sometimes before we can act, however, we need to clarify our beliefs. Asking and living with questions is, in itself, a kind of practice. Keeping your soul alive involves questioning, improving and encouraging yourself to be creative, to be resourceful, and to be courageous in embracing your memories and welcoming your future.

Inspire Yourself. So many people don’t know how to inspire themselves. Use everything that moves you: music, walking by water, flowers, photographs of special memories, the sun’s first rays in the early morning. Inspiration helps so deeply in overcoming laziness or depression, summoning what the mystics call the fragrance of the Beloved into everything. What inspires you? Make a list of sources of inspiration for you, and set aside time to use, to enjoy, to savor at least one every week beginning with this week.

Have a Hobby or Craft. The purpose of the craft is not so much to make beautiful things as it is to become beautiful inside while you are making those things. Baking a special recipe, nourishing a favorite flowering bush near your doorstep, building toys for your children, strumming your guitar … when you are engaged in your favorite hobby or craft, tap into the positive feelings you have about yourself. Don’t you feel good?

Expand Your Vision of ‘We’. How big is your ‘we’? Can we expand our vision of community beyond our own skin, family, barangay, culture, country, and species? Life is more than what we believe, it also includes how we relate. Who is included in the ‘we’ and who is not? That is both a spiritual and a political question. How we answer it will likely determine our future. Get to know your neighbors and other community members, expand your friendships.

Accept Imperfection. Native American cultures have a deep respect for the acceptance of our human imperfection. When weaving a rug, they will purposely include a flaw. This serves as a reminder that, while all that is humanly made is imperfect, it yet can reflect the beauty, reverence, care, and love of true creation. The authors Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat remind us to make peace with our imperfections, one at a time. We will surely be happier as we accept that we are not made to be perfect, but that we are perfect in our imperfections.

Practice Hospitality. Hospitality is not kindness. It is openness to the unknown, trust of what frightens us, the expenditure of self on the unfamiliar, the merging of unlikes. Hospitality binds the world together. Ask yourself: How can you welcome the unknown? Where do you meet the Unknown, the Other, in your daily experience?

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