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It is part of the human condition that truth is often at
odds with its larger counterpart, Truth. The great writers,
poets, painters and other artists have always known this:
Their work speaks not to our mind, but to our soul.
The language of the soul is not well-understood by modern
men and women. Stirring as it does within us at times,
provoked by an unfamiliar phrase, a passage in a novel, a
measure of music, the graceful curve in a piece of
sculpture, often we are frightened to be suddenly reminded
that our soul is there. An ancient relic, we tell ourselves,
or “a bit of pudding,” as Dickens would have Scrooge say to
Jacob Morley. In this world we find ourselves confined
within houses of brick and mortar. Our truth is the
collection of physical laws cementing our world together.
They are important laws, and we ignore them at our peril.
And yet … how often Truth, as seen by the soul, contradicts
the truth of our worldly existence! We read or hear a poem,
a song, we see a sunset. Something that speaks to our eyes
and mind, yet holds no great treasure. But the soul leaps
for joy! It has discovered a deeper truth expressed in a
language it alone understands. So frequently does this
happen that we have a name for the condition: Paradox.
During the next few days, tens of millions of men and women
around the world will craft their New Year’s resolutions.
They will promise to lose weight, get their finances in
order, find a new job, a new car, a new lover. They will
promise to manage their time better. To accomplish more.
Focus on the really important tasks.
Yet I wonder. … How many of these promises that so urgently
consume the new year before it even has begun, arise from
the deep longings of the soul? Our ideas, our promises to
ourselves and others, already they consume not only our
todays, but increasingly our tonights and our tomorrows.
There seems to be no room left at the inn for the soul in
the modern world. How many of these frantic resolutions in
which we wrap the New Year are born of even one tortured
dream or desire of our souls?
Jesus spoke often of the soul. Perhaps that is because, from
where He stood, straddling eternity, the landscape looked
rather different than it does to us. “And fear not them
which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul:”
warned the Master, “but rather fear him which is able to
destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28).”
Modern life, its demands, our busyness, the daily commute,
our jobs, our responsibilities, the promises we make to
ourselves and to others — how often do these slowly squeeze
the life from the soul? Death by a thousand commutes.
Cellular telephones and electronic mail to “stay in touch”
with others, when what we need is to get in touch with our
own soul. Find a bit of silence. Listen for a moment to that
“still small voice.” Could this be our soul’s desperate
attempt to break through the emotional and intellectual
baggage we’ve packed for the next millennium?
Our world — and all too often our souls — are dying. Yet
it is into this world that Jesus sent His followers, to be
salt and light. The Great Physician speaks gently to us. Our
souls leap with joy! “Go into a world that is dying, Tell
everyone the good news: I have overcome the world!”