Over the weekend, I attended a retreat lead  by writer and mentor Alicia Britt Cole. The topic was soul-care. She poured out words like water, with the depth of a scholar and the touch of a poet. Her words fell like cool water on a parched day and alternately like a roaring flood pushing over things to reveal what lay beneath. By mid-afternoon, when she warned us to prepare for a difficult topic, a collective groan came from the gathered. We already felt flayed and raw from her searching and revealing words. Now, it was going to get difficult?!

I find that in order to assess the health and wholeness of my soul, I need to rely on practices I’ve gathered over time. It doesn’t just happen. So, occasionally I attend a conference, or read a book about the topic, but the most reliable way for me to measure the vitality and health of my soul requires that I slow down and listen. I must ask searching questions and really listen to my own honest answers. This weekend I gathered a handful of new questions.

– Do I believe that hidden means unimportant?
– Am I telling myself the truth?
– Have I given myself time to mourn?
– What is my address for contentment?
– Is this address worthy of my life?
– Have I formed an alliance with fear?
– Are my daydreams undisciplined?
– Am I investing in alternative realities?
– What am I trying to escape?
– Do I believe that can = should?
– Are you watering your life intentionally or accidentally?

These questions help me push beyond the surface of how I am feeling, to what is happening in my heart. Taking time to listen to what my soul has to teach me about my life, about my relationships, about my pace has been some of the most fruitful work of my life. I have found that underneath the unrest of my relationships lie hidden conflict and outdated beliefs. I’ve learned that in order to keep pace with my calendar, my soul has taken the shape of a fist. I’ve determined to adjust my external life so my internal self can find light and air.

I am still pondering what I heard this weekend. I have much to think about, adjustments to make, and soul work to do. My soul needs some attention, and I’ll bet yours does too. As a mom, I know how to bless and spoil my children. I know their hearts well enough to know how  a special gift or a gathering might brighten their day. I wonder if I recognize the same about my own soul. How might I be intentional about building soul filling things into my days, my weeks, and my years? I made a list of simple low-cost things to tend to and fill my soul. Things like bubble baths, herbal tea, long walks, and slow afternoons with a good book. I’m going to make time for some of these things this week. Will you?

Question: How do you tend to the health of your soul? What are your things? and how will you make time for them?

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