Tuesday 25 March 2014

The Soul of a Place

I have just finished a book that I was given for Christmas titled 'In Search of My Father' by Dr Helena Popovic. It is her own account of her search for her father beyond the man of grief, despair, depression and dementia. It is an insightful and moving story that eventually leads them to travel back to her father's homeland, Serbia.

I found the last few pages of the book very thought provoking. A Serbian woman recalls a friend's reaction to Australia. 
'They said Australia didn't have a soul. They said everything looked good but somehow something was missing. A sense of hollowness was in everything - even their fruit and vegetables. They were blemish-free and picture-perfect but they'd lost their flavour. People could buy anything they wanted, but it didn't feel like enough. That's what my friends said, anyway. If you love living there, you must have discovered the soul of the place. Everything and everyone has a soul, if you dig deep enough.'

Does Australia have a soul? Can any place have a soul? How can we even measure such things? I have certainly felt drawn to places throughout my life that seem to speak to me in deep ways beyond my understanding. People have certainly told me about places that have a spirit of their own or are very sacred. Is this evidence of the soul of a place?

We talk quite openly about 'soul mates'; those people in our lives who seem to connect with us on another level and with another language. This language that has no words and cannot be translated is how our soul connects with the soul of another. It is our way of saying we have a deep connection. Could it not be that our soul somehow connects with the soul of a place in the same significant way? I know for myself there are certain places where I just feel at home; comfortable to be at one with a place. I also can understand the sentiments of the Serbian woman's friend. 
Z Bend in Kalbarri, Western Australia

Maybe it is not about a place being soulless, but simply that our soul does not connect in the same way in that space. For me one of the places where my soul connects is the Z bend in Kalbarri. It is a place of great beauty, but more than this, it is a place of connection for me. The rest of the world call fall away while I am sitting there and all would be well. It is a place of inner peace and deep knowing. I don't know why or how or what it is that causes this connection. In some ways, I don't want to know. It is the mystery of the beauty of the connection that makes it so wonderful.

Thursday 6 March 2014

The Temptation of an Every Day Minister

Then she was led by the Spirit into the wilderness of another week to be tempted by those inner voices. After toiling for at least forty hours, she was left hungry. Her ego spoke and said, "If you are a successful minister, fill your pews with people and make your church financially secure."
In the silent stillness a whisper replied, "Be still and know that I am God."

Then the minister was led to the church office where playgroup was in full swing, the phone was ringing and the emails just kept coming. "If you are an effective minister, throw yourself completely into your work."
In a deep breath and a sigh a memory arises, "Love your neighbour AS YOURSELF."

Again she was taken to a high place and shown all the members of her congregation. "All of these people will like you if you give them what they want and preach what they want to hear."
But the question lingered, "What does God require of you?" 
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Those annoying inner voices retreated for a time, waiting for a moment of weakness to strike again.