We can grasp the soul more directly through the senses than by means of the mind. Mystics like Mechthild of Magdeburg and Hildegard of Bingen often use poetry to describe the soul and its relation to God, and that poetry is often sensuous in its imagery and allusions. Speaking to the soul, she said, ‘You taste like a grape.’ The soul is indeed like a grape, just as a grape is like the soul. Each has an envelope, a skin that holds it together and gives it form, while inside is a mouth-watering, tingling, sweet softness. We might see every particular of life as an envelope of the soul, and each thing and event has its interior. The grape, like the soul, has many levels. It can be eaten whole and is often used as a symbol of sensuousness- grapes dropped indulgently into an open mouth. Its juice is nectar, but when it is allowed to ferment, it becomes the source of deeper pleasure. The grape, like the soul, has a whole culture around it, as well as art and religious imagery inspired by it. Jesus says, ‘I am the vine,’ and wine becomes the centerpiece of his eucharist. Elsewhere as in the Jewish Purim and Greek libations, it calls forth the religious spirit. When we eat a juicy grape or take a sip of wine, we are, as the Catholic Mass exemplifies, taking in a God. This is real mysticism: not a flight from ordinary existence, not a purely intellectual attempt at transcendence, but the discovery of the awful interior of the world and the self within the simple sphere of the grape, the world of miniature, the microcosm explored appropriately and effectively with the tongue……Thomas Moore
growth isn’t the smooth and sweet essence of a tea party with hints of jasmine and fresh and colorful flowers illuminating the soft, whispered, healing attention of a good friend….rather, it comes from the real deal…..soul growth is edgy, undefined, and hinted at in challenging conversation and the sheer struggle to find those tea-cup moments….suddenly we know soul, we found it right there with us…..beauty in a chipped cup…..
When we choose to let go of self-judgment, we create greater access to the wisdom of the body. We experience a new comfort and a greater love for ourselves and others. A new vision dawns, and we become more capable of experiencing our soul’s birthright. It is in the domain of soul that we have the most perspective, intelligence, and love. In this nonjudgmental place, we can bring forward new paradigms and visions. The soul is where self-judgment is transformed into self-compassion, where the self-inflicted wounds can heal. To me, being in one’s body is an essential component of soulfulness. We have entered a time that is beginning to accept what William Blake said long ago: ‘Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that called Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul.’ Soul is where the fires of our passions burn. It is where our love is most alive. The soul longs for this deeper love, for a connection between form and formlessness, for continuum between the earth and the divine. I do not believe that any technique, secret knowledge, or mystical practice to ‘find’ soul is more effective than the simple practice of letting go. Remember that soul is not a destination but a journey. The journey of the soul sends us through burning stars, out beyond the dark, icy planets. This journey takes us through the knowing and the unknowing, the discovery and the recovery, the letting go. And best of all, the journey always returns us to our true selves……..Benjamin Shield
In the dream, I was working hard to finish a bridge to cross some river whose current was strong. It seemed important to get where I was going, though I couldn’t put where I was going into words. Just as I finished the arc of the bridge, an elephant appeared in the water. It was stepping down the middle of the stream. When it was squarely beneath my unfinished bridge, it stopped to douse itself with water. Then it stared at me. All at once, the sheen of water on its back made me question why I was building a bridge in the first place. It made me question if what I was crossing really needed to be entered. It made me wonder: If I were to enter the stream rather than cross it, would I have a different sense of where I was going? In the days since the dream, the image of the elephant under the unfinished bridge has made me consider obstacles differently. Now when I stumble before things I don’t understand, I try to remember the elephant dousing itself in the middle of what I thought I had to cross and ask myself: Is the thing in the way something I need to cross or enter? If it’s a difficulty involving love or fear, where will I be led by crossing it? Where will I be led by entering it? At each turn, I find myself needing to know: What must I face and what must I bridge? And when are facing and bridging deeply the same?…..Mark Nepo