Have you ever had a week in which, by the time the end of the week was approaching, you found yourself feeling…thin? When I am emotionally and spiritually thin, I am without focus or ambition to get much of anything accomplished. It is a feeling of emptiness that tells me that I need to shift my focus, to find some things that are going to provide me with energy and life, and to turn towards the ways that I practice relationship with God. It is in these times of thinness that I know that I need to fold into my schedule intentional time for rest but also intentional time for play. I am in a moment in which my soul is singing out asking me to replenish the stores so I am able to continue moving forward in my faith journey.
By the time we reach the fourth and fifth weeks of Lent, I think it is normal to find oneself feeling this kind of spiritual thinness. Not only have I taken on the spiritual practices of my choice for the Lenten season, but also I know that other things in life are going to come crashing in on the Lenten season. The spring is always a busy time of year. At some point, I will enter into the thinness of it all.
The experience of this Lenten season has not been any different for me. The demands of the season of spring have come bounding into my world just as we approach Holy Week, and as I experience the thinness of the current week, I am now faced with the question of how I am going to replenish my soul with the goodness and fullness of God’s grace. Here are a few of the ways that I replenish my soul and know the fullness of God’s love and grace.
As adults, we often forget that play is an important part of how we are replenished. Of course, play is different than when we were kids. A game of tag is not going to give us the same kind of joy it did when we were 8 or 9 years old. However, it might be that going to hike a trail with a friend, going to a local museum, or simply joining friends for socially distanced fellowship will do much for replenishing my soul. It might be that sitting in a park and watching nature or downloading a coloring app on my tablet while I sit on the patio at home is enough play for me to begin to feel replenished.
Alongside play is the act of rest. I absolutely have to have alone time – and lots of it. I know that after a busy couple of weeks I am going to need to spend some quiet time alone. I am going to need rest without the threat of hustle and bustle barging into the day. The time alone allows me to reflect (sometimes quite passively) and to spend time with God through the gifts of music or literature or quiet. When I am resting, I am doing a lot more than nothing – even if all I am doing is being still.
When I am feeling thin, I know that I must turn towards God in prayer. I need to hear God’s voice speaking to my heart so I am able to feel the goodness of God’s presence in my life and so I am able to listen to the invitations in front of me. To which of them will I say yes? Equally as important, to which of them will I say no? The time in prayer invites to listen deeply to what God is speaking into my life, and it is another moment in which fullness is felt. Prayer is a moment of reflecting and projecting. It is hearing God’s loving voice and naming the possibilities I would like to live into more fully. Prayer is a time for asking for healing for myself, for my friends, and for the world. Prayer is a time in which the healing balm of love is acutely felt.
When I am feeling a bit thin in my soul, I often turn to music to hear the beauty of the artist wash over me and to invite me deeper into myself through the melody of song. It is something I turn towards rather frequently, and the type of music to which I am listening spans the full range of genres – blues, jazz, rock, alternative, classical, bluegrass, pop – the types of music goes on and on. It is simply feeling the emotion of the singer/songwriter/composer through the music that invites me to see my own emotions and to name them in conversation with Christ. I turn towards the melodies of others when I am not able to make the melody myself, and through their talent, I receive the ability to sing a new song, to keep marching until the victory is won.
For me, one of the best things I can do when I am feeling emotionally thin is to get out into nature. Whether it is Papago Park or a trail out in the Superstitions or a trip down to the Catalinas, I am healed and rejuvenated when I immerse myself in the energy of nature. I am surrounded by the melodic tunes of nature – from the birds of the air to the creepy, crawlies of the ground. Being in nature invites me to remember that I am connected to the whole of the cosmos, and I am invited to love and to heal the whole of the cosmos by allowing God’s grace to flow through me. I receive from nature the reminder that we are all in this together, and my soul sings out loud for the whole of the cosmos to hear when I am able to marvel at the beauties of God’s creation.
While I have not been able to get to all of these this week, I have been able to get to enough of them to be reminded of the fullness of grace upon grace which I receive through Christ Jesus. My soul is renewed, and my cup runs over with the blessing of relationship through which I know and experience the love of God, Father, Son, and Spirit.
What are those things that renew your soul? How will you practice one of them this week?