Can we talk about soul? Not about religion or pulpit pounding or efforts by charismatics to snare doubtful explorers for their own ends. Instead, it’s about that which wants to rise up to sniff sweet air – to help us remember that we are alive. Maybe it’s a nudge that comes in quiet moments, that helps us cradle ourselves through dings and dents. A caress, a subtle re-direct, and soft churning within me. For now, might I let that be what we mean when we say soul?
I met this kind of soul yesterday. It came up as I threw things away, stacks of stuff tagged with notes like – Urgent, Please respond, Could you please call me – I had this urge to get underneath the scraps and requests to find more space or maybe a hyphen between tasks completed and others anticipated.
Meanwhile, at the far end of my school’s front office, I could see a kindergarten boy hopping and flopping on a little wooden chair like water on a hot skillet. He had been sent from the classroom where he had been screaming and running over desk tops. My helper told him that he would be going home and that’s when the hopping began. He shouted out that he did not want to go home, and did not stop shouting until a driver from social services came to the door to take him.
In the midst of this sequence, I felt my something nudging me to notice. But notice what? It was an impulse directing me to lift my chin. Was I supposed to hear silence after the little boy left? My own heartbeat. I did hear my own thoughts speak to me in an almost wordless way, just underlining three words: “You are alive.” So, I hung onto the silence for a bit longer. No action required other than to hold still. And what a sweet and private exchange within me – one that I did not ruin it by jumping right back into typing or picking up the phone.
How often do I get pause as I did? I know that because of the demands of my job, I tend to work flat out many days in succession. These days start before sunrise and end when I crawl underthe covers late at night. But once in a while, the midst of paperwork and ringing phones a moment like this one does slip in. I shift to find that I am not the notes on my calendar. My soul, at these times, has a direct shot, an unobstructed path connects me by way of a quiet pathway and and brings me into the here and now.
I feel unity in these moments, even with shouting kindergartners. I let myself go there because it’s the place where even in our most profound isolation, we come together. Next step, for me as a leader, and for the kindergarten boy shouting his way out the school’s front door is to respect the rules about how souls speak, let them work their magic, and leave all of the talking and explaining to another day.