We use the word “soul” a lot, don’t we? “You are my soul-mate” … “That involved some soul-searching” … “She’s a bit of a lost soul, isn’t she?” … “You really bared your soul, didn’t you?” We have a whole genre of music called “soul music.” Maybe you watched the TV show “Soul Train” as a kid. And we have all heard (and maybe used) the phrase, “God rest her soul.” Yes, the word “soul” is open for business, and raking in the royalties.
But when our church member, Sylvia Lashley, sent me the picture that leads this devotion (thank you Sylvia!), I sat up and took notice. She bought a box of tea bags recently, each of which has a unique message on its label. This tag was Saturday’s label, evidently. The phrase is intriguing, as I tried to sort out what it meant. “The voice of your soul is breath.” Does it mean that those deepest yearnings of our heart and souls, are as easily accessed as a few deep breaths? Does it mean that the core rhythms of our life are found in the repetitive patterns of a bodily function as ordinary as breathing? Does it mean that even the deepest passions of our heart and soul dry up and dissipate with the wind without our actually voicing them to someone outside of our own inner soul? I’m not sure I know. The phrase gives me pause.
But I do believe that at the very least, the phrase “The Voice of Your Soul is Breath” reminds us that we are never far removed from the voice of God that is found within our very souls. That the rhythm of breathing is a reminder that our souls are not some deep well within us that needs arcane and esoteric practices to be accessed. But that the yearnings of your soul are as close to you as is the simple reality of breathing in and out. Maybe that is why yoga masters and spiritual directors often focus on the call to breath deeply and well, when you are trying to center your thoughts.
So, this week you have permission to put aside your normal way of praying, and your typical approaches adopted for the purpose of bringing you into God’s presence. Just sit and take some deep breaths … just walk and allow the normal biological rhythms of your body to guide you into breathing that just might be for you the “breath of life” … simply allow the natural biological processes of your body to lead you into God’s presence through an internal rhythm that may also serve you as a spiritual devotion. And if you get the chance, thank Sylvia for this extremely provocative prompt for a weekly devotion.