Tag Archives: Beauty

Soul Care 101

I’m currently immersed in a favorite topic of mine, Soul Care, as I prepare for another women’s event. About 15 years ago, I learned the stunning fact that my soul required care. Before that, I never thought about it and I’m a pastor. In seminary there was talk about Self Care. This was about taking some time for oneself for exercise, play, family time, study and quiet. We learned about balancing our days–not working morning, noon and night, for example. We touched on the Sabbath but not as much as you would think.

No, I learned about Soul Care the hard way through a series of Wake Up Calls that illustrated very vividly that my Soul was weak, sickly, pale, dehydrated and running breathlessly behind me asking if we might sit a while and take a breath. My Soul spoke so softly and breathlessly that she was very easy to ignore. After all, I had three children, a big job, a calling, a ministry I was passionate about and lots of people demanding my attention. I ran on fumes and it is a tribute to God that I ever managed to do anything spiritual at all in that state.

As I re-read favorite authors on the topic of Soul Care and remind myself again of what was so transforming, I thought I’d share some Soul Care tips in case you or someone you love is in need of a refresher course.

Plato and Socrates spoke of the Greek concept of therapeia of the soul which means either care or service. Socrates says it is like the care you’d give a horse on a farm: you feed it, brush it down, exercise it, give it water and clean its stall. Thomas Moore writes this is the model for Soul Care.  Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Every Day Life 

I’ve never had a horse but I have cared for children and dogs and I’m thinking it is the same. The idea is that our souls are living, fragile and in need of our attention.

What is it that your soul needs to thrive?

Your soul needs space. Space to breathe, to rest, to pay attention to unseen things.

Your soul needs solitude. It does not matter if you are an extrovert and get your energy from people. Your soul is not. She needs alone time.

Your soul needs to inhabit your body. That means your body needs to be rested, hydrated, fed, exercised and open. Emily Dickinson said the soul needs to stand ajar, ready to receive inspirations.

Your soul needs people. A soul needs to be connected to a family and a community. Thomas Moore writes, The soul prospers in an environment that is concrete, particular and vernacular….nothing is more suitable for care of the soul than family because the experience of family includes so much of the particulars of life. 

Your soul needs beauty. Sunrises, sunsets, nature’s vividness, art, music, creativity. When you see or feel beauty your soul is fed.

Your soul needs alignment. My yoga teacher speaks about alignment often. She tells us to adjust our alignment many times in each class. Your soul needs to align with God. This, to me, is what prayer is: aligning our will and thoughts with God’s will and thoughts. My soul is capable of getting off track. She needs to adjust her alignment often.

Your soul needs laughter and play. The soul has a child’s heart. My favorite almost-two- year-old has a fun sense of humor already. He thinks lots of things are funny, like putting a sponge on his head and calling it a hat. I love being silly with him and making him laugh. I can tell it feeds my soul.

I believe our world would be a better place if there was more Soul Care happening.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the needs of the world and the hurt and trauma all around me. In my better moments, I refocus on caring for my soul so at least what I toss out into the universe comes from a place of grace, God, centeredness, health and wholeness.

Jesus had his own way to advocate for Soul Care. He said, What good will it be for a person to gain the whole world but lose his/her soul? Matthew 16:26

Soul Care 101, a must-do for summer 2018.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace, writer, speaker, breast cancer survivor and one who tends to her soul.

 

 

 

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Watch Where You Put Yourself

It’s just a simple wisp of an idea; one gentle thought. Author Cheryl Strayed brought it to my mind in a little book of her own quotes, Brave Enough. Put yourself in the way of beauty, she writes. That’s it. She gives a whole page surrounded by white space to those seven words.

It reminds me of another quote by Elsie de Wolfe that I have on a shelf by my kitchen sink in that place I always find myself standing. I’m going to make everything around me beautiful-that will be my life.

Those two quotes connect with the new job description I have assigned myself of being a noticer. I want to notice beauty and pain. I want to notice better what I’m feeling in my body and what my dreams are telling me. I want to notice people, especially the ones right in front of me. I want to see with spiritual eyes and hear with spiritual ears what God is whispering.

Three days in a row a tree in full white bloom has been right in my way on my morning walk. Three days in a row I took a picture of it because I did not know what else to do with that kind of beauty in my way. Three days in a row I noticed a little more springtime edging forth from the winter landscape. For three days, it has reminded me of God’s resurrection promise written on every leaf of springtime. (Martin Luther)

Put yourself in the way of beauty. I can do that.

Quietly, another thought saddled up along side that one. Toss some beauty into someone else’s way as well. I can do that too. And for today, that will be enough.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor and noticer.  

Love=Noticing

It’s Valentines Week, the time of year when we become Love focused for a bit. Some people feel sad during this time if romance isn’t in the picture. That’s unfortunate and it seems far more productive to focus on just upping our love game in general.

Lately I’ve been writing and speaking about the art of noticing.  I’ve declared that in my new life part of my job description now is be a noticer.

I started with creation. I noted that the sun rises and sets daily and maybe I should just watch and notice that more.

Then I realized all of creation is filled with beautiful and stunning things worth noting. I read somewhere that when we pause notice any part of creation it is as if we are worshipping God.

In a devotional reading this week, Oswald Chambers wrote The prophet Isaiah made people look up at the heavens in order to use their imagination properly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades. My Utmost for His Highest

Spiritual people are called to see with imagination what cannot quite be seen.  What if nature is infused with God’s unseen presence and signs? What if our job was simply to notice?

I imagine the call to notice extends to other living creatures as well. When my dog wants a pet she rolls onto her back, hoping I’ll notice. People crave being noticed and seen. Jesus was particularly good at seeing people.

Maya Angelou once said, Your eyes should light up when your child enters the room. I wonder what would happen if our eyes lit up when anyone entered the room?

I see you sunrise, sky, flower and tree.  I see you daughter, son, spouse and grandchild. I see you, dog needing a pet and hungry family struggling to make ends meet.

I see you person sitting alone or clenching your teeth in the grocery store line.  I see you person with hands and plate full.

Love doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It begins with noticing.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor and noticer.

Room, Space, Beauty…

I’ve been so focused on stuff and space these last months. Today is the first day in well over two months that I’ve been home without workers here and without needing to either move items into my house or back out of it due to our remodel project.

After losing our kitchen for a while, our den and living room, our bedrooms and bathrooms, I’m celebrating space. I didn’t realize how important it is to me to have my chair, my table right there for my coffee, my patio, my journal where I can find it. I realize now, I like having a bedroom, a computer hooked up and family pictures to look at. I’m also celebrating closets instead of clothes in the garage.

My daughter gave me a sign with a quote from Elsie de Wolfe that reads, “I will make everything around me beautiful-that will be my life.” I’ve spent time these past months making room and space in our home for beauty. I have donated carloads of things to now let someone else enjoy. I’ve given away big pieces of furniture. I’m making room for beauty.

And then, I make this speech every year, I simplified Christmas yet again. No need to keep reading if you are the person who loves all your boxes of decorations and you love putting out each and every decoration. I’m not writing this for you. Carry on, with joy!

I’m writing to those of you who dread putting it all out and packing it back up. I’m speaking to those who feel they should hold onto a decoration because Aunt Marge gave that to me and so on. Here’s my advice: just don’t. Just do less.

I feel like women bear most of this holiday burden.  We tend to be the decorators, the bakers, the list makers, the shoppers, the event planners. We do all these things plus our jobs,  our parenting and our work in the community. I have long believed this is TOO MUCH for many of  us.  We should stop.

In past years, I’ve downsized all kinds of what I previously believed were holiday musts. This year, since I had just purged and moved back into my treasured spaces, I felt I simply could not now haul box after box from the attic and put it all out in the name of decorating for Christmas. So I didn’t. We have a tree. We have some Christmas dishes to eat on. I have whole rooms that used to have all kinds of stuff that now just don’t. The room I’m writing in right now has a single manger scene in it. I love it. The spaciousness of it all is beautiful to me.

One of the whole points of Christmas is making room for something new to be born. Isn’t it strange how we over-decorate, over-buy, over-hype and then the baby is relegated to  the stable out back?

Room. Space. Beauty.  Here, I can breathe now. Here, I can  watch and wait. Here, I can light one little candle and let it be enough. Here, I will see what new-born gift God has for me. Room. Space. Beauty..