It has been raining today, quite violently. It seemed almost as if the clouds were bitter about something, and had to take out their anger by pounding away at the earth. I can’t help but think that it didn’t work. The sky is still dismal and out of sorts. The earth is a sickly green color and seems to be sulking. Occasionally a grumble of thunder echoes through the air (the sky has to get in the last word). Very probably the nighttime will tiptoe in soon and coax the world into closing its eyes until the morning. Perhaps the sun will deign to show her face tomorrow.
The weather has an uncanny way of putting me in strange and wonderful moods. Days like today make me restless and a touch wild. I feel like a tiger in a zoo, endlessly pacing along the bars of his cage. It is not that I’m unhappy, it’s just that I sense the “bars” of my existence, and notice that the path next to them has become incredibly well-traveled. It is not my mind that is restless, nor my heart. It is my soul, that immaterial part that finds itself embodied in a thousand different actions and emotions. It is the place of being. I wonder how many people pace through life just like a tiger in a cage – for the most part content and well-fed, but occasionally becoming uneasy and restless when something reminds them of the outside world. I wonder how many ignore the uncomfortable feeling until it passes back into the murky oblivion from which it came, and how many agonize over its appearance. I wonder how many glance down at the well-traveled path under their feet, and sigh that they have seen it so many times before. I wonder how many shudder at the malnourished, shriveled, desperate thing they find inside themselves.
Octave Mirbeau, a French journalist and art critic, once said, “When one tears away the veils and shows them naked, people’s souls give off such a pungent smell of decay.” The soul is perhaps the most neglected aspect of our being. It is routinely forgotten, ignored, smothered, and starved. A scratch on one’s body is immediately cared for; a scratch on one’s soul is left to fester for long periods of time, and is often never attended to. It is only on the occasional stormy day that it is remembered, when the restless longings gather enough energy to touch one’s emotions.
Have you ever met anyone with a healthy soul? They are vibrant, passionate, and overflowing with love and mercy. Sadly, these persons are so few and far between. I dare not place myself in that category; I know all too well the state of disrepair my own soul is in. When the soul is not healthy, vibrancy and passion fade into apathy, love and mercy to self-absorption. It is not the soul that gets fed, it is the miserable, gluttonous carnal nature. And yet, it is not difficult to nourish a soul. It only requires a willingness to listen. The Lord speaks to those starving souls in Isaiah 55:2-3, saying “Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” It’s almost too simple. All that is required is a walk into arms that are already open, and a conversation? The Lord will freely pardon (Isaiah 55:7).
It would be enough if it stopped here, but it does not. It is not only sustenance, relationship, life, and conversation that is offered. It is peace and healing, rest and redemption. “Peace, peace, to those far and near, ‘says the Lord,’ and I will heal them” (Isaiah 57:19). It is an opportunity to be clean, to be whole, and to have the shriveled core of our being lose its sallow color and gain a glow of contentment and fulfillment. We have only to make the approach. He stands, waiting, never tiring of whispering “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened…and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:2829).
Perhaps when our souls are satisfied, the most dismal weather – literally or figuratively – will be unable to make us restless and discontent. Perhaps we will be able to say as Goethe did upon awakening in the morning, “Nothing is worth more than this day.”