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  • Writer's pictureKate Clinch

A wake-up call for the soul

Updated: Jun 18, 2023



“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes with which Christ looks out his compassion to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.”

Those stirring words were written by Saint Theresa of Avila, in the 16th century. These days, we might prefer to use another word: God, or the Universe, or Spirit… but they don’t make the truth of what she was saying any easier to bear. The mere idea of bringing forth the Grace of divine compassion, incarnating that into the world around us feels like a very tall order, doesn’t it? It doesn’t seem possible for a mere mortal, an ordinary human being like us. But what is possible if we work with the power of our soul?

You know that sinking feeling when you really don’t want to face the day? You’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and that’s before you even listen to the news. The world feels big and scary and it’s probably better if you just pretend it’s not there. A bit like I felt this morning knowing I was going to give my first address in church. Except worse.

Hands up everyone who has ever woken up in the morning and wanted to just hide in bed with the covers over your head?

It’s a common experience.

Hands up if you look away when an actor gets injured in a movie? You know they’re only acting, but it doesn’t matter because some part of you related to the pain of being injured. But not everything is acting. We are impacted by real stories of tragedy and suffering every day. We’ve all felt devastated for, even cried tears for, complete strangers at some point in our lives, I’m sure.

What does this show us? Human being are wired to care, to have empathy. The word empathy has derived from Greek “in” plus “feeling”, so it literally means to be in the feelings of another; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

And where does it come from, this ability to feel the feelings of another being? Close your eyes for a moment and feel into it, if you’re not sure. Where do you feel that sudden intuitive hit when you hear of the suffering of someone else? It’s an intuitive capacity, isn’t it, so it doesn’t come from our mind or our ego. Do you feel it in your heart? Your solar plexus? The ability to feel empathy comes from your soul.

And yet, there are days when this soul sense can send us diving under the covers, shutting the world out.

Why?

How disconnected from our souls have we, as a society become, if people feel they need to shut the world out, the exact same world that their soul is wired to feel and connect with?

What a sobering thought: that we might be rejecting the power of our soul. And if we do that, does it mean we are accusing our soul of being a misfit, of being something that we ourselves could or should reject? Are we saying God got it wrong, this whole incarnation business was a mistake and we don’t belong here?

There’s a whole range of new agey speculation on exactly this topic, labeling beautiful intuitive souls who were born with a mission to help their fellow beings as ‘empaths’, or perhaps star seeds. One of the diagnostic features is the feeling of not belonging here, being out of place. Some of these people might even be diagnosed with medical conditions, depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders, attention deficit…

Labels can sometimes be useful, if they help us connect with people similar to us, or find solutions to a problem. But they are not helpful when they become someone’s identity, in the process causing them to ignore all their other attributes. A heart breaking example was when one of my children introduced me to their teenage friend, who said, ‘Hello, I’m Jack. I’m learning disabled.’ It turned out he was dyslexic. He was also incredibly knowledgeable about animals, very compassionate, creative and a lively conversationalist. His acceptance of his label sold him far short as a human being and trivialized the gifts he held in his soul.

We need to find ways that we can work with our souls, instead of doubting and marginalizing them. In a culture that has emphasized the physical, measurable material world, the invisible, intangible things are at a serious disadvantage. And the soul is almost taboo. Now, in the midst of global chaos, is a very good time to address this, as more and more people are reflecting on what really matters in life.

A good starting point is noticing that we have a soul at all, that it’s not some quaint religious idea, but a basic fact of existence. That’s easy for us, perhaps, because we are, after all, attending a spiritist church, so we have a head start. But what about our children? What about the Jacks of the world?

Your soul is immortal, you have forfeited the right to argue this point by your very presence in this holy place, waiting patiently to see our mediums demonstrate their art. If we fully accept that we have an immortal soul, that certainly changes our perspective on the events of human existence.

Sometimes, as humans, we feel betrayed and overwhelmed by the nature of life itself, and return to an age-old question: has God turned His back on me? The answer to that question is no; but when we are in what is known as the dark night of the soul, it’s so dark, that we can’t see the light. Until we are ready to look for it.

And with the light, comes understanding. Our soul is on a journey. It’s come from somewhere, a realm of Grace, and somehow incarnated into a physical body, which is its temporary home. A small and limited home, compared to the limitless expanses to which it is accustomed. This human body cannot accommodate all of the soul, and the human mind can’t express its wisdom. And, as we have already considered, the existence of the soul is not welcomed in our culture. No wonder people get confused.

Yet, here we are, in this sacred space, contemplating the divine spark that resides in us.

Is the soul fragile, vulnerable to damage? Or is it that our mystical connection to our own soul is vulnerable to disruption? Or perhaps both? Rather than debating such theological concepts, let’s look at the practical everyday things we can do to enhance our connection.

The first is to focus on the broad perspective. Your immortal soul is a conduit for Grace, an expression of what is holy in the physical world. Breathe that in. Feel it in your being. Your soul’s mission is bringing a little of the light of Heaven into the material world.

Now, remember my young friend Jack. If he knew this truth in his heart, how different would his life be? He wouldn’t ever collapse himself into the identity of being learning disabled, would he? And just like Jack, we all have ended up with labels at some point. Our wounds and labels can severely damage our self-esteem and confidence, and indeed, we all spend much of our lives rectifying the damage they cause us, and our sense of betrayal that painful things have happened to us. But labels and traumas have no intrinsic authority over the value of the soul. From the soul’s perspective, they are a call to our human self to recommit to valuing what is really important, and a gateway to feeling compassion and empathy for other human beings.

No matter what insults and harms befall you, the true value of your soul is never tarnished.

We need to own that fact.

But it’s not easy. Wherever we turn in this chaotic world, we are bombarded by messages to the contrary, by toxic messages that actively disconnect us from that truth. We will be better people if we use this brand of wrinkle cream, or wear this brand of clothing, or drive that brand of car. If someone else wrongs us, we could get our power back by suing them. If we ‘deserve’ something, if we’re worth something, it has nothing to do with our soul value, it’s because a marketing manager is wanting us to buy Swiss chocolate or pearls. We need to hold ourselves personally accountable for protecting our connection to our own soul.

We are souls on an adventure, exploring life in a naturally chaotic physical world where we learn who we really are and what we are capable of by experiencing grief and trauma as well as hope and love.

In the words of Caroline Myss: “The power of the soul is about the management of your response to panic, about the management of your response to fear, about the management of your response to those negative emotions that draw you in to the darkness that might be looming in the collective, and your capacity to hold your center and say no, no, no and draw upon that sacred thread, the sacred part of your text [of your life].”

No matter what befalls us in this physical world, our soul is a spark of the Divine, always present within us, and the conduit of Grace that links us to the world of spirit.

And the more we can open that link, the more we understand that we are not here by accident. Our lives have meaning, we are on this planet for a reason, a mission. It might amuse us to think it’s a big mission: to invent a cure for disease, perhaps. But more likely, it is a hundred thousand small missions. A kind word here, an act of compassion there, offering acceptance or a fresh perspective. Little things that we might barely notice, the effect of which we can’t begin to anticipate. Let’s pause together and think of the collective effect of each of us doing a hundred little tiny things to bring sparks of light into the world.

That’s something worth getting out of bed for in the morning.


Notes: This is the text of an address I was privileged to give in a spiritist church.



The photo is of the sun breaking through an unexpected morning fog at the bottom of my garden.

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