Scripture ~ God formed [hu]man out of dirt from the ground and blew into the nostrils the breath of life. The [hu]man came alive—a living soul! Genesis 2:7
Spiritual Focus ~ “For me the work of the soul is a constant daily struggle to listen to my better angels against my worst instincts.” HistorianJon Meacham, author of The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels (2018)
Breath Prayer ~ Inhale, All is well – Exhale, with my soul
Devotion ~ In a recent interview about the new documentary based on his book, The Soul of America, Jon Meachamsuggests ways to think about how we define the word soul. What is the soul? One way to think about the soul is that it is the essence of who we are. Another is that the soul is our true nature, or perhaps a combination of our thoughts and feelings. In searching for the meaning of the soul, Meacham points as far back as antiquity to the translations of the Hebrew bible and the Greek New Testament.
When God breathes life into [hu]man, God is creating the soul, as the word “breath” in the Hebrew context translates as “soul” or “life”. The same is true in the translation of the Greek New Testament when Jesus says, “Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” (John15:14). The Greek translation for the word “life” here is “soul”. When God gives us the breath of life, God gives us our soul. Included in this gift is the free will to return to our true nature, our God nature, where soul work is not a struggle. In yoga philosophy, the Sanskrit name for soul is atman and the practice of yoga aims to discipline the body and tame our ego so that we may connect with the Divine nature we call God.
Soul work, or as Meacham calls it, “listening to our better angels against our worst instincts,” is work, but we are not left to do the work alone. We are witness to the souls, the angels, and the saints who have gone before us. November 1st is All Saints Day, a day we remember those who have born witness to life for our sake so that we may live and navigate the soul work of listening to our better angels. Listening to our better angels reminds us of our true nature created in God’s image. God who formed [hu]man from the dirt in the ground and with Holy Breath gave us life! Thanks be to God!