My wife and I have been looking at our retirement plans. It’s been on our “priority list” of things to do for awhile and somehow it kept getting pushed aside for other more urgent things. But we finally pulled it back on the plate and have started thinking about the days when we either slow down our work schedules or retire altogether to do something different in the last season of life.
Maybe you’ve done that too. You’ve spent time taking care of your retirement account. Or maybe you decided this is the year you would take care of your waistline or some other deadline.
But what about your soul? That part of you that you don’t see but can send you some signs that it is unhealthy? Signs like hurry, preoccupation, unsatisfied desires, and chronic discontent. We tend to know how to fix a leaky faucet better than we know how to fix a neglected soul.
John Ortberg’s book Soul Keeping was written to give us somewhat of an owner’s manual on how to care for the soul. Ortberg had spent much time with Dallas Willard, a philosopher at USC and writer on the spiritual disciplines, especially in the final years of his life. What he offers in the book is like getting to sit in on some of those conversations.
Willard advised that the number one thing to do to move towards having a healthy soul is to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Try that and see how difficult it can be. We are a people prone to movement and filling up silence with noise and aloneness with people. And yet we have to slow our RPM’s in order to give attention to the part of us that integrates all of us. The part that we will carry into eternity.
Ortberg suggests a number of practices that help nourish the soul but when asked which he would name as the most important he said “gratitude.” Gratitude allows us to be aware of the presence of God and his grace in our lives. He says, “…the soul was made to run on grace the way a 747 runs on rocket fuel.”
Gratitude fills the soul and when the soul is full and healthy our lives contain joy. Not a “pop-psychology” kind of “speak myself into a state of joy” that won’t last form of joy. But rather a joy that comes from deep within where the soul has been cared for and knows that it is loved and as a result is grateful. “…give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This year you may be planning some doctor and dental check-ups, some financial reviews and vacation rests. But make it a point to take some time to have a soul check-up too. Your retirement will take you to your last day. Your soul will take you into eternity.
Question: What have you done recently that has helped nurture your soul?