Friday, March 1, 2013

Soul Mates

It is an idea I had not seriously thought about for a few years.  And now that I am thinking about it, I cannot believe I have let it go for that many years.  The idea is soul mates.  And the best part is one of my students reminded me what I had forgotten!  Bless my students!

For a couple of times I have offered a class that focuses on spiritual friendship.  I have had a long-standing interest in that theme, too.  So two years ago I taught a class on spiritual friendship and, now, I have repeated it.  I also ask each student to be in a friendship relationship and to explore whether that friendship relationship also might become a spiritual friendship.  I ask students to keep a weekly journal.  It was in one student’s journal that soul mates came back into my life as an idea.

So I re-engaged an important idea.  Immediately, I went to my bookshelf to pull down Thomas Moore’s book entitled, Soul Mates.  The subtitle is instructive: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationships.  I looked inside the front to see that it was published in 1994.  No doubt, that is when I was first engaged with the ideas.

I know one of the key issues for me in this whole affair concerns the meaning of the word, soul.  Clearly people who grow up in church contexts hear a great deal about soul.  We hear about our “bodies and souls.”  We hear that after death, the “body dies and the soul goes to heaven.”  I certainly heard this stuff as I was growing up.  But no one bothered to explain, define, or elaborate any of it!  Sometimes, I wonder what they thought I was thinking!  But as I look back, probably no one explained it to them either!  So how could they explain it to me?

I have come to define soul as “the essence of a person.”  With my definition I went looking through Moore’s book to see how he was going to define soul mates.  I did not have to look very far.  Early on he says, “a soul mate is someone to whom we feel profoundly connected, as though the communicating and communing that take place between us were not the product of intentional efforts, but rather a divine grace.”  I rather like the fact that Moore involves divine grace.  This means there is an element of “giftedness” to a soul mate relationship.  I put a great deal of soul making effort into developing soul mates.    But my effort is also matched by a grace---a giftedness that enriches in ways that effort can never manage.

It is important to me to talk about soul mates as relationships rather than “things.”  Relationships are key.  This was reinforced when I found this rather complex sentence near the end of Moore’s book.  He describes in eloquent language the nature of relationship.

“The point in relationship is not to make us feel good, but to lead us into a profound alchemy of soul that reveals to us many of the pathways and openings that are the geography of our own destiny and potentiality.”  Thus says Thomas Moore.  I think most of my friends would be surprised to hear that the point of relationships is not to make us feel good!  Perhaps, that is exactly what most of us want out of life: to feel good.

To the contrary, Moore suggests.  The point in relationship is to lead us into the profound alchemy of soul that leads us to our destiny and potentiality.  With this sentiment God is implicated for me.  I cannot talk about destiny and my potentiality without having some sense that God is involved in destiny.  And God endowed me and you with particular potentiality

Our lives are to head toward our destiny.  And our lives are to discover and to develop our potentiality.  And it seems to me, this is best done (and sometimes, solely done) in relationships---in soul making---with soul mates.

I thank my student for bringing me back to an important idea.  For me to be who I think God wants me to be and to do what God wants me to do requires some kind of soul mate.  It can be God.  It probably is useful to have some human soul mates.

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