Reflection for March 2024

Heart and Soul 

Many of us will recall these two words from an old popular and somewhat simplistic piece of music that captured the basics of human experience. Many youngsters who took an interest in learning to play a piano played ‘Heart and Soul’ as a one-fingered proud accomplishment. That little tune provided an early introduction to a body-and-soul understanding of who we are, our make-up, and how we explain both the physical and non-physical dimensions of our lives. It innocently introduced the dualistic orientation of body and soul, physicality and spirituality, mortality and immortality.

What does it mean to sing It is well with my soul? This familiar hymn reminds us, particularly in these pre-Easter March days, that Jesus “shed His blood for my soul”. Those lyrics instill in us a certain sense of peace and confidence in our spiritual health even when we feel physically unhealthy. That distinction of feelings is a confirmation of the body/soul dualism. That dualism is strikingly evident in our experience of death when our bodies clearly remain but ‘who we are’ has clearly departed. While science generally focuses on each person as a unified whole animated by physio-biological pulses and interactions our Faith-experience focuses on the realities of emotion, thought, creativity, insight, inspiration, morality, love, and a longing for something greater than us. And that is what leads us to God. Those human realities are beyond the reach of scientific explanation. They abide in each of us in uniquely different ways and they determine how ‘well’ is our soul.

The dichotomy or the oneness of body and soul will be the subject of ongoing debate; but within either understanding our experience of spirituality confirms that our soul is real, it is who we are. It is God’s infusion of immortality into our mortal bodies. It is the presence of Jesus within us. We know when our soul is healthy and we know when it is not healthy. As with our body we need to nourish our soul to promote and ensure its health through personal and collective prayer, reflection, and community worship. We know that our soul is ‘longing for the glory of God’ and we know that Jesus is the healer of souls. (Psalm 23).

Bless the Lord Oh my soul. (Psalm 103:1)

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