Thoughts on the soul and eternal perspective when suffering. Poem from confederate soldier “Unanswered Prayer” (November 2019)

Good morning.  Dawn just about to make her appearance.  My angel of dawn almost to my window to peer in and offer me another movement in my song called life.  Quiet.  Steaming coffee.  Fall.  Fields bare after harvest.  A different silence seems to enter the scene.  A silence in the birds.  The trees.  All so quiet.  I love the few moments of the morning where time slows to make up for later quickening.  This week I had several different prayers and thoughts read that I’d like to write for you.  I wanted to write some thoughts on the soul, for as winter enters our attention seems more easily given to notice our soul.   I have one paragraph on the soul below that I thought of many times.  How we do not see our eyes, yet they are so close to us.  How we see ourselves in the mirror, but it is not our true self.  Love the thoughts.  I hope you find comfort in all of these words. 

“Unanswered Prayer” Found in the pocket of an unknown Confederate Soldier during Civil War

I asked for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for,
But everything that I had hoped for.

Despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

God’s Presence by Rabrindranath Tagore (Nobel laureate for literature 1913)

Have you not heard his silent steps?
            He comes, comes, ever comes.
Every moment and every age, every day and every night,
            He comes, comes, ever comes.
In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path,
            He comes, comes, ever comes.
In the rainy gloom of July nights on the thundering chariot of cloud,
            He comes, comes, ever comes.
In sorrow after sorrow, it is his steps that press upon my heart,
            And it is the golden touch of his feet that make my joy to shine.


On the belief of the soul by Thomas Merton (No Man is an Island)

We are warmed by fire, not by the smoke of the fire.  We are carried over the sea by a ship, not by the wake of a ship.  So, too, what we are is to be sought in the invisible depths of our own being, not in our outward reflection in our own acts.  We must find our real selves not in the froth stirred up by the impact of our being upon the beings around us, but in our own soul, which is the principle of all our acts. 

But my soul is hidden and invisible.  I cannot see it directly, for it is hidden even from myself.  Nor can I see my own eyes.  They are too close to me for me to see them.  They are not meant to see themselves.  I know I have eyes when I see other things with them.

I can see my eyes in a mirror.  My soul can also reflect itself in the mirror of its own activity.  But what is seen in the mirror is only the reflection of who I am, not my true being.  The mirror of words and actions only partly manifests my being.  The words and acts that proceed from myself and are accomplished outside myself are dead things compared with the hidden life from which they spring.  These acts are transient and superficial.  They are quickly gone, even though their effect may persist for a little while.  But the soul itself remains.  Much depends on how the soul sees itself in the mirror of its own activity.

The soul does not find itself unless it acts.  Therefore it must act.  Stagnation and inactivity bring spiritual death.  But my soul must not project itself entirely into the outward effects of its activity.  I do not need to see myself, I merely need to be myself.  I must think and act like a living being, but I must not plunge my whole self into what I think and do or seek always to find myself in the work I have done.  The soul that projects itself entirely into activity, and seeks itself outside itself in the work of its own will is like a madman who sleeps on the sidewalk in front of his house instead of living inside where it is quiet and warm.  The soul that throws itself outdoors in order to find itself in the effects of its own work is like a fire that has no desire to burn but seeks only to go up in smoke. 

Another gift of today handed to us.  Our turn to walk onto the stage.  How quickly life goes on.  Crops planted.  Crops harvested.  Rivers flow.  Winds continue to blow.  One little piece of sand at a time through my hourglass.  Tonight we will again have the chance to write our epitaph in our minds.  Will any moments today be worthy of inscription in stone?  Will we look into eyes?  Will we hear the birds now awake and singing for us?   Will we smile when they are off tune yet smile to show we appreciate they still sing us their songs?   Will we look to the heavens where the promise of peace is waiting to be given to us?  Will we drop to our knees even mentally realizing strength is there?  Thank you for letting me enter your day.  Thank you for your friendship and business.  We will have the coffee hot when you finally are able to walk through our door!  Susan

Latin for this week:
Animus – soul.  Courage, vivacity, bravery, will, spirit, soul. 
Deum et animam scire cupio; nihil alius – I want to know God and the soul, nothing more.  Augustine)