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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Harold S. Kushner

"If we put our soul into our work, if, rather than just going through the motions, what we do flows from the deepest part of our being, then after a burst of creativity, we need to replenish our souls."

American Rabbi, Author
1935 -

Sometimes we need to rest — to replenish our spirit.  We cannot work all the time.  How do you replenish your spirit — restore your energy?  Exercise?  Walking?  Reading?  Visiting friends?  Loafing?  Good farmers know the importance of leaving a field fallow so as to restore the nutrients in the soil.  How do you restore the nutrients in your soul?  Do you take the time to be with yourself without the noise and chaos of the world in which you live?  Do you spend time with your soul in meditation and prayer?  Have you learned how to relax — to slow the pace of your life?  Take time today to pause for a few minutes and listen to the spirit within your flesh.  Find comfort in the small acts like the dance of a child, the breeze in the trees, the scampering of a squirrel or the hug of a friend?  Gently love the world in which you find yourself.

Harold S. Kushner wrote a book, The Lord Is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm, in which he meditates on the meaning of the twenty-third psalm.  The words I quoted above come from the chapter entitled: He Restoreth My Soul.  Kushner tells the story of a group of people who were on safari in Africa and hired porters to carry their supplies.  After three days the porters insisted on stopping for a day to rest.  The porters claimed that they were stopping not because they were tired, but because they had walked too far too fast and they needed time for their souls to catch up.  Have you traveled too fast and left your soul too far behind?  Do you need to wait for your soul to catch up?

As a speaker, I travel a lot — both by car and by plane.  I am currently in the midst of five weeks of travel.  Every time I return home, it takes me a day or two to renew my spirit and allow my soul to catch up.  And sometimes I feel like my soul does not catch up with my body before I am back on the road chasing the tiger.  In my case, my writing of poetry helps my soul to find its way back to the body and restore my sense of who I am.  

The Twenty-Third Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.
He guides me in straight paths for His Name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil
For Thou are with me.
Thy rod and Thy Staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
Thou anointest my head with oil,
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.