Soul Catch Up
Find Rest for Your Spirit
I heard a story recently about a woman missionary in Africa. She arrived prepared to live in a small village for a full year, and so she came with a lot of baggage and supplies. The day she arrived, a local tribe of villagers came to escort her to the village. There were no cars, so this escort would take her on a long journey of walking and hiking, to come to the village of her stay. The local villagers took up her baggage and supplies, and set off together. That first day, they walked fast and covered many miles. The woman was incredibly grateful, believing this would mean she’d arrive at her destination quickly. The next day, she rose early, prepared to set off again quickly only to find all of the men escorting her were resting on the ground, finding shade where they could. Anxious to get their journey underway, she asked the head of the escorts if they could please get going. “Oh no,” he replied. “Yesterday their bodies moved so far and so fast, they need time today for their soul to catch up to their body.”
I often feel like I imagine this woman missionary—plowing along, setting a quick pace to life, trying to reach a “necessary” destination, assuming “hurried” is the pace that is right and good and necessary. In fact, I don’t even think about the pace much once it’s been set. I just let the momentum of it keep moving me forward. Yet, it never fails—at some point, my body and mind seemingly fall apart. I get sick or injured, or I feel lousy, grouchy, anxious, distracted to the measure that nothing is really getting done or if it is, it’s not with any love. I see that there is so much to continue moving forward to, yet I also feel angry at the so much, checked out, blocked by a foggy lack of focus and a bit of despair.
I love that the villagers in this story have a different understanding of pace, that pushing the body long and far means we leave our spirit behind. The spirit, it seems, needs a slower pace to catch up, to settle into the body and fill it up. Without the spirit there is a missing part of our essential being that leads to such a lack of wholeness to be called dis-ease, un-wellness, sickness. The momentum of life must be intentionally slowed, even for a short time, or the spirit never has the opportunity to catch up, the body never has a chance to catch its breath.
In some traditions, the spirit is likened to the wind, called pneuma, the ancient Greek word for breath. The last few years, friends, have been hard on us all in one way or another, our bodies and minds have been asked to keep up with so much information, technology, change, hardship. I don’t know about you, but literally, I have felt that both my nervous system and my soul have been left behind and need time to catch up. I find myself contemplating how I’ve longed for restoration, how I’ve been watchful of resurrection, and how often I find myself drawn to metaphors around breath—around needing to catch my breath, that the breath is life giving, that I might have life breathed back into me.
Summer is a time when I used to feel myself catching my breath. Yet, the pace and fullness of my own life and lives of my family members has increased such that this summer has felt like a contiuation of some wild momentum. So intential slowing, breath catching, what might this look like? I know that soon, for my family and me, we’ll be back to school, back to sports, back to schedule. For these next few weeks, I most want to step into this intentional slowing, even if it’s just for a few minutes under the shade on the ground, letting my soul catch up before continuing my body’s journey forward.
Retreat travel is a way I’ve discovered to let my soul catch up to my body. By getting out of the norm, allowing myself to be cared for, I find space to allow my spirit room to breath. Perhaps you too…If so, there is still 3 days left to receive the greatest early bird special for this delightful Italy retreat experience, with me June 1-7, 2024.