“When soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning. … Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy.”
Every single person has been unfaithful either in action or in heart. Every person has been faithful in some respect as well.
We fall back on our word. We go behind a friend’s back, a spouse, a significant one, a family member, a loved one. We betray, back stab, slander, lust, confuse friendship or affection for Eros. On and on and on.
There is not one who is innocent either in action or in thinking these things. Which tend to lead to the action.
But, I wonder if Thomas Moore is correct in his book Care of the Soul that cultivating the whole person is what assists in helping a person be faithful–well, he’s talking more about being whole and living well in a moral and Christian point of view. But I think faithfulness has something to do with care of the soul.
What kinds of things care for the soul? Friendship, good food, good drink, family, art, religion, meaning and richness of life. According to Moore, our soul is built up by these things. Religion and art most especially. And as we cultivate our souls, we will desire to follow the morals a religion presents not in a moralistic way, but out of love–love for God and love for the neighbor.
Moore doesn’t talk so much about personality, but making sense of life through living and story. Our families shape us, religion shapes us, what we like shapes us. But we are not bound by these things. There are well documented disorders out there: borderline, narcissistic for example. They are serious disorders. But we are all disordered in some way. Some more severe than others. This is the result of many factors. It is the state of human existence. But these disorders are never to be used as excuses. And shouldn’t be excuses to exploit others and get what we want. We are quite selfish–every one of us.
Moore goes on to say that families are wonderful because it is the place a person can be himself/herself. But he also points out a broader definition of family since some don’t have any living relatives or are estranged. But many of us have family whether blood related or not. People we go to, whom we trust, where we can be ourselves no matter how dysfunctional or “healthy” we are. We work through things together in family and community and friendship: births, deaths, divorce, separation, the good and the bad. And it’s not always rose-colored nor should it be. Moore says (as well as many, many other professionals) families are the measure of how well or not well a society is doing. Breakdowns in family don’t affect just that family, but all facets of the community.
Human beings are a mess. Cultivation of the soul, learning to live well, to love God, to love others in the right way. These are things that help keep a person whole. God is the one who is perfect in faithfulness and love. He is the one who gives us the grace to love well and live well. But we don’t always want to, our choice causes all kinds of disorders.
God, help me cultivate my soul, help us to do so in the light of your wisdom and grace. Only you are the one who puts all things in right order.