Eden on Earth

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We plan together to create spaces for the ego to sing and dance. We parade around in our regalia, we cast honors and prance in new clothes. We work together to create spaces for our wills to march forward. We join in a cause, determine to solve a problem and clean the kitchen. We consort and commiserate to allow our emotions to join in a song or a lament. We toast and laugh at a wedding, weep over the dead cat and wink at a victory. But where can the soul come out to whisper it’s quiet secrets? What kind of spaces can we carve out to be safe enough, gentle and not manipulative, alive with joy and love where a soul can dare show itself for a couple of minutes. I want to find that place. It would be such a relief. And I don’t think it is as hard as it is simply rare. Here is a story from my daughter’s day where someone did that …

It happened while I was hard at work being a banker. A regular customer pulled up to the drive-through to cash a check, and as I sent the drawer out to her and said my hello’s through the microphone, she smiled at me, twirling a stem of jasmine in her fingers. She gently dropped it in and said, “You have to smell this!” So I drew the drawer in and held the fragrant white blossoms up to my nose while she endorsed her check, and for a moment we traded places. I was outside in the hot Carolina air, breathing in jasmine and grass, and she was ensconced in the business of money and signatures. I traded back her jasmine for the check and the spell was broken – but it lingered in my smile and in the lightness I felt at being passed the small gift of summer’s fragrance.

Inviting the soul is as simple as this. The risk to share something beautiful and natural across the steel barrier of business and finance gave my daughter a moment of soul that changed her day for a moment. That is how the soul emerges. One tiny poke of the head out of the bushes and then a rustle of leaves and it is gone.

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Vice President for Community Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary and has been a church leader in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination since 1979. She has wide pastoral experience in partnership with her husband Steve. Together, they have lead three churches over 31 years, provided missionary member-care and pastoral retreats in Chile, Argentina and Venezuela since l985, and formation teaching during Field Conferences in Eastern Europe and Indonesia.

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