Connecting Soul with Source

I have always known Source.   

Who… what is Source? Some know Source through their faith tradition,
others as an energy, others a presence. For me, Source is relationship. When
I am connected to Source, I am in flow, fully alive. It is in these moments I find
myself serving out of the intersection of my strengths and passions, in
response to the contexts in which I love and work. So, why ever disconnect?

Sometimes, the awareness of self and others is too much to bear. Sometimes,
the vulnerability too tender. There have been seasons when
I chose to disconnect, the essential loneliness too much to bear (more about
that later) and the ego’s tug too seductive to resist. Thankfully, the divine
embrace has always welcomed me home.

One colleague believes it impossible to disconnect from Source. That is not
my experience. Nor does my reading of spiritual teachings across
traditions support such a belief. Source will not force relationship. We must
choose to connect.

As leaders, we work hard to remain physically fit, emotionally healthy, and
mentally sharp, only to find the void remains. The hunger is deep. We want to
grow up, and wake up, spiritually. We know that connecting soul with Source
is essential; that we cannot give what we do not have. The challenge, of
course, is that there are no short cuts on this spiritual journey called life.

It would be so simple if we could just attend to the task at hand. The reality is
that to have an outer transformation, first there must be inner
transformation. Without nurture of soul, we cannot lead intentional change
for the flourishing of our communities.

But what is soul? Ruth Haley Barton in Strengthening the Soul of Your
Leadership provides a compelling definition:

When I refer to soul, I am not talking about some ill-defined,
amorphous, soft- around-the-edges sort of thing. I am talking about
the part of you that is most real—the very essence of you… (before
physical form) … the part that will exist after you go into the ground.
This is the “you” that exists beyond any role you play, any job you
perform, any relationships that seems to define you, or any notoriety or
success you may have achieved. It is the part of you that longs for more
of (Source).

Soul, the essence of all of us. Soul, the part that longs for Source.

Welcome the Stranger

As I ponder the times, I am struck by the extreme expressions of fear and love. I am also reminded that where there is fear, there is hatred. Where there is love, there is life. A core practice for our times is the practice of hospitality. As a intentional practice, hospitality calls us to welcome the stranger on a daily basis.

Henri Nouwen believes that the paradox of hospitality is that it calls us “to create an emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness, where strangers can enter and discover themselves created free, free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations.” Clearly, the practice of hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his or her own.

One Greek word incorporates a profound truth: xenos , the word that means stranger, also means guest and host. This one word signals the essential mutuality that is at the heart of hospitality. Think of our language’s use of xenos: philoxenia—hospitality, a love of guest or stranger; and xenophobia— fear of the stranger. We do well to remember both the danger and the need.

This month, spend some time reflecting on Henri Nouwen’s wisdom above. How does the practice of emptying relate to the practice of hospitality? Why is this important? Reflect on the word xenos. How are we called to nurture the stranger, guest and host within that we might welcome the stranger without? And, then set your intention to practice hospitality.

May we be radical in welcoming of the stranger in our midst!