Growing a Soul

This week I came across the letter of Kurt Vonnegut written to a high school class in 2006.  I had seen it posted before, but grasped it at a deeper level this time. The English class had been assigned to write a famous author to ask for advice. Of the letters sent, Vonnegut was the only one to answer.  He wrote, in part:  “ What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

These words penetrate as I consider the writing of this blog.  I write for the discipline of it, the challenge of it, the pleasure of it.  Over time, I have begun to experience the connection with those who read the words I post.  Most importantly, though, I have realized that this effort requires mindfulness.  I pay attention through the week to my life, what I notice, what I might bring to this space.  So perhaps I am “becoming,” finding out “what’s inside” of myself, making my “soul grow.”

What if soul growth was our measuring stick for all our tasks?  I recall at one point in my life when I was very anxious about money.  I began to go to my meditation space to pay bills.  That turned out to be a valuable instinct.  My worry abated as I shifted into gratitude.  I began to feel more blessed than burdened.  I think that qualifies as “soul growth.”

Pain has sometimes been a vehicle of soul growth for me.  I learned this first when I was the mother of an infant.  I had injured my knee the night before she was born, and I struggled to manage some of the tasks for her care.  I began to use the pain as a call to prayer.  I felt connection to others in pain.  The same applies to my occasional sleepless nights when I offer my prayers for others whom sleep is eluding.

So, thank you, Kurt Vonnegut, for a meaningful letter and the important reminder to come to our lives in mindful ways that allow for soul growth.  Your letter epitomizes the line I always close with:

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Though I came across the post about Vonnegut on Facebook, do you suppose I heard his words differently because I was more deliberate in the last week about the kind of attention I gave to Facebook, as I mentioned in my previous post “Technology Idol”?

4 thoughts on “Growing a Soul”

  1. Vonnegut wrote in a nonfiction piece, “I believe reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation.” Thanks Kate for your postings at Hope’s Cafe, such as today’s, that provide nourishing grist for the mill of my meditation practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your post on this topic and a big “Amen.” As you know from Facebook (my technology idol), I love to photograph what I see while on walks with my dog and while kayaking. Looking for opportunities to capture something inspiring, checking the lighting, exposure, setting, etc. makes me pay attention to what I am seeing. I am often surprised with joy by what I have capture when viewing later. I get much more satisfaction from this than any of the one-time accomplishments. This practice helps me enjoy life as it happens, in the present, and then remember it again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

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