Several weeks ago I was the opening keynote speaker for the International Conference on Spiritualtiy in Business in Boston. My schedule allowed me to stay for the two days of the conference, and one of the most personally thought-provoking sessions I attended was on the importance of rest.
The presenter pointed out that in the book of Genesis it says that God created the world in six days and on the seventh day He rested. From this account comes the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” As a young person growing up in a small town in Iowa, I remember how on Sundays the stores were all closed, and it WAS a day for family and fun. Alas, that is no longer true. Today, the only thing we can’t do on Sunday is go to the post office or have a sandwich at Chick-fil-A! How many times have you used Sunday as a workday to catch up on all those things not completed in the other six days of working?
Do you remember your Sabbath and keep it holy?
The most interesting thing the presenter shared in the session was about a nomadic tribe that would travel and travel and then simply stop, seemingly for no reason. When asked why they stopped then, they explained, “So our souls can catch up.”
I have thought and thought about the amazing impact of this thought on my life and in our world. I realized that over the last year and a half, many times I have not waited for my soul to catch up! I have been so caught up in the busyness of my move across the country, the struggle to make new friends, and my involvement in my speaking business that my soul has languished.
How is your Soul?
In his book, The Key to Personal Peace, Billy Graham tells the story of two men:
My wife, Ruth, and I once visited an island in the Caribbean. One of the wealthiest men in the world asked us to come to his lavish home for lunch. He was seventy-five years old, and throughout the entire meal he seemed close to tears.
“I am the most miserable man in the world,” he said. “Out there is my yacht. I can go anywhere I want to go. I have everything I want to make me happy. And yet, I’m miserable.”
Later we went down the hill to the small cottage where we were staying. That afternoon the pastor of the local church came to call on us. He was an Englishman, and he, too, was seventy-five. A widower, he spent most of his free time taking care of his two invalid sisters. He reminded me of a cricket—always jumping up and down, full of enthusiasm and love for others.
“I don’t have two pounds to my name, “ he said with a smile, “but I’m the happiest man on this island.”
“Who do you think is the richer man?” I asked Ruth after he left. We both knew the answer.
One man in this story had spent his life running after success and collecting things. The other was focused on relationships and seeing the blessings in life. He had been nurturing his soul.
What I realized loud and clear in that session was that in my busyness, I had been neglecting my soul. Our souls demand just as much time as our bodies, and unless our souls are fed and exercised daily, they become weak and shriveled just as our bodies do without food. We need times of quiet, meditation, thoughtful reading, prayer, gentle conversations about ideas and meaning and truths and values, and simply just “being” and not “doing.”
Graham says, “We are empty people in a world of empty nations. Our heads are crammed full of knowledge, our standard of living is one of the highest in the world, our bodies live longer than at any time in history, but within our souls is a spiritual vacuum. We don’t’ know where we’ve come from, why we’re here, or where we’re going. We’re lost! And we desperately need to find a way out of our dilemma.”
In another book I recently read the chilling thought: “We are in a recession and we are receding.” No wonder Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life, has had such amazing success! It has sold over ten million copies in less than a year because we are all yearning to find meaning and purpose in our lives, and part of the way I believe we can do this is to keep our souls alive.
One of my favorite all-time books is Small Miracles by Yitta Halberstam & Judith Leventhal. The authors see the amazing coincidences that happen in our everyday lives as “small miracles,” and taking time to become aware of them is one of the wonderful ways we can help keep our souls fully alive. They share, “We hope that Small Miracles will awaken you to the rich promise of a bounteous universe and the splendor lying dormant within your soul. Coincidences are everywhere and can happen any time. When your soul is ready, they will come. All that is required is that you open your heart.” In my busy life, I realize how often I have missed these precious small miracles.
Are you taking time to see the “small miracles” in your own life? These are the moments when we catch our breath and glimpse the presence of the Divine.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat in their book, 100 Ways to Keep your Soul Alive, say that keeping your soul alive becomes urgent during tough times but even more crucial during good times, which is exactly what I have experienced. It is during the good times that we tend to forget the nurturing of that part of ourselves, and therefore we need to find ways for our souls to “catch up.”
Here are some important things they share about our souls:
- The soul savors the present moment.
- The soul savors simplicities.
- The soul is a meaning maker, always putting odd combinations together and spawning new possibilities.
- The soul is deep and doesn’t enjoy skimming the surface.
- The soul is always on the lookout for fresh wonders.
- The soul yearns for beauty and will seek it out continually.
- The soul and joy are good friends. Always give the soul’s ardors full expression. Don’t suppress your enthusiasm and your ecstasy—or your tears.
- The soul reaches out to others and finds fulfillment in community.
- The soul seeks out silence and solitude in order to hear the soft voice of God.
- The soul is fed by lifelong learning.
- The soul is nourished by ritual and celebration.
- The soul give thanks and counts blessings.
- The soul is a mystery and therefore has great respect for the inexplicable. Don’t try to figure everything out.
I have realized more and more recently that all my work with both organizations and individuals is about finding that sense of purpose and peace and the joy of living. When we take time to create a more joyful, caring workplace, a blending of our work and our personal lives, a focus on our work as service and making a difference in someone’s life, then we are at the same time nurturing our own souls. However, we MUST always remember to stop and rest each and every day. Only then will our souls catch up!
Right this moment stop what you are doing and carefully and fully observe your surroundings. Keep watching until you notice a miracle.
© Barbara Glanz Communications. All Rights Reserved.
Barbara Glanz Biography
A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.barbaraglanz.com.