Caring For The Most Important Part Of You

in the spirit of new year's resolutions : )


Understanding is the basis of care. What you would take care of you must first understand, whether it
be a petunia or a nation. If you would care for your spiritual core— your heart or will— you must
understand it. 

If you would form your heart in godliness or assist others in that process, you must understand what
the heart is and what it does, and especially its place in the overall system of human life. [1]

[Here is a helpful short story/analogy to illustrate the social nature of human beings- how the state of our soul impacts others around us and the degree of social cohesion within a society and culture].

"There once was a town high in the Alps that straddled the banks of a beautiful stream. The stream was fed by springs that were old as the earth and deep as the sea. 

The water was clear like crystal. Children laughed and played beside it; swans and geese swam on it. You could see the rocks and the sand and the rainbow trout that swarmed at the bottom of the stream. 

High in the hills, far beyond anyone’s sight, lived an old man who served as Keeper of the Springs. He had been hired so long ago that now no one could remember a time when he wasn’t there. He would travel from one spring to another in the hills, removing branches or fallen leaves or debris that might pollute the water. But his work was unseen. 

One year the town council decided they had better things to do with their money. No one supervised the old man anyway. They had roads to repair and taxes to collect and services to offer, and giving money to an unseen stream-cleaner had become a luxury they could no longer afford. 

So the old man left his post. High in the mountains, the springs went untended; twigs and branches and worse muddied the liquid flow. Mud and silt compacted the creek bed; farm wastes turned parts of the stream into stagnant bogs. 

For a time no one in the village noticed. But after a while, the water was not the same. It began to look brackish. The swans flew away to live elsewhere. The water no longer had a crisp scent that drew children to play by it. Some people in the town began to grow ill. All noticed the loss of sparkling beauty that used to flow between the banks of the streams that fed the town. The life of the village depended on the stream, and the life of the stream depended on the keeper. 

The city council reconvened, the money was found, the old man was rehired. After yet another time, 
the springs were cleaned, the stream was pure, children played again on its banks, illness was replaced
by health, the swans came home, and the village came back to life.

The life of a village depended on the health of the stream.The stream is your soul. And you are the keeper." [2]

"Our soul is like a stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of our life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the
vastness of God and his kingdom, including nature; and all else within us is enlivened and directed by that stream [Proverbs 4:23; Mark 8:34-38]. Therefore we are in harmony with God, reality, and the rest of human nature and nature at large." [3]

--I'll offer an anatomy of the soul with definitions of the interrelated faculties of the soul/psyche/personal self later as well as biblical directions for how to nourish the hunger of the soul and cultivate spiritual/soul health so that our life fulfills God's creation intention OF BEING A BLESSING TO OTHERS AND GLORIFYING HIM. 

We have been made in God's image [Genesis 1:26-27]. We are embodied spiritual beings-imago Dei/image bearers of God. Images [think mirror image or pictures] reflect a greater reality. In the case of photographs, images are representations of a greater reality. God has a self/soul and is the absolute Person and community in whose personal and social image we have been made [see Jeremiah 2:11-13 for an example of stream imagery/an analogous use of language for imparting knowledge of God's being/ God's soul and see Jeremiah 32:36-41 for an example of God's passion for doing good revealing the excellency/moral goodness of his heart (the causal center of his personhood) and his soul (the fullness of his immaterial or spiritual/personal being). 

[1] Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart
[2] John Ortberg, Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You
[3] Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart