Soul – the practice of diving deep

Theme for April

Each month, our church gathers around a monthly theme and practice to guide our congregational life: worship, small groups, religious education, justice, and classes. Use these readings for reflection around the dinner table, in your own prayer practice, alone or with others.

Download 2016.4 Soul – the practice of diving deep packet


  • What do you believe about the soul?
  • How has diving deep in self-reflection brought you insight or wisdom?
  • How do you guard against self-absorption?
  • What makes a person, place, or object soulful?
  • What practices help you dive deep and grow your soul so that you can more faithfully serve the world?



It takes a long time to sift through the more superficial voices of your own gift in order to enter into the deep significance and tonality of your Otherness. When you speak from that deep, inner voice, you are really speaking from the unique tabernacle of your own presence. There is a voice within you that no one, not even you, has ever heard. Give yourself the opportunity of silence and begin to develop your listening in order to hear, deep within yourself, the music of your own spirit.
-John O’Donohue

When someone witnesses something amazing, what matters most is not ‘out there’ . .. but deep within, at the vital emotional center of witness.
-Lawrence Weschler 

My soul is in the sky.
- Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s DreamWhen you do things from your soul you feel a river moving in you, a joy. When action comes from another part of you, the feeling disappears.
-RumiThe first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
-Black Elk, Oglala Sioux

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing
and right-doing there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
-RumiPut your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.
-Anne SextonLove makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
- Zora Neale Hurston


The divine will
is a deep abyss
of which the present moment
is the entrance.
If you plunge
into this abyss
you will find it
infinitely more vast
than your
-Jean Pierre de Caussade

The search may begin
with a restless feeling, as
if one were being watched.
One turns in all directions
and sees nothing. Yet
one senses that there is a
source for this deep
restlessness, and the path
that leads there is not a
path to a strange place,
but the path home.
-Peter Matthiessen

When Great Trees Fall
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.”
-Maya Angelou

Diving Deep
Diving deep into an ocean
Unseen surreal depths
Confronted with a prospect so
daunting As to sink without trace

To jump from dizzying heights
Dispelling thoughts of consequences
That may well be faced
A choice between now or never
No more doubts must linger
Or time to waste

A mind that has jumped
Into an unknown abyss
A fast beating heart sunk
Whilst that lump of fear caught in the
As fast as eyes could blink

Descending through the air
A weightless body splashed
Into a watery world
Never explored before
Using both arms to float
Swimming with fishes
Breathing beneath an ocean’s surface
Guided by dolphins

Whilst blurry eyes were unable to
clearly see
A once cautiously reluctant soul
Stopped being afraid
Of whatever it may face
Diving deep
Into a oceanic future
Even if it is an absolute mystery.
-Sinclair Azubuike



For most of us, clarity comes only fitfully, in sudden glimpses or slow revelations. Quakers refer to these insights as openings. When I first heard the term from a Friend who was counseling me about my resistance to the Vietnam War, I though of how on an overcast day, sunlight pours through a break in the clouds. After the clouds drift on, eclipsing the sun, the sun keeps shining behind the veil, and the memory of its light shines on in the mind.
-Scott Russell Sanders


There is a part of us that is purely and essentially us. The best version of all our attributes. The blueprint, so to speak, of who we could become. The soul. Soul work is the process of bringing the essential self – the soul – out of hiding. It’s a fundamental shift away from occupying the constructed self, and toward the art of living from our soul.  Soul work begins with the knowledge that the soul is always trying to move us toward wholeness. When we learn the movements of the soul we can begin to deconstruct the habits of the self-we-became-instead and yield to the profound joy and wisdom of who-we-could-have-been-all-along.
-Phyllis Mathis