What’s a Soul and Who’s a Saint?

“It is impossible to define what soul is. Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway; the soul prefers to imagine.” Thomas More, Care of the Soul: A Guide to Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life. (HarperPerennial: New York, 1992) xi

for All Saints/All Souls Day

I don’t think soul answers to “What?”
Sometimes I imagine soul is a set of images,
multi-layered, not on paper or in the cloud,
but hidden in the depths of me.
Often I forget it’s there,
or access it without knowing how,
and only briefly, before the calendars and emails
obscure it, the busy mind and body ignore it. 

In that glimpse of soul,
perhaps there’s an image of the Creator
in whose image I am made,
I take that as motivation to create,
and to seek a connection with creation.

Maybe, there’s an image of the unique me
as I was meant to be,
and I imagine that’s Saint Barbara,
the magnetic north to my spiritual journey.
Shall I approximate that image 
before or after death?

There’s also the here and now, warts and all me,
as I am now, when I drop the roles and masks.
When I allow soul’s nakedness,
wisdom sometimes surfaces,
insight is given. Sometimes I hear a call,
and stumble onto the path I vaguely see,
where I find love and awe, reverence and respect
deepening my awareness of soul.

I sense a longing that draws me
to connect with beauty and sacredness,
to emulate the Jesus I partly know,
but cannot possess, to open myself
to caring and to silence,
and to keep on seeking soul,
in words and paint and music,
and in the eyes of others.

Maybe the call and the longing
shape us into partial saints.
Immersing our incompleteness
in the whole body of Christ,
in communion and community,
we are linked to all saints,
participate and rejoice in their praise.
	Barbara Messner 2/11/2022

4 thoughts on “What’s a Soul and Who’s a Saint?

  1. Hi Barb,
    I have often pondered the meaning of soul, and agree with your line ‘I don’t think soul answers to “What”‘
    I ponder about soul food, soul music, or soulful music, a child who is described as an ‘old soul’ and of course the departed souls and lost souls. Soul for me is many things, including feelings, wisdom, creativity, protection and life force.
    Thank you for your thought provoking poetry.
    Jeannie (a bit of a lost soul!)


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