I don’t know why slicing time into units and then assigning those units significance so appeals to the human brain, but it does. And so here we are in a New Year. Even though I recognize the folly in it, I too feel the freshness of it. The new start. The unblemished beginning. I am excited too.
This holiday season I have become taken with a line in the song O Holy Night. I don’t know why I’ve never “heard” it before this year, as it’s long been a favorite carol of mine, but the line goes: Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
The soul felt its worth. What does that even mean, really? I know Christian dogma assigns us a soul because we, above all other living creatures, are made in the image of God. But I’ve always felt that was a little egotistical of us. It is hard for me to see that the bulk of a human is made in the likeness of the divine. Our fear, our greed, our need to amass resources, which gets further perverted into a need for dominance and power. Our jealousy, our vengefulness, and our spite when our need for dominance and power is denied.
All of that a man can be, with just the brain to work with. Our marvelous brain that is clever and creative and separates us from the other beasts. And our somewhat older, equally marvelous brain that reminds us of just how like all the other beasts we actually are. No, I do not see the shape of the divine there or in the rest of our body, not even in our opposable thumbs. I think the divine tucked its likeness into a much smaller part of us. That which we call our soul. The soul is, however, easy enough to ignore. All that is earthly in us almost demands it. Our brain has a desire to keep us breathing in and out with the greatest amount of comfort and ease possible. But in that lies error. And I do think it leaves us pining for something…more.
It occurred to me the other day that most of my learning about Jesus’ teachings has come from song. Apparently there is a sterner Jesus in the Bible. But my Jesus is always speaking about love; healing those things that need healed; giving hope when the darkest hours are upon us. He is just. He shies away from power, preferring a meeker and more humble path. He ignores worldly reward and instead finds his ease in giving to and caring for others, without judgement or a weighing of worthiness. He asked us to allow our soul to animate our intellect and ignite our heart. And then he gave himself in sacrifice, a martyr to the soul’s cause, to give legitimacy to that part of us which is divine. It was a rather radical idea at that time in history. And though it is no longer a rather radical idea, it is still a rather radical way of life, if we are to be honest about it.
I am not sad that my understanding of Jesus comes from song. It has helped my soul feel its worth in wonderful ways. And though I am not a true believer, my understanding of the divine having branched out in many directions, I still love the feeling, the truth, behind that line. How boundless love is the one true path to a human’s worth.
Which is all to say…may your New Year’s resolutions, affirmations, hopes and dreams be made of those things that feed a boundless love of yourself and of others so that all may be right and well with your soul!