Daily Bread: Feeding the Soul

Sundays are spiritual days for me, as they are for many people, but perhaps not in the sense that you would expect. My relationship with God is intense and complex, and very private. I’m not about to get into that or any religious preaching here. I will not even tell you my religion, only that I have one. When I say spirituality, however, I am talking about my own spiritual health: the health of my soul.

I spend Sundays reflecting on myself and my behavior, reevaluating my goals and life plan, and making sure I am doing everything possible to be a good human. I need these days to recharge and realign myself. I am not, by nature, a gentle, sweet person. I tend to be moody, stand-offish, and easy to anger. Thus I spend my Sundays ensuring that I am in the right mindset to address these shortcomings throughout the week. In doing so, I often consume what I call my daily bread: Poems, short stories, lines from Proust, conversations with loved ones, and of course, plenty of actual bread and wine. There is definitely a sensual aspect to my spirituality. Right now it is a sunny spot, the wind playing with the window and whistling past the eves, a cozy blanket, and a hot cup of coffee. While I can’t share the sensual parts as well (digital coffee just isn’t the same), I thought I would share some of the written bread I am consuming today. I hope you enjoy.

I love poetry. There is nothing like it for opening and expanding the mind and feeding the soul. This morning I was rereading some of my favorite Wordsworth poems, and this one struck a chord.

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Wordsworth’s critique of society is perhaps even more poignant today, where technology follows us everywhere we go. And yes, I can appreciate the irony of me blogging this. Here are a couple more fantastic Wordsworth poems, if you are interested:

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge

I am also planning on spending some time reading Bluets by Maggie Nelson. If you haven’t read this short little treasure yet, I highly recommend it. Don’t go looking for a plot, though. It is just little snippets of obsession paired heavily with theme.  Here’s a little sample:

156. Why is the sky blue? -A fair enough question, and one I have learned the answer to several times. Yet every time I try to explain it to someone or remember it to myself, it eludes me. Now I like to remember the question alone, as it reminds me that my mind is essentially a sieve, that I am mortal.

157. The part I do remember: that the blue of the sky depends on the darkness of empty space behind it. As one optics journal puts it, “The color of any planetary atmosphere viewed against the black of space and illuminated by a sunlike star will also be blue.” In which case blue is something of an ecstatic accident produced by void and fire.

Proust is another one of my Sunday traditions. Again, this book is not about plot (are you sensing a theme to my Sundays), but about theme: The importance of memory and time. We plot all week long. Sometimes, in this hectic world, we get caught up in plot and forget about everything else. Sometimes it isn’t about where you are going or what you are doing, but where you have been and what you are experiencing. Slow down a little! Walk through the French countryside with Proust and go on a sensual adventure. See the world through the eyes of someone who truly understood humanity. Here’s a quote from Proust’s Swann’s Way:

The thirst for something other than what we have…to bring something new, even if it is worse, some emotion, some sorrow; when our sensibility, which happiness has silenced like an idle harp, wants to resonate under some hand, even a rough one, and even if it might be broken by it.

Music is another of those sensual pieces for me. I am spending some time with these two songs, letting them stir my heart, mind, and imagination. Do you have songs that do the same thing for you? Share them in the comments!

I am going to leave you with an enheartening quote. I hope your Sunday is a lovely one!

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.” ~Nelson Mandela