Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
Prov. 4:23, NASB
Soul Care: intentional care of the place inside of us that is growing towards true self.
“Soul” is defined here as the hidden or “spiritual” side of being an image bearer. Parker Palmer uses the metaphor: the soul is like a wild animal, which honors its mystery and reflects the spirit’s essence. Like a wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places. Yet despite its toughness, the soul is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush, especially when other people are around. If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out. But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently at the base of a tree, breathe with the earth, and fade into our surroundings, the wild creature we seek might put in an appearance.
Soul care is about creating a safe space together so that the “wild animal” the human soul can come out of the hidden place that it prefers. Together we help each other grow toward true self by offering unconditional love, neither judging each other to be deficient nor trying to force one another to change but accepting each other exactly as we are. This space does not promote spiritual apathy but we are drawn forward by a love that makes us want to grow from the inside out. In such a space, we are freed to hear our own truth, touch what brings us joy, become self-accepting about our faults, and take risky steps toward change---knowing that we will be accepted no matter what the outcome.
Soul care is a gift that helps us develop ways of living and being that facilitates our becoming fully human and deeply alive.