A Bird and a Soul

A Bird and a Soul

Dear friends,

I’m thinking about how heavy the world feels lately.  I’m thinking about the ways it can feel so easy to accept the weight of the world’s suffering into my heart, onto my body, and to become heavy with the burden of it.  I’m thinking about how hard it can be to breathe under that weight.

Author and activist Parker Palmer wrote, “Like a wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places.”  How fortunate we are that we – each of us – carries this tough, resilient, savvy animal within us.  My mind has been consumed lately with how we learn to be together in this world we find ourselves in – a world that often feels rough and divisive, even with our savvy, resilient souls.  I have been thinking about how we learn to hold each other in this world.  I’m wondering how we learn to let ourselves be held.

Palmer speaks about the ways we can become heavy with the burdens of the world, and yet, in community and our be-ing with each other, he reminds us that “A bird and a soul are very light things.” The image of a tiny songbird held lightly on a finger or in a cupped hand has stayed with me.  It is so light, so fragile, and must be held so tenderly – but it does not weigh down the hand. It does not rest like a burden. It is tough and resilient and powerful.  It is a privilege, really, to hold such a small, beautiful thing.

I am thinking about the privilege we have of holding small beautiful pieces of one another’s journeys. I am remembering that it should leave me full of awe every time I am able to walk with people and am entrusted with their small, beautiful, tenacious soul. Even when the terrain is difficult; even when the colors of the soul are dark and stormy; even when there is anger, and fear, and death, and terror.  Even then. A bird and a soul are very light things. It is a privilege to hold something so beautiful, so fragile. A soul is not heavy. It is not mine to keep. It is my job to hold it gently, tenderly, to feel its lightness in my hand.  And then, to let it go.

In these beautiful, heart-breaking, devastating, hopeful, complicated times, may we hold one another tenderly.  May we delight in the fragile, tenacious, wonder-filled lightness of community.  May we feel our tough, resilient, and powerful souls.

In faith,



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