In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The soul and Family


I'm captivated by the book I'm currently reading, Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore.

In his chapter "The Myths of Family and Childhood", Moore makes some points I've never really thought about. One of which he states this way:

" What if we thought of the family less as the determining influence by which we are formed and more the raw material from which we can make a life?"

What a liberating way to look at life!

Instead of seeing the misfortunes that may have come our way in our families as the reason we have specific problems, we can see all events as leading to the the person we can become. As I read this I'm reminded of a beloved bible passage in Romans 8:32; The Message paraphrase puts it this way:

That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Moore also had an interesting reflection on the place of family in reference to the individual's soul:

"The soul prospers in an environment that is concrete, particular, and vernacular. It feeds on the details of life, on it's variety, its quirks, and its idiosyncrasies. Therefore, nothing is more suitable for the care of the soul than family, because the experience of family includes so much of the particulars of life. In a family you live close to people that otherwise you might not even want to talk to. Over time you get to know them intimately. You learn their most minuscule, most private habits and characteristics. Family life is full of major and minor crises - the ups and downs of health, success and failure in career, marriage, and divorce - all kinds of characters. It is tied to places and events and histories. With all of these felt details, life etches itself into memory and personality. It's difficult to imagine anything more nourishing to the soul."

"If we don't grasp this mystery, the soulfulness that family has to offer each of us will be spirited away in hygienic notions of what a family should be. The sentimental image of family that we present publicly is a defense against the pain of proclaiming the family for what it is - a sometimes comforting, sometimes devastating house of life and memory."

For me these words of Moore brought recognition that I have definitely had a "hygienic notion" of what family should be. Neither my family of origin nor my current family lived up to the sentimental image. But Moore's concept here if full of acceptance. It offers a paradigm that allows me to look at the reality of life, memories, & family in a similar fashion to how I look at myths; archetypes to illustrate lessons I can grow from and be nourished by.

Very interesting food for thought.

How do you think family nourishes the soul?

3 comments:

Overwhelmed! said...

Hey, I wanted to let you know that I've got some free books up for grabs as part of my November Pay It Forward Book Exchange. Stop by if you're interested in a chance to win. :)

Bryan Riley said...

I think family is such an excellent microcosm of all that we need to learn about God and His love for us. He is a God of relationship, and the very first relationship He creates in Genesis is the marriage relationship. He brings two together just as He is the Trinity and He puts in us a desire to relate to others, just as He Himself has. And, once you have children, you begin to see how He, the Father, loves us. Your sons can never be more or less your sons, just as you can never be less His daughter. You just are His daughter no matter what.

I also think that is why He values family so much.

Tracy said...

Thanks for that input Bryan.

I totally understand what you mean about how our children cause us to beer understand God's love.

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