The Nature of the Soul - It's Not What You Think
Who am I?
I can say that my name is Linda Goodman. Linda Goodman is a label I wear in this life, but is it who I am?
Okay, I could say I am Mrs Joe P. but that would be neither technically nor politically correct, and even if it was it would be one of the many roles I inhabit but not who I am.
I can say that I was born in Michigan, grew up there with 2 sisters in a nice quiet neighborhood, went to Michigan State, where I became so active in the movement to end the war in Vietnam that my parents cut me off, so I became self-sufficient at an early age. I was married, had 3 children, more jobs and businesses than I can even remember, more marriages than I like to admit, and am now living happily ever after with Joe. Well, that may be an interesting story but it is a series of events. It's not who I am.
I may say that I have felt pain, love, grief, joy, anger, and a good dollop of shame. All these emotions help define me as a human like you, but they are still not who I am.
Let me show you something. Right now, I would like you to point to yourself. Do you realize that you are pointing to your heart, not your head? We know without thinking about it that the constant narrative in our mind of what we should do, what we have done, what we are feeling, how we should act in order to not feel that way anymore ... That continuous mind chatter is not who we are. When we point to our “Self” we generally point to our heart center, the seat of love, passion, and compassion. The heart is more closely connected to our “Self” than the mind.
Just as the radio is not the music, the mind is not the soul. C.S. Lewis wrote, “You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” If what “I Am” is a soul, I don't need to look outside of my Self for spirit. I need to be aware that spirit is already in me and has been all along.
Jim Carrey said, “Like many of you, I was concerned about going out into the world and doing something bigger than myself, until someone smarter than myself made me realize that there is nothing bigger than myself. My soul is not contained within the limits of my body, my body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul.”
So to you I say, "Namaste. My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one." And I mean it from the center of my universe.
The arms of the Goddess enfold me.
Held within these loving arms, I have all I need.
She gives me green meadows to lie in,
still waters to reflect the flow of life.
When my soul is weary, she feeds it with her strength and beauty
and the memory that we are connected.
She shows me the path that I may choose to the greatest good
for I am in her image, I am her namesake, she dwells within me.
Though I may walk through dark valleys, no evil can harm my soul
for she is ever with me.
I feel the comfort of her loving guidance
in both delight and in unpleasant consequences.
She prepares a feast of nourishing opportunities for me and all of my relations,
for we all have gifts to offer each other when we gather together in community.
She has anointed me with unique gifts
that I might share for the nourishment of my fellow souls.
My cup is full to overflowing
so that I always have enough to help fill the cups of others.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall walk with me all my days
and I shall live in her love forever.
I have always had an uneasy feeling that I didn't really belong here. I had a fuzzy memory of coming from a place where loving kindness was the norm. Did I do something bad to be sent to this place, to work on some karma?
By the time my fourth marriage failed, (yes, four ... very slow learner) I was frankly getting very "homesick" for the place I had come from. Each relationship was more difficult, progressing from a thump on the head to a cosmic whack with a two-by-four. There was clearly something I wasn't "getting" and had no idea how to "get" it. I was tired, I was depressed, and I prayed to be allowed to take an "incomplete" for this life's lesson and just come home.
At that time I still had one child at home, a teen anxious to be independent. I made an agreement with the higher power to stick around until his eighteenth birthday and see him safely launched if I could please, please, please come home.
Within days of that youngest child's eighteenth birthday, right on schedule, I had a heart attack. Was this my ticket home? Apparently not, because I'm still here. So what happened?
The unseen hand was quietly, busily working to make some adjustments in my life journey. I had taken a long, long break from engaging in any kind of relationship out of fear of repeating that bewildering pattern a fifth time. I was determined there would be no more relationships in this lifetime. (Well, it hadn't occurred to me that a female business partner was also a relationship, but that's another story.) I took the time to get to know myself as a unique individual, not as a half of a relationship. As I got to know Linda, I discovered that I kind of liked Linda.
What was the difference between the person I was getting to know and the person who married that series of mismatched souls? Linda the wife was struggling (and failing) to be whoever I felt they wanted and needed me to be. I was so certain that if I could love enough and change enough it could work. It wasn't Linda.
In the process of making the most of the years I had left, I found opportunities for healing, for teaching, for singing, and for forming close friendships. In the many carpooling trips to music rehearsals with my friend Joe, we became close companions. Though we both denied any interest in a capital "R" relationship, after over two years of friendship we finally noticed that he was not only a friend but a man and I was a woman and we might explore other levels of love. We are friends, needing nothing from each other to complete ourselves, loving each other just as we are. I had become fully Linda and Joe loves the authentic me.
So when the exit door that I had scheduled opened, I had a heart attack. But I also had successful quintuple bypass surgery and have now had another 20 years so far to continue living, learning, and loving.
As Ghandi said, "Live as though you were to die tomorrow. Learn as though you were to live forever." I am grateful for the unexpected years I have had to continue learning and serving. I am no longer homesick for the other side, but I know that whenever I do leave it will be to return to a loving home. As long as I stay, I can also experience life in this body, on this plane, as a loving home. It's a win/win. I am grateful.