Monday, August 30, 2010
What Feeds Your Soul?
When I asked my Iona students to introduce themselves at our first class meeting, I asked the question: What did you do over the summer that fed your soul? As usual, the answers were both interesting and revealing.
Here are some of their answers: going to the beach, visiting friends, spending time with family, travel, spending time alone, doing nothing. The most common answer was a pleasant surprise-- several students worked as camp counselors and said that working with younger kids was soul-nourishing.
While what feeds our souls has an individual element to it, I believe that giving our time in the service of others is universally soul-feeding. We were created in a way that when we give of ourselves that we receive back even more.
I have found this to be true in my life. Even though I have often been a reluctant volunteer, invariably I have found fulfillment in helping others. The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast was yesterday and it reminded me of a week-long work trip to Gulfport, Mississippi I took four and a half years ago. The work was dirty and hard, but I felt a deep sense of satisfaction at having done a small part in the recovery effort.
What makes helping others even more soul-nourishing is when we don't expect or require anything in return. When we don't expect a reward for self-giving, we receive the "reward" of satisfaction and fulfillment.