In a dark room, have you ever noticed a faint light out of the corner of your eye? It’s unmistakable, but when you turn to face it, it disappears. At first, you shrug with indifference. But then you glimpse it again out of the corner of your eye. You turn again, and again it’s gone.
What’s going on?
The reason we have this experience is because our peripheral vision is more sensitive to light than our focal vision. So certain levels of light can only be glimpsed from the side, not head on.
The soul is the same.
To stare right at it is to see it disappear. To run at it is to spook it. It is best glimpsed indirectly. Parker Palmer writes:
The soul is like a wild animal — tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, self-sufficient. It knows how to survive in hard places. But it is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush. 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 walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently by the base of the tree, and face into our surroundings, the wild animal we seek might put in an appearance.Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness as quoted in Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton
So as we begin to chase soul, we must realize this is an altogether different chase. It will not look like whacking through the thicket and thundering down its trail in pursuit. It will look more like laying out food, waiting and watching…creating space.
In the coming days, we will consider some ways to bait the soul.