“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” Jean Shinoda Bolen
What nourishes you the most? How did you discover it? What place does it have in your life?
When I think of nourishment, four things come to mind: eating dinner, reading books, the forest and a spiritual practice. While we need food to survive physically, we also need nourishment for the mind and soul. Hopefully, we do more than just care for our bodies.
Food As Nourishment
I have a friend for whom cooking is an art form. Entering her house, I feel like I’ve walked into a New Orleans restaurant, for the aroma as well as the taste of the food is delicious. For her, cooking is about more than feeding the body to survive. It nourishes her soul as well.
Food often brings family or friends together. Around the table we share what we think about current events, our on-going activities, issues we need to work out with others, and hopes for the future. While this experience is less possible for some right now, my husband and I have used Zoom on holidays to eat together with family members. Seeing faces and hearing voices helps us feel more of the nourishment our mutual love brings to the table.
Reading As Nourishment
Most of my friends and I love to read books. Nonfiction books teach us about history and the reality of times we have not lived through. At times, this nourishment may not feel joyful as was the case when I read Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns. It is the story of the Black people’s migration from the south to the north. Some found their lives improved; others did not. But this information expanded my understanding of others’ experiences in a profound way.
Such stories allow us to understand life better even when we don’t like what the stories tell us. In that sense, opening our minds is a way of nourishing them and enriching our intellectual awareness. Reading fiction, on the other hand, may enrich our emotions. We empathize with the characters’ challenges, their loves and losses, and what they learn from these experiences. It may even help us to see events in our own lives in new and helpful ways.
Nature As Nourishment
Walking through a forest full of autumn leaves or empty branches opening to a winter sun nourishes my soul and calms my mind. In the spring, the abundance of beautiful green leaves and an array of colorful flowers feed all my senses with pleasure. In the forest I often feel I’m in heaven and the energy of Spirit is connecting with my spirit, feeding it with peace and understanding.
While I always feel spiritually nourished in the forest, I also feel sensually fed walking over rocky paths, tracking through grassy soil, enjoying the rush of a nearby stream, and being entertained by the melodies of bird song. In the spring with flowering trees and bushes all around, the color is visually nourishing and the mountain views and sunsets take my breath away.
Spiritual Practices As Nourishment
While the experiences I’ve mentioned require us to connect with something outside ourselves, some form of meditation or meditative movement nourishes the center of who we are. These experiences take us to the deepest parts of ourselves. Here, regardless of the mess we may think we have made of our lives, we are loved by the Spirit who loves us all.
Getting in touch with this peace within assists us in seeing the truth of what is happening in the life we live. Many times after meditation, a prayer time, or a quiet walk, I let the darkness clinging to my life drop away and allow the light of Spirit to cleanse and fill me with new spiritual nourishment.
In these moments, peace and joy may feed us with what we need most, so we need to remember how expansive the menu of life really is and allow all of it to nourish us.
© 2020 Georganne Spruce
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