The preface page in White Hyacinths, one of my favorite books by Elbert Hubbard, cites a simple quote, “If I had but two loaves of bread I would sell one of them and buy White Hyacinths to feed my soul.” I am so intrigued by that quote. It entices me to ponder the question, how do we feed our soul?
Music has fed my soul all my life, just as it has for so many of you reading this today. I think of the powerful tunes I often turn to in time of personal need. For example, when I feel at the top of my world, completing challenging tasks, advocating for people or for what is right, deciding to go against the grain to take a stand, I always turn to a song from the musical, Yentl, entitled, A Piece of Sky, sung by Barbra Streisand. I can conquer the world after listening to that song. It feeds my soul. When I am contemplative or needing to reflect, I turn to, Stay With Us, sung by collegiate choral groups. I feel so much at peace as the tune weaves its way into my spirit. I won’t forget the time I lay on a bed waiting for the radiologist to come in to report the results of a thyroid biopsy. I remember mentally listening to my husband’s Gospel quartet sing, The Tree of Life. I remember thinking, “How can I hear all four parts of the quartet in my brain, but cannot reproduce them to come out of my mouth?” These are but three example of tunes that just send me, climb into my soul, and make me feel motivated or at peace.
It would do each of us well to identify those things that feed our soul. One of my most meaningful areas in which I volunteer my time and experience as a mental health counselor and EMT is working to debrief emergency responders (hospital, ambulance, fire, and police) after a traumatic call. We have a process we use to help those public servants deal with the effects of tending to a traumatic event and recovering from those memories. One of the things we do at the end of that debriefing experience is to go around and have all those attending identify what I call their “copers,” or rather the thing they love to do so much that time just goes away. The example I always give for me is being able to sit down at the piano and play and play or to stand over a jig-saw puzzle and fit those elusive pieces neatly into their home. Rarely do we find someone who has no “coper” in their life. The purpose is to name that thing that feeds one’s soul.
If you do not know if you would identify as that “coper” in your life or that “thing to do” that sends you to a place where you can tackle any challenge or find your reflective corner of peace, then I urge you to start a journey to find those “things” that feed your soul. Music and hobbies are so much more than those things we add as identifiers in our lives that support our uniqueness. God made us individuals, God wired us with the need to hear music and respond in powerful ways. God made within us the restless need to keep music or that thing you can do for endless moments as white hyacinths to feed our soul. God created joy and created it for us. So, what might that be for you? Take some time, some moments, and try on the thing that “sends you,” makes you want to stay in the moment, makes you feel peace with your world. Then you will know there are white hyacinths growing and blooming nearby…blooming in your soul.