While I often write about books in this blog space, I see the practice of Soul Reading as being about so much more. Reading, in its broadest definition, is about taking in and making sense of new information. And like other contemplative activities, it requires a special kind of energy – a conscious discernment and openness – in seeing the possibility for learning everywhere and in a mindful sorting of this learning.
Like other contemplative activities, soul reading is also an act of compassion. To see fully, to try to understand more, to hear the witness and testimony of others’ experiences without judgement is often the most loving action we can take in a given situation. If we want to love what God loves, then shouldn’t our “reading” be about a stance we bring to the world – one that’s open to seeing and learning about all of creation all of the time?
What I’m “Reading”
Friends, my book-reading activity over the past five months has been a little pitiful. I am NOT going to make my Goodreads goal this year of reading 50 books. At the rate I’m going, I will be lucky to get through 30.
I was frustrated with myself about this for a while until it dawned on me that I am actually in a period of reading-overload. It just happens to not be book-reading at the moment. I started a new job earlier this year. I’m serving as the Connections Coordinator at my church and I have been “reading” a whole lot that is not contained in books.
For example, in my new job my reading is about:
The connection needs/wants/desires of the members of my congregation
Learning to work with new colleagues – how to engage with them, how to be supportive, how to align my work with theirs, and how to get things done in a new system
Program development, planning, evaluation
No wonder my book reading life feels “dry.” I’m reading so much else right now with as much openness and conscious discernment as I can.
This is my soul reading and my soulful life at this moment in my life.
Other Ways to Read
One of my favorite things I’ve done on this blog in the past year is to suggest some other ways to extend soul reading beyond the books you read to this broader way of looking at the world. Films are an obvious deviation from reading books as they are most often fictional stories and therefore conform rather easily to the Soul Reading process. But travel experiences are also times when we are more intensely taking in new information. And the News is often just begging for us to bring a dose of mindfulness to it, especially in these turbulent and divisive times.
Does this broader concept of reading resonate with you? What else would be good material to use with the Soul Reading process? I would love to hear other ideas.