While the owners would not appreciate it, I hope no one purchases a lot and builds a home in the River Hill subdivision.  That undeveloped subdivision provided the setting for a wonderful meal of soul food tonight.

All of us need nourishment for the deepest part of ourselves, the place from which we draw strength for traveling through days that are sometimes filled with too much to do.  Often much of what fills our days does not nourish our souls but instead drains the life and strength and stamina from us.

While my days are not so full as they have been in the past, and Mary Ann’s and my time together is going pretty well, the need for feeding my soul remains.  Tonight it was fed.

Twila came to stay with Mary Ann.  They seemed to enjoy their time together.  There was progress made on a novel — a different one from Elaine’s Sunday morning book.  I headed out to that spot high on a hill, above and behind a new shopping area.  There is a new street that has been constructed, and I am sure the area has been platted with very expensive lots.  No one has bought a lot and built yet.

The spot has trees on both sides bordering the field of varied and colorful weeds that will probably one day be lawns and houses.  The view to the west is beyond description.  There are trees and fields and low rolling hills that extend all the way to the horizon many miles away.  A little area of the Kansas River is visible.  The railroad tracks run along side the tracks. Trains can often be seen and whistles heard as they move along those tracks.

Today, while Mary Ann was looking for a couple of books at the library, I noticed the shelves containing the Classical Music CD’s.  I picked a couple almost at random.  One is called “The Prayer Cycle” by Jonathan Elias.  Actually it both confused and intrigued me when I looked at it more carefully.  It is listed as a choral symphony in nine movements.  The confusing part was that those listed as performers included Alanis Morissette, James Taylor, the American Boychoir, John Williams, Linda Ronstadt, The English Chamber Orchestra and Chorus, and a number of people with names suggesting a variety of nationalities.

To describe the experience I need to borrow a Greek word.  Maybe having to take seven years of Greek is paying off.  The word I am borrowing is the word for compassion. The Greek word for compassion transliterated into English is splangknidzomai.  The first part of the word, splangkna, means viscera, innards, guts.  That is where the Ancient Greeks understood deep feelings to reside. Given the size of the antacid business, I suspect the Ancient Greeks were right. Tonight, the music on that CD combined with the sounds and sights of that remarkable setting to reach into the depths of my splangkna to stir and lift my spirit.

The sun was still a couple of hours from setting when I looked at it hanging in the west.  There were some thin and hazy clouds muting its brightness.  As it moved lower in the sky, it became less and less visible.  The cloudiness had no clear boundary, except that it sort of melted into a mist in the trees on the horizon.  There was just a powerful calming in the view from that hill.

The trees on one side in particular were quaking in the wind providing more power to the calming effect.  They were not the Quaking Aspen of Colorado, but another member of the family.  There were, of course, birds to be seen and heard.  One tiny bird sang a wonderfully complex melody so loudly that I could hear it over the music on the CD.

There was a hawk sailing around for a bit.  I am convinced that the hawk was as exhilarated by the currents under his wings lifting him as I was by the sights and sounds on that hill lifting my spirit.  There were some swallows that appeared to be dancing with one another in midair.  I realized that the dance was their way of catching food.  Without the dance, they would die.  I felt as if I was being surrounded by metaphors one after another filled with clues for living meaningfully.

One part of the scene was the intrusion of the relentless sound of tires on the pavement of a nearby Interstate.  That sound actually seemed to help balance the exhiliration of my lifted spirit with the practical realities of my daily experiences.

Then there was the music.  The music blended choral, instrumental and chant together in the same pieces.  The chant was odd.  It was certainly not Gregorian Chant.  One semester in the Seminary, I had a class in the Solemnes style of Gregorian Chant.  For three years I sang in a small chant ensemble that sang at weekly chapel services.  While this was not Gregorian, it was chant.  The chant and choral music was sung in a variety of languages, Hungarian, Mali, Swahili, Dwala, Tibetan, German, French, Urdu, Latin, English, Italian, Hebrew, and Spanish.  For some reason I had the odd feeling that this chant was a reverent, multilingual, classical style of Rap.

I was struck by the way rich chords and complex dissonances contrasted one another, each more beautiful because it was next to the other.  In the moments of silence between phrases in the music, the birds and the wind in the trees and the sounds of traffic folded more prominently into the experience.

With this feeble attempt at translating the sights and sounds of a moving, spirit lifting experience into words, I intend to say that a couple of hours well spent can feed the soul of a Caregiver whose days may be filled with activities that do not necessarily lift the spirit.  For me, it is the soul feeding experiences that help bring meaning to the daily tasks.  With a well-fed soul, the Caregiving itself can become soul food.

Eat heartily!

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