By Rev. David Berkey
After the third hour of sitting at my desk, alone, with some phone calls, emails and a Zoom to show for it, I keep wondering about the spiritual perspective of this world in which we are now living. Like that Wesleyan question people of faith ask one another: “How is it with your soul?”
News of mass shootings, war, racism, celebrity videos, divisive rhetoric, climate change, and leaders deceiving their constituents bombards our soul — weakening its ability to respond with fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (our summer camp theme). Access to that Spirit, which feeds our soul, strengthens it, gives it resilience against the onslaught, often seems more remote these days.
I write today just days after the shooting at Michigan State University that killed three students and wounded five more. We learned the shooter was deeply depressed and profoundly sad, and his act left thousands in the same way. Studies reveal that young people’s frequency of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are at an all-time high. The COVID-19 pandemic created a culture that left many of us isolated and withdrawn, lacking community and human interaction.
We are called to respond to these complex challenges with the tools God has given us. It is challenging and I don’t minimize the depth of the despair around us. And yet we can offer some antidotes to the insolation and bombardment of our souls.
3 Way to Reach for the Spirit
Reach for the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always there and ready for us. Like a growing fruit-bearing tree, we must work to find nourishing soil, fresh water, and enriching sunlight so that we can bear healthy fruit for ourselves and others. Like spiritual guardians of the good, we must fight to protect and strengthen our soul for this age and this time. Here are three ways to reach for the spirit.
The Soil of Connection. It is fun to see memes and inspirational quotes on social media, yet calling a friend to check in might be even more meaningful. Tuning in to online church services are vital for the home-bound, yet consider how your soul may be strengthened through in-person community. Tech tools are essential for work and communication, yet perhaps a Lenten fast from those electronic practices that damage our soul and keep us isolated may be just what you need.
The Water of Learning. Immerse yourself in something new. Try a new spiritual practice at one of our retreats. Take up a new hobby or sport. Summer campers learn and grow in all sorts of ways as they try things like archery, canoeing or creating a skit together. What have you always wanted to learn? Let’s make it happen!
The Sunlight of Creation. As leaders of camp and retreat experiences, Michigan Area United Methodist Camping offers creative ways to meet the yearnings of our souls in these challenging times. You’ll find sacred places set apart in God’s creation, time to be with others or just yourself, and caring Christian hospitality. What does your soul call for right now? Email or call me with an idea. We’re on the journey with you.
You are in the fruit-bearing business! It is what you were made to do. Your soul rejoices in receiving good soil, fresh water, and abundant light through the power of the Holy Spirit.