Nourishing the Soul

Article by Mary Bea Sullivan


In Care of the Soul, Thomas Merton reminds us …


“Getting away from the world has always been a part of the spiritual life … Some concrete, physical expression of retreat could be the beginning of a spiritual life that would nourish the soul.  It could take the modest form of a drawer where dreams and thoughts are kept.  It could consist of five minutes in the morning dedicated to writing down the night’s dream or to reflect on the day ahead.  It might be the decision to take a walk through the woods instead of touring the shopping mall … These are modest forms of retreat that serve the spiritual needs of the soul.  Spirituality need not be grandiose in its ceremonials.  Indeed, the soul might benefit most when its spiritual life is performed in the context it favors – ordinary daily vernacular life.  But spirituality does demand attention, mindfulness, regularity, and devotion.  It asks for some small measure of withdrawal from a world set up to ignore soul.”


When my children Brendan and Kiki were young, I felt like I was losing myself to motherhood.  A wise friend counseled me to create a “Feed Your Soul Journal.” So I did …


Each day I would write down what I did to nourish that which was crying out deep within me.  The entries were simple – drinking a latte on the bench near the bird feeder, walking my dog Boomer alone, going outside while my husband did the dishes.  Some of these activities were new.  Many were not.  Considering what I wanted and needed, taking the time to notice that I was feeding my soul, helped me find myself again.


Today, I invite you to give yourself the gift of a “modest form of retreat,” a “small measure of withdrawal.”


What feeds your soul?  Could you block off a period of time – five minutes, half-an-hour – to allow yourself to reconnect with that still, small voice inside?


Perhaps the length of time is not as important as the act of carving out this sacred space and noticing the gift.


May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
       be pleasing in your sight,
       O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

-Psalm 19:14 (NIV)


Mary Bea Sullivan is the author of Dancing Naked Under the Moon – Uncovering the Wisdom Within, a compelling story about her pilgrimage toward wholeness.  She facilitates spiritual retreats and workshops for women’s groups and faith communities.  Mary Bea lives with her husband, Malcolm Marler, and their yellow (white really) lab, Daisy on Smith Lake in Alabama. For more information about Mary Bea Sullivan and her work, please visit


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Posted on 22 September, 2009 in Balance, Spirituality
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