Sh’ma by the River 5—Loving the Great Spirit with All My Little Soul
by Debbonnaire Kovacs
by Debbonnaire Kovacs
submitted Dec 4, 2013
Hear, O Israel,
the Lord your God, the Lord is One.
You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your mind
and with all your soul
and with all your strength.*
Many people separate soul from spirit and think of them as two different things, or as two different aspects of selfhood. I don’t do that. As Adventists, we believe a human being is a soul, rather than possessing a soul. We believe we are one being, that mind and body cannot be separated (except for consideration, such as in this series). What we do with our thoughts affects our physical health. What we do with our bodies affects our spiritual health. It’s all one.
If I were to draw a diagram of the self, it would look something like this:
The three smaller circles would be the body, mind, and heart, or emotions. The little spot in the center is where we are our full, true selves—all elements and aspects of us living and functioning as one whole being—a human soul. The large circle represents the Holy Spirit—the soul or spirit of God, “in whom we live and move and have our being.”
During this series, we have considered how to learn better to love God, others, and ourselves from our whole physical selves, our whole minds, and our whole hearts. To learn what it means to love God, others, and ourselves with our whole souls, just put it all together. Simple. Hard! Almost impossible! But simple. When all of our little circles are centered inside God’s big circle, then the peace God brings seeps into the center. It comes into our stomachs, and calms them. It comes into our emotions and lives with us in and through them. It comes into our heads and gives us a new outlook on life.
Simple, it may be, but it can also be scary. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is often likened to wind. (The Hebrew and Greek words are the same—so is the English, but we’ve kind of lost it inside other words: inspire, respire, and perspire all share the same base as spirit, and they’re all about breath. So, for that matter, is expire.) Today, here in the last week of my Cape Breton Sabbatical by the river, the wind is so powerful it reminds me of that text in Acts, about “the sound of a mighty, rushing wind.” The cabin is shaking. When I went outside, I experienced something I’ve often said, but it’s never been actually true before—the wind really did nearly knock me down. When I would pick up a foot to take a step, that leg would be blown out from under me. The wind blew away my ice chest and all its contents, and took a large wooden picnic table off the porch and dumped it in the yard in two pieces.
Today, beside the river (from a safe distance, inside) I’m thinking about what it might really mean to throw my whole, puny, little spirit, my whole broken self, all my body, all my mind, all my heart, all my love, into the whirlwind that is the Holy Spirit of God, and go wherever that Spirit chooses to take me.
Do I have the nerve?
*These words combine the Sh’ma, found in Deut 6:4, 5, with Jesus’ words in Luke10:27, to give all four: heart, mind, soul, and strength.