I'm all alone in a corner tea house in the middle of downtown Chicago. There are people walking through life in their rainboots and oxfords outside. It is afternoon and I am cold. The man across from me is wearing mint green pants and a group of Koreans just came in chattering, one tripping up the stairs in her Hello Kitty galoshes. I catch the eye of a man walking outside, I wonder who he is talking to on his smart phone. He dips his head against the drizzle and keeps walking. This weekend's conference is for Creatives. That's what we're called these days. These days in which we make adjectives into nouns and capitalize them with an air of ego, a dash of narcissim, and a whole heap of are-we-good-enoughs thrown in for good measure. We are a room full of introverts, stumbling through life in our too big for us boots and our too small for us dreams. At the end of today I realized that it was not a conference for Creatives or Artists or even Storytellers. It was a conference for souls.
I catch another eye outside the window of the tea shop, she has her nose buried in a pink scarf and her blond hair is falling messy around her pink cheeks.
We are not as alone as we feel.
Maybe the problem is that we just don't look at one another in the eye? Who was it who said that eyes are the windows to the soul? Cliched? Perhaps. But cliche becomes because there is truth hidden in lines like these.
Why don't we look one another in the eye? What are we afraid of? A human? A being? A person with a life and a story, one who is attempting to make something beautiful out of the cards dealt them? A soul?
So this has been two days full of ministry to the soul, the untapped region. Untapped because we are afraid of it enough in others that we begin to fear it in ourselves as well.
I know what my soul is capable of and I don't even know a fraction of what my soul is capable of.
It is capable, most of all, of worshipping itself, putting its eyes on the temporal, the carnal, the seasonal bounty. But today I have that inkling of hope again that He shows me the way to life, real life, is the fullness of worshipping Him alone.
That feels insurmountable, I'm telling you the truth. I got on a plane yesterday morning, put my head against the seat, and asked God, please, to refresh me, to fill my soul and the hurting parts, the lonely parts, the soulish parts of me that are wrapped up in this temporal kingdom. I have taken my eyes off the Creator, put them on the creation, and that creation isn't even worthy of a second glance if He is not my first.
If it is true what He says—that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and I believe it is true, then it must be true too that the only way to the Father is through Him.
I don't forget that, no, but I overlook it. I look over it and put my eyes on beautiful places, but they're not ultimate places or the fullest of places, they're just good enough places.
I catch the eye of a little girl who just came in with her mother, she looks away, taught so young that we take our eyes away from the beautiful thing that is the soul. I wonder if it is our mutual turning away that teaches us it is okay to look away from depth. If that is when we learn to take our eyes off the faith that is childlike and full, certain that He can do what He says He can do and He is Who He says He is.
And if that is true, how can we unlearn it on this side of heaven?
I hold the glance of a man in a flannel shirt walking past the window. I will myself to not look away and he, surprisingly, doesn't look away either. I turn up the side of my mouth and he nods his head at me and passes from my view.