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Social Activism and Soul Care

I was reading the article below last evening, and it struck me that in the today’s continually demanding climate for justice and advocacy work, that this reminder about ‘Soul Care’  and the sustenance of community life is something worth sharing.

Nano Nagle, founding the Presentation Congregation in 1775 in Cork, did not begin by theorising about spirituality.  She began by paying attention to her world and the needs of her people.  In the light of her Catholic faith, she experienced this reality as the call of the Spirit of God acting on her own spirit, awaiting her response.  So, over a period of years, she completely changed her way of living, acting, relating, in order to be true to her heart’s call.                                                                     ~ extract from ‘Fire on the Earth’, Raphael Consedine, PBVM                                                                                                  

Today, Presentation Sisters and Presentation people from many different cultural situations continue to draw inspiration from Nano’s life.  The universal mystery of the Spirit of God is always at work in human hearts, leading men and women of all cultures and religions to live according to their perceptions of goodness and truth.  In doing so they act in the unfolding history of  their own times and bring about a more truly human world.

Below is a short extract from the full text  of the article with a  link to the full piece included below.

The work of justice includes both the healing of our souls, and the healing of our world. Justice is not only about the fight for better systems or policies; it’s about longing for and seeking healing in places of brokenness.

Justice is a personal, communal, and systemic work. Removing the internal barriers of fear, self-centeredness, hatred, and hurt are just as important and necessary as removing the external barriers of marginalization, poverty. They are in fact one and the same work. When we divide the gospel into liberal (systemic) and conservative (personal) agendas, we impede the movement of justice into all areas of our lives and society.

This is why the civil rights movement was so impactful. The movement for justice was fueled and sustained by faith. The soul was not considered something separate from the body, it was the source, the epicentre, and the driver for non-violent resistance and hope-filled resilience.  Dr. King called this soulful way of doing justice “soul force.”

Soul force heals the misguided bifurcation between evangelism and social justice by showing the deep connection between our souls and our actions. We must recover the soul of justice, lest we end up cynical, burned out, and reactionary. Soul work sustains both individuals and communities in our justice work. We must not neglect our souls in the work for justice nor neglect justice to tend to our souls. We must commit to both lifestyles and collectives that demand soul care as a non-negotiable act of justice for all.

Here are a few practical ways to sustain our souls as we work for justice:

  1. Take care of your body. Because we are integrated beings, soul care is body care. If we want to be in the work long-term, we need to take care of our bodies by resting, drinking water, having good nutrition, sleeping well, and being physically active.
  2. Do what brings you life. Sustaining our souls requires taking time to do what brings life. This could be reading, writing, running, worshipping, meditating, meeting up with friends, or walking in a local park.
  3. Learn when to say no and when to say yes. Needs are always around us. Practicing discernment and setting boundaries will allow us to protect ourselves from burnout and help keep us focused on what we can do sustainably.
  4. Form community and collaborate. Forming community can be just as subversive as attending a protest. Doing life together with others motivates us to keep going and not give in to despair when things get difficult.
  5. Find a mentor, counsellor, or coach for personal growth and lifelong learning. Having a mentor, counsellor, or coach allows us to continue discovering and changing ourselves while we are working on changing the world.
  6. Commit to the long haul. When we commit for the long haul, we can take time for ourselves without feeling guilty. We can take breaks and rest, and give ourselves time to develop our capacities and gifts to create a sustained and lasting impact over a lifetime.

See link to the full text here:  In Justice Movements, We cannot neglect our Souls

See also: Hospitality of Heart




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