Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Habitat for the Soul

My 93 year old Father-in-law’s birthday pie is finally in the oven and I’m reflecting on other early-summer traditions.

Many of my Canada Day memories are located in the final days of camp staff training, readying ourselves to provide good ‘habitat for the soul’ for children coming to church camp.

This ‘habitat of the soul’ phrase was a gift given last week during a Circle of Trust® retreat. I had mentioned Parker Palmer’s description of the soul as like a wild animal: tough, resilient, resourceful, saavy – and also shy. The soul, he says, seeks safety, especially when other people are around. It takes a good deal of self-discipline to create the conditions that will make it safe for a soul to appear. (You can read more about this in his book, A Hidden Wholeness.)

After a few days of creating such conditions on retreat together, Natalie Maxson said, “Not only is the soul like a wild animal, but I think it’s also an endangered species. It’s losing habitat. Retreats like this provide habitat for the soul.”

Yes! This is why such retreats and ministries like church camp are so essential. Church camp staff have been in my daily prayers over the past weeks, as I pray with gratitude for them and pray that their souls will be strong and safe enough to hold safe space – good habitat – for other souls this summer.

Most will enjoy the advantages of being in places well suited to listening to God’s voice within, in community, and in creation, surrounded by water, forest, and starlit skies.

During my visit in Maritime Conference a few weeks ago, the Rev. Russell Daye introduced me to the large Town Hall gathering held at St. Andrew’s, Halifax (prior to another very large gathering at Sackville United’s Town Hall) as a former camp director. It’s the first time I’ve been introduced as Moderator in this way, and I delighted in it. Russ went on to say that of all the preparation required to be Moderator, he couldn’t think of a better training ground than directing camp. May it be so, as I prayerfully try to do my part to ensure safe and nourishing habitat for the souls of all in our church, as we deal with the inevitable bumps along the way as intentional Christian community.

I have found the past six weeks to be extraordinarily full of stimulating conversations in visits throughout the church. It felt as if Pentecost came early and I haven’t been able to keep up to date with my blogging. There will be much more to say about all of this in the days to come, but for now… may you find nourishing habitat for your soul in this season of abundance! (Afterall, the soul’s healing requires that it first find a home.)

I wonder where your soul feels most ‘at home’?