Fat Souls

A favourite person/writer, Patricia Adams-Farmer is an author/philosopher/theologian. She is a gifted and engaging writer, and I find I connect with her imagery and her ideas of genuine beauty and what this might look like in real life as a person of faith or someone with a broader spiritual perspective.

In her book "Fat Souls. A Philosophy of S-I-Z-E," Adams-Farmer launches from an idea by Bernard Loomer (1912-1985). Loomer would start his lecture with the question: "How big is your soul?" Provoking his audience to go deeper, cutting to the heart of what matters.

In his essay entitled "S-I-Z-E is the Measure," Loomer explains:

"By S-I-Z-E I mean the stature of [your] soul, the range and depth of [your] Love, [your] capacity for relationships. I mean the volume of life you can take into your being and still maintain your integrity and individuality, the intensity and variety of outlook you can entertain in the unity of your being without feeling defensive or insecure. I mean the strength of your spirit to encourage others to become freer in the development of their diversity and uniqueness. I mean the power to sustain more complex and enriching tensions. I mean the magnanimity of concern to provide conditions that enable others to increase in stature." 

The ultimate example of a Fat Soul would be God, the world's very Soul. God, as a truly Fat Soul, "lures us and all creation to widening circles of Beauty." The idea that God is profoundly relational and longs for genuinely beautiful, love-inspired relationships and interconnected wholeness.

Adams-Farmer helps land this for us by sharing a nugget from Madeline, a fictional character from Fat Souls Friday "A beautiful soul is a large soul, one that can overcome the smallness and pettiness of our human condition. A really fat soul can welcome diverse people, ideas, and ways of being in the world without feeling threatened. A fat soul experiences the intensity of life in its fullness, even the painful side of life, and knows there is something still bigger."

While deeply inspiring, I also know that it can seem very overwhelming. Like most things I find deeply moving and inspiring (and a little really scary), I am reminded of how my Grandma would let out a belly laugh as she encouraged me when I was feeling overwhelmed: "One bite at a time, Mike. Just one bite at a time."

I am reminded that as we grow and mature, we leave some things behind us to grasp the next stage. This is part of the birth, death, and new life rhythm. Another way to think about this is we include and transcend. The aspects we leave behind are integrated as we grow towards more wholeness. These experiences, (even the painful ones) are recycled and redeemed, forming the substance for our ongoing becoming. In Love, nothing is wasted.

Being truly human means we come to peace with our shadows and shortcomings. We learn to integrate them, recognizing that we can grow without losing what is truly unique and wonderful about us as individuals.  Nothing truly genuine is really ever lost.

As I am given to say, "It's direction, not perfection (tip of the hat to John Wimber). As I have written in Becoming Love, our lives are very much our being on their way to more being. I think that this lived becoming (Love) is how we cultivate our Fat Souls

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