I stumbled across Patricia Adams-Farmer - an author/philosopher/theologian, and she has written a few books, two of which I am reading through now. 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 more broad spiritual perspective.
In her book "Fat Souls. A Philosophy of S-I-Z-E," she launches from an idea Bernard Loomer (1912-1985). Loomer would start his lecture with the question: "Hope big is your soul?" In a very real sense, to provoke his audience to deeper, to cut to the heart of what really 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."
A massive question.
Farmer was deeply moved by this statement and started to imagine what a Fat Soul Philosophy (spirituality) might look like. A Fat Soul quite simply is a beautiful soul. The ultimate example of a Fat Soul would be God, the very Soul of the world. God, as a truly Fat Soul, "lures us and all creation to widening circles of Beauty." The idea that God is deeply relational and longs for genuinely beautiful, love-inspired relationships and for us to know that each of us matter. Every choice we make, every simple act of Love, compassion and mercy – that we are uniquely co-creators of the Kin-dom of God.
Farmer shares an insight 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 my Grandma letting out a deep belly laugh as she encouraged me, "One bite at a time, Mike. Just one bite at a time." Loomer lightens the burden reminding us that there are limits to that which we can include and hold. We are finite as human beings and limited in our capacity to understand, by our fears, our experiences and our proximity to the other, but this is all part of what it is to be human, right? Being truly human means we come to peace with our shadows and shortcomings (firstly, that we have them). It is also recognizing that we also can grow without sacrificing what is truly unique and wonderful about us as individuals. As I am given to say, "as always, it's direction, not perfection. 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 Soul.
Fat Soul: A Philosophy of S-I-Z-E - https://www.amazon.ca/Soul-S-I-Z-Patricia-Adams-Farmer/dp/1523460881/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1636049638&sr=8-3
What is Fat Soul Philosophy: https://www.openhorizons.org/what-is-fat-soul-philosophy.html