An encounter with Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, cannot help but touch us in our entirety — our emotions, intellects, and even bodies. But in addition to calling us to love God with our hearts, minds, and strength, Jesus calls us to also employ our souls in this supreme endeavor. We're not quite sure what "the soul" is exactly, but for the sake of this column, let's say it is that part of us that most directly processes spiritual experiences, that mysterious part of us that connects in some immediate way with, as the mystics put it, "Ultimate Reality."

As we begin another Lent, it seems fitting to meditate on the state of our souls. And many will do that, and all for the good. But I suspect this will be a mistake for others. Instead, let me suggest that caring for our souls might be the most significant thing we can give up for Lent.

We shouldn't give up thinking about our souls altogether — any more than we should abandon pondering our minds or our bodies. Part of the human adventure is to understand ourselves, the mysterious and divine gift that is us. You are not going to find someone who writes a column called "Soulwork" suggesting indifference to the soul!

But Lent is that season of the church year when we deal with those thoughts and habits and addictions that get in the way of loving God. For many in our narcissistic culture, soul care is somewhere between an obsessive-compulsive disorder and an addiction.

Given our natural fascination with ourselves, it's hard to write about the soul without ending up talking about the self and stuff that makes us feel better about ourselves. The title of a soon-to-be-released book — Your Soul's Plan: Discovering the Real Meaning of the Life You Planned ...

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In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is former editor in chief of Christianity Today and author, most recently, of Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals.
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