Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Food for the soul includes memory and meaning

The Simple Kitchen refers to Thomas Moore's essay, "Food for the Soul" in today's blog entry "Cherries are ripe":
Moore "argues that we’ve lost the 'soul' of food – our connection to memory and meaning – by no longer selecting, preparing and eating with pleasure and attention.

I was contemplating this idea of the 'soul' of food when, during a visit to our local library, I was surprised by a fragrance that I couldn’t immediately place. My mind searched for a few seconds while I breathed in the fragrance – sweet, warm and honeyed. “What IS that?” I said aloud, straining to remember. A moment later my mind found it – ah … honeysuckle! And, in an instant, I was standing in my grandparent’s backyard, in Grandpa’s garden."
After describing memories of grandfather from thirty years before, with a particular focus on cherries, the entry concludes, "I am still contemplating Moore’s idea of the 'soul' of food, but on this point I agree with him – 'food serves memory,' aiding, attending and supporting the richness of memory and experience." A recipe for Julia Child’s Cherry Clafouti is included.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How we may connect through our imperfection

Today Piper Lauri Salogga Interiors blogs "Your Beautiful Imperfection" with reference to Thomas Moore's book, Care of the Soul. Under a screen grab of The Reclining Buddha, featured on Moore's site and painted by his wife, Hari Kirin Kaur Khalsa, the blogger writes:
"Humans, nature and life are all inherently imperfect. Bumps in the road, broken branches, decaying plans are all part of life and in fact, a BEAUTIFUL, SOFT OPENING FOR CONNECTION with ourselves and with one and other. Thomas Moore, in Care of the Soul, identifies the darker parts of ourselves as a valuable form of communication from our soul to our living-self. If we are only in pursuit of happiness and perfection, we will miss these rich pieces of information that let us know what we are truly needing to feel fulfilled and alive."
After naming a few current popular self-help speakers, the blogger continues, "I do believe our attitudes have much to do with the reality we experience. And I believe, and have experienced, that affirmations alone will not bridge the gap between my human imperfection and the best-self I desire to be. The piece about nurturing and accepting my less-than-perfectness is missing from these motivational philosophers’ equations."

In following Moore's approach, the writer suggests, "What I am suggesting, even taking a stand for, is that we need to believe in ourselves, believe in our dreams, know and express our own greatness that wants to be shared, AND allow, even expect ourselves to trip and fall as we are reaching to live the lives we desire. This is how we learn, how we grow, how we roll as human beings."

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A cup of tea: take time to make things special

Today in her post, "Tea for two – it’s the small things in life that count", Cynthia mentions two books by Thomas Moore: The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life and Care of the Soul. She writes that Moore "talks about taking the time to make things special. It’s been a while since I read his book but the idea stayed with me. The image of a beautiful tea pot, beautiful cups and flavoursome tea was inspiring." She describes a recent visit to a tea shop in Sydney and concludes with a sentiment probably also shared by Moore, "It’s the small things in life that count."

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Soul finds pleasure in its material reflections

James Hillman and Thomas Moore write about soul's need to see itself in our physical environments. Two recent unrelated posts refer to Moore's observations about this need. W. Arthur Mehrhoff, academic coordinator of the Missouri University Museum of Art & Archaeology, writes, "Museum preserves cultural memory" in which he introduces his guardian angel, a terra cotta architectural feature from his childhood  – "This beautiful winged figure was created by the Winkle Terra Cotta Manufacturing Company of my hometown, Saint Louis, and once adorned the 1898 Title Guaranty Building in downtown Saint Louis." While advocating for the value of preserving historic buildings, Mehrhoff incudes:
"Psychologist Thomas Moore writes that “the soul is always searching for itself, and takes great pleasure when it finds itself mirrored in the material world.” Not everyone gets a second chance in life, so each morning the academic coordinator (that would be me) pays heartfelt respects to my own goddess of Memory.

Because of the Museum of Art & Archaeology’s commitment to preserving our cultural memory, I find my soul mirrored in its material objects through a most astonishing and inspiring alchemy. I also feel extraordinarily blessed to share the enchantment of our lavish heritage with a new generation of students and to help them reconnect to that great heritage in the wake of disenchanted development. I invite you to come to the museum and find that missing piece of your own soul …"
The museum is in Pickard Hall on Francis Quadrangle, Univeristy of Missouri, at the corner of Ninth Street and University Avenue in Columbia, Missouri.
Pickard Hall, University of Missouri

In "Back to the high street", Jane Jose writes about this fourth dimension of public space while attending a conference in Adelaide:
"The conference drew a new generation of devotees of the idea that big box shopping centres are not the key to making the places people feel good in. A young team from Adelaide, Ianto Ware and Lara Torr, who have started a business called renew Adelaide – caught my attention. Using an idea sent to them on social media they mobilised young people and found a vacant shop in Adelaide’s West End and negotiated with the owner George Kambitsis to use the property to set up a “ lounge room in the city “ for young people. The Reading Room, complete with recycled furniture, a library of books, music and games opened to a packed crowd. It was set up with a meagre budget of $500 by volunteers who all connected through social media. It’s a great example of the fourth dimension, the people stuff mattering more than the first, the property development.  It has imagination, creativity and authenticity."
Jose shares:
"It is this humanity of places that is in the fourth dimension. The fourth dimension of place making puts emphasis on people, community, culture and connection. US writer Thomas Moore’s quote from his book Soul Mates gives a useful kind of definition to the fourth dimension: “While soul is what allows us to make intimate connections and so create community – even a global and universal sense of shared life – it is also responsible for our most profound sense of individuality and uniqueness. Those two – community and individuality – go together. You can’t have a genuine community unless it consists of true individuals, and you can’t be an individual unless you are deeply involved in community.” In all my work in place-making emphasis is on the individual and his or her particular local “world”. For me the fourth dimension is really the first dimension."

Kenison writes about soulful living with children

"Mitten Strings for God" is the title of a post by Cooney and Jones (Radio for Women), and the title of a book by Katrina Kenison. The post includes:
 "Kenison’s children were 5 and 8 when she wrote her first book, but her journey began long before that. She had been reading a book by Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul.  In the book, Moore said to “remember what it was like to be a child again.”  These words struck a chord in Kenison.  She remembered being bored as a kid and having to think up games to play; getting dirty outside, imagination and play were key. There were no daily dance classes, baseball, football, etc… Maybe one or two, but definitely not all in the same week.  She realized she was responsible for not just room, board, activities and carpool for her children but was entrusted to care for their souls."
This post includes four guidelines for living soulfully with children and reactions from others who enjoy the book's themese of Quiet and Simplifying. Kenison also wrote, The Gift of the Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir.  A YouTube video shows her reading from this book. Her third book describes empty nesters: "It will be about discovering who you are after the kids are gone. About redefining and reinventing yourself ..."

Friday, June 03, 2011

Dark nights of the soul are meaningful events

Today "Curious" in Atlanta, Georgia writes about Thomas Moore's book, Dark Nights of the Soul for the Empathy Community. She includes, "just wanted to share my notes ..." however it is difficult to separate her responses from Moore's actual text. One direct quote should be Moore's distinction, "Depression is a label and a syndrome, while a dark night is a meaningful event. Depression is a psychological sickness; a dark night is a spiritual event."

Moore also writes, "Many people think that the point in life is to solve their problems and be happy. But happiness is usually a fleeting sensation, and you never get rid of problems. Your purpose in life may be to become more who you are and more engaged with the people and the life around you, to really live your life. This may sound obvious, yet many people spend their time avoiding life. A dark night may appear, paradoxically, as a way to return to living. It pares life down to its essentials and helps you get a new start." Unfortunately, "Curious" doesn't indicate Moore's words in quotation marks.

Her last reference is from page 117. Moore writes, "Perhaps the dark night comes upon you from inside to wake you up, to stir you and to steer you toward a new life. I believe this is the message of most religions, and certainly the gist of Christianity and Buddhism. Your dark night may be a bardo, a period of apparent lifelessness that precedes a new birth of meaning. Maybe your dark night is a gestation, a coming into being of a level of existence you have never dreamed of. Maybe your dark night is one big ironical challenge, just the opposite of what it appears to be – not a dying, but a birthing."

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