When The Soul Calls

“In This Moment”

In this moment
One foot in front of the other
I hear chickadee
I see spaciousness of blue above me

In this moment
One foot in front of the other
The road meets my feet, while
Above a flock of blue birds migrate

In this moment
One foot in front of the other
I make my daily walk
To the broken tree

In this moment
One foot in front of the other
I host the longings in my heart
As the friends they are

In this moment
One foot in front of the other
one foot
then the other
In this moment.
—Julie, October 8, 2016


When the soul calls, listen

Listening to soul means to listen to the call of your heart to what it is that your highest, and wildest self wants for you. This may take the form of messages encrypted in your dreams, encounters with another, or some feverish call within that can’t be shaken or discounted by usual measures of denial. These encounters are like a sound through the dense forest that starts out quiet and increases, as they get closer. Or may be more like a forest fire that rages and gets hotter as it nears your home. You will have to evacuate or be destroyed. You will have to venture out from your comfort zone if you really want to find out what is truly calling you.

Listening to our soul is not about moving toward something external. Or when it includes some external changes, it should not be all about that. Often we leave a marriage or a job only to move toward another person or a new job. If this is the case, our energy should not be distracted by that new person or that new job. For when our focus is too much on another person or situation, we will likely miss the actual journey itself, which is where the gifts of soul are offered and is what the soul’s calling is really all about.

Hearing soul burn through the forest in our direction is the call of the Creative, of the Wild Woman or Man. It’s is the sound of the Great Mother-Father-God reaching out to us. The soul arrives to open the door, to create a passageway for you to open up to the fullness of your life. This has nothing to do with religion. This is a listening to the soul – a time of encountering and knowing who we are.

This means, we move into the fire; we move toward the sound.

Sometimes we walk toward another fooled that this person is the fire. But You are the Fire. We are the fire. I am the fire. The “other” is relevant only after we have walked into and through the flames of the soul.

Moving toward soul and listening to the soul’s calling depends on emotional awareness and trusting one’s intuition and one’s personal experiences. Emotional awareness is key, for if our journey is held only in the intellect of the mind with fine words we will miss both the message of the soul and the journey itself.

A favorite passage of mine, which points to the suffering that can occur on a personal basis when we don’t listen to our soul, is Jesus’s quote from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas:

“If you bring forth what is within you
what is within you will save you.
If you do not bring forth that which is within you
What you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

In listening to your soul, clear away the negative chatter that may exist in your mind and in your environment. Negative chatter in your mind may take the form of self-talk wherein you say “I should,” “I have to,” or “I can’t.” The negative chatter in your environment may be due to the drama of others, or dogma that you break out of and are reprimanded for, others’ stories of your experience, and/or others’ demands or influence. We have to be willing to appear selfish to others in our explorations of soul.

“The divided life is a wounded life, and the soul keeps calling us to heal the wound. Ignore that call, and we find ourselves trying to numb our pain with an anesthetic of choice, be it substance abuse, overwork, consumerism, or mindless media noise. -Parker J. Palmer. A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

We can’t know what’s going to happen. This is why we may have a tendency to latch on to something or someone when fear and anxiety arise. When we feel the fire of soul we may panic. Our fear then ties our ride to the wave of change with an attachment to something or someone because we can’t control how or where things will play out and we are comforted by the presence of an objective to aim for or another person to place our future on.

Many people seek my guidance after they have arrived in their new destination or relationship and are confused by the way it is limiting them and the unhappiness it has brought them. They rushed or forced a certain outcome and lost an opportunity to open up to all that was truly possible. They avoided entering the fire, least they perish entirely. But as we have all heard, it is the journey not the destination that rewards us the most. As evidenced by these unhappy people, in trying to control the journey, we may miss so much!

Also, others may want to interfere or influence our journey’s outcome. This most likely means that they may not be on their own journey or/and are overly focused on or invested in ours. As John O’Donohue expresses in Anam Cara, “You can never love another person unless you are equally involved in the beautiful, but difficult spiritual work of learning to love yourself.” Don’t be distracted by another’s intellect or solutions, even when it is offered up in beautiful words and slogans. Instead, see that everything in front of you is speaking to you—rely on what each moment brings and, as best you can, remain curious and open to communication with your soul and your spiritual source (whatever that may be for you).

Soul wants to bring you to a tipping point where you will say “yes” to yourself.

What Happens When We Don’t Listen to Soul’s Calling?
Soul is calling you and trying to get your attention when you sense the rumbling of change in your heart or beneath your feet. Soul is calling you when you feel the heat of the fire or hear some sound approaching through the woods but cannot yet see it.
If we don’t listen to soul, initially we tend to have an emotional crisis, then a spiritual one, and then, a physical crisis that brings us to our knees (literally). So! Listen to your emotions and intuition and trust that the impetus is coming from a true place within you.

An emotional crisis can take the form of anxiety, grief, depression, fear (especially of loss), anger, and any emotion that feels disruptive and overwhelming.

“The core message of all the great spiritual traditions is ‘Be not afraid.’ Rather, be confident that life is good and trustworthy. In this light, the great failure is not that of leading a full and vital active life, with all the mistakes and suffering such a life will bring (along with its joys). Instead, the failure is to withdraw fearfully from the place to which one is called, to squander the most precious of all our birthrights—the experience of aliveness itself. . . .
The experience of aliveness must never degenerate into a narcissistic celebration of self—for if it does, it dies. Aliveness is relational and communal, responsive to the reality and needs of others as well as to our own. For some of us, the primary path to that aliveness is called the active life. We need a spirituality which affirms and guides our efforts to act in ways that resonate with our innermost being and reality, ways that embody the vitalities God gave us at birth, ways that serve the great works of justice, peace, and love.” –Parker J. Palmer, The Active Life

A spiritual crisis is one where you are brought to such questions as Who am I? Where and to whom do I belong? Why has God abandoned me? What do I believe? What can I trust? Why is this happening to me? Spiritual principles and beliefs you have relied on in the past may now be points of pain and confusion for you.

A physical crisis can start out with breathlessness and various aches and pains that trigger fear and anxiety but start to get your attention. It’s all about getting your attention. How many people have shared that some physical crisis brought them back into a truer path for their life? How many have spoken about the injury they got that, for them, was their final wake-up call to follow their heart and soul to a truer (or next) calling?

“Sadly it is often loss that awakens presence; by then it is too late. It is wise to pray for the grace of recognition. Inspired by awareness, you may then discover beside you the anam cara of whom your longing has always dreamed.”     —John O’Donohue, Anam Cara 

So ideally we want to listen to the emotional calling of the soul, so that we don’t have to experience a spiritual or physical crisis. Fortunately, I have found in myself and others that an emotional and spiritual crisis is hard to ignore. Then again, the physical is impossible to ignore (but many do).

I borrow the above prayer from Anam Cara to help me recognize my soul’s calling: I pray for the grace of recognition. I pray for the recognition to know when to act and when not to; to know what to listen to and what to leave behind; I pray for the grace to recognize true friendship; I pray for the grace of recognition and to recognize where I belong. I pray for the grace of recognition when it comes to others and how I can serve them too as I listen to my soul.

Finally, such a journey is not selfish but helps bring to fruition the soulfulness of every living thing: “‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ (Gandhi) The implication is clear. Because we are all a part of the whole, when we heal something in ourselves, we heal it for the world. Each individual consciousness is connected at the energetic level; therefore, personal healing encourages collective healing. The crucial point is: by changing ourselves, we change the world.”
—France Grace, Ph.D, in the foreword to Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raises them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a summer dawn to enter
—with what gratitude, what joy—
ports seen for the first time;
to shop at Phoenician trading centers
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But do not in the least hurry the journey.
Better that it lasts for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.

Ithaka gave you the splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn’t anything else to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka has not deceived you.
So wise have you become, of such experience,
that already you will have understood what these Ithakas mean.
—Constantine Cavafy, C. P. Cavafy, “The City” from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press. Source: C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems (Princeton University Press, 1975)


I am available for individual consultation in person, via Skype and phone: julie@julietallardjohnson.com

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