Branches of Hope

The Chaplain's Blog

A place of pause and reflection in the spirit of
finding meaning and spiritual health.

spiritual grounding

Soul Health – Time to Refuel

 If the soul is where our deepest sense of self resides, and where we spiritually ground our way of being and experience of this world, then caring for our soul is essential. Intensity, high pace living and distraction can draw us in further than we may desire. Sooner or later our soul will seek some nourishment. Being drained, loss of hope and missing our sense of joy can signal a need to spiritually refuel. That can differ for each of us, and will often take some exploration to identify.

It was through a painting that I discovered that a sense of wonder, awe, ties to those who lived centuries before me and time to reflect were nourishing. At that same point in time, people around me found that prayer, singing, climbing to 14,ooo feet above sea level, running the canyon, photography, writing a poem or caring about others fed their soul. What refuels us can evolve over time, correspond to what we are feeling and engaged in at the time, and relate to our own spiritual growth. Soul health improves the quality of life, and our ability to participate in it. How do you feed your soul?

Blank Newsprint

There is something wonderful about markers, big blank newsprint taped to a conference room wall and a diverse team of people working on an idea together.

One engineer, one marketing specialist on a new journey, one corporate leader, and a chaplain got together to brainstorm. Things let loose and ideas flowed as we moved from paper to paper adding our inspiration. Our hearts and minds came together in a creative process.

The pace was brisk. Ideas spanned logic, the sublime and “never thought if it that way”. Words poured out and drawings emerged. Every mark on paper inspired the next. Each person was vital to the process. It truly was a “whole soul, essence, no pie/no pieces/all whole” experience.

It was also a blessing!

Life Metaphors

There are times when looking at things in a concentrated problem solving way can blind us to ideas budding around us. It may be good to sit for a while and look around with a heart that is open to inspiration. Often it is through stepping back, letting go of the need to solve the problem now and to just be, that inspiration comes.

One spring after a hard winter, the leaves that usually appear on the old bush didn’t appear. Through a great deal of pruning it was revealed that there was rich growth underneath. It was hard work to get to the new growth. But it was worth it. In the garden, like life, rich growth may be where we don’t anticipate it and we come upon it unexpectedly.

What catches your eye and attention?

Does it hold a metaphor for life that is refreshing?

Has something that you experienced inspired a new more fruitful direction?


Being sure in a complex world is not always an option. Contradictions abound and proof is frequently disproven.

Yet as part of our innermost nature, there are times that we may seek a sure thing. To rely on someone or something with trust that builds a foundation and hope in our life. To know we are safe. Being sure has its benefits and drawbacks. It may ground us, or it can challenge our deepest values and emotions. There are times when being sure is alarming and hard to accept.

There is another kind of sure in life. It holds truth and speaks of certainty. It speaks to faithfulness. We hear about it in prayer, song, scripture and conversation.

In a word, it is Amen. 

Collecting Dust

A pastel painting hung on the studio wall. It wasn’t framed. The artist saw it every day - for years. The piece was an enigma that collected dust. It was not clear what it needed, but the artist felt it needed something.

The day came to decide. Clarity came in an unexpected way. What was missing was the artist’s decision that it was done. It had been done for quite some time but until that moment the artist couldn’t see it. Before any change of mind it was framed.

An urge to keep perfecting and overworking a painting or another aspect of life can eliminate its essence and value. Areas of uneven texture created by the artist’s hand, looked rough and lacked precision. They needed to be honored, not erased. The time came to realize that it was whole in its own way. Do you have something to dust off and see again with new eyes?

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