I was in Manhattan late yesterday afternoon for a photography assignment. This was the third time in two months I’ve been in the city. However, as I walk the city streets and look at passerby, I can’t help that the city has lost its soul. You see, I remember the New York of yore in the 70s and early 80s. Yes the city had its problems, however it had a life to it. Even when I was going there to photography classes in the mid-80s, there still was a beat it had; a vibrancy that you could feel. However over the years, thanks to “quality of life” initiatives that sucked out the raw and gritty life out of the city; and its new found popularity with consequent rent/mortgage increases (in spite of 9/11), New York has lost its soul. Now it’s a trendy place that appeals to a certain crowd-a place where I feel like I’m more on Mars (no offense to any Martians reading this).
Yet, it’s not just places that can lose their soul. People can lose their soul just as easily. Like we see in the scenario above, things can happen to us which can cause us to lose that which makes us. We make strides and changes in our lives, although may be good, end up taking something from us on the inside. Too often we hear stories about celebrities who started well, yet end up with jacked up lives-no matter how wealthy they are. Politicians who were once grassroots heroes/heroines, rise up in government and wind up becoming the darling of special interest groups that seduce them with dollars. Pastors of local congregations that had a heart for the people, lose touch when their congregations grow and churches expand and become famous.
Even those of us who may not be in the situations above can still lose our souls. A job, a relationship, even a ministry can change us-and sometimes not for the best. The “me” that makes us, that God placed in us, ends up being exchanged for a trinket, a title, or a temporary position in like. We think we “gain” the whole world, but in reality all we do is lose our souls-the essence of what God made us to be. And in today’s world, with so much out there trying to seduce us, this can be a real possibility. “Get rich quick” schemes on the internet and in our casinos, online hookups with any type of person we desire, “buy now, pay later” financing for the (fill in the blank) of our dreams, etc call to us and try to distract us from what the Divine calls us to be.
As we continue through Lent, we need to be on our guard from that which can cause us to trade in our souls. That which is truly “us,” our being in God’s image, can easily be exchanged for things we think are good. However, we end up getting a raw deal as we soon lose our souls/selves in the exchange. Let’s pray that God will help us to hold on to that which makes us who we are; what He/She created us to be; that we can keep that which makes us alive and energized.
Grace and Peace.
PS: The above passage of Scripture was part of a larger passage of Jesus’ message about the cost of following him. However, please note that this verse alone has been quoted numerous times; and can speak volumes all by itself.