Most Sunday mornings you’ll find me in front of my TV watching CBS Sunday Morning, followed by segments of Meet the Press and/or Face the Nation, then Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday. Sometimes I’ll fill in the gaps with whatever’s on CNN, but not often.
I watch CBS Sunday Morning because I remember Charles Kuralt and they usually tell stories in greater depth than the weekly news shows do, plus, the stories are most often actually interesting. They appeal to my demographic.
Meet the Press has Chuck Todd, who took the place of Tim Russert, who was so engaging he could have slipped up behind you in a dark alley, boggled your mind with statistics, stabbed you in the chest (NEVER in the back!), left you writhing in pain and bleeding to death, and you would have never seen it coming—but you’d have been grateful.
Face the Nation is primarily a filler from time-to-time, kinda like the extra cardboard in a package that keeps valuables from breaking during shipping.
Super Soul Sunday (Oprah Winfrey Network) is a spiritual gem in my sometimes-less-than-humble opinion. I find that Oprah’s guests almost always have a deeply meaningful message. Sometimes the interviewees are famous, but not always. Sometimes the interviewees are non-traditional, but not always. Consistently, though, they speak from the heart.
At the end of every interview Oprah asks two questions: “What is the soul?” and “What’s your definition of ‘god’?” As one might expect, the responses are wide-ranging.
It’s important to remember that the very nature of language is symbolism. Our every word represents our ideas, thoughts, experiences. Who decided what to say “blue” is and what makes that “right”? What we call “blue” is universally accepted and agreed upon as being blue, but that doesn’t make it right or wrong. “Blue” is a word we’ve assigned to a range of colors, a feeling, and a genre of music. In the same sense, it’s important, yea, vital, to remember that spiritual beliefs are not facts that can be proven in a laboratory. Beliefs are just that: beliefs.
Not that anyone asked, but I believe that what we call the “soul” is the essence of our being. If our soul is our essence, we can’t say it’s a part of us because “essence” implies our fundamental nature—who we really are at the core. We are not the sum of our parts. We are the whole.
As for god, there are scores of ways to define the word and/or the name. I’m not particularly fond of using “god” in speech or in writing because of all the baggage that comes with it. If you say “god”, a cornucopia of connotations flood the mind. Which god? The Catholic god? The Protestant god? The Jewish god? The Pagan god? What about Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit? What about the Egyptian god, Re? Are you speaking of the vengeful or the loving god?
Being human as we are, we want to be able to describe all things. But there are things for which all our explanations and descriptions fall short. What does one call that which is ineffable? Every time we put a label on holiness and divinity, we restrict it and place limits on something that cannot be limited.
Near the end of his tête-à-tête with the voice from the burning bush, aka, god (see Exodus 3:13-14), Moses asked for god’s name. The voice replied, “I am who I am. This is what you say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you’” (NIV). The concept of “I am” has been an existential wonder to me since my junior high school days.
When asked for his definition of “god”, spiritual leader Panache Desai, recent guest on Super Soul Sunday, was silent for a few seconds. Then he spoke. “The silence is, for me, the best definition for ‘god’ that could be.”
My own belief is that the spiritual stirring at our center of being is what most call “god”. It can be experienced, but not labeled or named.
When we breath there is a micro-second at the end of each inhale and exhale—a brief suspension of the breath. I believe that god resides therein. How you describe that? You tell me.
Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Shamanic Life Coach, an ordained minister, a singer-songwriter, and an actor. He has portrayed Jesus onstage in both Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. (Originally published in Oxford, Mississippi’s The Local Voice, http://www.thelocalvoice.net/oxford/the-view-from-the-balcony-god-is/)