For the past eighteen months I have been slowly working through a book called All Will Be Well: Thirty Days with Julian of Norwich. The book pulls material from the sixteen showings Julian received from God. Each of the thirty readings has so much in it that I usually spend weeks working through it.
In the reading I’ve been ruminating on most recently, Julian describes one of her showings, in which she saw the soul as wide as if it were an unlimited realm. That sense of wideness has caused me to ask myself: how wide is my own soul? What would I say causes one’s soul to be wide?
Since Julian says that Jesus lives in the center of our soul, and her showings were revelations of God’s love for us, I think that love and grace likely determine the width of our soul. You can probably name people you’ve known whose soul is wide, because their hearts seem to expand with love for others. These are joyful people, and generous. They are too busy loving others to keep account of how they are treated. They love because it’s way more fun to love than to hold onto resentments. They don’t keep score; they don’t make their love conditional.
One of the wide-souled people I’ve known, who died several years ago, was a woman named Betty Sweet Simmons. Her name fit her perfectly, because she was a dear, sweet woman. When my children were young and performing in a Christmas program at church, I was sad because there were no grandparents coming to see them sing. I invited Betty Sweet to sit with us and thanked her for coming, and she said, “I wouldn’t miss this. These are all my grandchildren.” Her soul was wide enough to encompass all the children of the church, not just her own biological family.
I can’t recall off the top of my head the scripture reference, but the phrase “filled with the fullness of Christ” is one that comes to mind when I think of folks with wide souls. It would be impossible to be filled with the fullness of Christ and possess a narrow soul.
Julian says the soul is as wide as an unlimited realm. So a wide soul really has no boundaries. Its ability to grow and expand is limitless, which means all of life is changing and fresh for those who live with ever-widening souls.
I can think of no finer legacy to leave behind than to be known as one whose soul was wide.