soul keeping

soul keeping

(2014) by John Ortberg (@johnortberg) ( ( – dedicated to Dallas Willard



foreword by henry cloud


it seems maddie still has no interest in having an interior life.. i will never forget it.. that statement said it all.. no interest in looking at her internal world.. her avoidance at of embracing her real suffering and the courage to resolve it.. as long as she was not going to embrace her ‘interior life’ we all knew that her ‘life’ was not going to change much at all..  with other people our task was to help provide paths, skills, and resources for them to embrace and develop their interior and interpersonal world, w maddie out task was to get her to see that she has one.. there really is a ‘life’ inside of her that gives rise to the external life she complains about every day.. to see, embrace, and develop her internal life.. her real life.. john ortberg is doing that for us in this book

but too.. (convo w o) costello screen service law.. et al

seeing us as one.. and the need for the healing to be across the board [to get to the roots of healing.. it has to be all of us]


it is a human condition.. we ignore our internal life, and a s a result , we do not have the outside ‘life’ that we desire, relationally or functionally. we get lost and we need help to be reminded to work on that internal ‘life’ the real one.. what john is calling our ‘soul’

maté basic needs.. to get us back/to our fittingness

our soul is our real life.. it is the one from which everything else emanates.. it is the one that god breathed into mankind, when we became ‘living souls’

that’s how we get global change/equity.. by going to and organizing around.. what is already in each one of us (so that there is no gap of training/prep et al)

your soul is not a temporary state..  not a focus for your ‘quiet time’ or just your spiritual journey.. it is your real life


the ultimate reality of who you are.. past today’s circumstance or context.. the eternal now that will be your eternal you.. take a diligent interest and stewardship of this life that god has breathed.. this soul..


john has done both.. awakened us and guided us..

i’m thinking if we have a means to waken us.. all in sync (so the dance will dance).. the deeper/eternal/diverse/ongoing guidance.. is already in us.. i think that thinking we need to be guided.. or that we need to guide others.. is what got us to be like whales in sea world

that not trusting that he breathed a soul in each of us.. not buts.. no strings.. unconditional

let’s do thisfirstfree art-ists. for (blank)’s sake

there’s a nother way.. self talk as data

a story of (people grokking what matters) soul/world peace



story of keeper of stream and health of community.. the life of a village depended on the health of the stream.. the stream is our soul. and you are the keeper


dallas – the renovation of the heart: our soul is like a stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of our life.

intro – holy ground


box canyon has had two more or less famous residents: charles manson and dallas willard.. such are the possibilities of the human soul..

i did not know then what i would learn over may years – that he was a healer of souls. i ddid not know that his home in that quirky little canyon was a kind of spiritual hospital..  long ago people used to speak of spiritual leaders as those who have been entrusted with the ‘cure of souls’ we get old words like curate from that expression. dallas was the first soul curate i knew

curate ness


on the thinker/feeler scale, dallas was almost pure thinker, but there were times when in speaking or praying, his voice has a tremulous note that suggested a heart that was nearly bursting over some unseen wonder


the other remarkable characteristic of his body was how unhurried he was.. his face and the movements of his body all seemed to say that he had no place else to go and nothing in particular to worry about

with dallas there was nearly always a long pause.. ‘hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. you must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life’

i had the odd sensation.. (many others have as well) .. of having my own heart rate begin to slow down to match his


‘the most important thing in your life is not what you do’ it’s who you become.. you are an unceasing spiritual being w an eternal destiny in god’s great universe..  that’s the most important thing for you to know about you.. .. you think you have to be someplace else or accomplish something more to find peace. but it’s right here.. god has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.. your soul is not just something that lives on after your body dies.. it’s the most important thing about you.. it’ is your life’.. dallas


dallas once wrote about a tiny child who crept into his father’s bedroom to sleep. in the dark, knowing his father was present was enough tot take away his sense of aloneness.. ‘is your face turned toward me father” he would ask.. ‘yes’ his father replied ‘my face is turned toward you’.. only then could the child go to sleep

peter on sleep et al

over the years i sought dallas’s wisdom to help me understand the human soul.. but i did not really just want to know about any soul.. i wanted to know that my soul is not alone.. i wanted to know that a face is turned toward it..

part 1 – what the soul is

1 – the soul nobody knows


greatness of soul is available to people who do not have the luxury of being ecstatic about the condition and appearance of their bodies

2 – what is the soul


it was as though impatience and worry were simply not in his body.. he had an inner life that seemed at peace w the life everyone else sees..


there was leisure of spirit to him. it sounds strange to say, but he had an overwhelmingly calm face..

in one of his books, dallas: ‘wha tis running your life at any given moment is your soul. not external circumstances, not your thoughts/intentions/feelings.. but your soul.. the soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self.. the soul is the life center of human beings


dallas: if your souls is healthy, no external circumstance can destroy  your life. if your souls is unhealthy, no external circumstance can redeem your life..


dallas: if you try to improve your soul by willpower, you will exhaust yourself and everyone around  you


your soul s is what integrates your will/mind/body in t a single life.. the operating system of your life.. when you are connected s god and other people in life, you have a healthy soul


the more we focus on our selves, the more we neglect our souls.. the word psychologist comes from the greek word psyche, which actually means ‘soul’..

despite the rise of the mental health profession, people are becoming increasingly vulnerable to depression

self is a stand alone do it yourself unit, while the soul reminds us we are not made for ourselves.. soul is needed for deep art, poetry and music


there is something about life that is infinitely deeper than all the expectations and roles and performance stuff of my outer life..  you are only able to live in a way that really helps and loves others when your soul feels its worth.. yet we often pay farm more attention to our work or our bodies or our finances than to our souls.. but the soul is what we will take into eternity..

your souls can be all right when everything in your world is all wrong..


sooner or later your world will fall apart.. what will matter then is the soul you have constructed..

1871 – horatio spafford.. lost money/business in great chicago fire.. and son shortly before.. sent wife and 4 daughters to england.. while he tried to salvage business.. daughters died on way.. horatio quickly boarded another ship to england and as it passed over very place his daughters had drowned, he wrote these words: when peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, w my soul..

3 – a soul-challenged world


our problem is that the world does not teach us to pay attention to what matters

a story about people grokking what matters


the world diverts my soul attention when it encourages me to think of myself more as a victim than as a human. i am so wrapped up in the hurt i have received that i do not notice the hurt i inflict..  in a world where victimhood has become status, souls go unexamined for hardness..


the hardened souls is more vulnerable to being saved than it knows

the desperate need of the soul is not for intelligence, nor talent, nor yet excitement; just depth..

intellect ness et al

psalms: ‘as the deer pants for stems of water, so m soul pants for you.. deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls’

the soul is the deepest part of you.. there is a depth to your soul that is beyond words

listen deeper..  rumi words law.. lanier beyond words law.. language as control/enclosure.. voice ness.. et al


the soul has yet to be measured..

for much of our lives, we live in the shallows. then something happens – a crisis, a birth, a death – and we get this glimpse of tremendous depth.. my soul becomes shallow when my interests and thoughts go no further than  myself.. a person should be deep because life itself is deep.. a deep soul has the capacity to understand and empathize deeply w other people.. not just himself. a deep soul notices and questions and doesn’t just go thru the motions..

a soul esp has depth when it is connected to god.. love beyond measure


there is a depth to you that words cannot describe..


the shallow soul is closer to being saved than it knows..

somebody said a long time ago that if the devil can’t make you sin, he will make you busy, because either way your soul will shrivel.. our world will divert your soul’s attention because it is a cluttered world.. and clutter is maybe the most dangerous result, because it’s so subtle..

kierkegaard busyness law.. norton productivity law..

the busy soul gets attached to the wrong things, because the soul is sticky. the velcro of the soul is what jesus called ‘desire’..

we mistake our clutter for life..  if we cease to be busy, do we matter? a person preoccupied w externals.. success, reputation, ceaseless activity,.. may be dead internally and not even recognized it..

reputation et al


the cluttered soul is closer to be ing save than it knows..

soul: i can only whisper, never shout. you may never even notice me… i am here..

4 – lost souls


we are not lost because we are going to wind up in the wrong place.. we are going to wind up in the wrong place because we are lost.. (not destination but condition) we live on the planet of lost souls.. it’s not ‘i could end up there’.. it is ‘i could become that’..  if you are a lost soul.. your surroundings don’t matter.. i mean this literally – on damn bit


the basic human problem is at the soul level..


when my will is consistently, freely, joyfully aligned w what i most deeply value, my soul finds rest.. that is wholeness.. when i live w half hearted devotion, my soul is always strained


5 – sin and the soul


unlike our legal system, sins are not weighted by their seriousness.. there are o misdemeanors in the realm of sin.. sin is sin, and it is serious because of what it does to the soul..

dan ariely stuff and experiments.. i don’t know.. whales in sea world

part 2 – what the soul needs

6 – it’s the nature of the soul to need


soul is little like king on chessboard.. most limited.. can only move one square a t a time. but if you lose the king, game over.. your soul is vulnerable because it is needy. if you meet those needs w the wrong things, game over.. or at least.. game not going well

maté basic needs


we are limited in virtually every way: intelligence, strength, energy, morality.. there is only one area where human beings are unlimited.. we always want more: time, wisdom, beauty.. this is the soul crying out.. we never have enough.. the truth is, the soul’s infinite capacity to desire is the mirror image of god’s infinite capacity to give.. what iff the real reason we feel like we never have enough is that god is not yet finished giving? the unlimited neediness of the soul matches the unlimited grace of god

hmm.. i don’t know

our soul’s problem, however, it not its neediness; it’s our fallenness.. our need was meant to point us to god..  instead, we fasten.. on other sources.. we all commit idolatry every day.. it is the sin of the soul meeting its needs w anything that distances it from god


what the bible calls idolatry we cal addiction

maté addiction law et al

idols always turn us away from our freedom

this is where grace comes in. i cannot replace an idol by turning away from it. i must turn toward something

costello screen service law.. and why so many things don’t work.. we need an alt.. not just to know we suck


the soul must orbit around something other than itself – something it can worship. it is the nature of the soul to need

still not getting it

what the soul truly desire is god.. we may try to fill that need w other things, but the soul will never be satisfied w/o god..

7 – the soul needs a keeper


i and no one else am responsible for the condition of my soul..

on sabbatical.. i needed it because i was becoming increasingly frustrated and impatient and preoccupied.. i felt i had too much to do and not enough time or ability to do it.. i was obsessed w external things that needed to be done.. i was operating on the unspoken assumption that my inner world would be filled w life, peace, and joy once my external world was perfect. that’s a great recipe for healthy soul, as long as you live in a perfect world..

i found myself thinking i’m a better person on sabbatical than when working at church.. new goal: be as relaxed  as i am on vacation while being as productive as i am at work..

i asked dallas.. what i needed to do.. long pause ‘you must arrange your days so you are experiencing deep contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life ‘..

revolution of everyday life ness


no.. i corrected him.. i wasn’t asking about me.. i was wondering what i need to make the church.. a book everyone should read.. a program.. ? et al..

dallas: ‘that’s not what they need most.. the main thing you will give them.. just like main thing you will give god.. is the person you become.. if your soul is unhealthy, you can’t help anybody.. you and nobody else are responsible for the well being of your own soul’

dallas: i didn’t say anything about having a quiet time.. people in churches have been crushed w guilt over their failure at having a regular quite time or daily devotions.. problem isn’t first 15 min of day.. it’s then next 23 hours.. ‘

yeah.. i don’t know.. i think we could all use a diff quiet time.. one that trusted god more.. by just listening to what he’s put on each heart

we read devotionals or have quiet times.. that have agenda’s that aren’t from the soul

so i do think 3 and 30 would make a huge diff.. unlike anything we’ve tried.. ie: ie: 2 convers as infra.. no pretense.. no show.. no goal.. just listening.. and trusting we’re in his image

bachelard oikos law et al


dallas: ‘not contentment in adequacy of your competence.. contentment in our everyday experience of god.. this alone is what makes a soul healthy.. this is not your wife’s/children’s/friend’s job.. it’s your job’

the stream is your soul.. and you are the keeper..

(law of consequences) 1 of 6 listed: i can avoid disciplining my children w/o their getting spoiled


8 – the soul needs a center


the soul craves to be safe. we cannot stop the craving nor provide the safety..  ‘i will take refuge in the shadow of your wings’

9 – the soul needs a future


we have a radar for eternity. human beings have an instinct that life does not end w the grave. and we have a hunger this world cannot satisfy.. god has placed eternity in the hum heart.. we were made for an eternal existence w him..


god did not plant death in the human heart.. death came because of sin..


god planted eternity in our hearts so we would not stop seeking life beyond ourselves..


on daughter asking constant questions.. turn tables.. she looked terribly confused.. her lower lip began to tremble.. wife who had to handle the questions full time everyday was thrilled the show was on other foot ‘keep going.. maker her cry’


10 – the soul needs to be w god


my mind may be obsessed w idols, my will may be enslaved to habits.. my body consumed w appetites.. but my soul will never fined rest until it rests in god..

eden was the perfect home.. god mad earth so he would have a place to be with man.. the garden reps his desire for ‘being with’

garden enough ness


one of most intriguing phrases.. adam and eve ‘heard sound of lord as he was walking in the garden’..  on walking is something you do w somebody you care about

enoch .. walked w god..  et al


first attempt at church.. they became known by the way they loved each other..

common\ing et al.. being with.. resting in .. that enough ness

the soul thrives not thru our accomplishments but thru simply being w god

now it’s our turn.. how do we.. ordinary people living in our world of tech and econ challenges.. find a jesus way to live..

2 convers as infra – trusting that he is already in each heart.. so listening their first.. everyday.. could get us/back to us/common\ing et al


the ‘w god’ life is not a life of more religious activities or devotions or trying to be good. it is a life of inner peace and contentment for your soul

it’s not just that he wants to be w us, but that he desire to make our lives ‘glorious’.. that’s the whole point of tending to the soul – to fill us so completely w his presence that the brilliance of his love shines thru us


many christians expend so much energy and worry trying not to sin. the goal is not to try to sin less.. god wants you to focus on him..  just relax.learn to enjoy his presence.. he relentlessly pursues us because all he has ever wanted is to be w us


how we get along with people says a lot about how our soul rests.. we will see people as god sees them.. this is why we wear masks.. to present an image that will make them see us the way we want them to see us


in the beginning god create the perfect home for your soul: a garden of perfection where he could be w you.. that is all god has ever wanted..  your soul will never find rest unless it finds its home.. we find it in the simple daily discipline of asking.. is god here..  let your soul rest in him

11 – the soul needs rest


the bible uses the word easy once.. jesus: come to me all you who are weary and burdened and you will find rest for your souls.. for my yoke is easy and my burden is light..  easy is a soul word, not a circumstance word; not an assignment word.. aim at having easy circumstances and life will be hard all around.. aim at having an easy soul, and your capacity for tackling hard assignments will actually grow.. the soul was not made for an easy life. the soul was made for an easy yoke..


for jesus, id and acceptance come before achievement and ministry.. a joy no one can take away.. you cannot earn acceptance..



god’s acceptance is stronger than human rejection.. the alt to soul acceptance is soul fatigue.. there is a kind of fatigue that attacks the body/mind/will.. they combine to make us feel separated from god – soul fatigue


the soul craves rest.. will, bodies, mind.. sometimes exhilarate w challenge.. but the soul craves rest.. have you ever felt you needed the time/space to let your soul catch up w your body?.. good indication your soul needs rest


soul fatigue damages relationships


the soul is not well when we rush so much..  dallas – incapable of hurry.. part of the reason people found it healing to be w him was this quality, which was highly contagious..  we think of it as being rested/unhurried, which it is. but it is the effect resting has on the soul: it gives it peace..

‘do not let hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’.. when you give your soul rest, you open it to the peace jesus intends for you


significance is about who we are before it is about what we do.. what is the core part of you god made you to be.. the grace of significance liberates me from the need to hurry..


by itself buy ness is not lethal.. being hurried is an inner condition a condition of the soul..  unable to occupy this present moment.. can’t rest in god w a hurried soul


we seem to spend most of our time trying to draw/please crowds; jesus seemed to spend much of his getting away from them


the psalmist says our job is not to heal our souls, but to make space for them so that healing can come ‘he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. he refreshes my soul’

how good are you at doing nothing..  the space where we find rest/healing for our souls is solitude..

quiet in a room et al

in solitude we remember we are not what anybody thinks of us..


when it comes to rest we need to restore our souls, we’re like our children at bedtime.. kids don’t want to go to bed.. no matter how tired they are.. so at some point as good parents, we pick them up , carry them into their bedrooms and make them go to bed..

bad analogy.. they don’t want to go to sleep alone..

pascal – quiet in room.. in solitude we liberate ourselves form the pressure of he world.. you don’t do that by going into solitude w a list.. or expectations that you will come away w some deep spiritual insight.. it’s about what you’re not going to do..

pascal quiet law  et al

ie: supposed to’s.. of school/work


doing nothing does wonders for the soul.. no agenda..

no agenda

12 – the soul needs freedom


section headed: ‘conflicted about freedom’ starts w ie’s of stopped by police for speeding and irs at your door for evading taxes – calls them crazy.. then into the church’s rules and people think they are being too strict

your ie’s are crazy man


the soul needs freedom.. but what does this mean.. that i can do whatever i want

yeah.. if we’re legit free.. because we wouldn’t have time/desire to do things that would hurt us/others/nature


next section headed: ‘obedience produces freedom’.. then on the 10 commandments.. and how we don’t break them.. but we break ourselves when we violate them

nah.. freedom produces people who love one another.. obedience messes with our soul..

literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things


i believe the soul is actually revived by law.. jewish people trace back to sinai.. the way americans trace back to mayflower

oi.. terrible ie

free\dom et al .. not about law.. about love..

on freedom from (what others tell you to do) and freedom for (what you were meant to be)


the only way for the soul to be free is for all the parts of our personhood to be rightly ordered..

or rather.. rightly disordered/entropied.. et al

the deeper freedom.. the freedom that the soul needs – is the freedom for becoming the person i was designed to be

yeah.. and all the laws/ supposed to’s .. are killers of that

we need to let go of thinking we need to control/train/prep/order that.. and trust god/love/us


how do you get the freedom your soul craves? this is the great irony about freedom. to become truly free, you must surrender..

well.. not like what we think..


the cure of souls.. our only hope is not for more willpower, it is for a new set of habits

yeah.. no.. it’s to uncover what’s already on our heart.. via cure ios city


the original sin.. fall from grace in the garden.. there is a leaning toward sin in human beings that’s just here.. at the core is my natural inclination toward sin.. it is deeply embedded in our souls and it is literally killing us

yeah.. i don’t buy that either.. i think we could have (and should now) realize that it’s the seeking for knowledge – [if we’re going to the garden – as in control/judgement/order.. rather than just trusting us.. in the image of god.. to be].. that is killing us.. and that we need to let go of that.. [thinking we have to write books to train/ed people et al.. that people have to follow certain rules .. et al.. to be enough]

13 – the soul needs blessing


blessing (from the soul) and cursing.. the two ways we treat people.. the  better you know someone, the more subtly and cruelly (raised eyebrow, pause) you can curse them.. our souls were made to be blessed and cannot survive w/o the blessing..

blessing takes time, so don’t hurry.. one of the difficulties of blessing nowadays is that you may have to grab on to someone to get them to hold still long enough to receive it. receiving a blessing is as much an art as giving one.. we think we’re unworthy or we start to plan on giving a blessing back.. blessing giving should be asymmetrical. it’s not a form of barter. it’s grace..


we demean people when we forget they have the depth and dignity of a soul.. the soul cries out for connection

14 – the soul needs satisfaction


the hebrew word for soul, nephesh, is repeatedly described as longing or wanting or desiring or striving.. that’s why the word nephesh is often in the bible translated as mouth or stomach or throat.. the bible talks about the soul being hungry/thirsty/hollow/empty, not satisfied..

when the will has become enslaved by its need, when the mind obsessed w the object of its desire.. when the appetite has become mater rather than servant, the soul is disordered.. the ultimate reality behind human dissatisfaction is sinful souls that have been cut off from the god we were made to rest in .. that’s why we’re dissatisfied.. then ie of people not happy in jobs..

? i don’t know.. sinful soul?.. happy in jobs..? i think we’re dissatisfied because we keep filling our holes (hallow place) with the wrong things..


the main thing you bring home from work is not a paycheck.. it’s your soul.. work is a soul function.. we’re made to create value..

yeah.. that’s all messed up.. today work is solving (what we assume/presume to be) other people’s problems

supposed to’s.. of school/work.. killers of the soul

ecclesiastes ‘ there is nothing better for a person than that he should make his soul enjoy good in his work..

rather.. that he finds/does/is his art.. his soul’s art

the soul desires a life that is more than the satisfaction of desire..


psalmist: ‘i have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child w his mother, like a weaned child is my soul w/in me’.. this is a striking pic of my relationship w my soul.. how do you wean a child/ you do it by strategic disappointment.. you deliberately withhold from the child what she wants so the child learns she can be master and not slave of her appetites


strategic disappointment is another of those categories where research reinforces soul wisdom.. even monkey who receive mild stress in infancy.. grow thru it.. better able to handle stressful situation.. more curious and explorative and resilient in general

oh my ‘reinforces’

not even just research on whales in sea world.. but on monkeys.. domesticated by whales in sea world.. no doubt


there is no such thing as an uncommitted person. an addict is the supreme ie of trying to satisfy the soul w all the wrong things..

we’re all addicted/intoxicated..

neal plantinga: ‘ the capacity for addiction shows we were wired for ecstacy.. joy.. our ceaseless craving for more.. may be a hint of the joy that we were made fore when the soul finds its center in god.

the paradox of soul satisfaction is this: when i die to self, my soul comes alive..

soul satisfactions is something you receive freely from god..

isaiah: ‘.. why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy.. come all who are thirsty.. eat what is good.. and your soul will delight in the richest of fare’

why money (any form of measuring/accounting).. why labor..?

maté basic needs

across the board [to get to the roots of healing.. it has to be all of us]

15 – the soul needs gratitude


gratitude not from acquiring things/experiences.. but from more of an awareness of god’s presence/goodness.. a way of looking at life.. always perceiving the good.. gratitude is a by product of a way of seeing things..

devijver assume good law


3 benes (latin for good) of gratitude: 1\ benefit: receive gift you believe is good  2\ benefactor: one who does good.. a little ‘factory’ that produces good.. so coming from someone who has good intentions for you.. from god.. not from own merits/efforts.. or from others who want to impress/manipulate you..  james: ‘every good gift from god’  3\ beneficiary: one who receives good gifts.. from god who has your best interests at heart.. going on all the time.. when we take that for granted or believe we deserve his gifts.. we are no longer grateful.. you can’t be grateful for something you believe you are entitled to.. and w/o a grateful heart the soul suffers..

entitlement et al

part 3 – the soul restored

16 – dark night of the soul


in dark night of soul.. not simply experience os suffering.. it is suffering in what feels like the silence of god.. in the dark night the bible turns to ashes.. words, books, songs.. that once spoke to my soul now leave me cold.. not the soul’s fault.. the dark night is god initiated.. it is god who  moved.. the dark night of the soul is for souls that learn to wait


john 21:18 – ‘when you were younger you dressed yourself and when where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do onto want t o go’..  ‘whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, ‘it is well, it is well w my soul’

so is it really well? or just taught to say that?

17 – morning


i think dallas said he regretted all the time he wasted, not because he compared himself to other more efficient people, but because he began to see what life could be..


also from soul keeping?.. i must have missed it?

willard soul hunger law:

dallas: ‘the reason our souls hunger so is that the life we could be living so far exceeds our strongest/strangest desires/dreams.. ‘

cs lewis’: we are too easily pleased