'If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light." Brian Draper - 08/07/17
Prior to yesterday’s meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin ... an intriguing question was being asked by some of the Russian press.
‘Citizens of our country will want to know one thing above all,” one newspaper wrote: “What will Trump see when he glances into Putin’s eyes?”
This was a reference to when George W Bush famously reported that he’d looked into the eyes of the Russian leader at their first meeting in 2001 and had been able, as he put it, to get “a sense of Putin’s soul”. One professor at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo described this as “a turnaround moment” at the time.
Soul may seem like a word that has no place in geo-politics, but it’s a potent reminder that there is more to us than meets the eye - below the surface, beyond the ego. Even in a context such as yesterday’s - billed in advance as a meeting of two of the world’s biggest egos - there is potential for a different kind of meeting to be made.
And this applies to us all, however insignificant our role in world affairs, for we all play our part. It’s easy to live reactively, responding to the posturing of another ego with the weaponry of our own. It’s how road rage happens, it’s how world wars begin...
But I love the story, at the start of the Bible, of how God formed a human out of the dust and breathed Spirit into them so that they became ... a “living soul”. It suggests to me that we don’t just have a soul, we are the soul, greater than the sum of our parts and essentially good - as God saw, when he looked with love upon us, in the beginning.
Now soul, of course gets, smothered with so many defensive layers over time, that it gets ever harder to glimpse what’s soulful in ourselves, let alone others: but what a gift if you were to look upon me as though I am something positively more than I first may seem, even to myself!
What a gift to the teenagers you might encounter on the street corner, or to the new colleague you’ve just met who doesn’t have to be seen as a threat, or to the neighbour who’s just knocked to introduce themselves.
There’s a greater challenge in all this, too, I believe - that it’s not just about looking for the soul in others, but seeing with the soul, ourselves. In fact, that’s surely what trumps all else - for doesn’t lasting transformation, personally or politically, always start here, within?
“You eyes are windows,” says Jesus in a paraphrase version of the Bible. “If you live [squinting] in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.”