Filling of Our Souls
Dr. Ben Kim
the great joys of my life these days is getting to hear original thoughts
that come rolling out of our boys.
favorite came about when our older son, Joshua, asked about the origin
of his belly button. After going through my anatomy atlas and discussing
the roles of the umbilical cord and placenta, Margaret asked, "So
why do you have a belly button?" To which Joshua's immediate reply
was: "Because you cut the hose off!"
memorable was the following exchange while Joshua was out with Margaret
and they spotted a man smoking a cigarette:
That man shouldn't be smoking. It's bad for his health!
That's right, because smoking is bad for us and all of our insides,
like our lungs and heart.
It's bad for God too, because God is inside us, right here (tapping
Joshua come to believe that God resides in all of our thoracic cavities?
found that with Joshua's incessant questioning to get to the bottom
of things, I often feel like I have nowhere left to go but to answer
with, "Because that's the way God made it, son."
how this happened shortly before Joshua's comment about God residing
in our chests:
Appa (Korean, for dad), can we play tennis today?
I'm sorry Joshua, the weather forecast says that it's going to rain
all day. But we can play when the rain stops and the courts are
When is it going to stop raining?
I don't know. We just have to wait and see.
But why does it rain?
Sometimes, it rains when there are lots of clouds. Clouds are like
big pillows of water up in the sky, and when they get too big and
heavy, the water starts to spill out of the clouds. (Not sure if
this is technically correct, but I suspect I'm not too far off the
Well, where do the clouds come from?
The water in the clouds comes from lakes and oceans. The water rises
slowly through the air until it becomes a cloud. The wind blows
clouds around and this is how trees and plants get the water they
need to grow.
Well, where does the wind come from?
Well...God makes it, son. (Not sure if this is technically correct
Well, where's God?
Well, God is everywhere. He's invisible.
Is he right here on this blue couch?
Yes, he's everywhere. He's on this blue couch, and he's inside all
a pretty accurate rundown of how Joshua has come to believe that when
a person smokes, it hurts God, too. Makes perfect sense, right?
are now five and three years of age. They continue to surprise and
fascinate me almost daily. When I interact with them or even just
observe them from across a room, I'm often humbled and even slightly
frightened by how much impact Margaret, our relatives, and I are having
on who they are becoming.
is that they are these precious and lovely spiritual beings that are
filling out and taking form right before our eyes; everything they
see us say or do seemingly adds one more layer to the hundreds of
thousands that they've already acquired in such a short time.
the other evening as we were getting ready for bed, I was telling
Joshua about a time when he was about six months old and often needed
some low grade vibration to go to sleep. As I ran the pads of my fingers
through Joshua's beautifully thick, black hair, I recounted how on
one cold, winter night, I ended up driving him all the way down to
Toronto and back at around 1 am so that he could get some sleep in
the car and Margaret could get some sleep at home.
shared the details of that memorable night and answered questions
that he had about the circumstances surrounding our impromptu drive,
Joshua's sparkling eyes and sweet, angelic smile told me that he was
fully feeling how much I've always adored him - I guess we all like
to hear about things that happened when were babies, right?
after I finished our story and hugged and kissed Joshua good night,
he bounded over our mattresses and almost jumped into Margaret's arms,
making her year by giving her an unabashed and unsolicited kiss, smack
on the lips, to which Margaret responded with an involuntary, almost
loony squeal of happiness.
might have been reading a smidge too much into things, but what I
saw and felt in that moment was a real-time transfer of love. It's
like I witnessed our little story time filling Joshua's soul up with
enough affectionate love that he was ready to overflow.
this transfer was a powerful reminder of the value of being mindful
of what we fill ourselves and others up with. Isn't it perfectly natural
and human to share and pass on whatever is within us? To try to share
compassion when what we're feeling is anything but isn't a sustainable
pattern of being.
we get lucky and some other person or experience fills us up with
a spirit worth passing on. (In a perfect world, we ought to strive
to be that other person for those who surround us, especially young
children who are infinitely more malleable than grown-ups.) But there
are days - and this is just my belief - when we have to find our own
good karma juice. Otherwise, it becomes easier to get filled with
that it's-me-against-you juice that's so readily available in our
world. And as we all know on some level, it's whatever juice that's
inside of us that typically comes gushing out whenever we are squeezed
by stressful circumstances.
is why I place great value on setting aside some time each day for
affirmations, prayer, meditation, journal writing, or reading from
books that encourage us to live with love, compassion, and wisdom.
In fact, when striving to experience optimal health, it's my belief
that making time to do this is the single most important habit we
can adopt to support our health.
a concrete example, one little ritual that has picked me up on many
occasions over the years involves thinking about people who are dear
to me - those who I love and those who I'm sure love me. Even spending
a few minutes reflecting on the fondness and loyalty in these relationships
can make me feel like I'm almost floating. Imagine making it a habit
to meditate in this way every day upon awakening. To begin the day
with this state of mind and heart is my idea of a religious experience.
example would be to think about three or five things that I am immensely
grateful for. By really allowing myself to experience gratitude at
a cellular level, there are times when I can actually feel a wave
of reverence run through and envelope my body - if this isn't healing
energy, I don't know what is.
the thing that I'm most grateful for these days is the gift of being
father to Joshua and Noah. Their presence reminds me daily that as
I walk and talk, I transfer whatever feelings and intentions I carry
to people around me.
of us who can always use new ideas on how to fill ourselves up with
love, compassion, and wisdom, I ask that you please consider sharing
anything specific that you strive to do regularly to nourish your
soul. You're welcome to use the comments section below or post your
thoughts at our facebook page.
don't forget: when we smoke, we hurt God, too.
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