Tending of Souls


by AbStrong

Life can be hectic at Simpson.

That’s why students last semester proposed Soul Tending, a group aimed at serenity through personal reflection.

“You have to take a moment to simply sit and breathe, because otherwise I think life can become a blur and we can miss out on meaningful moments,” said Angela Gafford, chaplain and director of Religious Life Community

Soul Tending currently meets Thursdays at 12:45 p.m. in Smith Chapel.

In years past, the staff of Smith Chapel has met similarly to reflect upon their lives in relation to Christianity. The idea with Soul Tending is to start a group that is open to the entire Simpson Community.

Led by Gafford, the newly reformatted group welcomes students and faculty members of all faiths to participate.

The concept is to take time out to nourish and tend to the growth of one’s emotional and spiritual life.

“How do we tend to what we need beyond our physical and intellectual selves?” Gafford said.

The topics and methodology of the group vary.

Last week’s topic was “Growing yourself in light.” Gafford guided people through meditation, tapping into the energy created by surrounding light. She invited them to feel the light of the sun radiating into their bodies from the sky and into the soles of their feet from the earth.

Gafford believes everyone has something unique to offer the group. For her, it’s new ideas and revitalization.

Junior Curtis DeVetter, undergraduate chaplain of discipleship, attends weekly and can attest to this.

“Mainly it gives me an overall sense of contentment knowing that God is always there feeding our souls,” DeVetter said.

The effects of Soul Tending vary from person to person. While DeVetter is reminded of the existence of a higher power, junior Anders Dovre has a different interpretation

“Lots of forces are pulling you in different directions,” Dovre said. “This helps to pull you back into yourself, relax, center.”

DeVetter said the tabletop centerpiece, a group of figures holding hands surrounding a candle, is particularly representative of Soul Tending.

“We light it every time we have a group in the small chapel to represent the presence of God among us,” DeVetter said.

Gafford is currently using “Sacred Practices for Conscious Living” by Nancy J. Napier as a guide. The book invites reflection of a wide variety topics ranging from laughter to the sky. Gafford plans to draw from other sources as well.

Gafford stresses that the meetings are not instantaneous fixes.

“I believe you have to practice being aware and make time for reflection in life,” Gafford said.

Gafford said Soul Tending can be beneficial to anyone, and that if it can make a difference to even one person, it has been a successful program.

“I promise to be there each week whether we have one person or 10,” Gafford said. “We will find a way to make it work.”