I am a pastor of "soul and soil." Let me explain those words a bit.
First, pastor. I overheard a kindergartener ask one of her classmates, "What do pastors do?" The 5-year-old answered without hesitation, "They love people." That is one of my favorite definitions of a pastor: someone who loves people. The Bible says that God so loved the world, he sent Jesus. So if love is the center of God's own heart, it seems that "loving" should be in a pastor's job description. In a more formal sense, I am a graduate of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and an ordained pastor in the Methodist tradition. I have served as a campus pastor at a public university, a campus pastor at a private TK-8th grade school, and a pastor at three different California churches. Currently I am the lead pastor at North Hollywood First United Methodist Church. If your are wondering how to pronounce my name, it's like "Jamie," but with a "ch" sound at the beginning like in "church."
Soul… that inner, forever part of us. It is the root of our personhood. It is God who breaths into the soul of each human. Our soul can feel heavy and weary. When it does, Jesus says to come to him and we will find rest for our soul. Our soul can be well. It is the title and chorus that Horatio Spafford penned in his song: “It Is Well With My Soul.” He could somehow sing this even despite great tragedy in his life. How could this be? Perhaps because, since the soul is not bound by time and circumstance, it can see beyond.
I care about people’s souls. I ache when their souls ache. I feel joy when I see souls lifted. I love seeing when people discover the depth of their soul, their truest, most God-loved self. I care about soul care and soul practices. I tend my soul daily. I want to nurture the souls of my children, my family, my faith community, and even strangers. Because I care about the soul, I hold a certificate in spiritual direction.
The story of Genesis tells how God breathed into dirt and Adam’s life arose from the soil. Adam and Eve, the beginning of human bodies, are also "animated earth." Their very bodies are dependent upon the soil. In this lies both truth and poetry. Our body’s existence does, indeed, rely on the richness of soil. Soil nourishes the food we eat, it catches carbon, and it is the ground on which we tread. Our souls are more alive when they are connected to soil, connected to the earth, to gardens and singing birds and creatures great and small and blossoming flowers and towering trees.
I care about soil. I ache when I see things like food deserts, deforested land, tired fields from over production and from the use of poisons. I rejoice when I see seeds germinate from rich soil, fill a basket with vegetables from our garden, clip roses from our front yard for flower arrangements, gather eggs from our hens, or hike on dirt trails. Because I care about plants and people, I hold a certificate in horticultural therapy.