Mirroring Each Soul
by Rev. Maryann De Simone, M.Ed.
Rev. Maryann De Simone
I am so happy to be here with you today! Getting to ordination has been a really long journey. People have often asked me, “So, what are you going to DO when you get ordained?” Even though I’ve explained that it isn’t a career move, that it’s more like marrying someone you have lived with for a long time and publicly claiming your relationship, I had actually wondered myself what my ministry would be.
Then last November as we studied Hinduism, I realized that—whatever form it takes—my ministry will be what it has been for years. You may know the Hindu greeting, “Namaste, which means, “The Divine in me greets and honors the Divine in you.” Well, for too many years to remember, the main goal of my work as a counselor with both adults and children has been to help them deal with whatever keeps them from becoming, more fully, their precious and unique selves. Of course, in my work as a public elementary school counselor, I can’t say their DIVINE selves explicitly, but I always work from that premise.
When I consult with teachers about a student, I explore that child’s unique interests and talents, and I wonder aloud how we might use those gifts to help that student thrive and succeed at school. When I sit with worried parents, I might focus on what they notice their child loves, and how to encourage and support her temperament, or his particular gifts, rather than trying to change this particular little being into some mythical girl or boy whom they imagine would be happy and successful in the world.
“Throw out that idea of being well-rounded!” I tell them. “Help them pursue their passions!”
I have had the most interesting times teaching children about multiple intelligences, which include—in kid language—body smart, music smart, people smart, nature smart, and picture smart, as well as the ones we test, like math and language—and asking them which are THEIR favorites. Most of the time, when we talk about what they want to be when they grow up, their career dreams reflect just those favorite intelligences! Children KNOW who they are until they learn to fit into their family and culture.
So my ministry is to be their soul-mirror. It’s the same when I work as a volunteer chaplain in a local women’s prison—except there, they have lost touch with their preciousness, while kids usually just need some encouragement to grow themselves.
What I know deep in my heart is that the more we live from that courageous place of expressing our deepest soul-selves, the more we live lives of joy, and the more we become blessings to this big, beautiful world. So I tell you today: I know who you are. From MY personal theology, and in the words of the great Sufi ibn al-Arabi, “(E)very single human…(is) a unique and unrepeatable revelation of one of God’s hidden attributes, and the only God we will ever know is the Divine Name inscribed in our inmost self.”
I’ll close now with a prayer:
Blessed One, by whatever name we call You,
May we know at every moment
our oneness with all Creation,
the eternity of Love,
the joy of sharing all our gifts,
the preciousness of each soul.