My favorite contemporary author Marilynne Robinson was in town this week speaking at an event hosted by Emory’s University’s Carlos Museum. She was speaking with an astrophysicist who was also brilliant—but I was mostly there to hear Marilynne, whose gentle, colorfully evocative conjurations of grace in the lives and words of her novels’ characters keep wooing me back to her work.

At one point in the conversation she was asked to comment on what she views as the difference between the soul and the mind.

The soul, she said, is independent of one’s biography, (whereas the mind, implicitly, is); and the soul is more like God’s “investment” in every person.

The soul is more like God’s investment in each of us.

And if the soul is God investment, then what more particularly is this divine investment? If the assumption is that we are all “divinely invested,” what is that investment? Is it the image of God? Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness and self-control—all of those things that I so often lack? Is it the gift or gifts with which God has entrusted us, be they a capacity to write like Marilynne…or dance like Justin Bieber? Or is it simply God’s breath—the creative Word of God which cannot return to God empty?

What is God’s investment in you and in me?

That, it seems, is a question by which to live.

 

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