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Love Is Touching Souls

Oh, I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I’m frightened by the devil
And I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid
I remember that time you told me
You said, “Love is touching souls”
Surely you touched mine
‘Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
— Joni Mitchell, A Case of You

Joni Mitchell, 79 as I write this, recently played live for three hours with Brandi Carlile and a host of other very talented people. I thought about doing a “Joni Mitchell in Five Songs” blog post as I’ve done with other artists, but this isn’t the time to summarize a career that’s once again active. I think I’ll leave it with this one brilliant lyric from A Case of You. Do you wonder who she’s writing about, or reflect instead on your own ghosts? She remains an inspiration for those of us who are forever stacking words together to find the meaning hidden deep inside of us.

We are, each of us, influenced by ghosts who reveal themselves now and then in moments of clarity. Some are profoundly important souls who reverberate long after they’ve passed (I think of a certain Navy pilot as I write this), and some reveal themselves in a vision replayed from time to time. A gesture or something said that caught your attention in a conversation long ago, which rewards you now as a nod of approval for an evasive line you didn’t know you had in you. What carries these memories even now, after all this time?

We are each in the business of touching souls, and making something of our time with others. It would be bold to say that we’ll ever be a highlight in someone else’s memory playlist, for being memorable was never the point at all. Too many focus on cleverness, when it’s bringing meaning to another life that ripples beyond our time.

So what has meaning in our moments? Isn’t it feeling connection with another, for an instant or a lifetime built together? Touching souls begins with revealing our own to another, that they may feel liberated to rise beyond themselves. It’s a flicker of light in the darkness, fragile yet forever illuminating. Prompting reflections that shine beyond their genesis.

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