Literature Can Heal the Soul

“Time and time again I have learned that while medicines can heal the body, literature and inspired words can heal the soul.” -Seth Adam Smith

For me, reading and writing have been the most powerful tools to help me move forward. I love literature and historical stories and what they can teach us about life. Time and time again, I have learned that, while medicines can heal the body, inspirational words can heal the soul. Inspired words are like guideposts or constellations that lead us home.

There is an ancient Japanese legend that tells of a sacred mountain surrounded by a jungle. This mountain was sacred because it was the place where the community would bring the elders to die. This was done in honor and reverence for the people’s parents; it was their way of turning over their loved ones to the gods.

One day, a young man was carrying his elderly father to the top of the mountain. His father was very sick and frail. Yet, as they climbed, the old man would reach out and grab handfuls of branches and leaves from the nearby trees, and drop them on the ground.

About halfway up the mountain, the young man stopped and asked his father why he was dropping branches and leaves on the ground. Tears streamed down the old man’s face as he replied, “Son, I want you to find your way home.”

I think great stories and literature are like branches on our path. Our wise ancestors (or those who have gone before us) have left these stories for us so that we could find our way home—so that we could move forward.

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