A Chemical Reaction of the Soul

chemical reaction: n. a chemical change that occurs when two or more substances combine to form a new substance.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I know little about chemistry.

But recently I had a conversation with my son about chemical reactions, how something as simple as baking a cake becomes a chemical reaction–because the cake can never go back to being flour, salt, sugar, or eggs. It has transformed.

Neither can my coffee, that is ground and immersed in water inside the coffee maker, go back to being the original bean again.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of deconstructing or decolonizing my faith.

I’ve written about it here, and if I stop with one piece, I’ve obviously missed the point.

About two years ago I had a conversation with a friend that ended in the realization that I am no longer the person I was in high school and college.

My perspectives on faith and the church have shifted, along with who I believe should be included and excluded in such matters.

It seems I’ve become someone else, but still hold in tact the original essence of who I’ve always been.

Is it possible to have a sort of chemical reaction of the soul? Is it possible that we transform so that we cannot be what we once were?

I believe that’s a healthier version of ourselves, and if we’re really honest, fighting transformation will leave us unhappy, missing out on new aspects of ourselves that are waiting to be discovered.

When we refuse to change, to evolve, to transform, we become stuck in only what we’ve known, because we’re scared to ask questions. But the question-asking, the wondering and wandering– it’s what helps those chemical reactions of the soul take place. All of those substances combine in us to bring transformation.

My coffee, steaming in my cup with cream and sugar, will never be a coffee bean again.

It has some sort of new purpose.

Just the same, my life journey today, seeking my Potawatomi identity and asking the American church how it can be better, is a version of myself that cannot forget what it has seen or go back to what it once was.

But the question-asking, the wondering and wandering-- it's what helps those chemical reactions of the soul take place. All of those substances combine in us to bring transformation.-2.png

If coffee transforms, so can we.

And each fall leaf,

every flower,

every bird’s egg that hatches,

each child that grows and matures,

a caterpillar that will become a butterfly,

every pumpkin pie or fortune cookie or veggie omelet–

a chemical reaction in the world, a transformation.

So if we aren’t who we were yesterday, and we’re not yet transformed into who we’ll be tomorrow, who are we today?

Maybe we simply ARE,

this transforming thing,

the cake that’s still in the oven,

the coffee that’s being ground.

Maybe we’re inside the middle of transformation, where it hurts a little, the caterpillar making its way toward the butterfly.

While we are in this cocoon, dreaming of who we’ll be, working toward it, we acknowledge that this space, right now, is necessary and good in the process, and we cannot skip it.

You and I are in the midst of our chemical reaction of the soul, and we cannot go back now.

The only way is forward,

and into glorious, unknown light.



9 thoughts on “A Chemical Reaction of the Soul

  1. Your perspective is so important to the modern day church. Thank you for being so transparent and articulate in your writing. I’m from Canada and the culture of church is slowly, very slowly beginning to begin a journey of reconciliation with the tragedies committed against indigenous peoples in this country. Your words give me hope and insight into a world I know little about but I want to know more. Thank you, God bless you and please keep digging deep. The world needs more Kaitlin!

  2. Amen indeed.
    You reminded me of a song I learned from Brianna Kelly:
    When I rise, let me rise
    like a bird with no regrets, joyfully.
    When I fall, let me fall
    Like a leaf with no regrets, gracefully.

  3. Another great post. Most people fear change/ transformation, thinking that keeping a tight grip onto what is familiar makes one safe. Yet the only thing life guarantees is change. With out the chemical changes in the body, there would be no life. In the absence of changing relationships, there would be no transformation of the heart; and without our continuous pursuit of God’s presence in and purpose for our lives, there would be no spiritual transcendence. Change is the fertile ground of new possibilities.

    Thank you for having the courage to share your ‘change-provoking’ thoughts.

  4. Can you elaborate more about what you mean by the comment “I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of deconstructing or decolonizing my faith.” I find this comment intriguing because I too am in the continual process of activly decolonizing my mind, my food, my language and many more aspects of my life.

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