I recently received the message below from a woman I met on two of my visits to sing at Coleman Federal Correctional Institution in Sumterville, Fla. Her words moved me deeply and brought me back in time to my first musical performance at a women’s prison.

“I just wanted to tell you how wonderful the concert at Coleman was…you touched our souls that day...I hope you will continue to keep the ladies in your prayers and visit them and sing for them as you can. G‑d bless you.”

I grew up studying the Tanya, the magnum opus of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad Chassidic movement. He speaks of the battle of body and soul, the agendas of each, and how they learn to work together to fulfill a mission in this world. I always loved the Tanya; Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s metaphors movedI feel the jarring vibration of soul against body my mind. But today his words are no longer metaphors to me; they live inside of me, in the daily grind, in the grit and substance that make up the mundane and meaning of my every day.

Sometimes it actually hurts, the discordance of soul and body—their stark differences, the temperature of their movements, the directions they each want to take. And when I feel their separateness, when I feel the jarring vibration of soul against body, that’s when I know something isn’t right. After all, we’re here to teach body and soul to work in tandem. So when they’re not—when I bruise from the clash of their disharmony—I know that something is missing, that my soul is hungry. Hungry for substance to fill the spaces around its growing distance, so that it can once again lean into my body and drive it to accomplish like only soul knows how.

That’s when I start to pray. What I pray for in those moments is a simple chance to feed someone else’s soul. To feed someone else’s soul, and be nourished by the meal we share. I’m hungry to give, I tell Him. This soul knocking against my body is saying, “Get me out of here or give me a reason to stay. The walls of this body are too hard, hardened by a pop culture world; this body’s got no give, until it's softened by giving.”

And while I know the feeling of a seemingly unanswered prayer, I don’t at all believe in that premise. Because the prayer to activate my soul has never gone unanswered, and I wonder, perhaps, if it is because those prayers are powered by what prayer is really all about: a begging to be closer to where we come from.

Indeed, the answer came to me gift-wrapped by G‑d Himself. A dear friend, Rivkie Lipskier—who co-directs the Chabad Jewish Student Center at University of Central Florida, and gives Torah classes to Jewish female inmates at Coleman FCI via the Aleph Institute—asked me to come and sing for women in prison.

It came gentle and gift-wrapped, but when I opened that box, it knocked the wind out of me. It took my breath away and showed me that when my heart is bursting, when my lungs are expanding and gasping for air, that’s not mere biological function; that’s a piece of the Divine leaping around inside of me.

To look into the eyes of every woman in that room, to hear my soul say to each one, without words, that we are connected, that we are one, that notwithstanding the apparent walls of this prison nothing separates us one from another nor us from our Creator, that takes your breath away.

To be so close to my audience—not only in spirit, but also in space—that I can hand them tissues to dry the tears we’re waiting for Him to dry, that takes your breath away.

To draw no stage curtains save the ones that veil our hearts and minds, and to bare our emotions to each other with a vulnerability we rarely dare to show, that takes your breath away.

To have no sound system bar the acoustics of my soul to sing, and yet to feel like my voice has never reverberated better in all my life, that takes your breath away.

There is something about the Infinite that makes you want to come back for more. More, and more and more. They wanted more; I wanted more. I wanted to live that experience again. I wanted us to feel our souls wildly alive in our bodies; I wanted to tell another human in prison that we were all living this life in unison, that we were all battling a battle, that we were all waiting to go home.

So I called the Aleph Institute to arrange more visits for me to sing at U.S. correctional facilities. Across the state of Florida, from Miami to Coleman; from Ocala to Tallahassee and Quincy; and later to Danbury, Conn., and I wanted to feel our souls wildly alive in our bodies Chowchilla, Calif., wherever I went, I met women waiting to go home. But in each place, as we connected over the source of our souls, we realized how at home we truly were.

At Central California Women’s Facility—the largest female prison in the world—women of every race, faith and ethnic group were in the audience, and somehow everyone found a piece of themselves in the music. Together, we learned that even as we grieve and regret, longing to go home in space, our indomitable soul that mirrors the Divine always knows how to be at home in spirit.

And I learned that even living in the free world can feel like incarceration, and that sometimes it takes a visit to a soul in prison to get a full-blown taste of home.