Monday, November 17, 2014

Spirit and Soul

I know the amateur theologians will be all over this topic, but during the celebration of Barbara's life I got wondering about a person's spirit and soul, the afterlife, etc. Lots of events to trigger such thinking: the spreading of her ashes in the cemetery's "jardin de souvenirs" (french for memories), visitors to our door of a religion that believes people get a "second chance" to be "saved" after the resurrection ...

I'm not going to be religious nor scientific about this, just wondering because I don't think any of us has the answer as to what happens in the afterlife. I don't personally know of anyone who "came back" and told us what we can expect after death.

The spirit, to me, is the essence of a person's nature and character, and I believe that lives in one degree or another in all of the people that individual touched during their life, whether in person or by some indirect means - something they wrote, or perhaps a life lesson they taught that was passed on to another person or perhaps even hundreds or thousands. Death does not eliminate the impact a person has on others, and indeed their spirit lives on in those who carry and apply the lessons learned from that person.

The soul, to me, is a more nebulous concept. Is it some sort of wispy apparition, like we see in portrayals of ghosts? Sometimes in the shape of a body, sometimes less defined in shape. Does the soul of an evil person come back to haunt us? Does it inhabit a living person to re-create the original evil, ie, does Hitler's soul (did he even have one?) inhabit today's skinheads? Does the soul of a good person return as an angel (and why would an angel need wings anyway)? Is the soul of a loved one watching over us? Mysteriously helping us avoid calamity? Infiltrating our thoughts so we make correct choices - because 'they' know the future that we do not?

Can you imagine the souls of all the people you have known who passed away - negative, positive, or shades of both, as is the case with most of us - hovering around you in what you think is mere air, whispering in your ear to do this or that with every decision, large or infinitesimal? Hundreds of invisible "Jiminey Crickets" as your conscience.  I shudder at the thought.

But as I was watching the Argeles Gospel Choir sing in tribute to Barbara, my mind's eye could imagine her in the group, singing with pure joy. Certainly her spirit lives on in each of those choir members who knew and loved her. And in us as well.

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