Tag Archive: death


Body and Soul

BSG

Shortly after my sister passed away, the question was asked, “Where is Eleanor right now?” I wasn’t really quite sure how to answer that, so I mumbled something about being with God. I am not really sure if that satisfied the questioner, but somehow the question was dropped. Maybe they saw my own uncertainty, and left it alone.

I recently attended the funeral of a close friend, Dr. John. As I sat in the pew watching the unbelievably long line of friends stretch out the door and around the church, for some reason that question popped into my head, again. I wasn’t even thinking about it. I think seeing all of these people, who he touched in one way or another, helped me listen to my heart and hear God speak. (Yes, He speaks to all of us. We only need to listen.)

Who are we? We can identify all the physical attributes of others, and of ourselves. But what makes you, YOU? We know how tall we are, how much we weigh… (only too well). We know what we find pleasing and not so. But we are describing characteristics, attributes of the body. What is that other “thing” about us? What enables us to think? For that matter, how can we even talk about this very abstract topic? To be able to think, to focus on an ethereal, spiritual topic is only possible if we somehow possess that quality ourselves. For only by possessing that quality can we know what we are looking for. What is the soul? Are we that different from other animals? If you believe you are more than a dog, or any other animal, then you believe in a soul, whether you realize it or not.

When mankind came into existence, God breathed into this creation. That breath was His enabling each of us to think, to wonder, to speculate and to love. He gave us part of Himself. This is what we call the soul. Man and woman participate with God in the act of Co-Creation. The child’s body comes from the parents, but the child’s soul is from God. The body and the soul walk through this life together for a period of time.-1 Each one grows from the experiences lived. The soul’s formation is intimately wrapped up with life’s experiences. How we deal with and accept them will shape our soul. We don’t see the soul. We can’t touch it. But when we are in the presence of someone who loves tremendously, we know that we are feeling and experiencing the beauty of that person’s soul. But sadly, very often we forget that it exists in us, as well, or that we even have a soul. We address only the needs of the body. Nevertheless, this ignored soul is with us, every step of the way. It doesn’t die. And when the body is no more, it returns to its Creator.

All of us will leave this world at some time. It may be through a tragic accident, a lingering disease, a thoughtless action, or quietly in our sleep. But whatever and whenever it is, God permits our death to happen. Why? Why would this loving God permit our death? The body is finite. It withers, grows old, and incurs sickness. And then, it is laid to rest. Being physical, it slowly succumbs to the ravages of time and turns to ashes. But THIS is not the person. THIS is not the loving, feeling, sometimes happy, sometimes sad person that we knew and loved. This is the external trappings of that person.

So, where is the deceased person, right now? Not the body, not the sickly person, not the person who left us, so suddenly, where is the person that we loved? Where is his spirit that we laughed with and cherished? Will we ever see him again? His soul, now embraced by God, takes on the everlasting life that was promised to all of us. God calls us all back to Him.

Addendum: A topic such as this would not be complete without the mention of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. The body can feel pain. Can the soul? I believe the pains of Purgatory and Hell will be the soul’s experiencing the separation from God. Purgatory will at least be alleviated somewhat because the separation will end at some point. As to Heaven, obviously, I can only conjecture what our body, once re-united with our soul, will look like. Maybe, all the good memories that people have of us, will be how each person will see us when we are together, in Heaven. That last is definitely, not dogma, but just a guess. Hopefully, we will all see each other again, looking a lot better than we do, right now. He said…whimsically.

-1 Why abortion is wrong. See: Pro Abortion is Really Pro Self

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Death. How We Deal With It
2) Heads Or Tails
3) Mankind And God, Body And Soul
4) Coping With Sadness
5) Corpus Christi Sunday

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grief

This post is for everyone struggling with a recent experience of someone passing on. I hope each of you is at peace. I recently had a conversation with one of my sisters, about Eleanor. El passed away on September 24th of last year. One of my sisters asked me, something to the effect of: “I know she is with God, but WHERE is she right now?” The question caught me off guard. By it, I felt that she was still struggling to cope with El’s death. We all do, you know. Struggle to cope with a loved one’s passing.

This struggle, I believe, is very natural and normal. We are, after all, very much finite beings. We are surrounded by cause and effect, we are immersed in time. We strive to put everything into its proper perspective. And so, we ask the question, “WHERE is she right now”? Right or wrong this is the only answer that we felt made any sense. I hope in some way, it helps you achieve your quiet time.

What happened at the creation of time? When God created man? He made mountains, forests and rivers. He made animals, fish and birds. But, He did something special with man. He breathed into us. Call it our spirit, our soul, our nature, whatever, but in the final analysis we have to come to the conclusion that He gave us something special, something that sets us apart from all other aspects of creation. Whether we wish to believe it or not, we were given something spiritual, something very special. God gave us, Himself.

There is a purpose in our life and the way we live it. And, this loving infinite God gave each of us a unique purpose, a path to follow. But that is not really exact. Because a path to follow implies there is only one way for us to walk, only one way to come to God and His love. This infinite God wants us to find our way back to Him. We sometimes wander off the path, maybe even take a new road, but His love for us is still there. And He writes straight with our crooked lines, our deviations. This loving God patiently waits for us to find Him, and to strive to know Him. We were created for this very reason, to realize who He is, and to feel His love for us. And, once we come to this realization, once we know and feel His love there is no going back. Everything else becomes secondary.

And so, we live our lives sometimes carefully, sometimes carelessly. St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee”. We strive to find the answer for our fulfillment. And, maybe in that striving, we wander off the path. But, at some point in our life, we come to the realization that what we seek is really not here on this earth. At that point, our lives take on a brilliance, a compassion for others, because we know that God is in them, as well. Our lives take on a new direction, one of gentleness and kindness and love. God has quietly reeled us back to Himself.

Joe’s life, as was my sister’s, was full of tenderness, kindness and true affection for others. Somewhere along their path they came to a better understanding of themselves, of life, and of their God. Their love of God was manifested time and again with how they treated their fellow man. They loved, cared for, consoled, and comforted others. And yes, even made others laugh, for laughter is also a gift from God.

So the question still stands out there, “Where is he/she right now”? Their spirit, for that is truly who we are, has meshed once again with their Creator. God has embraced them tenderly and joyously. Their happiness and joy knows no limits, now.

Here are some other Posts that have a similar theme. Click on any one of them:

1) A Letter to Aunt Molly
2) Eleanor and St. Therese

Death: How We Deal With It

It seems that the last six months has been my families’ turn to be in the barrel. During this time multiple deaths have occurred in our family and to our acquaintances. Three uncles have passed away; one was in his nineties, and two of them, in their eighties. A close friend who I golfed with and became quite close to has joined our Maker. And most recently an in-law has been tragically snatched in the prime of his life, while serving his fellow man as an EMT. I know they say we wait for the other shoe to drop…but in this case it seems like an octopus is removing those shoes. How can I make jokes during such a tragic time? Let me explain.

After each death, I fruitlessly tried to understand the why, the reason they had to die. In so doing, I could not help but look back and remember each person as they were. The more I thought about their lives, what they did, how they lived, how good it was to be around them the more inspired I became. Without faith, we can only see the absurdity of death. It is meaningless. It is tragic. We sense only the loss that we feel. It is human to mourn. It is natural to mourn. I would even say that, at times, the mourning process can actually be therapeutic.

But the end of the mourning process does not mean we stop thinking about our loved ones. The memories that we have will, and should, remain with us, always. And in those memories our loved one stays with us always. Just as we knew the love that we had for each in life, so too, we know the other still exists in death, because of that same love. We can cherish the time we had together, the shared memories, the shared love. Why? How can this be? If we believe that a person named Jesus walked this earth…, if we believe that He came to show us how to live…, if we believe that He overcame death to show us that there is more to life than what exists here on earth, then that belief, that faith tells us these good people are truly with God, as we sit here and think about them. Yes, it is natural to mourn, but it is divine to be thankful for what we experienced with our loved one. I believe Lord, help my unbelief.

So how can I speak in humor at a time like this? My faith tells me that these people, these relatives and friends, ALL good people, are now with God. Creation has come full circle. God has brought them back to Himself. They have fought the good fight. They have run the race. They have won the laurel wreath of victory. Each mother and father holds their loved ones close to them. And, God, our Father, has once again wrapped His arms around them. We will miss them, yes, but we can be glad for them. Do not mourn for them. They are with us still, because they are with God, who is with us always.

Heads or Tails?

Pain, sorrow, conscience, accidents, sickness and death, all are things we try to avoid or correct, if we can. Our view of these is such that our lives are poorer, are corrupted when these are present. And yet, strange as it may be, there is a very positive side to all of these negatives.

When our body feels pain, it is telling us that that joint, that muscle needs care. We may be able to lessen the pain, but without it we would not know that some part of us needed care. Conscience is always looked upon as something that reminds us of our failings. But conscience is also a guide to steering us to where we are to avoid the pitfalls that we have had in the past. Sorrow is experienced when something bad has entered the picture, or looms ready to strike. This sorrow is an outgrowth of fear. We fear that the calm, the peace that we have had is about to be destroyed. We fear the unknown. Sickness and death also cause us to fear: fear that we, or someone we love, won’t get better; fear that our lives are about to change for the worse; fear that we, or someone we love, are about to die.

In all of these trials, many times we focus our thoughts only on the side that we don’t like, the negative. The negative side is always, ALWAYS, looking at the discomfort caused. We have allowed this focus to strip ourselves of any ability to rise above the problem. We are unable to even see the positive side.
But there are two sides to these coins. Each pain, each sorrow, each traumatic event in our life offers us the opportunity to grow. The growth may be a better understanding of what drives us, or a deeper realization of what is truly important to us. The growth might help us appreciate the people in our lives, or what our religion means to us. The growth might be an acceptance that we can’t control everything and so we learn to accept what we can’t control. In that understanding, that appreciation, that acceptance comes the peace that we strive for.

We begin to realize that Jesus’ message is not a passive form of living, a bow-your-heads-and-succumb way of life. It is not an accept-the-inevitable, take the negative and like it style of living. On the contrary, it is a vibrant, heads up challenge to live a life that is thoughtful, aware and meaningful. It sees the negatives in life and tries to understand and accept the positive, growth-filled opportunities that they afford. In that acceptance, the peace of Christ flows into our souls.