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