You gotta have soul

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:11 PM

John W. Reynolds

One day last week I was thinking of dying, not thinking I was dying, just thinking about what happens when the body gives up.

This body has been with me all my life; from the womb to infancy, the toddler stage, kindergarten, and survived the education and maturation years. It has served me well through good and bad times and has been the instrument by which I experienced the world using sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste and at times a sense I don’t fully understand. How well I have used these senses is a result of my ability to learn and apply which amounts to experience and achievement.

There comes a time when these abilities become dulled, the physical level as well as the mental aspect, and eventually they cease to exist as you grow older. Human age is a relative thing, some people are still young at age 90; many others age much sooner.

So then you die physically and your soul, if we have one, continues on. Depending on your belief in a hear-after, you may be reunited body and soul or even reincarnated. But what about the moment that you cease to have life, if you are cognizant of its happening, what is that like.

You might spend that time peacefully acknowledging and making peace with the Supreme Being, hopefully you did not wait until too late. If you don’t believe in God you might be thinking of something that brought you pleasure or contentment; or you might be cursing the end of your life.

If you believe that you have no soul, and you indeed have no soul, how does that happen? It seems hard to believe that someone has no soul.

It is easy to get distracted from considering your soul there’s so much out there in the way of physical pleasures and enticements that we might go years between soul examinations.

Centuries ago the poet William Wordsworth cautioned this; “The world is too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; little we see in Nature that is ours.” Are there clues that tell us whether a person has a soul? Is soul gained by eating “soul food” or listening to “soul music” or by meditating on the universe, or nature or some abstract, unfathomable, unknowable cosmic energy source?

There are people throughout history who we might believe had no soul; this would include notoriously evil people who were responsible for inhuman acts against mankind.

We even sometimes come into contact with people who seem not to have any soul, who strike us as being cold and heartless; we may be tempted to classify them as soul-less.

It would seem that a reasonable test of whether or not a person has soul is their interaction with other humans. There are pretty good guides for us who might wonder about our own “soul”; they’re called the two greatest commandments, briefly stated they are, “Love God with your whole self and love your neighbor as you do yourself.

Now, I’m pretty sure I’ll run out of time in the not too distant future; I’ve checked my backside and don’t find an expiration date but I’m sure there is one; so I’m making a considerable effort to do what those two commandment say I should do; because, a soul is a terrible thing to never have had or to lose.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had it right: “Dust thou art, to dust returneth was not spoken of the soul.” You just gotta have soul.

John W. Reynolds lives in North Ogden.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.