The soul as I see it

Life & Death







The soul begins as the brain develops in recognizing and appreciating our relationships to one another. The newborn reaches for others, seeks support and comfort, seeks relationship. The infant seeks not only milk from the mother but touches and caresses the warm breast, seeks the touch of hands and shoulders of women and men, seeks caressing and glories in it. The infant seeks the comfort of the release of air trapped until burping. The infant perks up at songs and laughter from others. The infant smiles and coos, expressing joy. And the infant cries in pain and with desire. In all these acts the growing infant is reaching out and relating and the soul develops.

I remember my wife grabbing my hand to feel the "kicking" within — pre-natal muscles and nerves developing and knitting together. After birth he self-consciously reached out to touch, caress, hold; with his feet to crawl, walk, run. The prenatal developing of the body is now the self driven lively, exploring, relating person and soul who laughs, eyes dancing, and cries.

Our souls are an intimate part of our selves, our thoughts, our dreams, that is part of our beautifully developing minds and relationships. So we may say "a generous soul." The idea that the soul is some immortal other that enters a zygote does not fit with what we see as newborns and infants develop! The dualistic, binary split into soul and body is unreal. Everything that we imagine about the soul is the brain and self developing within and relating with others.

The soul is the creative in our sensitive, social self. The soul is the sense of awe and wonder growing as the youngster sees plants grow, lightning blaze across the sky, hears music that stirs, explores the ability to use colors to create beauty, mud to create shapes, and feet to dance. Work with each child to recognize these moments of awe to reflect on them and glory in them.

The soul is all of these feelings of reaching and seeking for others, and enjoying being with others and interacting. The soul is the depth of character developing — growing feelings and thinking. The soul develops within and with others. I hope that the growing child may seek and reach for Another — the "Ground of our Being" — who supports us with Almighty Care and Grace that is experienced as the child learns trust in parents and adults who care deeply for the growing child expressing love.

And at death the Apostle Paul wrote this mind-self-soul is transformed. Kathleen Dowling Singh, who spent her life in hospice work, says, "As death carries us off, it is impossible to any longer pretend that who we are is our ego. The ego is transformed in the very carrying off."

Heaven is most like my soulmate and I enfolding each others’ arms and bodies in loving respect, whether looking together at an awesome natural scene or fixing a meal and pausing to hug and kiss before returning to tomatoes and potatoes or in bed in the ultimate mutual embrace. In all these there is no place or time; rather there is focus, love, deep respect, and mutual interaction. It is mellow from the vintage-like aging we experienced over fifty years of life together — with each other, with children, with friends, with this good earth, with an ultimate One who is all of these gracious interactions in countless dimensions.

Copyright © 2005, 2012 John F. Yeaman