We’ve past the midpoint of Lent! This makes some people happy, but, I enjoy the Lenten season and am always reluctant to have it end so quickly. Maybe you’re thinking that a time of repentance spent in fasting, prayer, and almsgiving isn’t something to be enjoyed. But, you’re wrong. There is great joy in living a life that is freed from the chains of bad habits, addictions, and most of all, sin.
Sin is too often equated with pleasure in our world – and pleasure is too often equated with sin. That is why some think that repentance and true Christian living is a boring and burdensome kind of life. “If we stop sinning,” they think, “what happiness would we have?” But, what they don’t understand is that the body and soul are equally essential in being human – and in being joyful. For, we are creatures of flesh and spirit and we cannot ignore the well-being of one without damaging the well-being of the other.
God created us with material bodies and spiritual souls so that we could enjoy the goodness of His material Creation and also live forever in the bliss of His Eternity. Religion, and, yes, Lent, can help us to find the right balance and live the fullness of being human – body and soul.
Here is a little explanation that I gave to my nephews when they were very young about the soul. (They received a shorter version.) If we can see ourselves as little children, then, perhaps, we can better understand the true joy of a life well and fully lived….
God is Spirit. Spirit is invisible, so we can’t see spirit with our eyes. God created you as a creature of flesh and spirit.
God created your body and God also created your soul. You can see and touch your body because it is flesh, it is physical. But you cannot see your soul because it is spiritual. God made your soul of spirit. He made you in His own image and likeness.
Your soul is what makes you alive. Your soul animates, or gives life to, your body.
Have you ever seen a sock puppet? Someone puts his hand inside of a sock and moves his hand around and it’s like the sock comes to life – it becomes a puppet. If the person takes his hand out of the puppet, then it just becomes a sock again. A lifeless sock. Well, your body is like the sock and your soul is like the hand. Your soul brings your body to life.
Another way to try to understand the soul is to think about a balloon. Your soul in your body is like the air in a balloon. Take a balloon that hasn’t been blown up yet, that has no air in it. It’s just a floppy, stretchy piece of rubber-like plastic. You can’t see air with your eyes, but, when you put air in the balloon, the balloon changes. It becomes something different. It’s full and round and bounces and floats. Your soul in your body is like the air in the balloon. It makes it different. Your soul makes you alive.
Now, if you take a pin and pop the balloon, what happens to the air inside? You can’t see what happened to the air, but you know that it isn’t in the balloon anymore, because you can see that the balloon is all busted up and deflated. So, when a balloon pops, what happens to the air that was inside? Does the air disappear or does it go somewhere else?
The air doesn’t disappear. The air goes somewhere else.
The rubber-like plastic body of the balloon has been broken and can’t hold the air anymore, so the air leaves. It returns to the air. This is like what happens when someone’s body dies. The body is very old, very injured, or very, very sick and can’t hold the soul anymore. So, the soul leaves the body and goes somewhere else.
Where does the soul go? The soul is supposed to return to God in Heaven, because the soul came from God. Our bodies will die, but our souls will not. Our souls can never die because they are of spirit, like God, and spirit lasts forever. Your soul doesn’t die because God loves you and wants you to live forever with Him in the amazing happiness of Heaven.
Whenever you see a balloon, think of the great gift that God has given you. God has given you your soul that will never disappear, so that you can live happily and forever in Heaven with Him.
© 2018 Christina Chase
Photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.