All Souls’ Day

The day after Halloween is All Saints’ Day (in the Catholic Church calendar).  The next day is All Souls’ Day.

The soul.  Many agree it is the mystical core of our being…our existence.  This is the blank slate that gets stained and marked and written upon through our deeds in life.  When our corporeal bodies are laid to rest…the soul ‘lives’ on.  In some religions, it is what gets passed along in the reincarnation cycle.  In Christian theologies, the soul is what gets looked at during the Last Judgement.

When I was in Catholic school, I was told that on All Souls’ Day, I could go into the church and, after saying a certain number of prayers, a soul would be released from Purgatory.  I could do this all day…freeing souls to continue onto Heaven.  The only catch was I had to get up and leave the church…then come back in to start over.  A hassle for me in foul weather, but a good thing for the souls stuck in the line to Bliss.

Then, quite to my surprise, the Church demoted Purgatory.  It wasn’t an item of belief anymore.  (I still think I’m destined for the place…so I fall back on the indulgences of the past, also on the “out” list of the official Church teachings.)  So, I let cars make turns in front of me to keep the flow of traffic going and to keep knocking off those million years I’m sure to spend paying for the sins of my youth.

But, the soul is also supposed to be the entity behind ghosts and hauntings.  These souls are “caught” between this world and the next…according to theory, anyway.  I tend to go along with this concept.  Especially when I think of  murder victims…who never saw it coming. That is why I think battlefields are probably quite haunted, indeed.  A poor 17 year-old gets hit by a mini-ball in the temple and…one minute he’s thinking of his girlfriend…and the next he’s looking down on the carnage below.

The soul.  I read that there was an experiment by a Doctor who put a terminally ill patient on a very accurate scale…and waited until this individual took his or her final breath of earth’s air.  He found, much to his astonishment that the soul had mass (weight).  For those of you interested in these things, the soul’s mass is 21 grams. (There was a movie made in the last few years with this title).  For you non-metric types, think of 21 average sized paper clips.  Heft those clips in your hand.  That is the mass of whatever it is that has been called the “soul”.

All the collective human experiences of sins, good deeds, pain, tears, fear, loss, joy, love, knowledge, hate, and pity are in that tiny mass that feels like the paper clips in your palm.

I’m not a religious person and I am a skeptic when it comes to ghosts and apparitions.  (But I love a good scary tale).

But, since science will never be able to explain certain things…then the power of belief must fill in the blanks.

The soul. I feel that something is within us.  Something that knows the difference between evil and good, love and hate and the satisfaction of forgiveness.

I think the soul and the heart are the same.  Not the heart of muscle and valves…but the heart that can be filled with joy and amazement…and the heart that can be broken by a single word.

The photograph below is one I found on several Internet sites.  It is purported to be the “soul” of a deceased person taken at the moment of death.  I cannot speak to its authenticity.  I just thought you’d find it interesting if you’ve never seen it before.






Boy, You’ve Got To Carry That Weight

It’s been said that the human soul weighs 21 grams.

A gram is equal to the weight of a standard paper clip.  So, if you hold 21 paper clips in the palm of your hand, you’re hold what amounts to the heft of an eternal soul…a soul that will spend all of time in eternal bliss or never-ending torment.  21 paper clips!  That’s a pretty small amount for such a precarious an item as a human soul.

I’ve been doing some thinking about this and my musings has led me to astonishing places.  I own an iPhone and I’ve been hard at work calculating the weight (really it’s called ‘mass’, but I’ll stick with ‘weight’) of email.  My phone, like everyone else’s, receives a ton of text messages, voice mail, email and photos, among other things.  Most of this comes to me from those people I care about, but, alas, some comes unsolicited, i.e., junk mail.  I really don’t want to know about a bargain condominium in Boca Raton or a relaxing get-away weekend flight to Thule, Greenland.  This avalanche of data begins to make my iPhone heavy.  So much so, that if I carry it in my pants pocket, my pants begin to sag and droop down my leg forcing me to tighten my belt which in turn cuts off circulation between my torso and my thighs.  It can get ugly, I tell you.  So, I delete.  I delete every day.  If I’m in an aggressive deleting mood on certain days, I do so with abandon.  The little rubber nub at the tip of my stylus begins to show signs of stress fractures about the width of three microns.  Soon I’ll have to spring for a new stylus.  $18.00 for a plastic pen-like thing that won’t even write.

But, I digress.

The general rule, as I see it, is that the fewer emails and such, the lighter my iPhone becomes.  But this brings on a new and very serious dilemma: some emails are heavier than others and I am forced to make a value choice.  There are texts from my wife about not forgetting to buy the Skim Milk.  A reminder of a doctor’s appointment.  A photo of my new grandson.  Some weird object or broken down barn that caught my eye while driving.  A note from my son thanking me for getting him two tickets for a Broadway show.  A birthday wish.  A simple “I love you” from someone I love in return.

I want to keep these special emotes, but I can’t keep them all.  My pants would sag.  So, how do I choose what goes and what stays?  I’ve come up with a rough rubric to solve this situation:

  • Some stuff is too heavy to hold onto.  A threat of an argument.  A negative comment.  A bad reminder of a bad memory.  These go.
  • Some messages are light and airy like a cloud…like smoke rising from a campfire…like morning mist rising from the lake.  The love notes….a promise kept…a secret revealed…an image of an infant, smiling his first smile and caught in pixels for all time by an…an iPhone.  These stay.

Once upon a time, many of these connections were made over a telephone.  But they had to be stored in your head.  Maybe that explains why people in the 1950’s seemed to walk around with their heads hanging.  Now, this slim package of diodes and chips are, at once, your wallet, purse, scrapbook, phone book, tape recorder, camera, arcade and library.  It’s all there in the palm of your hand.  And it fits nearly everywhere.  Now, that’s heavy.  Heavier than your soul.

So heavy, it can make your pants sag.