Location is a mystery, but non-physical quality is eternal
The Rev. Tom Brady, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, at 946 Vermont St.:
The best answer that I can give to this question is, “I don’t know.” From a scientific standpoint, I would suggest that nobody knows. Nothing can be proven about the physical location of the soul. This is one of the mysteries of life that will remain a mystery. I would also point out that there is not a universally agreed upon definition of the soul, which makes this a difficult question to answer.
If we understand the soul to be the non-physical (spiritual) part of every human being, the soul would not be limited to an existence within the body. It could exist outside the physical body. In this sense, soul and spirit are linked as the life principles that makes us complete. Our total being is a combination of body, soul and spirit.
The Bible uses a variety of words synonymous with soul: life, breath, vitality and heart. The soul, like the spirit, can increase or decrease in strength. When all strength goes away, death occurs. People of faith believe that the soul is what lives on after death. Again, the soul has a non-physical (spiritual) quality that is eternal.
My own personal experience, from standing at the bedside of those who are dying, has led to the belief that the soul can leave the body long before death. We have come up with many ways to extend life and postpone death. However, there comes a time when the soul (what makes each individual unique and complete) leaves any perceived physical location. This can happen before the heart stops beating.
So, yes, the soul might be somewhere inside the body and exists outside the body. Yes, it’s a mystery. Thankfully, there’s One greater than us who understands this mystery and preserves our soul for eternity.
— Send email to Tom Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soul's realness confirmed by experiences
The Rev. Dr. Peter A. Luckey, senior pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, at 925 Vermont St.:
The soul is the divine spark within us. Deeper than moods — happy one minute, sad the next — the soul is what defines us as more than flesh and bone.
When Tielhard de Chardin suggests that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience, what he means is that we not only have a soul, but we are a soul.
Pinning down its whereabouts in the human body is impossible.
You cannot open up the brain and say, “there’s the soul.”
That said, the realness of the soul is confirmed again and again by our experiences.
Perhaps you have been part of a soulful conversation. This may have been a special moment, say a time with a dying loved one.
What you recall is how in that time together, the words flowed from a deep place. That place is the soul.
The soul is shy. Aggressive behavior or all manner of promoting our egos send the soul scurrying back into its hiding place.
On the flip side, moments of intimacy and trust, often abetted by art, music, poetry, being out in nature or prayer, bring the soul out of hiding, where it blossoms like a flower.
Above all, the soul, this divine spark, longs to know God.
Consider the words of the Psalmist, “As a hart longs for a flowing streams, So longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)
Our souls are God’s gifts to us. And when we die, our souls return to God.
This is why in joyful affirmation we proclaim again these ancient words from Psalm 103:1, “Bless the Lord, O my Soul; and all that is within me.”
— Send email to Peter Luckey at email@example.com.