...a great deal of it is unexplored, and men have not discovered its boundaries. This is exciting and delightful to the people, because, though here and there Mansoul is touched by another such country as itself, there are everywhere reaches which no man has seen, regions of country which may be rich and beautiful.The above quote is from Chapter 1 of Ourselves, which I posted about here.
In Chapter 2, Mason discusses "the perils of Mansoul." They are sloth, fire, plague, flood, famine, discord, and darkness. As I read this chapter, I thought about the causes of these perils: apathy, pessimism, envy, discontent, carelessness, disorder...
Right off the bat, I can tell you that I work on "looking on the bright side" A LOT.
Two weeks ago, my 3 1/2 year old asked what a spirit is. It was 7:20 a.m., and we were in the car (my husband was driving me to work), and I hadn't had my coffee yet. This is all to say that I was not prepared for this question coming from a teeny-tiny person in her car seat. "Well," I said, "it's the part of you that connects you to God."
"Oh," she said. That answer seemed to suffice.
The following day, she asked what a soul is.
"Well," I started, "it's your spirit."
"But where is my spirit?"
"It's inside you."
"Like my skeleton?"
"Yes. But it's invisible."
I explained to her that when something is invisible, you can't see it. We've talked about how God is everywhere and how we can't see him, but she's three, which means she thinks God lives on the moon and needs to wear shoes when he goes outside.
I'm not sure at what age I first understood that souls are eternal, but I know I knew at six. When I was six, my grandfather (my father's father) died. His funeral was open casket, and I remember my father lifting me up to see my grandfather's body, my grandmother kissing my grandfather's hand, and telling me to kiss it too. I remember kicking and squirming and telling her no because it wasn't my grandfather anymore. It was just a body.
How do you explain 'soul' to a preschooler? One idea that I read said to liken the soul to an astronaut, and the body to an astronaut suit; an astronaut needs a special suit to travel into space, just as a soul needs a special suit (a body) to travel to earth.
Or maybe she got the answers she needed. Invisible. Inside. Connects you to God.
We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being. - Stage Manager, from Thornton Wilder's Our Town