Thursday, July 10, 2008

Civil Society in the Age of Aquarius


Top of a tent in Lincoln Park that will shelter the people celebrating Mary Bethune McCloud's birthday this afternoon.

In a perfect world, I would apply for a grant to do soul retrieval under the Metro bridges between Union Station and Takoma Park where homeless people set up camp. Gazing at them from my perch far above, inside the Metro train, I sense something missing among the bodies of the people there. It's hard to tell whether they're sleeping or dead.

The events that made them homeless in the first place were probably terribly traumatic - bad enough to rip off a chunk of soul. Add to that a life lived without shelter from the elements, no way to ever get a good night's sleep, plus the bad food and whatever else, drugs? drink? - it's a wonder that any of them can hang on to any part of their souls. I feel sad and scared when I see them from the train.

I'd like to get a job doing soul retrieval at a hospital. I imagine working in the intensive care unit and on the surgical wards quite a bit. Anesthetics, intubation and other common surgical procedures must surely chase away the dainty parts of a soul. The things they do to people in hospitals! Yikes. I know it's all meant for the good of the patient, but it's so extreme.

A friend asked if I would work in oncology. I don't think so. The cancer survivors (and sufferers) I'm personally acquainted with are abundantly soulful. Something about that disease seems to almost always bring out the best in people. It's a cruel blessing.

Even as I daydream about socially responsible soul retrieval I remember it isn't a perfect world, so I won't hold my breath about receiving a grant or getting a soul retrieval position at Georgetown Medical Center. Oh well. It's a fine if imperfect world. Life is good and I am grateful.

12 comments:

lacochran's evil twin said...

A job in soul retrieval or soul infusion? Just sayin...

Barbara said...

Do you think we all have equal amounts of soul at birth? It would be interesting to think about all the ways a person's soul could be diminished over time. It's also interesting to observe that life officially continues as long as a heart is beating (even with a machine), but no one is ever declared officially dead when his/her soul is gone.

Reya Mellicker said...

Barbara in many cultures throughout history and around the planet, the moment of death was called when the soul left the body. If you've ever been with someone at death, it's apparent, completely, when it leaves.

Only in our culture are we so fixated on structural markers of death.

Reya Mellicker said...

And to answer your question, I have no idea.

Lynne said...

Yes, you know when the soul leaves the body. I've watched enough dogs die over the past few years and each has been different. Firmly implanted in my mind was Bode, who we had to euthanize at the vet's office. The vet had told his he was gone, that his heart had stopped and left us to be alone with him.

But he was still there. I told Rick we can't leave yet ... His soul hung on for several more minutes, then he was gone. He's the only dog that lingered, like he wasn't quite ready to leave yet.

Love the pics!

deborah said...

When Grandma Grace died, even though they revived her heart for awhile, I saw her get smaller, saw the light around and within depart.

When Martin died, the light slid from him and flew noiselessly around the room touching and briefly lighting Tovah and Isaac (where they stood in the doorway) before exiting through the window.
It may have touched Allen and me as well--I was watching Hobbes who had laid with him every day for a week, leaving only to eat and take care of essentials. As the light began to circle toward Tovah, Hobbes stretched in that arched back way kitties do, jumped from the bed--as the light went to Isaac, Hobbes rubbed against Tovah and then Isaac and left the room.

Steve said...

There are a couple of homeless guys who live on my block, both heavy substance abusers, and I get the same feeling of soullessness when I see them -- they just look utterly empty.

lucy said...

Can you practice soul retrieval at a distance? You could begin to do so, and after a while, maybe it would become something you'd just wind up getting paid to do.

having had a son, i find that even within the most lost and unchildlike man i still feel the baby boy, so while some homeless people feel terribly wounded or hopeless, they never feel hollow of soul. there is always something of the soul of the baby boy hiding somewhere in the cavernous nighttime train terminal basement-like inner man. so fragile, but not gone.

Reya Mellicker said...

I don't believe the body can live without the soul, but bits of it, segments, can be lost or torn away.

Today one of my clients told me there are agencies in DC who might actually pay for some soul retrieval work. She's a pretty sharp cookie - works for the Brookings Institute.

Ah but I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't WANT to do soul retrieval. But the information is coming to me, so I'm learning and thinking. There's nothing wrong with that!

Washington Cube said...

As a volunteer, I counseled homeless women in a shelter for two years, and let me tell you, as noble the calling, you get terribly depressed being in that environment over time. I knew another woman who did work at House of Ruth. Ditto. Bless the people who do it as a calling and can weather it. I remember stepping outside one Sunday for a break and noticing how even the trees were diseased and the birds mangy--the toll of poverty.

P.S. A special thanks to the people who donate their corrupted "what do you mean shelf life" food to shelters. I've had to whittle your rotted potatoes and apples down to slivers.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

a very worthy position! soul retrieval in a hospital....having worked in a hospital settting for over 10 years (now 'retired') I can say it is very needed!!

I don't know if you purposely participated in theme thursday or if it was synchronicity! you started out the posted mentioning great soul mary mcleod bethune....mccloud, clever word play!! did you go to the party?

Reya Mellicker said...

I missed the party, but I'm sure it was very fine. If I honored Mary McLeod Bethune while also honoring your theme for the day - well - I was in the flow! Oh yeah!!