Evidence for the Human Spirit

Last night, I went to an event at my church — not because I wanted to, but because it was required by my children’s CCD program. It started at 7. The kids were already tired, and I was doing my fair share of complaining — Monday nights are tough, right?! Poor me. After throwing some leftovers at everyone, screaming about being late and generally being a crabapple, I sat down in my pew. Then, Tony Melendez and his band were introduced. Well, talk about feeling like a real horse’s bottom, it turned out to be one of the most inspirational hours of my life. Melendez was born in Nicaragua with no arms and a club foot. After spending a childhood mastering the simple tasks of everyday living, he decided, at the age of 16, to learn how to play guitar — with his feet. I have been known to wallow in a shallow pool of self-pity if the breeze blows the wrong way. Here is a man who, despite an incredible disability, sat before me, joy in his every movement, and played songs of thanks and praise to God. How, listening to that music and watching that musician, could I not believe in the strength and hope of the human spirit? I googled to see if I could find any more evidence, because I am, after all, a scientist and to a fault, want proof.

1. In 1907, Dr. Duncan MacDougall, weighed dying patients immediately before and immediately after death. He found that in some cases, patients were about 21 grams lighter. In dogs, there was no change in weight at all. He claimed this weight change to be the result of the spirit leaving the body. These results have never been reproduced.

2. There are thousands of reports of near-death or death experiences. They are curiously similar despite age, culture, and time.

That’s about all I could find, falling pitifully short of my 5-blurb norm. I must admit I am disappointed. I had hoped after writing the intro, I would find volumes of proof that we are more than what we can see and touch. The evidence is weak, and most of it is so reminiscent of my college Philosophy courses, I couldn’t read past the first couple of sentences. Circular reasoning was never my thing. So, I humbly present you with three more pieces of evidence that make me believe we humans have a soul; that we have a spirit — and it is beautiful.

3. HOPE

4. LOVE

5. FAITH

Even if you don’t believe in the miracle of the human spirit, you will find this link inspirational. At the very least, it will make you rethink the way you handle life’s everyday annoyances. Suddenly, traffic might not seem like much of an obstacle. It is Melendez’s 1987 performance before Pope John Paul II. It was this performance which inspired him to carry his message of hope and strength to a larger, global audience. He touched me personally last night, and today, as evidenced by this post, I am a complete sap. I heard “Even Now” by Barry Manilow at the grocery store and started crying in the frozen food aisle — true story.

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