29th September

Jack and the Minister

Jack had never quite been able to grasp the concept of the soul. If it was part of you how could you not see it when you looked in the mirror? If it was in you how could you not feel it as you could feel your heart? Yet the minister said from his pulpit that without it you were dead, an empty shell.

To Jack, your soul was like your shadow. It belonged to you and you could not be parted from it, but you could not always see it and even when you could you never paid it much heed.

One day when he was out Jack met the minister coming the other way.

‘Aye, Jack, and how are you?’

‘Braw, thanks,’ says Jack. ‘How’s yersel?’

‘I am well too. And how are you in your soul?’

As usual, Jack had forgotten until that moment that he had a soul. Cannily he keeked over his shoulder to see if his shadow was there, and it was, so he says, ‘Aye, ma soul’s braw, tae.’

‘Why did you look behind you when I asked you that question, Jack?’

‘I was just checking,’ Jack says. ‘Sometimes my soul is there and sometimes it isna, but today it’s there.’

‘Foolish boy,’ the minister says. ‘You cannot see your soul.’

‘Ye can sometimes,’ Jack says. ‘Sometimes it’s afore ye and sometimes it’s ahint ye.’

Then he pointed out to the minister a tree’s soul, a flower’s soul, a cat’s soul and a gate’s soul.

‘These things don’t have souls, Jack,’ the minister says. ‘Only people have souls.’

Just then a big black crow flapped by overhead. As it passed above them its shadow flew along the ground, now a wee bit behind the bird, now a wee bit ahead of it.

‘What’s that if it isna the craw’s soul?’ Jack asks.

‘That’s its shadow, Jack,’ the minister said with a laugh. ‘Not the same thing at all.’ And on he went.

Jack shook his head. There was his own soul, attached to his feet, stretched out on the ground. But as for the minister’s soul, Jack could see no sign of it following at the minister’s heels.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harmonium: Kit Downes
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