Healing and Ghosts
Earlier this month I was traveling with my partner in Europe. There were a few sacred spots on our itinerary, one was a visit the ruins of a monastic community at Fountains Abbey. It is tucked into a valley, by a river in North Yorkshire, England. There is a shell left of what was once a Cistercian monastery, still it remains a mystical space.
A friend asked me if I felt it was crowded with all the spirits walking around, when we visited Fountains Abbey. People close to me know I see angels, spirits and in many ways see things most people do not see. I do not believe that I am special and believe everyone can see otherness. Not just, what some people see as supernatural.
If we think about the life around us, like a stage play or some other stage performance, there is the show that happens in front of the audience and a show that happens behind the curtain. If we only want to recognize one part of the performance, taking away portions of the, the cast would perform in the same clothing from beginning to finish of the performance, set pieces would not shift, and lights would not move our attention to other places. The experience and performance would look a lot different. The removal of any one part, changes the translation of the story of what is happening on the stage.
Many things went through my mind while walking around Fountains Abbey. It did not feel crowded as my friend asked, it felt peaceful and wise. I could still feel the chants that were sung through the naive, beginning in the 12th Century. The Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) could still be felt among the remaining pieces of the abbey telling a different story than originally intended.
I wonder if our curiosity of supernatural and understanding things we cannot see the same way we see buildings and material things, is because of our own fear to look beyond what we have right in front of us. To overcome the fear of the unknown. This same fear can have us watching movies or putting ourselves, even unconsciously, into harms way; to project ourselves into a situation to contemplate how we would respond. This leads to the question; if something is not tangible, it is it real or not?
We give power to what is important in our lives, tangible and intangible. Our memories are not something we hold, though inanimate objects might remind us, these things are not the memory. At Fountains Abbey I saw walls, people walking about, trees, rocks and a river. We all carried our story, now the story of the abbey through our own filters and awareness in life. If any of us are lucky at sacred sights, possibly the presence of peace and maybe a spiritual awakening.
For me, I know a time in my life, I would see nothing more than a shell of buildings, I would see the destruction and the violence committed upon a non-violent community. I would have gotten lost in the violence and seeing it everywhere. Instead I saw how we can carry this monastic community around with us. We all see life through the filters of our life experiences. Some of these experiences limit us, while some lift us up, these are our ghosts. We decide which of these ghost we want to give power to, to tell our story. We choose to keep the spirit alive.
Just as the ritual of Baptism unites us to the Holy Spirit, we have to choose to be baptized and to also accept the Holy Spirit into our lives, from that day forward. We give power to the inanimate things in our lives, such as sacred places, a saint medallion we wear or prayer beads we move through our fingers, reminding us of our spiritual life. Ultimately, we decide which material objects and what actions hold power and how much power. The story that tells my life and all our lives, is up to us. Just as some stage performances can have multiple acts, so can ours and we have the opportunity to decide where light is projected.
The ghosts I saw and were aware of, were my own. I saw the ways I have put fear based limitations on myself. I became aware of how in the Baptism I had in the sixth grade connected me to the Holy Spirit, I decided when to fully accept God into my life. That every moment I have the opportunity to renew that connection, much like any stage performance it does not happen without attention, focus and practice. The actions of power and greed can try to eliminate the sacred, but spirit cannot be taken away. We always have the opportunity to begin to heal the wounds of our past, while walking forward in love. It starts with our courage and which ghosts we want to pay attention to.
I will conclude with a prayer that I found myself praying while walking around Fountains Abbey. It was written for people who suffer with HIV/AIDS. However, disease has many names, it is the evil mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer, negative thoughts, cancer, material wealth, distractions and _______ and….. Think about the disease (dis-ease) in life and see where the Holy Spirit can be more fully present.
“Disease is so limited;
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot invade the soul.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.
It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.
In God’s love we rest. Amen.”