A Story for All Hallows Eve
On a bright Autumn Sunday afternoon I went to the high school where I taught to print and photocopy a lesson I planned to teach the next day. Such is life, or lack of life, for a teacher! The school was a four story turn of the century building, with innumerable nooks and crannies…great for young girls wanting to escape class. The halls echoed my entrance on the first floor, alerting me to the fact that I was alone. I didn’t care. I was on a mission! Ensconced at the desk in the teachers’ workroom on the third floor, I set myself to printing my handout. NOTE: This is 1984, the era of dinosaur computers and I am not, by nature, a practical person. The printer would not print. For twenty minutes my attention was riveted to that printer, nothing else.
Finally, success! I whipped out the paper to take it to the photocopy machine, turned toward the open doorway, and froze. Just inside the open door of the office across the hall, sat a young woman. She was a 1960’s Joan Baez kind of girl, complete with straight, long, black hair, mini skirt, and even go-go boots. I couldn’t move. I had stopped breathing. As if on cue, I heard a calm voice within me ask, “Why do you presume you have to be afraid?” and I blurted like a bullet, “Who are you, what do you want?” At the sound of my voice, her diaphanous image disintegrated, like individual pixels on a screen separating from the picture, and I no longer saw her. But I felt her presence. It was benign, nothing sinister about it, but she was still there. I decided then and there that my students could very well do without the assignment I had set out to print, and I fled the building.
“Why do you presume you have to be afraid? Because Hollywood told me so. Another ten years brought similar experiences, the fear dissipating with each one. I started to read. I worked with shamans. I wrapped my unscientific brain around the most basic concepts of physics and saw how they related to spirituality. I had always believed that we live on somehow after death. Now I understood that the voice within me had come from this “Joan Baez” girl. The shaman suggested that perhaps she only left because I had interrupted her quiet time. During the week she put up with 250 teenagers.
My spiritual practice around the afterlife has evolved to include an intentional awareness of the presence of spirits in my daily life. I invite them each day to guide, protect and companion with me. When I write, preach, guide or discern a path, I chant a mantra, “Come good spirits, come. Show me the way.” I invite only those whom I can welcome, and protect myself from those who are not welcome. The veil between the two worlds is getting thinner for me with every passing year and every encounter.
I am convinced that these are normal, everyday experiences, open to everyone. Today is All Hallows Eve, a time when the veil is said to be at its thinnest. Honor your dead with flowers, candles, and maybe a little chat. Do you have a “ghost” story to share below?
Believer or not, this podcast from Snap Judgment, “Innocence Lost,” is guaranteed to entertain, enlighten, or frighten someone: http://snapjudgment.org/SpookedV
One particular scene in the film,“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” always sends shivers through me. Harry and his friends are on the Hogwarts Express when a dementor attempts to suck out Harry’s soul. That is what they do. They prey upon all positive energy and leave their victims in a state of emptiness.
I think of this symbol today because I just spent sacred time with a friend, putting to rest a time in our youth when we were preyed upon simply because we were there. And we were vulnerable. I am keenly aware of the need to develop spiritual practices that protect us. I know that many of my readers have experienced similar betrayal, for it is a human experience. I pray that you also experience healing and forgiveness.
LAYING IT TO REST
Two aging soul-sisters
Hold vigil in a Victorian café-
A sanctuary for deep
No brain fog mimics the
Claustrophobic fog outside.
We remember every word of
In tandem we tell the story
For what we hope will be the last time:
How dementors in a consecrated community
Sucked out our souls and how-
Because we were young and wounded-
We let them.
Stronger now, our souls are safe.
In the telling, we recognize
Healing and forgiveness-
Through the fog.
It is past time
To pack up our pain and
Rise from our chairs.
Claustrophobic fog has no power
To crowd our spacious spirits.
Our eucharist has ended, and we
© rita h. kowats