Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Empty Seats at the Table

This Christmas season my mind is on empty seats at the table. Since last Christmas both my husband and I have had our fathers pass on to the next world. My father-in-law spent the last three years of his life in a nursing home, and his wife passed long before him, so the table at which he might have sat for Christmas dinner is long gone, but my mother recently commented that this would be her first Christmas without my father. I can't help but wonder if he made a quiet, unnoticed appearance there at her table. The good news is that there were other family members there, so the chairs around the table were full. If he did come back, Perhaps he sat at the organ, where he used to sit and practice hymns, and watched his family around the table from across the room.

This all leads to what is really on my mind and that is ghosts that come back, not because they are attached to people and want to check in on the family left behind, but those that are attached to places and the things that they have left behind. A friend of mine owns a house that contains three apartments, and it seems that the ghost of a man is occasionally seen. His description matches that of the man who built the house. He appeared in one instance to an elderly woman who was living there with her granddaughter. He seemed surprised to see the old woman and asked her what she was doing there. This ghost appears to be lost, living in the house he built, mostly unaware that others are the real occupants. This story is not unique, of course. Many people report having to talk to their resident ghosts and win their agreement to allow them to cohabitate the premises.

I have to quote a Bible scripture, which is also a truism: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. ... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." In the case of ghosts, it appears that those who have treasured their earthly possessions too strongly, may find it hard to leave them behind. Talk about the old ball and chain. There's a lesson here for all of us.

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