I have just come back from watching The Woman in Black at the cinema. Mother’s Day treat. Or not. It’s a pretty scary film but that’s ok because I have read the book so I know what happens and I could put my hands over my eyes at the relevant moments! Don’t worry, I am not going to give away the plot of the film because it;’s very good even though the ending is not like the ending of the book. However, it’s pretty obvious that the woman in black is a ghost.
So, do ghosts exist? The 10 million dollar question. Or maybe not. A better question would be, does it matter for the living whether ghosts exist or not? I would argue that it doesn’t matter. It’s easy to get fascinated by the idea of ghosts, and many people have stories of encounters with them, people who are otherwise very modern and scientific and often the most unexpected types, so it’s not hard to bump up against them (in the night ha! ha! sorry to continue…) and to become interested in them. There are various theories about what they may be: energies, sub-aural physical phenomena that cause conscious but misunderstood effects, the spirits of the dead that can’t rest, the spirits of those we love who remain to take care of us. But in a way they are all irrelevant. If they are energies then we can neutralise or manage them and if they are souls, well to put it harshly they are not souls belonging to us, If ghosts are souls then the danger in getting really interested in them is that they become more interesting than the here and now, where people are who need us, where God is, where life is. A Christian life is so much about the present, because it is all that we have, we can plan all we like and remember all we like but all we actually have is now. Now can make life better for others in the future, now can make your past one you are proud of and like to remember.
You know this. This shouldn’t be news to you, but sometimes we need to be reminded. And it’s good to know that time keeps on moving our present on and that this too shall pass. Getting interested in ghosts takes your eye off the ball. And as Ireland know to their cost after this weekend’s rugby, that won’t get you anywhere but lost.