is a word that denotes an unresolved parallel
We cease to be haunted when we cease to be afraid of making what has been untouchable real and touchable again: especially our understandings of the past, and especially those we wronged
We feel haunted when we do not attend to what is rightfully ours, when we waste our energies and powers on peripheries. This essay was written in a kind of symmetry between two different forms of visitation, the late evening and the very early morning. The first came from a sense of something present and not quite present in a very old dwelling in Oxford, England; the imminence of lives no longer quite here that might perhaps have missed their tide and who might still, these centuries later, be looking for something that was actually right before their eyes when they were alive. The second visitation came from a more bracing sense of potentiality to complete the pattern; a fresh, clear resolve we can feel for the day when we wake in a place such as Murren, Switzerland, looking over the snowbound Bernese Oberland, staggered by the sheer revelation of beauty in the world, in a scale and a sky we could not have imagined for ourselves; the crisp morning air in our room, the first light catching the tippy tops of the grey mountain with color; not dead yet, not haunted, not having missed the pattern quite yet, ready to risk ourselves again in the central question to which all others are secondary; the sheer, primary experience of our presence in the world.
is a word that denotes an unresolved parallel, a presence that is not quite a presence; a visitation by the as yet unspeakable. It is also emblematic of the longing for incarnation, of an unbearable substrate of wanting, of not finding a home in this world or in the next, someone or something that walks the halls of our house or our mind looking for what will help to lay its own self to rest.
What haunts us is always something that seeks its own disappearance: it wants to become fully itself and so depart. If we feel continually haunted, over time we begin to become ghost-like ourselves and roam with intent whilst not quite knowing the object of our intention. Looking in the mirror, our face begins to look like our not-quite-incarnated life. We walk not exactly existing in the world we visit. Like the spirits and half-beings we imitate at Halloween, we roam the streets as if looking for an abode on this earth we are unable to locate, demanding tribute from those who dwell within. The exorcism of an unwanted spirit is consistent the world over: an invitation to return home; for it and for us to find our way back, to cease our restless ways and to quit disturbing others’ lives or walking their houses by night.
We cease to be haunted when we cease to be afraid of making what has been untouchable real and touchable again: especially our understandings of the past, and especially those we wronged, those we were wronged by, or those we did not help. We become real by forgiving ourselves, and we forgive ourselves most authentically by changing the foundational pattern of our behaviour, especially our behaviour to those we have hurt. A fear of ghosts, or a fear of our own haunted mind, is the measure of our absence in this world.
We cease to be afraid when we give away what was never ours in the first place and begin to be present to our own lives just as we find them, in our earthly vulnerabilities, even in facing what we have banished from our thoughts and made homeless, even when we do not know the way forward ourselves. When we make a friend of what we previously could not face, what once haunted us now becomes an invisible, parallel ally, a beckoning hand to our future.
We banish the misaligned when we align with what we are called to; we become visible and real when we give our gift and stop waiting for the gift to be given to us. We wake into our lives again, as if for the first time, laying to rest what previously had no home, through beginning to speak, beginning to make real and beginning to live, those elements constellating inside us that long to move from the invisible to the visible.