John Killinger wrote, “Old age is haunted territory. The ghosts of all our experiences converge upon us, drifting in and out like merry wraiths at a convention of specters. The older we become, the more of these ghosts there are and the more easily they appear to come and go. Some days we can’t get anything done for watching and listening to them.”
A couple of years ago I was home in north Alabama. My brother and I had cemetery duty. In the family plot there is a tallish obelisk which was leaning dramatically. It is the marker of my grandfather’s first wife who died in childbirth a century ago. Every few years it has been my job to “straighten out Cleo’s marker.” As my brother and I were working on it, I was suddenly struck with the realization that I am related to more people in the ground than above ground. Talk about a perfect setting to be reminded of the ghosts of the past.
Certainly, the family members we miss are some of the ghosts that figuratively roam in and out of our memory. The great family stories about those peculiar relatives we all have. The stories of the heroic actions of our patriarchs are always inspiring. In my family there are stories, many of them are the other kind. My great grandfather lost most of an entire county in Alabama in a poker game. Another great grandfather ran a broom factory. I grew up playing around broom parts, kerosene, old cars, and houses with basements. I loved how and when I grew up. Our family gatherings were loud and crowded.
The other ghosts that pop into our minds are a pair of regret ghosts. Regret comes in two forms, things we did or said and things we failed to do or to say. Those lists grow daily, don’t they? I’m trying to avoid that “left undone or left unsaid” ghost.
These ghosts grab our attention, and we find ourselves trying to drive forward while looking in a rear-view mirror. They also keep us from experiencing the power of the present moment.
I’m trying a ghostbusting antidote that I read in the Bible. It might help you too!
“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” How are you and your ghosts running the race?