Sunday, August 22, 2010

We Believe in Things Seen and Unseen

When it comes to the topic of ghosts and paranormal activity, I've always been of an open mind. Each week for nearly thirty years (I reckon I didn't recite the Nicene Creed until I was about seven) I have heard or recited the line:

We believe in God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen.

Until recently, I've had no reason to believe either in the existence or non-existence of ghosts: as none had ever made contact with me, I had no reason to render a judgment.
No reason, that is, until this last week.

The other night, while on the first floor of our building, I was chatting with the superior in his office. I reclined on the couch and was looking out the small window cut into his door when I saw a figure walk past. Under the assumption that we were alone in the hallway, I went over the door, opened, and looked into the corridor: on either end, the hallway was empty. I know that I saw something move past the window and that it wasn't a reflection of something else, but there was nothing on the other side of the door. 

On Friday, I was giving a lecture on Plato in my senior-level philosophy class. I had made the slides a few days prior, saved them to my memory stick, and brought them up onto the Smart Board in my class. My students can attest to my confusion when, on advancing to a slide in the middle of the presentation, we saw the header read:

Plato Versus [John Doe]

The thing is, though, is that it didn't say [John Doe]. It read, rather, a last name. A last name that I know I didn't put into the lecture. A name who presence in my presentation I cannot account for and I swear that I didn't type.  I figured it was a computer error but, to be sure it wasn't mine, I went back to my handwritten notes: no trace of this particular last name could be found in the notes I had written and then transcribed into Power Point.
I chalked this up to a computer glitch until this morning. After celebrating the Eucharist, three of us Jesuits were chatting when the celebrant asked the other priest, a veteran teacher, if he had ever heard of a Father _________ (I'm not putting in the name because I don't want to the family members to think that I'm accusing their loved one of being a ghost). A chill went down my spine: the name that was being inquired about was the same name that had appeared mysteriously in my Power Point presentation. 

As it turns out, the priest in question had lived here at the school but had left the Jesuits back in the sixties. A search on Google turned up his obituary: he died within the last year. 

Now, I'm not making any claims to be dwelling in a haunted house. Nevertheless, it does push me just a little bit toward thinking that the veil that separates the living and dead may be a bit thinner than I had ever though. As I learned more about this individual and his past, it strikes me that he could well be the sort to take to haunting IF such a thing were possible/were to happen. 

If nothing else, I'm armed with yet another fun regency story!
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