As it is the season for all thing ghastly, ghoulish and ghostly,  I share with you a haunting tale of  a man forced to face his own demise.  The hero of our tale is not a particularly likable man for he is miserly and bitter.  His best friend unfortunately died several years ago and it affected him. His work and his money account for most of his attention and very limited social interactions are limited to a couple of people in his employ.  

The day in question was much like any other.  He walked home after closing up the office, the chill evening air clinging to him though he paid no attention to it.  Once home he went to his room and got a fire going in the grate and had a simple supper in the small room he chose to sleep in, despite the house being very large.  Dozing off in the chair in front of the fire, the remnants of his dinner in a small pot next to him, he was roused by a terrible sound…

Wait, You say…this sounds kind of familiar!  No doubt it would,  as the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is an instantly recognizable classic around the world. Why then would I bring up Charles Dickens’ most beloved Christmas story around Hallowe’en?

When I was young I was told that the Hallowe’en tradition of dressing in scary costumes and visiting our neighbors, friends and family stemmed from the belief that it was the night where the veil between the spirit and earthly realms runs thinnest, granting the opportunity for all manner of things made of spirit and spite to come and spread mayhem and malice —  so we humans would dress ourselves up in their image and wander around among our friends and neighbors to frighten away the malicious spirits, or to trick those spirits into believing that these places were already taken and that they should look elsewhere. The treats would simply have been little snacks or tidbits as would have been customary as the simplest form of civility and basic hospitality.

It is where these two stories meet that my point resides.  We as humans have a natural inclination to chase off that which we do not know or understand.  We go to great effort to dispel or deny those things that make us uncomfortable… as Scrooge protested to all but the last ghost who visited him.  While Scrooge’s was an unwelcome haunting, with extreme prejudice, it came to change him in the most important way.  His supernatural journey taught him what Hallowe’en was originally supposed to teach us… which is the same thing that the Harvard Study of Adult Development (which began in 1938 and is still ongoing)… the quality of our life is directly related to the quality of our relationships.

Scrooge was, thorough no choice of his own, thrown headlong into fearless review of his life, made to see it from an outsider’s perspective.  It was a harrowing experience because doing so is uncomfortable, humbling, and challenges the ego… much easier to “chase those ghosts away” and live in peace and comfort.  Some of us choose to face such discomfort, to set the ego aside and allow ourselves to be willingly humbled so that we might find a deeper sense of peace and a more connected way to live, much as Scrooge did.  

To find the truth at the core of ourselves and nurture it out into the light and share it with the people around us leaves  us lighter and free… free from being haunted by shame, loneliness, isolation and all forms of “spirit and spite”.  The more I see of the changes in our world these days the more I believe this is not just prudent, but necessary.

We are being haunted by some pervasive lies and assumptions; one such lie is that we can’t trust each other and that we must be independent and self-sufficient at all costs. Another lie is that we must “take sides” and only one side can be right and just and damn all who think otherwise because they must be “against us”.  This is at its core the very kind of “spirit and spite” we dressed up to chase away! 

We all want a better life, a better world but ultimately this comes down to a simple core idea… coming together and chase away those things of spite and malice that would divide us.  Celebrate together and embrace the diversity of our strengths and ideas.  Perhaps you’re wondering “How do I start?” and the answer is to choose to look at your past, present and what kind of future that would bring… by the sole power of your own spirit. Be fearless, challenge the ego, look at your life to find a purpose and path that moves you.  You’ll be amazed at how much strength and compassion you’ll find within your community when you’re part of chasing off the “spirit and spite”.  This is how we make the world a lot less scary.  

If you’re not sure where to start or need to talk about it my door is always open.
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