Why it’s difficult to explain the spiritual in secular terms – The Beacon Herald

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The Halloween “season” gives us a respite where we at least temporarily honour things spiritual. For a long time, even churches have come to disregard man’s capacity think in images and stories, sagas and legends, symbols and myths. These are tools we use to talk about contact with just a different level of reality. Truth be told, we cannot talk about that aspect of our lives in secular terms. Instead, we use dreams, visions, intuitions, ecstasies, religious healings and guidance, and invisible beings such as ghosts, demons, angels, and visible ones such as witches.

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For example, in 2003 my son wanted to say goodbye to relatives in the Wyoming cemetery. I was not thrilled with the idea as it was about eight o’clock and Wyoming has no problem with light pollution. As soon as we arrived, I got an overall feeling we were not welcome, I shot a photos of the Scharf family plot, demanded my son get in the car, and took off.

When I developed the film, I saw quite a few orbs as well as an intriguing shot of someone semi-transparent, peering from behind a tree. Some say orbs are bits of energy/light, some say good, some say bad, but I’ve shot thousands of pictures and they are not the result of a camera malfunction. And who was that peering from behind the tree? I’m sure I’ll never know.

I find that the silly TV programs like “Ghost Whisperer” and the like are fairly bogus. They spend thousands to go to an abandoned mental hospital or prison, and I really doubt they’d go somewhere and say, “Whoops, folks … Nothing going on here. See ya next week”.

And that silly ghost microphone where they look astounded, and claim they heard a name or phrase, when it really sounds like instead of a disembodied voice, they’ve recorded some disembodied flatulence. I have respect for paranormal activity where people have suffered. I’ve experienced it working in a mental hospital, and the idea of going into an abandoned prison or mental hospital where people have been treated with brutality is borderline obscene to me, and asking for some sort of demonic attack.

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I met a patient of Carl Jung many years ago. Jung found that spirituality was a key element of his work. The patient told me that Jung believed that what we often regard as hauntings is not by ghosts, but when something traumatic happens, the immediate atmosphere becomes charged much like light charges photographic film.

While there are many “haunted” places, perhaps the scene of an accident or other tragedy where a spirit may appear now and then, for example, in the cemeteries of Wyoming, Petrolia or Sarnia, nothing traumatic has occurred, that I know of anyway.

But what has happened, the dread I was feeling, was possibly the cumulative grief of over a century of mourners, at least in Jung’s worldview. The cumulative emotion of a graveside service is much more intense than in the church – the permanence of the loss of a loved one is far more palpable as a coffin is lowered.

I wonder, has anyone else had any strange experience in Lambton County’s cemeteries? I’d love to hear from you.

Greg Scharf was born in Sarnia and lives in Southern California

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