We learn that there are levels and limits to what the Bright Spirits can do. Her brother explains that Michael (her son) could not come because he would not be able to see or hear her. He (the brother) specialized in this type of work and thus could; that work being “thickening up” the ghosts.
What is preventing this ghost from growing solid, from continuing unto Heaven is this very desire to see her son. It is all consuming. As this story continues we learn that this Mother-Ghost lost her son to death. She obsessed about that death, keeping his room the same, ignoring the rest of her family, and choosing to live in the past and not let go.
Letting Go of the Dead
The Spirits explains that she can see her son “when you learn to want someone else besides Michael…It’s only the little germ of a desire for God that we need to start the process.”
The ghost is all too eager to begin that process… whatever it takes to see her son; which, of course, is exactly the opposite of beginning that process. Using God as a means to achieve something instead of the end of what we want to achieve.
Here something as simple and “good” and the parent/child relationship turns into something bad.
Trust in Men
Putting our trust in men, even our parents, preachers, priests, leaders, and community organizers, is a mistake. ALL are fallible and fall short. And while great teachers can point you in the right direction; in the end you cannot follow them but must follow Him on your own.
It reminds me of the quote, “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” — William Makepeace Thackeray (19’the century novelist) And think about how true that is. The bonds that are formed are strong, very strong. But as we grow and become aware of the world and of Him, we should seek to form an even stronger bond with Him. And I understand this task can be difficult.
The Bright Spirit reminds us that God’s relationship to us is even older and closer than our relationship with our parents. “He also loves. He also has suffered. He also has waited a long time.” Like a loving parent, waiting, praying for the prodigal son to return. Each of us is that child.
What Went Wrong
In this example the mother’s love became “monomaniac”; a single pathological preoccupation. Her love never moved beyond her son… to others in her family, to her neighbors, or to God. These natural feelings given to us from God may seem holy unto themselves; but that is true only so long as “God’s hand is on the reign.” When we seek control, when we idolize the creation (natural feelings or other things), not the creator… it cannot last and only ends poorly.
The Mother-Ghost cannot conceive of this. She believes her love for her son to be eternal. Even when she is reminded of mothers and sons together in the Grey Town and how they are not happy; she believe her “love” to be the exception.
The Mother-Ghost chose to live in the past after her son died; at the cost of her relationship to everyone else, her husband, daughter, mother, and even God.
Finally I think there were two more lessons to be learned from this Motherly-Ghost
1) Nothing is ours by nature. All we have physically and spiritually is given to us; like talents, eventually to be given back to our master and creator. The only question is what do we do with them in the meantime.
2) We’re wrong. In the grand scheme of things we’re wrong. Not one of us will stand before God with our chest puffed out and proud of our accomplishments in life. Not a Pope, not a preacher, not a saint… no one. It reminds me of the chorus in song Why Me Lord “Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so Help me Jesus I know what I am Now that I know that I’ve needed you so Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.”Lust and Lizards
MacDonald coaxes Jack to move on saying, “ye have heard enough to see what the choice is.”
The next ghost is very strange indeed. The smoke that makes up his being is “dark and oily” and upon his shoulder sits a little red lizard that constantly whispers in his ear.
As this ghost begins to head back to the bus, he is approached by not just a Spirit guide but an angel emitting light and heat at the same time. The angel offers to make the lizard be quiet which the ghosts seems to want… but when the angel approaches to kill the lizard, the ghost retreats from the light and heat.
Come Some Other Day
You can tell the ghost doesn’t like having the lizard; but isn’t ready to give permission for it to be killed.
- His reasons include:
- I don’t want to be a bother.
- Killing it is a bit drastic.
- It’s embarrassing, but look, it asleep and quiet now.
- We can consider it later.
- The gradual process for controlling it would be better.
The angel explains that the gradual approach will not work. To pleas to do it some other day or time, the angel explains “There is no other day. All days are present now… This moment contains all moments.”
I get the feeling this is like a Band-Aid stuck to sensitive hairs. The consequences of removal will always be there and the painful but quick removal is best.
I like the part where the angel assures the ghost that killing the lizard will not kill the ghost. The ghost protests that the angel is burning him just by approaching. To which the angel replies “I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.”
I also like the fact that every other sentence from the angel is asking for permission to kill the lizard. Can I do it now… How about now… Now?
This angel also seems a little sparing with the details. 🙂 I’ll make it be quiet (by killing it). It won’t kill you (but it’ll hurt a whole lot).
The Lizard Dies
The ghost complains that the angel could have killed it before he knew all these new details and it would be over with. Of course the angel can’t kill it without permission.
The lizard sensing danger begins to whisper again about how the angel can indeed kill him; and what would the ghost be then. The lizard gives him dreams of pleasure and from now on the dreams will only be the “nice dreams-all sweet and fresh and almost innocent…”
One last urging from the angel and ghost concedes, admitting that even death would be better than living with this creature. This request ending with “God help me.”
The Angel snatches the lizard, breaks it back and slings it to the ground. The ghost screams as if mortally wounded and falls to the ground. But both man and lizard are reborn to spiritual bodies. The ghost becomes a spirit (as we have described them), and the lizard a great stallion. After thanking the angel, the ghost mounts the horse and rides toward Heaven at an incredible pace.
Though there are hints through the shame experienced by the ghost and the promises made by the lizard; we know that the lizard here represents lust. “Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed.”
One last thing I’ve noticed in this chapter is Jack’s statement, “But am I to tell them at home that…” Whoa, Whoa, Whoa… is it me, or is this the first time Jack states he is different; that he is not to go on to heaven but to report back to his fellow man what he has seen. If this was supposed to be the case… exactly when were we supposed to understand this fact? This was stated too mater-of-factly to be a surprise and I don’t think it was spelled out all that well previous to this…
So, in this chapter we see how something as noble as a mother’s love can be corrupted to the point of damnation. She loved her son so much, she would fetch him from Heaven itself, to live in torment with her in Hell.
And we see someone tainted by something so base as lust transformed spiritually when lust is killed.
Anything that draws our attention, our love, from God is sin. And there are so many THINGS in this world demanding that attention. That doesn’t mean go live in a cave and meditate on God… it just means that “whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” — Colossians 3:17