Turn on the Light –
The last few nights I have been watching an Unsolved Mystery Series about Paranormal Activity. It’s interesting to learn the history of a certain place, why it would be haunted and listen to those who have reportedly seen, felt, heard, witnessed a ghost. For the record, I don’t believe in ghosts, Big Foot or aliens. I understand that my unbelief doesn’t mean they don’t exist I just need proof, real, scientific, verifiable proof.
There are two hosts of the show; one is a “believer” the other a “cynic.” They travel around the world to different haunted sites and investigate, sometimes spending the night, trying to obtain proof of the paranormal. They usually arrive in the daytime and explore the site and when night comes find a place to sleep. It’s when dark comes the “fun” begins. The one who thinks spooks are real hears noises, whispers, thumps and automatically assumes its ghosts trying to communicate or scare the duo. The cynic laughs and dismisses it all as coincidence and his co-host’s overactive imagination. The cynic tries to sleep but the believer keeps him up all night long with questions; “did you hear that? I know you heard that! Did you feel that? Something moved past my leg!” By the time morning comes they are both worn out and neither has come over to the other’s point of view. Usually, at the crack of dawn, the believer is so relieved he made it through the night he is delirious and suddenly braver while the cynic is simply ready to leave.
It’s interesting the difference light makes. It shines, chasing away our darkest fears, deepest dreads, and restores what the darkness steals.
I heard a story today about a chaplain who worked in a veteran’s hospital in the 1950’s. There was an African-American soldier in the hospital who had lost a leg in the Korean War. The physical therapists had worked with him trying to get him used to wear a prosthetic leg. Both the soldier and medical personnel tried everything they could think of but nothing worked and the soldier was ready to give up and live life with one leg and crutches for the rest of his life.
The chaplain was made aware of the situation and stopped by soldier’s bed one night to see if he could be of any help. “I can still feel my leg, my real leg!” the soldier cried. “It’s a phantom pain.” replied the chaplain, “It will go away in time.” “That leg!” retorted the soldier gesturing toward the prosthetic one, “will never be ‘my’ leg.” After visiting with the young man the chaplain prayed with him and asked if he could take the prosthetic one with him. The soldier responded with a shrug.
The next day the chaplain returned with the same leg except it was painted a shade of brown to more closely match the soldier’s own skin tone. “What did you do?” asked the perplexed soldier. The chaplain, hoping he hadn’t offended the young man said he took it home with him and thought painting it might make it seem more palatable. “That’s all you did?” asked the soldier admiring the leg. “That’s it.” smiled the chaplain. The chaplain helped the young man to the side of the bed, attached the leg, helped him take his first few steps and from that day forward the soldier made remarkable progress.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The chaplain helped the soldier not by insisting he use resources given to him by the hospital but by listening and understanding what the soldier was going through and then adapting his help to the soldier’s personal, unique need.
Too often we see people who need assistance and we automatically assume there are places and resources that are available. We surmise that if someone wants help enough they’ll figure out how to get it. The truth is everyone’s story is unique and unless we listen, understand and are willing to personally get involved many will go on suffering and being blamed for doing so.