Book Idea: Chapter 2

That was Dad’s profound boyhood experience.  Or part of it anyway.  Other significant elements from his boyhood will surface in time.  But as far as setting the stage for the discernment interview, this will be enough.

So, “Tell us why you’d like to be an Episcopal priest,” they asked.

It was the why that troubled him, he says.  “Why couldn’t they have asked something simpler, like, ‘Outline your faith journey,’ or, ‘Can you explain the priestly vocation?’  But they had to ask why.”

See, one of Dad’s faults—if it is a fault—is that he’s too honest.

His answer to the question, his honest and true answer, the answer he wanted to give, the answer he almost gave, in fact, stems from his profound boyhood experience.  For of course this experience had led him into a lifelong quest of the paranormal.  And along the way he’d become convinced that ghosts are merely souls separated from physical bodies.

“That’s why there are ghosts in the first place,” he says.  “Think about it.  What characterizes all the stories you’ve ever heard about ghosts?  It’s trauma, isn’t it?  Something traumatic happened at the time of death—a murder, or a car accident, or fighting in a battle, or whatever.  The soul gets separated from the body—that’s what death is, after all—suddenly, unexpectedly.  It’s caught off guard, taken by surprise.

“And something in the surprise keeps them here; something about it makes it so they can’t pass into the realm of the afterlife.  And they end up forever restless.

“They want to go to a place of rest.  But they can’t.  So they’re miserable, wretched, uncomfortable, even haunted by the memory of life and by still inhabiting this material world, this place where they don’t belong.

“They’re the ones who are really haunted, after all, not us.

“So what I want to do is help them find a way into the afterlife place, that place of peace; to help them to heaven, if you like.”

But he couldn’t tell the discernment committee that, could he?  He didn’t think so.  “They’d have just looked at me like I was crazy,” he says, “more in need of mental help than someone cut out to lead others spiritually.”

In the end, then, he told his interviewers that he desired to minister to needy souls.  Not the whole story, sure; but the truth nonetheless, or enough of it to satisfy his conscience.


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