Blame it on the Ghost

The Ghosts of Our Past


Anonymous pioneers from the 1800s.

The faded black and white pictures take on significance with each retelling of the story.

Memories change as the arc of history is reinterpreted with no denouement.

Struggles, hurts, missteps bring the images to life and enlighten our reality.

But is this truth?

Can we ever discover truth when we impose today’s values on yesterday’s faded ghosts?

Can a judge pass a verdict when the accused has no voice?

It’s convenient to scold them for their inaction or cruelty or ignorance.

Would we have reacted differently in their circumstances?

What ordinary acts become heroic or sinister under the searchlight of tainted hindsight?

There is comfort in blaming our failings on them.

350.jpgWhen the journey is complicated and disappointing; a distant reality from the unrealistic expectations we held in our prime, we search for answers.

Who made me like this?  What circumstances are beyond my control because your actions forced me to make difficult choices that resulted in compromise?

“The woman you put here with me. . . she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

“The serpent deceived me and I ate it.”

God is responsible for my fall.  He is the author of my sin.  The excuse for my rebellion. (Genesis 3)

Generations recall injustice; families recoil at childhood hurts.

The blame cuts our souls like shard glass clenched in our fist as we fixate on our role as victims.

There is no remediation when the past is the source of the pain.  The ghosts, whether real or imagined can’t remember and they are silent.

I am your ghost.  What I leave behind will depend on the stories you tell about my faded picture.

I won’t be there to defend myself.  Blame me if it will help you relieve the frustration of walking behind me.  But don’t be surprised if the anger locks you in resentment, or impulsive choices meant to hurt my fading image but only hurting you.

graveYou are the faded image of generations to come.  Whether saint or sinner emerges in the stories that others tell will depend on who you chose to blame.

None of us stand blameless before the inscrutable eye of the Almighty.  Only there are all motives and thoughts fully known from the past to the future.  Royalty and peasants stand equally condemned, in need of grace, at the foot of the cross.

“The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is.53)

Lord,  I will take the disappointment if you will carry the blame.  I will choose the joy of living over the anger of the past because in you I see reconciliation, forgiveness and grace.  In you, who knew no sin, who needed no explanation or excuse, I am healed.  May those who see my faded image look past the ghost and find your glory.

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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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