When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.**
The tendency is to think of ghosts as something frightening, as menacing. Either that, or then we have the personal hocus-pocusy Crossing Over with Jon Edwards bullshit that involves much well-wishing and happy denouement closures for long lost loves. There's no point in dwelling on the latter issue. It is a sickness birthed wholly from regret and suffering. But it's far too cheap to warrant my consideration at this time (as I dust off my shoes and indignantly raise my hand against its bitter nothings).
From what I can see, there exist, there remains through the epochs, three reasons for a psychological desire for the palpability of phantasms>>
Then Saul said to his servants, "Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor."
Reason #1: Okay, there's a ghost that's chasing me. AAahhh. Scared, I am, I am. Oh-no.... it's all so dramatic. But remove yourself from the present darkness, and a rather sweet sensation rolls through your soul. You've been chosen. For whatever reason, you, amidst this big sea of humanity, have been plucked out for ethereal torment.
Amongst the myriad reasons a spouse may stay in a battered relationship is that very powerful base thought that at least I'm receiving attention -- at least I am important enough for that, I am important enough to stir up such anger in him, at least I am that important. In the same vain, are not ghosts spinning the same story? As we look behind our backs in that dark alley, at least I'm valuable enough to be stalked. At least I'm worth someone's obsession.
Collectively, we want to be justified in our existence. We want to matter. Some specter trying his damnest to get inside me is re-assuring. My life is not without its observers... it is worth something.
Then Saul disguised himself by putting on other clothes, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night; and he said, "Conjure up for me, please, and bring up for me whom I shall name to you..." Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" And he said, "Bring up Samuel for me."
Reason #2: Similarly to our first rationale, specter involvement in our little lives gives our lives a presumption of purpose. If we are granted with the presence of those that stepped beyond the grave, than there obviously is some sort of consequence to our actions here in our fleshly vehicles. The next life, the bodiless one, apparently still can't hold a candle next to our deeply-impacting lives.
Take for instance, the common superstition that ghosts are troubled souls that left something unfinished here on the third rock. That implies a few intriguing ideas. It implies that there's real, genuine, eternal work to be accomplished here. How can something be unfinished unless there was an initial blueprint of what must be done? This bears with it the idea of destiny. Destiny, in and of itself, is a thought of security. If you have a destiny, a fate, then the book has already been written in some far-off timeless age. You are merely the lead actor in a predestined play. This is a great comfort since so many of us walk in fear of screwing up our lives beyond repair.
You see, with these apparitions wandering about us ever-so curiously, the need to define the purpose of our lives fades away. We need not search for it, since the wondering bodiless souls amongst us give credence to our meaningfulness.
A similar corollary is that exactness of fear. This fear of those stretching from that one-step beyond, only enforces the strength of this life. To feel fear is to acknowledge subconsciously that you want to live; that there indeed IS something to live for. Fear as an advocate of appreciation... interesting, no?
The king said to her, "Do not be afraid; but what do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I see a divine being coming up out of the earth." He said to her, "What is his form?" And she said, "An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe." And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage.
Reason #3: The easy one: there is more left. For the brokenhearted, the despondent, the bored, the cantankerous, the tired, the irrational, the lonely, the old, the shy; there is more. The existence of ghosts confirms an afterlife. Hate your life? -- well that's okay, because there's another one coming so maybe you'll find justice there.
Even if it proves to be true, that this life and humpty-dumpty alike can't be put back together again, the world of apparitions gives us an eternal hope. No matter how deep the shit gets, there flickers this hope for another place, another realm.
Hope. It can set you free?
Then Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?"
Reason 1: Importance
Reason 2: Meaning
Reason 3: Hope
But there are indeed ghosts... or rather, A Ghost.
God is omnipresent. And He has promised His presence with us in the personhood of a Ghost.
This Guy is a Wildcard. Certainly the Biblical text is vague at best about His meanderings.
Christ tells us the Ghost is our Helper. So what does He help us in?
Thing 1: Lo, I am with you always. Matthew 28:20 He cares enough to be with us all the time. Through thick and thin. This attention instills within us the true knowledge that we are loved. In this we may find our value and our importance.
Thing 2: But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Matthew 10:19-20 We need not worry about our purpose, for the Ghost is enacting in us what the Father desires to see come forth. If God speaks through our vehicles, if the very Creator of all things is willing to use us to speak, I think we need not fret over purpose, destiny, and the like.
Thing 3: Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 Our hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus' blood and righteousness... with the good Ghost with us, what need have we for anything but a blessed hope of utter union with our Lord. The Ghost would not be with us if He didn't have plans for us, would He? Whether it be in this life or the next, the Ghost in you is a sealed promise. Of Heavenly places. Of love divine. Of hope fulfilled.
-------------Postscript: today's thoughts inspired by the newly released trailer for The Awakening. The opening credits of the trailer read:
After the massive loss of life in World War I
many drew comfort from a belief
in the supernatural.
* All photos taken from Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989) directed by Ivan Reitman
**The story of Saul and the ghost of Samuel is recounted in 1 Samuel chapter 28.