MANY of us are familiar with stories about haunted houses. Maybe we even lived near a so-called ``haunted'' house when we were growing up. Occasionally, when everyone else is away or it's a particularly windy night, maybe even our own house gives us a kind of creepy feeling.
That happened to me quite a lot not long after we moved into our house. I was working on a project that involved spending a lot of time in the basement at night. The basement wasn't that well lighted, and as the evening wore on, sometimes it would be so creepy I could hardly stand it. Frankly, having to finish the project was all that kept me from leaving the basement well before sunset!
Since my study of Christian Science has been helping me to find solutions to every problem--large or small--through prayer, I decided to pray about the situation. Taking Christ Jesus' approach as my model, I began by first affirming God's presence. Since God is the only Spirit, I knew that there couldn't be any ghostly presences to frighten me or to keep me from feeling safe and happy in God's love. God doesn't play mischievous tricks on us. He is intelligent, all-loving Mind, and each of us is, in fact, His spir-itual offspring.
But being spiritual is not the same as being a ``spirit'' or a ``ghost.'' It means that we express the only Spirit, God. Man expresses Spirit's qualities, such as wisdom, purity, love, strength, and goodness. Since God is omnipresent, there couldn't be any place where Spirit is absent and where evil could lurk. When we understand that there is only one Spirit, and that man is the eternal reflection of God, good, we know there can be no such thing as ghosts. Then the belief in ghosts cannot induce fear in us.
As I affirmed God's presence and claimed my real nature to be inseparable from Him, I found myself thinking of this truth recorded by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``. . . ghosts are not realities, but traditional beliefs, erroneous and man-made'' (p. 352).
I suddenly recalled the dozens of liquor bottles left in the basement by the previous owners of the house. And I remembered our real estate agent telling us that the owners' marriage was breaking up because of the husband's drinking problem. It made me feel a sense of great compassion for this man as I realized the despair he might have felt as he took refuge in the basement. I could love him and know that he was in God's care out of the reach of tormenting evil belief. And as I did so, my fear disappeared.
The project I was working on then has long been over, but I still need to be in the basement at night from time to time. I'm happy to say that from the moment my fear was replaced by love, I have never again felt afraid to be down there at night.
The Bible tells us in I John: ``There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment'' (4:18). Many people believe in ghosts or spirits--in souls in torment of one kind or another. But these beliefs stem from human fear, hinting that the darkness is filled with malevolent beings who wish to harm us. Perfect love--the certainty of God's ever- presence that Christ Jesus lived and proved--drives out these fears. This love comes as we feel compassion for the needs of our fellow beings and as we recognize that we all reflect Spirit, God, who is eternal Love. Sometimes we have to work at loving one another. But as we learn to know and trust the allness of one God, one Spirit, we won't be haunted--and neither will our homes or our basements!