The Shell of a Ghost

Bronwen LoganArticles, English 2 Comments

Shadow of a ghost

Someone recently referred to my role as carer of my mother as “service”. I hadn’t actually thought about it in those terms, my thoughts over the last five years were more often centered around words like difficult, patience, grief and dementia. But, he was right, service it was. And in this role I am not alone.

This got me thinking about service and what it means today and how that relates to what we practice as the system of Reiki. I think there is a rising popularity of service in some of its more active guises, while other forms of service remain quiet and ordinary.

It feels as if we are moving into a new era of human action, as a buffer to the crazy, out of control world that we live in. We’re told that the media, the politicians, the marketing spin–all are not to trust. What do we trust, then? What do we believe?

It is this way of our world that has made us wary and cynical, yet curiously, more active. Today, we find ourselves standing up, attempting to be heard above the cacophony of pitches of economy. We are forced to come together to stand up for ourselves.

I suggest that the word “activist” is no longer so smeared by its unconventional past, but has taken on a directer note that is infiltrating the mainstream. We do not run from the activist, afeared for our “good” names. Today, we lean in to listen, in the hope of hearing some truth that resonates between us.

Activism is simply a passionate form of service, one that is aimed at creating social change.

Then there are the other more quiet and ordinary moments of service that most of us are involved in on a daily basis. Less about social change, but still motivated by a passion to be there for others: bringing up children, caring for sick ones, helping friends, colleagues or strangers, even cleaning the toilet (okay, its hard to be passionate about that one, but the motivation is for the good of all who sit upon the throne).

In our service, we are guided by the Reiki principles to do our work honestly (or, in other words, act from our hearts), to choose clarity of thought over being angry and worrying, to leave arrogance and self-thought behind to be humble, and to always show compassion. These are the keys to being of service, these are the Reiki Precepts.

These principles help us to deal with the moments of anger and selfishness and heartlessness that plague us all. And by working at being of service, to one or many, we grow to become better people. Maybe you, too, can recognize service in your life, and the struggles involved that bring about personal change.

I admit that, ultimately, if I were to really live my life according to the Reiki Precepts, then every action I undertook would be of service. For now, I appreciate the service that I provide and know that one step leads another to be taken.

I wrote the following poem about my mother and myself. It speaks of the difficulties of service, but also the recognition of what service is.

The Shell of a Ghost

Then I remember, I’m driving.
The shell of a ghost beside me.
Not Caspar or his kin.
This shell is an outer layer, human in texture, rough with age.

Sometimes, when I drive, an automatic pilot holds the steering wheel for me, obeys the speed limits and hums to the radio, while I retreat. I am not here.

Then I remember, I’m driving.
The ghost, still holding a stiff formation beside me.
Body hostage to a brain with no road map.
Eyes catching upon a world that doesn’t speak a familiar language.

Sometimes. I am not here.

Then I remember, I’m driving.
My mother seated, passive as a ghost, beside me.
Her stillness symbolic of an emptiness of process. The dots that join lives into journeys told or expected, covered in a gauze that no glass can peer through. This ghost is adrift, counting randomly to herself, “91, 20, 5.”

Sometimes I feel her awareness of me. I am the daughter who places her palms up against the coming dark.

I am here.

Comments 2

  1. Avatar of Elly

    What a beautiful poem, Bronwen! How strange that numbers seem so often to be the final link, the last thing that remains through dementia or mental illness. There is a mystery in that. But whatever the case, bless you for your service, and your service to us by sharing your poem!

  2. Avatar of seema

    Hi Bronwen !

    This one blog has touched my heart in so many ways that I can count !!

    When I first came to US at age of 25 one of my first job was in a long term care facility , “Dementia management” used to be one of the major focus in long term facilities and I was sort of “forced” in to it. For the first one year or so , it was quite heart breaking and depressing for me . Not being able to communicate some times , going through phases with them in periods of silence and some times just plain “noise”.

    I was quick to judge couldn’t understand why and how families can leave their elders in nursing homes ( being culturally ignorant) , than I realized , service that is. SO many times would see families come in to visit them in evenings or holidays ,weekends, sitting with their mom/dads / grand dad / mom at dinner time and would some times see a hand moved differently or a smile come in from hidden places which seem to be gone forever…

    I saw a service that time , joy , hope , love and yes how quick I was in judging ?

    At that time I was completely oblivious that how all this will eventually touch my life later on. Still uncovering the service .

    Yes , you are right—” ultimately, if I were to really live my life according to the Reiki Precepts, then every action I undertook would be of service”.

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful blog and the poem !


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *