Ghosts, God, and the Paranormal

I have so many unclear, uncertain thoughts about ghosts and the paranormal. Part of me believes in ghosts, angels, spirits — whatever you’d like to call otherworldly beings. The more rational part of me says otherworldly beings, and people who claim to be able to connect with them, are impossible, and there must be some logical, realistic explanation for those experiences. Perhaps there is a clear, logical explanation for the experiences that we might call paranormal, but is there anything wrong with believing those experiences are actually brought on by ghosts, spirits, and the like? I’m inclined to say there certainly isn’t, especially if it helps us work through some deep, internal struggle.

Grant Schnarr expounds on his own encounter with the paranormal in his book Ghost Brother Angel beautifully. I must admit that through the first part of this book I found myself frustrated with the author’s deep sense of foreboding and his endless descriptions of his deep-rooted fear of death. However, by the end of the book I realized that those descriptions were a necessary part of the story. He was describing his feelings and the sense of uneasiness he felt throughout much of his life, and his descriptions drew me in and made me feel like I was experiencing those same emotions right along with him. That, I think, is part of the reason I felt so frustrated at first — because I felt like I was experiencing the emotions with the author, I didn’t have a warm, fuzzy feeling as I was reading. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it’s also not the mood I like to be in on a regular basis.

This book was hard for me to relate to at first. I am not a person who struggles with worry, fear, and a persistent, always-present sense of doom. I have, however, had some “strange” feelings and experiences in my life that made me question and wonder about the meaning, and whether or not someone or something from another world — the world beyond life on earth — was trying to communicate with me somehow. I have never had an experience anything like Schnarr’s, but his experiences helped to solidify my belief that it’s possible there are beings from beyond who attempt to communicate with us. Some could argue it’s all in our heads (as Schnarr mentions a couple times as well), or that we are simply experiencing a heightened awareness of the things around us because we are looking for paranormal activity. That’s also a possibility.

Whatever the case, whatever the explanation for the coincidences that happen in our lives, and for the experiences that help us to reach a conclusion or find peace with some internal (or external) struggle, there is nothing wrong with believing it’s spirits from beyond helping us to reach those conclusions. Schnarr often mingles his thoughts of God with thoughts of the “ghost” that seems to haunt him, frighten him, and ultimately help him heal from years of internal torment. Who is to say it wasn’t God all along, nudging him gently in a healing direction? Perhaps it was, or perhaps it was both.

Some people will read this book and remain skeptical throughout, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. For me though, this book helped me to open my mind a little bit more and experience along with the author what he was going through, and understand that, even if it wasn’t really a ghost or god nudging him in the right direction, it didn’t matter. That push came to Schnarr in the form of a ghost, at least in his mind. And if that’s what it took for him to begin the healing process, reflect on his life and his fear of death for himself and his family, then so be it. Having a ghost, or what he thought was a ghost, haunt him may have been a simpler way for his mind to compartmentalize his thoughts and feelings, but it ultimately helped him to finally understand what he needed to do, and that’s all that really matters.

I can definitely relate to Schnarr’s experiences in the North Woods of Wisconsin though, and whether there was a ghost with him there or not, I can see how being out in those woods gave him plenty of opportunities for reflection. Sometimes, being in a secluded place like that helps us to stop and take some time to really think things through. We get so involved in life and the busyness that is generally our daily experience that we sometimes forget to take a moment to process certain things. In some ways, I think that happens to all of us — we spend so much time consumed by the busyness of life that we don’t “stop to smell the roses,” so to speak. Schnarr seems like a man who spent much of his life running from those real opportunities for reflection and question-answering that he so badly needed. When he finally took some time to treat himself, or when his body and mind finally told him he had to begin to face his fears and really think about what his life meant and how he could begin to heal, he bagan to see the answers to his many questions about his life.

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