Not all spirits are great spirits


Some ancient American cultures, such as those of some of what call “native Americans” but were known as “Indians” when I was a little boy, have an interesting take on life.

Many of them believe that people aren’t the only part of creation that lives. Many of them believe that every other part of our world has life within. And I’m not talking about trees or plants or birds or animals or fish or stuff like that.

Instead, I mean such parts of creation like rocks or water or dirt or other inanimate objects.

These folks typically are very good stewards of the earth and all within it. They have to be; if they aren’t, then the god of rocks will cause boulders to crush them some day as they innocently walk by the local quarry. Same with water, dirt, lightning, the wind ... well, you name it; as far as members of many cultures are concerned there are gods and spirits — good and evil — everywhere, so you can’t be too careful.

The bad news here, at least for me, is that I’m starting to believe there’s some truth to all that. I’m pretty sure I’ve discovered two of them and both of them are living at my house.

The first one is the god of hangers .... not the kind where you park airplanes, which is actually hangar with an “a.” Rather, I’m talking about the kind on which you drape pants that are six inches too small in the waist so they can go into permanent hiding deep within the confines of your bedroom closet because you “might wear them some day.”

Same with shirts that are 15½ in the neck and suits that are 40 long and so on and on and ... well, you get the idea.

As long as there is an article of clothing on a hanger there’s no problem.

It’s when you actually get inspired and throw out a few articles of clothing, donating them to a thrift shop or finally throwing away the jeans that have more holes than fabric, and the hangers are empty that the fun ... er, torture ... starts.

Maybe it’s because hangers don’t like to be naked. Maybe they feel unfilled; I don’t know. But when I do know is if you take two empty hangers, hang them on a closet rod, turn out the light and walk away that within seven minutes the two hangers will multiply into 14 and be engrossed in a knot that would make an Eagle Scout proud.

This has happened to yours truly several times lately. I don’t know if that means I once had too many clothes or now have too many hangers. Either way it’s getting to the point it’s just easier to toss my clothes into a pile in the corner.

The other spirit is the one that waits until we’re 11 miles from home, late for church or for a sale on hangers at the local store, and then crawls into my mind and plants the seed question: “Did you turn off the stove?” Nine more miles down the road and another 10 minutes later I’m still wrestling with that same thought.

It doesn’t do any good to run it by Shirley: “Did we/you/I turn off the stove before we left the house?”

“Yes; I’m sure of it,” she says. “ ... I think.”

“Didn’t we?

“Did we?

“We probably did ... didn’t we?”

Finally we come to the unvarnished truth: neither of us can remember if we did or didn’t. So we do a turn that would make Batman proud, hurry home, unlock the door, trip over the dog, and see the stove sitting there all cool with all switches and buttons off.

Somewhere a spirit is laughing and hangers are entwining themselves ... I know.

I hear them.

Don’t you?

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.