A young girl from a poor village in Cambodia rides her bike 17 miles each way, everyday, to a bare-bones school. One of the lucky ones who is able to scrape together the fees for education - and has willing parents - she tells a visiting reporter from The New York Times about her daily journey.
The reporter fears for the 12 year old. The route to the school is thick jungle terrain with many places in which rapists and slave traders can hide. In a country overflowing with such crime (that goes unpunished except for the rape victim who is ostricized or worse), the "outsider's" alarm is justifiable.
She asks the girl what she fears most as she rides alone along the route. The girl replies, "Ghosts."
The reporter is perplexed by this information. After all, wouldn't a rational person fear a real human being with concrete abilities to maim body, mind and soul?
When she asks the girl to elaborate, the young one says, "I mean living ghosts."
Her clarification is poetic and insightful. Only a person who has lost their humanity, who is dead to the life force and sanctity of the human body, can commit the crimes that are a daily occurrence in Cambodia...and for that matter worldwide.
I ponder. What part of myself is dead to the present, filled with ghosts from the past that inhabit my daily thinking? How does this affect my ability to love and serve?