When I posted the piece (which, had no photos in it), a thumbnail photo of a house came up with it. I have never seen this house before. Usually, when I post a piece that has no photos, one of MY other photos comes up with it. This is not what happened this time. It's almost as if the evil spirit is showing me where it lives now. I don't know. But, if you recognize the house, beware!
As I reflected on the piece (which, by the way, got the most hits of anything I've ever posted!), I remembered other incidents. The most dramatic of them I want to add in here. It involved an antique dresser mirror that was my friend LaGayle's. It looked a lot like this:
Though not a freebie, it was in the house because it was in my car when the transmission died. So we put it in the house for safe keeping. At least, we THOUGHT it would be safe! As Mark was moving out, he went to carry the mirror out. He carried it out the front door, across the front porch, and out the front porch door. When he reached the front step, something forcefully shoved him off the step from behind. Luckily, Mark had the presence of mind to toss the mirror off to the side as he fell in the other direction. The mirror smashed into hundreds of sharp, jagged pieces but, fortunately, he was unharmed. That mean thing managed to destroy the nicest piece in the whole house. Of course. But I am SO glad it didn't harm Mark.
The conclusion that I had in my head the whole time I was brewing "The Bitter End" (which was several months, by the way), evaded me when I actually wrote it. But it bubbled up immediately afterward -- when I was on the road and away from the computer and unable to edit it in. It was the overall conclusion that I had come to on the subject of evil spirits and whether or not we were really encountering one -- something that I don't believe in.
My conclusion was this: How much of this story do I believe? I believe none of it. And ALL of it.
I do know, however, that something really wonderful came out of it all. Whether there was something in that house or not, I don't know. Whether there is evil among us, I don't know. But I treasure the skill that Mark and I learned there. We learned to recognize something dark, section it off, and kick it out. That is a hugely valuable life skill.
I read a near-death experience story once (I read alot in that genre). In it, a woman died (temporarily) and went to a place that was filled with all the negative human emotions: fear, anger, hate, envy, bitterness, irritability, despair, depression, anxiety, loneliness, sadness -- the list goes on and on. She realized: all these negative emotional are the components of evil. I had never thought of it this way. I had always thought of it as: there are human emotions and there is evil -- as two separate things. Now I see that evil is among us all the time and the daily challenge is to choose the good and reject the bad. I truly believe that fear, anger, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, in particular, are the instruments of evil and that we have the power to reject and evict them.
I do not say this lightly. In my college years I was almost completely disfunctional from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. If I could sit through an entire class without having to leave, that was an accomplishment. If I could get out of the grocery store with everything I went in for (instead of having to cut off my shopping incomplete), that was an accomplishment. If I could get all the way through my Tuesday night dinner date for $2 veggie plates at the 410 Diner with my roommate, Deirdre (bless her for loving me through that challenging time!), without having to go sit in the car, that was an accomplishment. Every day and every task was a minute-by-minute hell. For the better part of four years. I know the depths of that kind of hell.
I have also watched many people I like and love struggle with the ravages of substance abuse (I will be posting a piece on substance abuse soon called "Evil Comes In A Shiny Can" -- stay tuned.) I believe that this is a tool the devil uses to gain access to the soul. I really do. I have watched it too many times.
The point is: Mark and I have learned to see when something dark overtakes us (often we have to point it out to each other). We can recognize it (though often not immediately). We can label and contain it -- which diffuses it (often much more quickly that you might imagine). And we can tell it "NO!" and kick it out.
Whether or not this comes from "real" encounters with "real" evil doesn't matter. This is a life skill that catapults us in the direction of love and light and good.
If you like a happy ending, like I do, I have one for you: The evil's wicked plan has backfired! Good wins!