The conversation started without referent.
This was something well known to me, conversations beginning without any referent.
My daughter is wont to do that: Just start talking as though we were in the middle of the conversation, throwing out thoughts about and allusions to who-knows-what. Sometimes, even, in the middle of a conversation, she will just take off down a side alley, one that I hadn’t seen as we passed it by, and start all over on an entirely new subject, while I search desperately about, trying to figure out where I am, what had been said that connected with what she was talking about now.
Except there had been nothing that connected the two trains of thought, unless somewhere deep in my daughter’s brain. Perhaps. Perhaps not.
But this was not my daughter. `
But, unlike with my daughter where I would just keep mumbling, Referent! Referent! My kingdom for a referent!, I knew exactly where I was in the conversation.
Julia, are things getting worse?
And I said, “Yes.”
I thought so. Why is it getting worse?
I couldn’t tell the whole truth to him. So I settled for a piece, a scrap.
Once upon a time, I began, Good could easily get an upper hand on evil because Good always has the ability to band together, to join forces. Evil, on the other hand, always played their own hands. Their own games. Their arrogance always led them to believe that they had the real goods. And while any evil force could inflict real harm, ultimately Good would get it together and fight the evil force back.
Lately, I’ve noticed that evil has found a way to join forces.
Ah. I see.
If he did, he saw only a sprout of the growing problem. One that he could handle. Accept. Go on living with.
I haven’t been so lucky, these days.
Visions of what people could call the apocalypse, but what God refers to as a Period of Works and Wonders, (as in Noah’s flood), have been with me for so long, I no longer find any reason to reject them, or respond to them with rolled eyes.
Then came the not-that-distant training in The New Evil. Gone were my studies of the soul structures of the Big Evils. Also gone were my studies of how humans are affected by the Evils, are needed by the Evils, respond to the Evils, and are consumed by the Evils.
Nice, simple studies. Relatively speaking.
Instead comes the visions on the structure of the Army of God: who is responsible for what exactly. Watching, night after night, their assembling, their maneuvers, their standing in thrall.
Next came the close looking at a brand-new evil form (well, new to me anyway), that I won’t go into here and now. If ever.
That sort of undermined my confidence (and I never had much to begin with) in thinking that I understood evil.
Then came the gift of learning about The Issue. What the battle is about. What it is really about. And seeing a glowing sword being dropped slowly and gently into my hands. Which I turned around and laid on the altar. Giving the power and authority of the battle to The Church.
Last came The Understanding.
Some souls are difficult to define. I had one before me for years and still I didn’t “see” what I was looking at. But I am patient and persistent. Unless I am stomped on in some way, I just stick to what I’ve been assigned. Like those dogs who sit and wait for their person to return. Even from death.
I just sit and study. Until there is a breakthrough. Or I am broken in some way, and have to make the study in some other way.
(That is one fantastic thing about God: you can’t achieve something one way, an alternate way will always be provided.)
And then I saw it: the structure of the soul like no other. Well, technically just like one other, but I had never seen that other soul.
A soul without boundaries in this realm, in our realm. In the realm of God.
Our realm is the realm of God. Outside the realm of God is nothing. And beyond nothing is hell.
Two souls found a way to transmigrate from hell into the Realm of God. One of the bodies that held one of these souls is now dead. The other is not.
But that soul is nothing to worry about in terms of spiritual warfare. In fact, I was impressed with how hard the person containing this soul had worked to cause no harm to others. He had worked hard, he was not completely successful. I noticed he had a penchant to use those around him to niggle evil here and there, all while seeming oblivious to what was going on. And yet, the niggling had such a consistency to it. And they were all “under” him, so to speak.
The real problem, I came to learn, was that this “invasion” of souls had opened a portal.
What I was now looking at was Outside Evil. Evil from beyond the realm of God.
Evil with a force that made our evils look like schoolchildren in comparison.
Evil that could hook up with the New Evil I referred to above.
Evil that could lie dormant until matters mattered to it.
Evil that can organize.
One thing our evil is characterized by is stupidity. You can always discern evil by its stupidity. A good front, sure. Convincing, alluring, seemingly omniscient. But once pushed into a corner, it runs out of tricks. It is reduced to stammering.
Outside Evil doesn’t have that constriction.
So we, all of us, are now faced with an evil that is like a monster truck plowing into a nursery school. And we’re the preschool students.
Our evil, our good, old evil, we can define. We can know, in a way. Aesthetics have been working on the means to combat our evil since the beginning of time.
Strip down (so that you have little that identifies you that can be sensed).
Commit to prayer (strengthening the shield around you, and letting God’s warriors know who you are).
And so a list of their disciplines begins.
But we are not in the desert. We are not back then. When the worst we could fear is temptation.
The Outside Evil is almost impossible to define. To have its parameters perceived. To have its capabilities described. We are not about to fight the known. The ancient.
We get to face, or, in truth, we have begun to face the Unknown.
When I had visions of this time, what I saw was a never-ending rain. A darkness falling over the Earth.
Now I wonder if what I am seeing is not a physical darkness, but a spiritual darkness. I am wondering if that darkness is a blinding of our souls, our losing our ability to perceive God. God in the world. God in us. God in others.
And yet we are the hands of God’s army. We are the hearts of God’s army.
We are the soul of God’s army.
We cannot lose our sight.
We cannot lose our way.
We cannot lose our love for God.
So my two suggestions are these:
First, learn stillness. Learn it as though your life depended on it. You will need it for two reasons: (1) to minimize being perceived; and (2) to give you focus when you fall into confusion. If you can learn stillness now, in the car, holding your child, listening to the complaints of your boss, it will strengthen your soul.
Second, the ancient monks were right.
Keep this prayer with you at all times, even if you have to have it tattooed onto your arm.
Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done.
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And deliver us from evil.