I have been studying what I thought was a “new” form of evil. New to me, that is.
Turns out, though, I studied it for years when I was half my age.
Because it was only a study back then, and because the study was very intense, it left some terror in my soul.
I’m very efficient about my emotions: if I don’t need them right here, right now for whatever it is I am doing, then they get stowed away.
This terror had been stowed away – very much out of sight, out of mind – until the door was flung open and there it was.
And here this study is again now.
But what I realized was that when I had studied this particular form of evil, I had never come up with the understanding of what kind of spiritual weapon would be used on it.
One thing that frustrates me (probably more than frustrates) is when people, in one sentence, mention the devil, Satan, and Lucifer as though they were all the same thing.
Satan is Lucifer is the devil is whatever.
Evil is just one big heap of steaming mess, with no particular form or expression.
Well, that’s not what I have been taught.
Beginning with their soul structures, then moving up to their attack methods, to why they attack, and finally to the weapons used on them, I learned that all forms of evil are distinct.
Not counting their minions. Those that are the mini-mes of the absolute forms of evil.
Demons, say, are the minions of the devil.
And while I have never been thrilled at the study of evil itself, I have rather liked the study of the weapons used.
It clarifies a lot, to my mind.
If I told you that the broom is the weapon of choice for demons, what does that make you think of?
A witch, perhaps? A woman?
A wise woman?
Then there’s the apple, or wisdom. Again, associated with the female, at least in the Bible.
The sword, of course, is rather neutral in terms of gender.
Try and take it, men, but you’ll have a real battle on your hands.
The sword is used for uncutting the binds formed by Satan.
Something amusing I run into time and again are prayer ministers who clearly believe that no matter the form of evil before him, use the sword.
Kind of like discovering one type of medicine cures one type of disease. And then, filled with pride from the success, the doctors use this one type of medicine on all diseases.
And wonder why things aren’t working out the way they planned.
So here I am looking at what I thought was a “new” form of evil (for me), and wondering where I would find a hint at what the weapon is for it.
I looked here.
I looked there.
I looked here again.
And, then, turning sidewards and just happening to read a bit of Desert Mother lore, I found one of these women asking a form of evil why it had left her alone at last.
I knew it was the same evil I was looking at. So I read with great anticipation.
And it paid off.
Was it my fasting? she asked.
No, I don’t eat. So why should I care if you do?
Was it my prayers? she asked.
No, I don’t believe in your God.
And on the questions went.
Completely out of ideas, the Mother threw up her hands and asked, Well, then what was it?
Your humility, evil replied. I can’t do anything with you when you are humble.
And the bulb went on over my head, and I danced a little jig.
Of course, how to apply this fresh knowledge was still a bit of a head-scratcher.
Good, old God.
I find something out one minute, I’m up to my neck in it the next.
Bless his heart.
The Tale of the Two Shawls
So the evil that I was studying has to do with souls that like admiration. That need veneration. That will control and manipulate you to get said adulation.
I won’t go more into the soul structure and all the design of this evil.
But suffice it to say, it’s out there. Priests and pastors are consumed by it.
In fact, before I go on, let me remind you that not that long ago – Advent, in fact, that time of the year when God scrubs out my soul with a wire brush – I began a forgiveness project on the priests in my life.
I realized my ultimate position on priests the other day.
Out of the blue, someone turned to me and asked if I had any prayers for priests.
And out of my mouth came: Yes. Every second of the day I pray, Father, please don’t let a priest cross my path today.
I don’t think she was impressed with my answer.
So I gave her another, more standard one.
But my first answer pretty much sums up my view of priests.
So there we are.
During the forgiveness exercise, I picked on the priest who had both insulted me profoundly because I shared with him my difficulty with having touched a woman and witnessing her deafness healed, but he also spun around on his heels the next day in church, in the receiving line, in order to avoid shaking hands with me.
So I divided the two aspects of this assault, and prayed for ability to forgive and heal these matter in two separate churches.
One got the insults.
The other the whirling dervish act in the aisle at church.
So, down to the story.
I knit prayer shawls.
And the way this works is that I pray for the person I am knitting for as I knit. Then, a blessing is included with the shawl.
Finally, an authority of the church gives the shawl an official blessing.
Now, given my corners-should-be-straight mentality, I like the priest or pastor that finally blesses the shawl to be as close to where the person is that I am knitting for.
Does that make sense?
If I’m in a church knitting for someone, I want the priest of that church to bless it.
So, now I am in the church where I am praying to forgive The Priest for refusing to shake my hand. In front of everyone else.
I’m calm as I write this. Really I am.
Just thinking about that public humiliation has me feeling absolutely serene.
(And how many months have I been praying about this?)
I admit it. I’m slow.
In this church are three primary characters in this tale: the rector, the assistant rector, and the ordinand (The Young Whippersnapper who is still in seminary).
I have learned in my course of events that The Young Whippersnapper is now the head of the healing ministry in the church.
Again, no more will be said about this.
The assistant rector is young. He has not been married for long. And already they have a baby.
His wife’s name is mentioned every Sunday in the Prayers for the People.
So what do I think to do?
You got it.
I think of knitting her a prayer shawl.
But, oddly, I don’t knit a new-baby shawl. I knit a blessings-for-a-good-marriage shawl. Beautiful, blue, soft yarn. Amazingly intricate pattern. There are six or seven separate stitches used, each representing a blessing. A cable for the two being intertwined. That kind of thing.
At the same time, I am knitting a little, multi-colored shawl for a two-year-old daughter of a priest in another church.
I want a priest other than the girl’s father to bless the shawl. So when I ask The Young Whippersnapper to bless the blue shawl (I don’t tell him who it is for because I want it to be a surprise gift.) I ask him if he will bless the little girl’s shawl. (She has seizures.) Same denomination, so I figure, this is good. Nice, straight corners.
Now I went to The Young Whippersnapper to begin with because I thought I should honor him as the head of the prayer ministry in the church.
When I asked him to bless the shawls, he readily agreed.
When the shawls were all set to go, I asked to set a date when I could bring them to him for the blessing.
He gave me a date.
(How hard am I laughing at this point? Pretty hard.)
I showed up on that date.
He showed up on that date.
I walked up the aisle with my bundles in hand.
There he was, standing there.
Behind him stood the rector.
As I turned the corner to walk up to them, right before I got to them:
THEY TURNED ON THEIR HEELS AND WALKED AWAY.
I had to literally hold myself not to burst out laughing until I got to the car.
Wait, I’m in THE church praying to heal the hurt of a priest who wouldn’t shake hands with me AND THESE GUYS DO THE EXACT SAME THING?
My sides ache at this point.
And not only do they do the whole, Peek-a-boo, I don’t see you act, the shawls go unblessed.
That incredibly beautiful happy-marriage shawl was never given to the intended recipient.
(I’ve stopped laughing.)
So, what to do?
But it just so happens that that same afternoon I attend a meeting of our chapter of The Order of Saint Luke, a guild, as it were, for healing prayer ministers. The meeting happens to meet in this same church, though there isn’t much of a connection between the two. A few people from the church attend. But that’s it.
Well, there I am, sitting there before the meeting officially begins, chatting, and in walks The Young Whippersnapper.
And I’m like, Well, now.
So I look in my (imaginary) bag of tricks and come out with humility.
Just be humble, Julia.
Fine place to practice this, I thought. Why can’t I just kick him in the shins?
(I did want a solution.)
But, humility it was, and humble I was.
And I got through the meeting.
(Taking a bow.)
And went home. And when it was time for my prayers for forgiveness, and I read one for someone, and I noticed arrogance rising up in me (as in, Wait, I should forgive YOU?), I saw how crucial humility is to forgiveness.
The key to forgiveness, perhaps.
The cornerstone, even.
So that is The Tale of the Two Shawls.
Days went by and it was like walking in and out of a series of revolving doors trying to work out what to do with the shawls, it all finally fell into place.
The two shawls were blessed by a pastor.
And the blue marriage shawl was given to a woman who has recently reunited with her husband and is working to make the marriage work.
And she was grateful.
And I felt humbled by the whole experience.