You know how there are some things that happen that may remind you of a related, yet unrelated other thing? I’m not being clear, am I? Well, here are a couple of examples. I’ll have my head in the refrigerator, looking for something to eat, see a bowl of grapes and up pops a memory of me and mom at the Farmers Market. Or, I’ll be driving and turn left on Stella Street and up pops a scene from the movie, “Rocky.” You remember the one where Stallone is yelling his lady love’s name? So I say all this to say that recently I was on Facebook (something I find totally overwhelming which is why I visit my page infrequently), smiling at photos of my nephew on the beach and up pops a memory of the most terrifying moment in my life. It’s close to Halloween so I thought, heck, why not share?
In 2000, I attended the Maui Writers Conference, which is one of the best writing conferences I’ve attended (and not just because of the setting although that had a lot to do with it). The hotel where I stayed sat on the edge of a cliff and the cliff eventually eroded into the Pacific. I was so delighted when I reached my room and saw that I was on the ground floor with my patio facing the ocean. Visions of early morning coffee on the patio with my laptop and/or my journal and pen danced in my head.
Well, it turned out that my schedule was so heavy with lectures, writing exercises, feedback sessions and group meetings that I didn’t experience a single lazy morning on the patio, not one, so instead I started leaving the patio doors open at night. At least that way the ocean breeze could fill my room while I slept and the sounds of nature could soothe my soul while I rested—a satisfying concession. On the fourth or fifth morning there, some primal instinct woke me a few hours before dawn and before I could open my eyes I knew I was not alone. Instant fear shrouded me, constricting me from head to toe. I could not move except to open my eyes and face the fear. Normally in the dark, the eyes need time to adjust, but not this time. I immediately saw in the corner of the room a dark form. It was not a solid form; I could see through it, but it was material enough that I could make out the shape of a fully grown man; and, its presence was commanding, powerful. I knew at every level of my being that it was EVIL, and I also knew that it was there to take me out, to end my life by snatching my soul. I was so afraid, so wrapped in fear that I could not yell out, turn on a light, or hide under the covers—any action that would protect me, as if those things could. The spiritual entity didn’t move. It stood still, posing as an ironic juxtaposition to the innocently billowing curtains behind it. Finally, my mind freed itself from fear, just enough to allow me to do one thing—cry out to Jesus. It was a feeble cry, not even articulated, simply carried out in my mind, Help me, Jesus, help me. I closed my eyes and not even a second later opened them. Evil was gone. In an instant, I was freed of its presence. In a flash, I was freed of fear. Peace settled within me and I fell back asleep.
Later that morning when the sun was fully dazzling and I sat in group lecture, I could not concentrate. Even though my heart and soul were still at peace about the encounter with evil, my mind would not release that terrifying moment. The incident from beginning to end had only lasted a few seconds yet the intensity of it forced my mind to rewind it over and over. And I could not shake the accompanying questions: why me, why here, why now, what did the visit mean?
My time in Maui came to a close and on the long plane ride home and for months afterwards, I continued to ask why questions. Then one day while meditating and praying, answers started pouring into me. The answers did not come in audible tones but as thoughts, simple ordinary thoughts: The Evil One had come to dissuade me from my life’s purpose–writing. It especially did not want me to write the particular book I had been working on in Maui, “Fuller’s Curse.” And, it did not want me to live because of the impact my words and works would have on others.
When the answers came, I was transformed. I experienced an awakening that led to discontent with my current profession (I resigned from my corporate career four months after the conference) and forced me to accept my call as a writer and to pursue my writing career more seriously.
The most terrifying moment of my life led me to life fulfilled and this I recall all because of my handsome nephew’s photo on Facebook. Go figure! Oh, and happy Halloween!