Tag Archive | Jesus

It Wasn’t Halloween, But…

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!

Christmas Turned Kwanzaa

Christmas, as you know, is a time for people to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to show our appreciation for his saving grace by bestowing gifts, big and small, on loved ones and strangers. Kwanzaa, too, is a time of celebration. From December 26 through January 1, we highlight the seven principles of Kwanzaa, which include:  unity; self-determination; collective work and responsibility; cooperative economics; purpose; creativity and faith. I chose to celebrate the spirit of Kwanzaa by sharing the following short story with you. Consider it my Kwanzaa gift; a celebration of my faith, my personal purpose (to write), and creativity (the story is a fictional account of love in action). I hope you enjoy!

Me, Baby Jesus & Red Rover

by Ann Fields

Christmas starts early in the Andrews household and this Christmas was no different. Just before the sun rose, three sets of feet came stomping down the stairs. The echoes of those treads bounced off the hallway walls and came to rest in the living room where the owners of said feet had stumbled to a halt. In this room, the noise came not from stomps but from exclamations of joy as the brothers examined with greedy eyes the bounty of decorated packages heaped under the tree.

The boys had enjoyed enough Christmases to know that the opening of those enticing boxes and bags didn’t start until Mama and Daddy showed—Mama with her cup of coffee and Daddy with his video recorder for capturing memories the couple would enjoy many years from now when the boys were away celebrating Christmas with their own families.

On this particular Christmas morn though, Mama and Daddy did not arrive with drink or recorder but with a large box that made whining and scratching noises.

“Oh boys…” the parents called over the boys’ loud, excited chatter about what possible treasures lay under the tree.

Nearly in unison, the boys turned and watched in perplexed surprise as their parents sat the box down, oh so carefully, and beckoned the boys, come. The invitation was unnecessary for it took little time for the boys to identify the sounds coming from the box, and once that happened, they scrambled over each other, rushing to the box. And what did they see when they peered inside? The one present they had been begging Santa for for years…a puppy.

A collective shout of glee filled the house, almost raising the roof so great was its intensity. Three sets of arms plunged inside the box eager to hold, pet and play. Jim, the oldest of the three and the one with the longest reach, scooped up the puppy first. He stood with the prize forcing the other two to gather by his side. All joined in in stroking the dog’s coat, staring into its clear brown eyes, and inspecting its tiny ears, paws and tail. In return, the tiny pup wiggled and licked the boys like crazy. During this time of introduction, the boys all thought the same thought but it was little Marty who voiced it out loud, “This is the best Christmas ever.”

With joy on their faces and love in their hearts, Mama and Daddy stood looking at the scene. Reluctant to interrupt but needing to just the same, Daddy instructed, “He’ll need a name,” and Mama piped in, “Something that’ll fit the Andrews last name.”

This too was an unnecessary prompt. Because the boys had dreamt long of this day, they had previously convened and settled on a name. Now all three happily exclaimed, “Red Rover.” And again, “Red Rover.”

Mama and Daddy, in pride-filled surprise, looked at each other and smiled with glad eyes. They could imagine no better name than that which bespoke of their sons’ favorite backyard game.

Across the room, at the base of the fire sat a lovely handcrafted nativity scene. In his cradle of wood, cloth and straw, I could clearly see the Messiah’s glowing smile. Over the years, I had learned him quite well and knew that this smile conveyed his blessing as well. Not just for the pup’s name as bestowed by the boys but also for the love that already adorned the hearts of both—both puppy and boys.

And who am I? you may want to know. Why, I am Mary, the Christmas tree angel perched high atop the Andrews’s tree.