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Hope is waiting for you.

(Part 1 of this series is 1980) Part 1

My Sophomore year in high school was pretty awesome! Had my first real boyfriend, had my first real date, was fairly popular, had a kick ass Sweet 16 party, got my first car at the end of the year.  Well, actually it’s not like being 15 was great, there were some real downers that year as well.  That was the year that I slipped into living not only in the world, but of it.

I could feel the tide turning that summer, driving my ’66 Ford Mustang with the pony interior at insensible speeds. I was numb. No, I was trying to numb myself. There were things happening to me I couldn’t explain. I could see this darkness hanging over the island, and I sensed it was beginning to envelope me as well.  While the spring infused me with a manic high, the fall would bring a depressed low.

In October my grandfather died. I had to fly back to Montana for the funeral. It was all surreal. I remember watching my grandmother kiss his hand as his embalmed body laying in the coffin and I was just creeped out. My grandfather wasn’t there, his spirit was gone, and I honestly couldn’t tell you if he was in heaven or not.  None of it made sense, life, death, it was all so pointless. I knew God was real, but I couldn’t put together what the hell people on earth were doing.

I felt like I was in an old horror movie, about to be stabbed by the serial killer as the camera panned out and faded away….  And when I got back home I would find out why.

Of all the letters from my Wessi, I saved two. Two students from my high school died that fall. One I’d known since first grade. One drowned, the other died in a car accident, and still others would survive horrible accidents literally by the grace of God. Wessi wrote to me during this time period and it has taken me 20 years to come to grips with the things she revealed me me.

“…There’s something in this town that’s desperately trying to ruin lives, and it’s succeeding… This place needs a lot of prayer… There is an evil spirit thats come over the church. I’m not saying that just because it’s sensed, but because it’s been seen. The custodian was cleaning one day, and he was listening to his music and stuff. He heard something and turned around, but he didn’t see anything. He heard it again, but this time he noticed the lights were swinging back and forth (the ones that hang from the ceiling in the sanctuary). He tried to ignore it, but the next time he turned around, he saw it (a demon of some sort, I guess) swinging back and forth between all the lights.”

Her five pages would describe the details of that week, and some of how they would get rid of it.  The very revealing of a demon in my town, in one of the two churches I grew up in (this was my godparents church), tore a whole in my being. This was what I sensed, what I knew. I’d seen the signs, I’d tried to express what I felt. My 16 year old self had a huge burden. I felt I had failed God.  I had known, I had felt, I had dropped my relationship with God like a hot potato and relished the fun and carefree life I’d been living like a non-believer, in ignorant bliss.

I can look back on this with mature eyes, and realise this was much bigger then me. But it would be this very event that cascaded me into a very long walk through the Shadow of the Valley of Death. I didn’t want to “see” anymore. I didn’t want to “know”. I didn’t want to see the darkness in others, even if it meant seeing the light. As I descended into madness I would try to convince myself that none of it was real.  As long as I stayed away from God, I could almost succeed. But I just couldn’t stay away…

(Part 3 2004