You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.

 All I really remembered about the plane ride to Vancouver was getting aboard with my friends and eventually falling asleep.  Apparently, that’s not all that happened.

            When the storm hit the jet, shaking it from side to side, everyone who was sleeping came awake, and if they didn’t, the screaming woke them.  I had apparently awoken with the others, and stared off into space.  At least, that was how it appeared to Genevieve.  What really happened was that I heard Mara’s voice calling to me, telling me what to do.

            “Ethan, it’s Mara.  Wake up Ethan, wake up,” came first, followed by “You have to get the others to snap out of their panic, get them to focus.  Get their attention and then come to the front of the plane.”

            I stood up as if in a trance, and walked to Jay.  I know this sounds strange, but after I slapped him out of his panic, I thought words at him instead of talking, I told him to follow me.  I walked on to the front of the plane, where Mara waited for me in the guise of a flight attendant.

            As I stood before Mara in the aisle of our jet, she spoke to me.  Her eyes were filled with love, and her very presence was comforting.  My love smiled, touching my cheek.

            “Ethan, you have to get off the plane.  When you get to the cave, you have to follow the path into the mountain and out the other side.  Remember that you have to keep going, no matter what.  I love you.”

            She helped me to exit through the doorway, leaping into the dark night, soaring for a moment like a bird on the hurricane winds that were blowing outside.  For a moment I flew like my hero Superman, and then I fell to earth and all was black.

            When I awoke, everyone else around me was sleeping.  In my trance state, I walked through the cave they had found for shelter and passed by the luggage and slumbering forms of my friends.  My feet led me down the stone pathway carved through the mountain rock, deep into the bowels of the world.  It was pitch black, but the Spirit guided me.  I felt myself splash into cold water, and simply swam across.  I emerged on the other side, soaking wet, my clothes sticking to me and sagging heavily.

            Without error, I found the path again, travelling down, down, down.  A blaze of light eventually hit my face, but I walked through it unflinching, until I reached the egress before me and stepped out into the desert.

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 By the time I met Faith, her straight hair had grown out curlier and turned a deeper shade of red thanks to Mara’s angelic presence, while her brown eyes had turned to hazel.  I had thought she had seemed familiar.  I knew now that my magic summer had been spent with Mara, and felt a giddy thrill when I realized that she was my first kiss, my only true love.

            I watched how she spent all summer entirely enamoured of me as well, lying in her bed daydreaming of our time together, walking around with a smile on her face and a distant look in her eyes.  Whenever we were together, that smile brightened to give her a joyous glow, and she brought her passion for me to every encounter.  No wonder I was so happy that summer, she poured out her love on me at every opportunity.

            And I saw what pain it caused her when she realized that my heart was trapped in doubt and darkness; that I had to learn to love myself before I could ever love her back.  Our time together grew short, and she understood why she had been given a six month deadline:  she had to separate from me most painfully to give me the wake-up call that I needed to find myself instead of staying lost.  God’s plan and her actions effectively put me on a path that would save my soul.

            Mara wept greatly over the decision but knew that it was the right one, the only course of action.  And then the summer ended, and she and Faith parted ways.  Mara would fly in to check on the girl every once in awhile, and was happy to discover that her former vessel had felt called to return to church with her family, though Faith had entirely forgotten their mystical conversation from the winter before.

            Life continued as before, with Mara watching over me through my early university career.  And then came the airplane ride that changed our lives forever.

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 One of the greatest shocks was when I saw my summer with Faith.  The visions revealed to me what presaged those events, and somehow I was unsurprised even as it had been entirely unexpected.   Shocked that it happened, but even so, understanding it in the greater framework of the story of my life.

            I saw a winter, the same time as my final year of high school.  A girl appeared in the vision, a girl that I had never seen, yet who was strangely familiar.  Her hair was a short, light red, and her eyes were brown.  There were things about her that reminded me of someone, but who that was, exactly, eluded me for the moment. 

            I recognized her town, just a few kilometres from my own.  Even though the vision was of a nighttime scene, I saw landmarks that were familiar.  She was in a van, driving home from a party with friends.  Coming down the other side of the road was a speeding car.  The car swerved on black ice, spun off the side of another car and then ran straight into their van, sending them off the road to collide into nearby trees.  The vehicle was full, some died instantly, some were gravely injured.  One of them had the presence of mind to dial 911 on their cellular phone even as they went into unconsciousness.

            I wondered how this had any relevance to me, and then I was startled to find my vision taking me to Heaven, where Gambiel and Raphael were gathered with several angels.  It was tremendously thrilling, to be lifted up past the clouds into a realm of jewelled buildings and marble floors

            “The Lord our God has required me to do a special task,” Raphael was explaining.  “Jeremiah here will be the temporary supervisor of the cherubim and seraphim while I am away.”

            “I have particular Watcher duties that require me to be away as well.”  Gambiel said.  “This concerns me.”

            “You can delegate most of those duties to the others…” Raphael began to suggest.

            “Yes, but what about our ‘special case?’  I don’t know if we can leave that alone.”  Gambiel said, attempting to be clandestine.  I knew he meant Mara and me, and so did Raphael.

            “My daughter is more than capable of taking care of it.  She’s been handling that situation capably for nineteen years.”

            “But never on her own.”  Gambiel said.

            “She does almost all of it on her own!”  Raphael said emphatically.  “We’ve had to intervene only twice.  Ordinarily she works without any kind of supervision.”

            “I know, but I feel uncomfortable not having one of us keeping on eye on the situation…”

            “Mara can handle it.  God trusted her with this mission, so I don’t think either of us needs to question that.”

            With that, I was sent back to the earthly plane, having learned what I was supposed to know, apparently.  For some period of time, she had Watcher duties in my life without anyone else watching over her shoulder.  Just as I was speculating why this had anything to do with the car accident I had seen, I received an answer.

            As soon as I fell asleep back home, Mara left my side for perhaps the first time in my life, and flew directly to the scene of the accident, where emergency crews had arrived in response to the 911 call.  I don’t know how she knew about it, perhaps God communicated with her, perhaps she had a greater awareness of the world.  What matters is that she knew, and went there.

            Mara entered one of the ambulances, hovering over the red-haired girl.  She was having a bad time of it, struggling to live.  The paramedics were losing her.  They got out those electric paddles from the crash cart to attempt to resuscitate her as her pulse flat-lined.  At that moment, Mara descended upon her body, and entered it, the way I had seen demons possess my own body in my childhood.  My “vision perspective” followed her into a physical representation of the spiritual plane she walked on as she entered the girl’s mind.

            I heard the young woman’s thoughts, a panicked “I’m dying I’m dying I’m dying” and Mara’s sweet voice attempting to get her attention and soothe her.  Gradually the litany stopped, and Mara could converse with the girl.

            “Yes, you are dying.  That is not the horrible thing most people make it out to be.  Calm down, it’s going to be all right.”  Mara told her.  “I have a proposition for you.”

            “Who are you?”  The girl said in her mind, hearing a stranger in her thoughts.  In my vision, it was visually represented by an image of the girl, shining brightly in the colour of the full moon, holding herself in fear.  Mara was hovering around her in the same light, and the two of them were surrounded by darkness.

            “I’m a friend.  More specifically, I’m an angel.”  Mara smiled.  “I can save your life, if you want me to.”

            “Why would you do that?”

            “God sent me.  You don’t want to die, correct?”  Mara asked.  “You’re not ready?  If you want to live, I can heal you.  There are only two conditions.”

            “What are they?” The girl asked, curious.

            “First of all, you seriously consider a lifestyle change.  You haven’t been living like you believe in God.”

            “Well, it’s not like I had any reason to believe before.  I didn’t have angels showing up to tell me.”  The girl said caustically.

“Well, you have now.  It’s not like you have an excuse.  I can’t make you have faith, but you could try.  God would like that very much, He misses you.”

            The girl seemed taken aback at these words.  “God what?”

            “He misses you.”  Mara said, her voice tender.  “God worries about everyone who turns from Him.  It’s hard to see that the people you love don’t love you back.”

            “God… loves me?”  The girl’s voice grew quiet.

            “I’m offering you a chance to reunite with that love. To live your life better the second time around.  I will give you your life back, with the hope that you’ll spend your life trying to love God back.  Not many people ever get such an opportunity.  The only other condition I ask is that you let me borrow that life for six months, until September.”

            “Borrow my life?  If I give you six months, I get to live?”  The girl asked.

            “Yes.”

            “I’ll do it.”

            Mara descended upon the girl’s spiritual form, merging with it in a bright flash of light.

            Back in the ambulance, the girl sucked in a deep breath and let out a great gasp of air, rising against the restraints on her gurney.  The paramedics were stunned as she opened her eyes, for they had been certain they had lost her.

            “Welcome back to the world, young lady.”  One said, when he recovered from his shock.  “Can you tell us your name, so we can contact your family?”

            “I’m Faith Sheridan.” 

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 I saw my birth, and, as one would expect, my parents were there in the hospital, with doctors and nurses overseeing the procedure.  What surprised me was that I saw Raphael, his hair shorter and golden, with Gambiel and Mara.  They floated above me, and I felt my heart sing when Mara floated down to the baby me.  She had loved me since the beginning.

            I saw Azazel appear, and the gifts.  I began to understand my life, and how I had been conflicted between using my rational mind, trusting my heart, and seeing both what was good and evil in every situation.  All my life I had been torn about how to choose, how to know what to do, and I understood that these three had been part of that struggle.  Azazel had equipped me to feel a need to take evil actions, even if Raphael and Gambiel’s gifts had been working against that impulse.  I always saw all paths of action, and often became indecisive about what to do as a child.  Now I understood why.

            I saw how the demons and angels influenced my life in big and small ways.  They were involved in even the smallest details:  my mother once told me a story to explain why I started liking Superman, a DC comic hero, when my father only read Marvel comics like the X-Men.  She knew he liked comic books, so, when she picked wallpaper for my room as a baby, she bought a kind with superheroes.   Unfortunately for my father, she picked the wrong company, and from the heroes on my wall, I picked Superman.  In my visions, I saw that Mara had played a part in this, whispering into my mother’s ear unheard suggestions, and telling me as a child which books to pick up.

            It made sense.  When I took my archetypes class with Mr. Gould, I did my final paper on how Superman was a Christ figure:  He came from the sky, saved lives, there’s even a series on his “death” where a character called Doomsday puts him in a coma, so the world thinks Superman died, and then he “resurrects.”  My favourite comic was a painted series called “Kingdom Come,” a future story where Superman helps save the world.  The entire series was painted, not drawn, and was based on scripture from the Revelation of St. John, making the Christian symbolism of Superman’s myth quite obvious.

            All my life, agents of God had been influencing me to follow the Lord.

            I saw Mara save me when I fell in the kitchen as a child, saw demons attempt to infest my mind and soul.  They followed me like shadows all through my childhood, influencing my worst and most selfish decisions.  I saw Mara struggle with her anger, anger towards Raguel and Heaven’s rules as well as rage against Azazel and his ilk.  I saw my love suffer, and my heart went out to her.

            I saw my whole life as if it was a film, and it was quite odd to be an audience to myself.  I saw Mara encouraging me to begin the Camelot game, and she even influenced my selection of companions.  I saw how demons could crawl inside a person, infesting their soul, leading them to do evil, as they caused my growing anger at the world.  I saw one of the few times I had resorted to violence, a summer where I attacked a bully who had dared to approach Evie, and how that furious moment had been as much a demon’s puppetry as it was my own choice.

            How do I explain this?  Human beings have free will, the right to make choices, but my visions made it clear that the angelic and demonic influences of our life push us in both directions.  A tug of war, with our souls the prize.  When we choose to hear one side over the other, it’s like pushing in the same direction to help that side win.  The demons don’t take away our choices, but encourage them.  I don’t know if that makes any sense.

            What I’m trying to say is that I was responsible for the choice to do evil, I hold myself accountable.  However, the severity of the actions taken could be influenced by demonic presence.  We are all responsible for ourselves, but at the same time forces pull at us.  The task is to stay centred.

             Perhaps the single most moving image I saw in that early montage of my life was when Mara came to the graveyard, rescuing me from the blizzard.  As I had begun to suspect, it had been her all along and not Hope.  I had given up, had resigned myself to death, and she called me back from the brink.  Her voice alone inspired me to live, and I held on long enough for my mother to find me.  She called my father and neighbours over, and they got me to the hospital.  The whole ride, and all through my convalescence, Mara was there comforting me.  I mistakenly attributed her loving attention to Hope upon awakening and discovering my friend at my bedside.

            Mara had saved me, Mara had loved me my whole life.  The tremendous love I felt for her back grew with every image, as I understood just how long she had been a part of my life, that she loved me even in my darkest moments.  I found my faith and love for God growing as well, as the Lord had given us to each other, and loved us through everything as well.  Silently I thanked Him even as I was drawn on to new visions.

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 My name is Ethan Keaton Pitney.  I have been asked to record what I saw after I vanished from the sight of the Heavenly Host.  I must warn you, however, that even now I cannot completely remember it all, nor understand it completely.  So much has happened.

            I escaped the wrath of the demon prince Azazel through prayer and the grace of God, whose angels descended from Heaven to rescue my love, Mara, and me.  I was sent on while they did battle with an army of demons.  I did not want to leave her, but I had no place in such a battle as I was without a weapon.  And my destiny called me elsewhere.

            I walked across a snowy plain, huddling in my cloak for warmth.  My feet crunched in the snow, my breath steamed from my mouth.  I pressed on despite the cold, for how long I do not know.  I remember the stars winking into existence above me, spinning in their celestial dance as I strode across the tundra.  The night seemed endless, as if I walked through time and space.  Perhaps that seems like some addled rambling, but I had walked through a desert where seven years passed without me knowing.  The realm I wandered through had different rules than the reality most people know.

            I remember taking a class in university on the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, and our professor told us that in English, when Moses saw the burning bush, it says he was at a mountain “west of the wilderness.”  But our professor told us that in Hebrew, the words come closer to “behind the wilderness.”  How do you go behind something like a desert?  You can go behind a tree or a rock, but not an entire place like that.  He thought perhaps it meant Moses wandered into a different plane of reality.

            I don’t know about Moses, but I’m quite sure that I have.

            The night grew dark, and the stars became difficult to see.  I knew that this meant dawn was approaching, as “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”  I quickened my pace, striding across the landscape.  Something inside me was pushing me forward, as if I knew that I was getting closer.

            For years I had been searching for a cross from a dream, a vision.  I did not know why, only that it was necessary for something else to happen.  I had been separated from my family and friends, exposed to myriad dangers, and survived them all through sheer tenacity.  And now I sensed that the journey was nearing its completion.

            I saw a light in the north, and broke into a run towards it.  I felt my pulse quicken, the breath of my body tensing within me, pushing me forward.  I flew across the snowy ground, my cloak flapping behind me.  I was smiling, laughing, as I grew ever closer.  I could see it now, the cross on the horizon, resting in a cluster of rocks, white light shining forth.

            I fell to my knees before it, filled with an awe and reverence like nothing I had never experienced before.  I have felt blessed by the Hand of God before, in times of prayer and at my baptism, but this was like that feeling doubled and redoubled.  I prayed as I knelt, asking God for His blessing and guidance, so that I would know what to do from here, that I might be worthy of His trust in me.

            I felt compelled to sit up, and did so, gazing into the pure white light emanating from the cross.  My hands seemed to rise of their own accord, and I closed my hands around it.  I felt a surge of energy, as if I had been struck by lightning, the air humming with force and it seemed like there were voices, a choir that shouted with joy for a moment before I was filled with sights and sounds that threatened to shake my sanity.

            I felt myself filled with information, with vision and truth.  I saw so much that even now I cannot comprehend it all, and only after reflection could I put pieces of impressions together as coherent wholes.  I felt every cell in my body trembling with the force of the spiritual energy entering me from the cross, shaking me to my core.  I held on for all I was worth, knowing that this was why I was here and that I had to take on as much as I could handle, that I had to let myself be vulnerable before God, allow Him to change me and transform me so that I could be His servant.  It was like holding onto live wires, wrestling a thunderbolt, riding a storm.

            I felt myself filled with light and sound, and then there was a blast of wind that blew me free from my kneeling position, throwing me into the air.  I fell to the snow in a heap, and all was black.  I do not know how long I lay there, for even after I regained consciousness, I lay still, trying to find myself amongst the visions running through my brain.  For a time they prevented me from thinking, from having an identity of my own.  I lay huddled in my cloak, gibbering like an infant, unable to move.

            I held the cross in my arms, huddled against my chest like a security blanket or a teddy bear, a keepsake to protect me from the darkness.  I could feel it warm against me, and I believe that it kept me from starving somehow, as if I was fed by its presence.  I was comforted, soothed, healed.  Gradually I came back to myself, the awareness that I was Ethan Keaton Pitney and I had work to do.  But before I tell you of that, let me tell you what I saw.

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 The trumpet sounded.  Though the demons had seemed loud, and though the battle between Mara and Azazel had seemed to shake the very ground, this sound pierced through the chaos with a tone that could be felt in your bones.  The demons stopped short, shrieking as the heavens were opened in a blaze of light that turned several to dust simply from its intensity.  Azazel was forced to cover his eyes, while Mara and Ethan looked upwards to see that hope had not abandoned them after all.  The cavalry had arrived.

            Michael and I struck first, barrelling into the demonic army like meteors, tearing through their lines with righteous fury.  Right behind us came Gambiel and Jeremiah, engaging the enemy with no less fervour, joined by their brethren in the seraphim and cherubim a heartbeat later.  Bright swords of Heaven clashed with the dark claws and teeth of Hell’s children, a tornado of war in the sky and on the ground.

            Seeing that we were already turning the tide, I dove towards my daughter and her love, alighting beside them.  I helped them both to their feet, smiling.

            “It is good to see you both.”  I grinned, embracing each in turn.  Ethan was a little taken aback, never having been hugged by a nine-foot tall archangel before, but I think he still appreciated it.  I then turned towards Azazel, my sword blazing with holy fire.

            “Mara, send him on his way.  We will hold things here, but Ethan has a job to do.”  I told her over my shoulder, as Azazel bared his teeth at me in rage.  We circled each other warily, preparing for a rematch that had been coming since the dawn of time.

            “Yes Father.”  I heard my daughter say, and I was aware of her kissing Ethan in my peripheral vision.  Inwardly I smiled, happy for her, but outwardly I roared as I clashed with my demonic brother.  Each strike of our blades together was like striking the earth with a comet, earthquakes and thunder were in every blow, lightning in our slashes.  I felt his blows like some cosmic hammer striking my celestial anvil, as forces were unleashed that could crush planets.

            In the midst of this chaos, as the angels of Heaven and the demons of Hell began one of the first great battles in our Last War, one tiny human life slipped through the lines to go on towards his destiny in God’s Plan.  What happened to him next, however, is something even I don’t know.  He passed from my sight, and the next chapter of his life is not mine for the telling.

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Azazel roared a battle cry, raising his sword in challenge.  Mara answered with a roar of her own, it carried with it all the pent-up hatred she had borne for him for all these years.  The demons in the sky above screamed in a horrific dissonance of guttural and snarling voices, drowning out all sound as Azazel leapt forward to cross blades with the young angel before him.  Despite the tremendous tumult of the demonic symphony above, the sound and fury of their duel resounded like thunder, and it seemed as if the very ground shook with each blow.  With every second the demons above grew inevitably closer, descending upon them with terrifying speed.

            Ethan, defenceless, a mortal man amongst supernatural powers, saw that his death approached, saw that Mara had little chance of survival, saw that the powers of darkness were arrayed to prevent them from ever achieving their destiny.  He saw no course of action, save one.  He knelt in the snow, clasping his hands together and he prayed.  He prayed silently and with fervour, and felt the wind at his back push him to the ground.  The wind came from countless demonic wings flapping up a storm as they descended like a whirlwind to tear him to pieces.  Just as the front lines were a breath away from reaching him, just as Azazel knocked Mara to the earth with a grunt and prepared to deliver a killing blow, just as all hope seemed lost, Ethan uttered a single word, and in that word changed everything.

            He said “Amen” and finished his prayer.

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