My Landlord’s Dog

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My landlord’s dog is a white female American bulldog named Julie. She is 8 years old, and exudes sweetness and love to such an extent that nearly everyone who meets her tells my landlord, whom I’ll call Jim, “If you ever decide to give her up, I’ll take her.” I rent a room in Jim’s house, and when my cat Urdwill was alive, Julie accepted him as one of the pack; if anything, he, not she, was the more aggressive and territorial of the two.

For the past few days I have been caring for Julie. About 4 days ago, Jim was taken to the hospital, where he has been ever since, with a cracked pelvis from a fall, a deep upper leg infection, and urinary difficulties. Jim is a very large man, and it took a four-man team of paramedics and firefighters to transport him from the upper tier of the bunk bed where he sleeps down to the gurney they had waiting for him. When I spoke to him on the telephone yesterday, he sounded disoriented and frightened. In his deep bass voice he said, “I’ve never felt so helpless before.”

I can believe it. Jim is 74, with a lifetime of international sales, business ownership, and professional rugby behind him. When I met him, about 2 years ago, he had been reduced to spending most of his time in a chair in front of his large screen TV, watching sports programs. I learned that some years back he developed a brain embolism that impaired his hearing, eyesight, balance, short term memory, and completely erased his sense of smell, which in turn has reduced considerably his ability to taste anything. A Type Two diabetic, and a heavy nighttime vodka-and-cranberry-juice-cocktail drinker, he is also a hoarder. Nearly every square inch of his house is filled with sports equipment, boxes of books, clothing, heaps of old bills and letters, tools, memorabilia, and trash, and the yards around his house sport several huge, inoperative vehicles, including a chartreuse van and two trucks, one of which has a mobile hot tub attached to it. (In the Seventies, Jim used to drive this rig around Santa Fe, renting it out to partying hippies.)

Despite his brain damage and short term memory loss, Jim notices at once if anything new appears in his vicinity, or if anything is thrown away or moved from one spot to another. “Is that your towel on the washing machine?” he asks. “Did you move that [tiny scarlet] tag from the desk to the side table?” Severely depressed, he goes to bed around midnight and gets up around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. “It just doesn’t seem worth it most days to get out of bed,” he told me.

Jim is on Medicare, and has had a string of caseworkers who come by now and again, disappear, and are replaced by new caseworkers. This is not because Jim is a difficult client to deal with; he is remarkably sweet tempered for a man with his background and in his condition. It’s because New Mexico, one of the poorest states of the Union, does not allocate much money to social services, and typically caseworkers are paid little, overworked, and overscrutinized by middle management longtermers anxious not to lose their jobs. Still, it’s a good thing Jim has Medicare, as he tells me he will be in hospital for at least another week, and in the meantime I am more or less in charge of taking care of Julie. “She misses you a lot, Jim,” I told him. “I miss her a lot, too,” he said, and his voice broke.

I find myself grieving, for Jim’s pain, certainly, but also for my own. My father, pictured above, was a big man, too, with a bass voice, and like Jim had little liking or talent for asking for help. Tonight I miss my father keenly. I was scared of him, much of the time, and angry with him, much of the time, and yearned for his approval and acceptance all of the time. He filled the house I grew up in with his presence just as Bill fills this house with his, and after my father died, of the last in a string of heart attacks back in 1971, the house loomed vast and empty without him in it.

I have no reason to believe that Jim will die, not this time, anyhow, though the events of the past week are clearly a wakeup call for him: change your ways of handling your pain, or make a humiliating, and possibly protracted, exit, stage right. But however long he is in hospital or rehab, and however many changes must take place in his house for it to accommodate his new fragilities, for now, I am here with his dog Julie; and our hearts, both hers and mine, are aching. •

 

 

 

 

A Message From “The Family”: On Pets

Rand.UrdwillMister Rand is today facing the possibility that his pet feline, Urdwill, may have more cancerous tumors growing upon his body. They may be malignant or they may be nonmalignant, but in any event Mister Rand’s cat is not eating, although he is drinking water. Mister Rand is remembering all the pets, and all the humans, he has lost to death over the decades, and has been showing great signs of anxiety, guilt, and shame, because part of himself feels (1) that males should not feel such feelings, (2) that he ought to have “saved” his transformed loved ones from death; and (3) that his future spiritual belongingness–whether “God” accepts him after death or not–depends upon his being perfect in all his thoughts, words, and deeds. He even believes that we may be fictions, or worse still, Satanic messengers sent to draw him and those who read his blogs away from the One True God. Mister Rand does not believe any of these things consciously. But all selves exist within the Self, including younger versions of the self, and all their voices sometimes sound within Mister Rand’s heart at once, contradicting the quieter voices of his reason and spiritual insight.

Mister Rand has vowed, when ever it is Urdwill the cat’s true time of leave taking the body, never to have another pet, because he says he “cannot bear” the thought of watching another pet die, or worse still, causing their death by having them euthenased by injection at a vet’s office. Mister Rand says that his grief is too great to bear, since (as he is aware) his grief over losing a pet is also grief over his losses of all the animals and humans in his life (and other lives as well, though he may not know this consciously). There are times when he even feels guilty over having a pet at all, both because of the impact pet-rearing can have on the environment and because he wonders whether it is good for an animal to be shoehorned into a human’s life rather than be permitted to live out its lifespan in a natural environment. Yet even in these things he knows the truth: that there are no natural environments, for your world has been made and remade by Humans repeatedly over the millennia; that in the “wild,” animals live a much shorter time than in “captivity;” and that humans can bring enormous comfort and fun into a domesticated animal’s life.

Mr. Urdwill has lived a reasonably long life for a cat of his size and genetic makeup: 14 years by Mister Rand’s present count. For all but 8 months of those years, Mister Urdwill has roamed free within his territory, Mister Rand’s backyard. He has enjoyed much fresh air, sleeping under datura leaves, chasing toads, terrorizing Mister Rand’s dogs (<-this is a joke>).

[Broken off because of need to take Urdwill to vet; resumed early next morning]

The purpose of the communion between “pets” and humans varies from pet to pet and human to human. Why did Mr. Urdwill choose Mr. Rand as his human companion that day at the pound in 2002, when Mister Rand, following an image of a black cat that had persisted in coming to him, visited the pound and experienced the black Abyssinian mix cat open the door of its cage, walk out, and sit upon Mister Rand’s foot? Mr. Urdwill wished freedom from enclosure. And freedom from enclosure is what Mister Rand gave him, for most of the years of their time together. Both cat and human also wished love, for all beings wish love, even rodents, which humans frequently despise because they closely resemble humans in some of their habits; and lizards, which being “cold blooded” are thought to have no need for love, only sex and food. It is just that Love takes different forms amongst different beings.

What Mister Rand really wants to know is, did he love Urdwill and his family and friends who have passed, truly love them “enough” for God to forgive him for not having been perfect? For having resented and quarreled with his beloved younger brother who died of AIDS in 1990? For having hated his abusive-seductive mother, who nonetheless had loved him in her way and he had loved her in his? For having heeded his lover Alex’s psychic command not to enter Alex’s room the evening of Alex’s suicide, when Mister Rand had returned from a gig the both of them had been scheduled to lead? We say, Yes, you have loved truly. Yes, you have expressed this love at times imperfectly. That is because one purpose for incarnation, the great task of incarnating in physical reality, is to learn to integrate the Divine Love at one’s core with one’s physical self and circumstances. And all students perform imperfectly—they are learning.

Mister Urdwill’s life is drawing to a close due to cancer and complications therefrom. Grief is difficult for many humans to express and bear, for it makes them feel weak and vulnerable and foolish in the eyes of other adults. We ask for all who experience grief over the loss of a companion animal or human relative or friend that you pray for Divine Love to help you forgive yourselves for being students of Love rather than masters thereof. And we thank you for sharing. •

— Channeled April 14-15, 2015, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A Love Letter To Alex, On the Anniversary of His Suicide

Dear  Alex,

Today, January 27th, is the anniversary of the day I found you dead on your bed in 1988. My elderly cat has been sick, and though I love him dearly and will miss him terribly when it is his time to pass, my weeping was so intense today, and my feelings of guilt and shame so pronounced, that I knew what I was feeling had to be about earlier losses, too. Hence this letter.

It’s not the only letter I’ve written to you, by any means; for years I struggled with the persistent notion that I could have saved you from your suicide; that somehow you had killed yourself because I had failed as a partner and lover. Now, so many years, therapies, 12 Step programs, and heart-openings later, I know that your story was not my story. Had I opened the door that night at 10pm when I returned from work to find the light on under your door, I might have delayed your death, for the coroner told me you had died around midnight that night. But in the end, if death is what you wished for (and your ex-wife told me over the phone you had attempted it before, during your marriage to her), you would have found a way to hasten it. After all, a month before you died you warned me what was going to happen.

We were in the car going somewhere, you driving, me in the front passenger seat. You said, “I had a funny dream last night. I dreamed we were in a hospital room. I was lying in bed in a coma, and you were sitting on the chair next to the bed. And I knew that you were all right with my condition, because I’d told you many times that the place where I go when I do deep trance is so beautiful that some day I may not want to come back.” Maybe it was that dream (if it was a dream and not your way of hinting what was to come) that prompted me on some level to realize our time together remaining would be curtailed, for it was in mid-January that I sprung on you that surprise birthday party, where all our friends gathered, and we played a game, and you had cake, and laughed, and said, “No one has ever had a birthday party for me before.” Less than two weeks later you were dead.

My inner child has always been terrified of death. Death, in fact, is my Life Theme, the greatest truth this incarnation of mine has been learning to accept, assimilate, and adapt to. Maybe that’s one reason I was attracted to metaphysics after my rationalist upbringing and my ensuing 7 years as a Fundamentalist Christian—I sought to find evidence that the body is not all of us; that physical death is not the death of something deeper and more core in us; and that somehow Tarot, trancework, channeling and so forth would console me in ways that conventional religion failed to do. And it has helped. After my little brother Jeff, you were the greatest spiritual inspiration in my life. Your deep-trance channelings, which I (suspiciously at first, then more and more credulously) helped you attain with my guided meditations, changed my life completely. My entire spiritual world view has evolved from the talks you gave in your spirit-persona of  “Alexandra”, and I’m not the only one you helped by any means.

I can still recall clearly the sense of peace and nurture that flowed through your Alexandra persona to me and everyone else who attended our meetings in Key West, Florida, Ireland, and later Santa Fe, New Mexico, where you died. And I can recall vividly that the morning I found you, the moment I put my hand on your doorknob at 10am to rouse you for a meeting with a client we had scheduled for 11, I knew you were dead. I opened the door, saw you on the bed, and felt you and Alexandra—not the same person, but two personas—”floating” near the ceiling, witnessing me. I’ve had spiritual experiences since then, several in which I caught a glimpse of that Heaven of Light and Sound which made you so blissful whenever you tranced. But the experience I had that morning was my Lightning-Struck Tower.

Thank you for all you gave me. Thank you for my sense of your continuing presence in my life. I have loved other men since I met you, but you remain uniquely precious.

P.S. Please watch over my cat, and help me release him to the arms of Love when it comes his time to rise. •

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A Message From “The Family”: On Accepting Change In Physical Reality

MAJORTRUMPS.XIV.TheBoltMr Rand has asked us why it is so hard for him to accept change when it occurs in physical reality. We reply that it is because you [originally] come from a [nonphysical] reality where nothing changes; or at least, nothing changes in such a way as to cause pain and torment. In [physical] reality everything is constantly changing, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly; and whether this change is experienced in pain, neutrality or pleasure depends upon the physical forces involved (physical reality has hard edges) and the viewpoint of the organism being subjected to the change. To an ant living in the yard outside Mr Rand’s door, Mr Rand is one of the changeless experiences of that ant. The ant lives life so quickly, and its life is so brief compared to human lives, that generations of ants may experience Mr Rand over the course of a few years.

Animals accept change because animals are unable to do things with their hands as well as humans can (with some exceptions, such as certain birds and pongids). So animals by and large do not labor under the assumption that they can control anything much except access to their foodstores or foodgathering territory. Animals have a sense of purpose and a sense of time, but these too are very different from the human sense of purpose and time. An animal’s sense of purpose is, firstly, survival of its young; and secondly, survival of itself. So animals do not have great plans that they feel they must protect.

Mr Rand asks, why is accepting change so difficult for me? And we reply, as we see it, you fear change because you fear you will lose access to Love. But Love is always available. Love is the core of everything, and surrounds everything, and is complete in itself so it needs nothing back. It simply loves. So ultimately, everyone and everything is safe.

But bodies are not safe in physical reality. Disease, damage, death all threaten human bodies, and animal ones, too. Physical reality is the one reality in which the experiment of individuation necessitates the human psyche be able to pretend that [1] the nonphysical does not exist and that [2] the Divine Womb is a fantasy of nincompoops and emotionals. [An individual in physical reality] struggles against change because all changes, however minor, remind us that in physical reality, nothing stays the same for long, including the human body and the human brain and the individual soul’s investment in an individual life incarnation. And you would not be in physical reality if you did not have experiences here that you desired [when you were] in the nonphysical.

Understand we speak in human time terms here. From the viewpoint of the nonphysical, time is not linear. There is no before or after, I am [or] I am not, past or future, love or hate in the human sense, success or failure; in the nonphysical, awareness of Divine Love is constantly available and even obvious to the individual soul, as witness the fact that when Mister Rand had his visions of agapé (love) last fall, the Divine Lover felt familiar, like an old friend whom he had forgotten was and always had been and always would be “standing right behind my left shoulder,” as it were.

sow_mother_and_child copySo attachment to one’s goal of expanding one’s experience is needed if one is to approach fulfilling that goal in a spacetime context. Spacetime contains entropy, the force that brings all moving things eventually to rest. Everything that rises must converge. Everything in motion must eventually find rest. Everything living must eventually die and be returned to its undifferentiated state of We not I. So the human soul must struggle to stay focused in physical reality. Attachment of the ego to a spacetime experience is therefore a tool useful for the soul to stay focused enough in spacetime that its pains will not stop it from the experiences that soul needs. [RAND: The ego keeps us in physical reality long enough for us to fulfill the experiences we selected when we were in the nonphysical.]

The human body knows spirit, but on a level that is not usually readily accessible by human consciousness. For humans, the body behaves as though all it knows is physical existence. So to the body, physical reality is all that exists. Much of the pain of physical reality comes from natural disasters such as earthquakes and climate changes, but many changes are caused by humans themselves in their efforts to find ultimate contentment, safety, and nurture. To find these things in a physical context, embodied souls tend to seek power over reality, rather than the more useful approach: that of seeking cooperation with reality.

[NEXT: How to cooperate with physical reality.]

A Message From “The Family”: On Ghosts, Aliens, Spirit Guides and Hauntings, Part 2: Spirits of Action, Support, and Communion

Hubble_snow_angelNothing matters to humans but life and death. We are speaking of physical life and physical death. Mister Rand has struggled all his life with terror of death, ever since early childhood, when he encountered the shredded corpses of his pet rabbits strewn across the lawn of his childhood home. Nothing is more terrifying to him, and to many humans, than the thought of dying alone and unloved, under painful and lonesome circumstances.

He is a Pisces, and prone to such extremes of thought. In response to his fears we say, “You are safe. Everyone is safe. At root, Love is unconquerable, immutable, the force that binds all the realities together in a whirling balance of constant expansion. Yet no matter how many changes develop in physical reality, including changes that bring unimaginable pain to those involved in them, there are agents of Love waiting to bring consolation to the sufferer.”

And so Mister Rand need not fear a lonely death. As he has been present at the deaths of his beloved dogs, so will his spiritual guides attend his transformation back into his truest Self.

We continue to describe  some of these spiritual agents or helpers by examin[ing] Spirits of Action, Support, and Communion.

Spirits of Action: Spirits of Action are spirit helpers called in to assist a human with decisions, transitions, and exertion[s]. Like the angels who came in disguise to the door of Lot in the Bible, so these beings can take the forms of humans. So it is true what the Bible says when it asserts, “We entertain angels unawares.” Some such spirits temporarily inhabit the energy fields of living humans, who agree to speak and act to help the human in need. Whenever a person requires events to take a specific turn, angels of action appear to encourage that person to take the necessary action to bring the desired result about. Such spirits of action can take the form of books, or words spoken by teachers, or therapists, or twelve step individuals, or simply make themselves felt as powerful urges to do this or to do that.

Spirits of Support help individuals connect to their “tribe,” that is, their circle of support systems who are energetically and emotionally and intellectually and evaluatively able to help that individual find resources for achieving his or her goals in physical reality. The Greek god Eros, or Cupid in Roman myth, was a depiction of just such a spirit; but Cupid is not simply an agent to bring lovers together. He is also an agent for bringing “likers” together—platonic soulmates, if you will. For the divine heart of love can take many different forms within the context of physical experience. Spirits of support can also assist humans in getting practical needs met such as finding a new home, or connecting to a new teacher, or finding the counseling support or spiritual support that person requires at this particular time in his or her life.

There is truth to the New Testament statement attributed to Jesu, and that is, “You ask not and therefore you have not;” and in Jesu’s statement, “Ask and keep on asking and you shall receive; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened; seek and keep on seeking and [you shall] find.” For the verbs used in these statements [as they appear in the King James Bible] are not translated correctly for English. In the ancient common [koiné] Greek of Jesu’s day, the verb can take not only a simple present form—I am seeking or I seek—but it can also take what is called by grammarians a continuing present form: I am [continually] seeking. And this is an important difference.

Why does Spirit require one to keep on seeking? Is that because Spirit has limited resources and does not wish to give us help unless we beg for it? We do not see things this way. One must keep on asking, seeking, and knocking in order to overcome inner resistance to receiving what [we]claim [we] desire (but may not deep down actually desire). So persistence in asking, seeking, and knocking puts out into the multiverse a strong probability line attraction—as long as the individual seeking, asking, and knocking is not afraid of the consequences of getting what she or he says she or he wants.

Spirits of Communion are spirits summoned with messages from the Greater Self to the physicalized self; or, if you prefer in your symbol system, messages from your inner self to your conscious self. These messages are not simply information, however. They are experiences of communion with the Divine Heart of Love, and they do not come at a summons or calling. They well up within the seeker as the result of the seeker staying in the heart center and practising acceptance with intent to learn. Such spirits can also come in dreams of a loved one consoling the dreamer, or as passages in a religious text which “jump out at you” as people say. Mister Rand has even experienced such communion while getting out of his seat in a 12 step meeting in a state of complaint over not  understanding or feeling the presence of a Grater or Higher Self. Once such a message, which is a complete meme that is not easily expressed in linear terms, is felt by the individual, it is almost never forgotten, even if the bliss the spirit of communion conveys fades from the emotional body.

NEXT: What Ghosts Are.

Channeled 8/18/2014 by Rand B. Lee

A Message From “The Family”: On Ghosts, Aliens, Spirit Guides and Hauntings, Part 1

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And we thank you for sharing.

On the subject of ghosts and spirits much has been written, yet Mister Rand is desirous of our thoughts on these subjects. So we share what we know of them from our perspective as conduits [to the nonphysical worlds]. From the perspective of the nonphysical self, ghosts spirits, aliens, and hauntings all derive from individual need for those experiencing them to connect to their Greater Self and the transfinite aspect of the superpersonality.

That is, a ghost for one person may meet that person’s specific need for experience; as may an alien UFO sighting or a spirit guide manifestation. So in a sense, every person’s experience of the unseen is slightly different from anyone else’s experience of it.  This is not to say that these experiences are bogus or aways generated by the fears and hopes of the experiencer. Sometimes they are, but not always, particularly in those cases when multiple experiences of very similar phenomena have been recorded by people who differ greatly from one another regarding their beliefs in the occult or the spiritual or the Woo Woo Land as some may individuals term it (<-this is a joke.) So we may organize the different experiences of spirits, boojums, fairies, pookahs, redcaps, trolls, dragons, Grey Men, demons, elves, and so forth according to which spoke on the Wheel of Creation they correspond to.

Spirits of Passion: What we may term “spirits of passion” are other-worldly beings generated by sexual frustration; that is, thought- and feeling-forms arising from the experiencer’s passionate desire to merge with a human being the way that experiencer remembers having merged with All-That-Is before birth. Such spirits may take the form of fantasy sexual figures, sex gods and goddesses from mythology, lovers the experiencer has enjoyed (or wishes s/he had enjoyed) in the past, or even animals. In many cases the experiencer is led into an Underworld by such a spirit, or appears to be; or feels the spirit physically present during sexual self=manipulation; or has a dream in which such union takes place. Such spirits are normally thought-forms, and the extent to which they appear frightening or malignant is usually a sign of the experiencer’s own attitudes towards his or her sexuality and sexuality in general, formed in part by culture and in part by molestation or sexual abuse in childhood or young adulthood. It is in fact during young adulthood that such spirits of passion are most often manifested, for this is a time of enormous outpouring of sexual energy within the nervous system and cells of humans.

Where such spirits appear to take on deviant forms, or forms that mock the accepted morality of the experiencer’s religious training or upbringing, they usually mask a desire below the consciousness of the experiencer to satisfy the feelings of the body without the guilt, shame, or moralizing associated with such feelings. This does not mean that all sexual urges should be acted upon. Some, such as pedophiliac fantasies, or rape fantasies, would if acted upon cause harm to others, and this is not acceptable if one wishes to rise above consciousness levels of Force, Threat, and Blame and embrace creative, joygiving consciousness levels of Acceptance, Understanding, Giving, Loving, and Knowing That One Already Has all that one needs. However, all such images ought to be interacted with, particularly if they are disturbing to the experiencer; and counselors can be useful for this.

Spirits of Belief: Spirits of belief are spirits that come in response to the experiencer’s desire for understanding the true values of life. Often such experiencers are religious people who are losing their faith, and so they experience visitations which seem to shore up their faith and strengthen it, according to these experiencers’ needs and symbols. Other spirits of belief come to inspire intellectual understanding by facilitating the explorer’s perceptions of connections among otherwise seemingly disconnected phenomena. So for the first spirit of belief, the spirit of faith, the experiencer might encounter a visitation by a religious figure or icon that is common within his or her belief field. In the [case of the] second spirit of belief, the experiencer might experience feeling filled with creative or philosophical certainty, as though a Greek Muse had descended upon him or her and granted him or her momentary genius. (For most people are geniuses, though they may not know it.)

Spirits of Strategy: Spirits of strategy are messengers from the past or future or an alternative present, that is, one that exists in another space-time continuum parallel to the one in which you find yourself as you read this. Some spirits of strategy take the form of the experiencer’s ancestors; others, as figures from science fiction. Other spirits of strategy have messages from the past self [or a self] in another incarnation. During past life regressions, the being is a spirit of strategy that appears at the bottom of the rainbow staircase to lead the regressee into a past life useful for him or her to know. During future-castings, a spirit of strategy may appear as a guide showing the way to a desired future, or a warner-away designed and determined to help the experiencer avoid a possible future that would not fulfill his or her desired life purpose. We call these spirits “spirits of strategy” because a strategy is a roadmap for getting from where one really is to where one really wishes to be, and once cannot devise, understand, or execute such a strategy unless one has made peace with the past.

Spirits of Harmony: Spirits of harmony are in many ways the most emotionally fulfilling of the spirits to be experienced. Angels, maternal figures, goddesses of mercy such as Kwannon, Jesus, the Shekinah–figures of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and love often fall into this designation. Often these spirits are experienced in the Dream State, during prayer, or during meditation, but their effect is always to reassure, calm, and support peace within the heart of the experiencer. Spirits of harmony can be resisted, and when they are resisted they may take frightening forms symbolic of the experiencer’s resistance to acceptance and growth in the area represented by the symbols involved. But as soon as such frightening forms are confronted, and it is demanded, “Who are you and what do you want?”, they dissolve, revealing behind them the loving presence that was there all along.

Mister Rand experienced such a spirit of harmony one day when he was driving back from a twelve step meeting. He felt a spiritual presence around him that seemed to wish to crush him into obedience or conformation with a moral value that Mister Rand did not recognize as valid. So Mister Rand [thinking the spirit making itself known was from the Creator of All or God) cried out, “You made me a homosexual. So if you want a relationship with me, you must accept me as a homosexual, for that is what I am.” And immediately the feeling of the presence shifted to one of unconditional love and acceptance. Mister Rand had confronted his own self-rejection, and his thought form, which had been masking the true Presence of Love, dissipated.

NEXT: Spirits of Action, Support and Communication. 

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On Fear of the Dark

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I have always been afraid of the dark. When I was a boy in rural Connecticut, I used to lie awake at night, listening to our old house creak around me, watching shadows creep up the walls of my room and across the ceiling. I was afraid to go down into our cellar, where the washer, dryer, and Mother’s canned goods were kept, because there was a back room, seldom lit, that opened on a cavernous passageway so thick with darkness you could see no farther than a few yards into it.

If you have lived all your life in the city, you may not appreciate just how dark rural nights can be. Outdoors, night transformed our friendly open fields and woods into thick dense shadow, particularly when the moon was on the wane. Affable nocturnal cricket-chirp and brightly lathered starshine mitigated my outdoor night-fears somewhat, but I still feared the gaping open mouth of our barn, and watching horror movies on our black-and-white T.V. didn’t help matters. The shows that scared me were ludicrously tame by modern standards: Invaders From Mars, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, the British horror series Way Out, every episode of which ended in maniacal laughter. Nonetheless, afterwards, upstairs in my dark bed, I would clutch my stuffed animals and my mother’s rosary to me as though my life depended upon their protection.

Bathrooms, too, scared me at night, particularly bathrooms with the doors shut. So did bathtubs with the shower curtains drawn.

I know why, of course. In the dark, the familiar turns alien, just as when people the child depends upon for security and solace suddenly and without apparent warning show unexpectedly strange, severe, or malignant sides to their personalities. My alcoholic, emotionally disturbed mother’s sudden personality-shifts, my older brother Manfred’s sudden, sneering, verbal and physical attacks from nowhere, my parents’ unpredictable fights, all these terrors I projected onto the Enemy Out There Somewhere, unforeseeable in the dark.

I am 63 years old now, and I wish I could say I am no longer fearful of shadows. After all, I have spent a good part of my adulthood examining my own shadow material, as the psychologists call it, and I have had moments where visions of Divine Love have made all shadows flee away. But still they return. And one thing I know: I must learn to make friends with the dark if I am to someday face my inevitable death with equanimity. For as much as I preach that death is the doorway into Light, my inner child fears otherwise. And we ignore our inner children to our peril.

— Copyright 2014 Rand B. Lee.