Don’t Feed the Bears or the Deceiving Spirits
When I was growing up, Yogi Bear was a popular cartoon. Yogi lived in “Jellystone Park” and, with his sidekick, Boo-Boo, took it as his mission to defeat the park ranger and get picnic baskets from the tourists. It was all very silly and funny to watch.
In the actual world, “Don’t Feed the Bears” was and is a serious statement. Bears are wild animals and play an important role in the environment. However, bears that get used to eating human food or bears that come close to humans can be dangerous. Cute little cubs have fiercely protective mothers who do not hestitate to defend them.
As an adult, I have come to observe that there are other beings who should not be fed. This is the story of one person’s encounter with one of those beings.
It had been a difficult day. The children were out of sorts. She was short of sleep. Her husband was worried about problems at work. Nothing seemed to be going right. To top it all off, like the proverbial cherry on the banana split, he had criticized her housekeeping or some such thing. (Later she couldn’t even remember what it had been.) She got the children to bed, the dog to the kennel and went to bed herself.
Usually, when she’d had a day like that, a good night’s sleep took care of the problem and the next day went better. But that night she couldn’t sleep. She was too angry. She kept going over and over in her mind what had happened and how unfair and unjust it all had been. The time dragged on and she couldn’t calm down. She tried praying the rosary, because often that helped her go to sleep when she was upset or worried, but that didn’t help either.
Finally, it occured to her to ask God to take away the anger and resentment so she could get some sleep. No sooner said than done! Her eyes were closed and she was lying on her side. She had the sensation of the blankets being flung back off of her – and at that instant, there was a cold, bright, bluish flash of light which stung her leg and then was gone. She no longer felt angry or resentful, but rather peaceful and ready to sleep. Thanking God, she drifted off to a restful night of sleep.
A couple of weeks later, she was talking with a friend about what had happened. The friend has the gift of healing, so she knew he wouldn’t think she was making it up. She described what had happened and he said that he could see, looking with his mind’s eye at the scene, what she had not seen. Behind her as she lay on the bed, a golden light appeared. (Golden light is often associated with the divine or the holy – as in halos around the heads in pictures of saints.) The golden light moved over her and exposed the deceiving spirit, forcing it to flee. The spirit had stung her as it left, in anger at being exposed. Then the golden light had covered her and let her rest.
I have often reflected on this woman’s experience. I had never really thought of anger, resentment, jealousy and the other negative emotions as spirits or as having any real “being” outside of the individual person. It would seem that I was mistaken.
I am now very careful about what emotional states I nurture. When I am angry, I try to remember not to feed that “spirit” by dwelling on how I have been wronged. Feeding these deceiving spirits only strengthens them and allows them to reach out and hurt others through me. They tell me I am the one who was hurt, but in my heart of hearts I know that “it takes two to tango” and despite what they might have me believe, I am rarely a totally innocent victim.
In these days of the ending of one liturgical year and beginning of the next, when the readings speak of the last days and of judgements to come, maybe we would all do well to make a sign and post it in our hearts, “Don’t Feed the Deceiving Spirits!”