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Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

“Is there, indeed, a battle going on within each of us between good and bad spirits?”

I believe in physical fitness and have been active almost every day of my life. It makes me feel good, both mentally and physically.

I jogged for many years but had to give it up when I felt I was doing too much damage to my knees and hips. These days I walk in the morning in a nearby park, and I swim in the afternoon, but it was the former activity that brought me in contact with Byron.

Byron is a seventy-six year old retired salesman. These days he dabbles in the stock market, but most of the time he hangs out in the park talking to anybody willing to listen to one of his many stories. In my opinion, Byron is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met in my life although one of the curious things about him is he was never willing to talk about his past or his personal life.

Recently, however, Byron opened up a bit and told me that ever since he was a child he had an ongoing battle with his inner demons. He said there are spirits that lurk within us all, and it is a matter of how we deal with them that determines our success in life and our happiness.

At first I thought he was using the term inner demons in a general way to describe our own flaws and anxieties, but he made it clear he believed that actual spirits inhabit us all. And some are good spirits with good intentions, and some are bad spirits with evil intentions.

I was surprised that such an intelligent and educated man could have such beliefs, but what was about to occur to Byron eventually made me rethink the issue.

He said unfortunately his evil spirits were overwhelming the good ones, and his life was in danger. I asked him what he meant, and he said, young man, I may not be around much longer. I looked at him and told him he looked fine, and he agreed but he said he could feel his resistance depleting. And he made it very clear that if the evil spirits succeed in pushing out the good spirits, the body cannot survive.

He could see the skeptical look on my face and wrote down his home address and handed it to me. He asked me to stop by his place the following Saturday.

Over the next several days, I noticed that Byron hadn’t been in his usual spot in the park, and I became concerned about him. When Saturday came, I couldn’t wait to drop by and see how he was doing. When I arrived, a woman answered the door and introduced herself as Byron’s sister. I asked if he was OK and if I could see him.

She said Byron had taken ill and almost died a couple of days earlier. She added that although the doctors weren’t able to isolate the exact cause, Byron had taken a turn for the better and was recuperating very nicely. They were releasing him from the hospital that afternoon.

Two weeks later, Byron was back to his old spot. He said, dear friend, the demons almost got me, but I fought them off and I will live to fight them another day.

Well, what am I to make of this? Was it all in his imagination, or was it for real? After all, he did battle for his life right after telling me his life was in danger. And is there, indeed, a battle going on within each of us between good and bad spirits?

R. Morse
Derby, England

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