In 1978 I moved to Iowa where I eventually filled another teacher’s unexpired contract then stayed on the following year.
Storm in the Night
I lay in bed watching a summer storm approach. The huge centuries-old trees in the front yard were twisting violently in the wind and I hoped they would survive. Lightning flashed and window-rattling thunder crashed. Eventually the storm was directly over the farmhouse where my two housemates and I were sleeping – that is, they were sleeping.
The fury of the storm was an apt expression of my roiling emotions. I and the two other ladies had moved to this farmhouse a year and a half ago, but the first year we couldn’t find work so the payments on the house lapsed as had the utility bills. We were barely able to buy food and gas for our vehicles. People in the community who guessed our situation had been generous in bringing meat from their lockers and fresh vegetables or we might have been hungry, too.
Then in January, a year to the day from when I had signed the mortgage papers, I found a teaching position nearly 200 miles away. Eagerly, hopefully, I took the job but found that it wasn’t possible to make the money go far enough to save my real estate investment. Now it was summer and I needed to pack and move to the small community where I would continue to teach during the coming school year. I was losing the house so I didn’t care if it was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.
As I lay bitterly thinking over the events leading up to this week, it occurred to me that lightning was going to strike the lead pipe just outside my window used as an antenna for the TV. Movement caught my eye and a tall figure with curly hair and a long night-shirt like Jen wore silently entered the room. “She’s going to get a surprise when lightning strikes that pipe.” The tall figure paused at the foot of the bed and looked down at me so I pretended to be asleep, squinting to watch her move noiselessly to the window. Sure enough, there was a deafening explosion and a blinding ball of fire traveled down the pipe. My sight cleared and I watched the figure calmly turn, walk again to the foot of my bed where she paused and looked down at me as before, then silently left the room.
After several minutes Bea awoke screaming that we should get up and unplug the TV and other electrical appliances.
“Be quiet and go back to bed,” I snapped. “The storm is over.”
“Be quiet, yourself,” Bea admonished in a stage whisper, “You’ll wake Jen.”
“Jen is already awake. She was just in here looking at the storm.”
“If Jen were awake she would be in bed with you! You know she’s scared of storms.” Bea went to see if Jen was awake and reported that she was still sleeping through all the commotion.
The next morning when I came downstairs, Bea and Jen had been talking about the storm and who I must have seen when the lightning struck the house. They tried to convince me that I had seen an angel but I would have none of that. I thought in concrete terms and angels didn’t fit. They tried to find solid evidence that I would accept, and after awhile they invited me into the front yard to look up at the lead pipe just outside my bedroom windows. There were squiggly burn marks running down its length, but those marks could have been there before the storm.
Another lapse of time, and they called me to the basement to look at the breaker box. If lightning had struck the house then there should be some electrical damage, they reasoned. At least some breakers should have flipped off. Well, only one breaker was off and the light bulb on that line was burned out. What convinced me, however, were the burn rays extending outward from the breaker box in all directions.
I did indeed lose the house and property; and I struggled financially after that.
Bea was gracious enough to drive the U-Haul while I drove my station wagon loaded with horse gear and towed the trailer with my half-Arabian mare and her foal. That same day we unloaded the household stuff and got the horses settled in their new pasture. Bea spent the night and left at dawn the next morning, but not before warning me that the house was occupied with dark entities. I noticed my black cat cocking his head, watching the shadows move, so I knew I would have to do a spiritual housecleaning before going to bed that second night. I had never done such a thing, so I was unsure about what to do exactly, but determined not to share my house with unwanted guests.
Anointing oil was necessary, I thought, but what kind? I didn’t have any. Then it occurred to me that vegetable oil was OK. There was corn oil in a box somewhere. At last I found it and started upstairs, moving to the main floor, then the basement, marking the windows and doors with a small swipe of oil in Jesus’ name, commanding any unholy occupants to leave the premises. Then I invited the Holy Spirit in with His angels to guard and keep me safe. There was no more trouble with moving shadows. Within the week I had a horrible dream, however.
All my life I had been subject to nightmares and would cry out in my sleep. But now there was nobody to help me extricate myself from the horrible dreams. When I first came to teach at A. I asked the Lord to take away the nightmares, and He did. So simply. Now, unexpectedly, within the first week in this lovely little house, I had a nightmare.
When the Time Comes….
l wakened myself in mid-dream. It was horrifying to me because of the senseless suffering of an innocent animal, so I got up and walked around to break it’s continuity before finally returning to bed. However, the dream continued from where it left off.
Perhaps a dozen of us were on a trail ride. The trees and trails were so beautiful and peaceful. But the daughter of the trail boss was incredibly cruel to her gentle mare, screaming angrily and beating the horse mercilessly. It was extremely difficult for me to restrain myself. As the trail ride ended at the leader’s house, the young woman dismounted and began to beat the horse with a renewed vengeance. I had to ride away to keep from interfering. But even from a distance I could still hear her savage shouts and imagined I could hear the mare’s groans. Finally, resolutely, I turned around and rode back.
Adrenaline flowing, I lifted the girl by her collar to face me and explained to her that the horse was a trusting, gentle animal that only wanted to please her rider. She had no idea why she was being beaten so mercilessly.
“Now get down there and take her head in your lap and comfort her,” I shouted. And I waited for her to do it. Next I turned to the young woman’s father and ordered him to call the best veterinarian in the area. He protested feebly but I accepted no argument and he went inside the house reluctantly to make the phone call. Shortly he returned to say he couldn’t locate anyone who would come. Sharply I gave him my veterinarian’s name and number and sent him back inside. When I knew help was on the way the dream ended.
The dream was disturbing, but it seemed logical, so I began to seek its meaning. When the time comes you will know what to do….
Two years previously I had decided to breed my half-Arabian mare to a national top ten champion Arabian stallion. About six weeks after her breeding she was terribly injured. A sudden spring storm had come up and we took shelter in a Morton building on the farm where she was pastured. Without my noticing, she stepped into a block and tackle and it tightened around her near hind leg as she kicked to free herself. (A block and tackle is a system of ropes threaded through a couple of pulleys that is used to lift heavy equipment.)
The best veterinarian we knew of from this part of the state referred her to the University of Illinois School of Veterinary Medicine. Because she had a quiet, trusting disposition, they were able to not only save her but the unborn foal.
When the time comes you will know what to do. The analogy of the dream to my experience with my mare was clear, and the explanation of my behavior in the dream satisfied me. But I could understand no more, so I put the dream aside.