Last week had more than it's share of weirdness for us.
It began early in morning and early in the week as Tricia and I were returning to our apartment from an exercise/prayerwalk. We were on Main Street. It was around 7:30. On a bench across from Haymarket Cafe sat a young man I've seen before. He has a slight build and looked to be in his early to mid-20's. He generally wears soiled brown pants and a soiled brown sweatshirt with a hood pulled over his head. He has dreads, is usually smoking, and has an unfriendly manner about him, sometimes downright agitated or surly.
So the first time I walked by him last week, he laughed and said what sounded like expletives not too far under his breath. He stared at me the entire time, and would shake his head. A day or so later, as Tricia and I walked by him again he glared angrily at us and quietly hurled a string of expletives our way. There was no laughing. It actually felt a little menacing as he looked at us. I don't know if he is mentally ill or a drug user who needed a fix, but there was disdain in his tone of voice and through the stare. I suspect if I'd said something to him it may have provoked a more rigorous response. I didn't. I just prayed.
A couple of days later, walking at about the same time in the same direction on Main Street, and a half block before Starbucks, a young Asian man was slowly walking toward us. Walking doesn't capture his gait: he was sort of gliding, almost robotically. It looked really weird, but what riveted me most was his gaze. His eyes were locked wide open as if he'd seen a ghost. The rest of face was expressionless and flat. As he came closer he began to line up with where I was walking as if to walk right into me. I'd never seen such a spooked look. I was taken back, and didn't know what to think
He never turned his head as I stepped out of the way. The most remarkable sense I got as I looked into his eyes for a second or two just before he walked by, was the impression there was someone or something else looking at me through his eyes. The young man was like a zombie and not there. I also felt intense fear much the same way I felt 2 years ago when a young woman stood motionless to my left as I was facing Main Street, and stared at me for 4 or 5 minutes as I stood outside of CVS waiting for Tricia. I felt a stab of fear then as well, and immediately began to pray in tongues under my breath and soon realized she was there to pray against me.
Both of the encounters with these young men felt demonically influenced, as if we were being noticed by alien and malevolent entities residing in troubled people.They happened within a few days of each other and in close physical proximity.
Odd coincidence? Perhaps . . .
Mental illness? Sure . . .
Drug-induced? Could be . . .
All those conditions could have been contributing factors. But there was another dynamic going on and it was palpably spiritually dark. Evil has a presence and calling card one can sense. It was there. My response was fear and then prayer. I didn't have to think about it.
I don't know why things like this happen when they do, but I've experienced them before and suspect I will encounter them again, especially here in Northampton. Such activity appears up, especially on the weekends at night.
May these young men and others who know little of the power and redemptive love of Christ be freed by him, and may I get to see or even be a part of it.