A few months ago I listened several times to a radio drama put on by Focus on the Family. Essentially, it is the story of a former detective who had a disastrous case many years earlier. A case of a runaway teen who committed suicide before the detective could rescue her.
The drama opens with the detective getting a bizarre call while he's on a talk show. The caller brings up the death of Patricia, now just a closed missing juvenile case in some dusty police records but still very much alive to the former detective-turned- Anglican-priest.
Then the eerie caller says (using a smarmy, falsely jovial voice), "It's deja vu aaaalllll over again... " And it is. The detective-turned-priest learns that another teen-age girl has run away under circumstances that are almost exactly like Patricia's. How weird is that?
As the story unfolds, the nasty caller continues to "check in" with the priest at unexpected times, taunting him, goading him, teasing him, tormenting him.
Because it is a radio drama - as opposed to real life - the priest is able to find the current runaway just in the nick of time and the story ends.
Except not quite...
When the weary priest returns home, adrenaline depleted, soul weary -strange things begin to happen. The caller's voice begins to ring out through his house, describing the futility of what the frantic priest tries to do. The priest runs to the phone and the oily, unseen voice gloats: it won't help you to try to call anyone... the phone isn't working... You are aallll alone...
After a few frantic moments of trying to get to a place of safety, the priest finds himself caught in a surreal sort of evil supernatural surround sound system, while his unseen nemesis' voice becomes harsher and louder until unbearable accusations are reverberating all around the beleaguered priest.
Finally the priest begins to shout the words of the Lord's prayer and the evil voice is vanquished.
It did to me too the first time I heard it. But after tangling with someone who can only be described as evil, it didn't sound so cheesy to me the second time around.
On the second go round, something stood out to me that I'd never picked up on before. At the height of this supernatural battle between pure evil and frail, faulty, frightened humanity, the Adversary's voice crescendos until he finally blurts out his real goal - which is nothing short of destroying the human soul. He was never really fixated on the physical death of the teen-age girls - as he puts it, hurting the body is mere child's play; instead his eye was on the ultimate prize which was nothing less than the priest's soul. If he could hold the Father's head, so to speak, under the waters of bitterness, self-loathing, unforgiveness, and hatred long enough, then the priest would lose his love for God and his capacity to love mankind as well. Evil would win.
Which brings me to the real point of this seemingly pointless blog: this week we had a rather sensational murder trial going on in our city. If ever there was a show down between good and evil, I think this was it.
No wicked, taunting voices emanating from an unseen source filled the courtroom, but, still, evil personified in human form was there none the less. Unbridled arrogance, vicious slander, and atrocious poor-me-I-can't-get-justice rants were lobbed around in probably the most stately building in this area, a bastion of marble and stone which has symbolized justice for me as long as I can remember. An august place that even when trimmed with CHristmas decorations still sobers me each time I enter it.
Guilty of a horrendous kidnapping and murder, a narcissist of the first water took the stand Friday and tried to hoodwink justice, the public, and even the handful of people who might have felt some semblance of loyalty to him. IF there was anyone he didn't throw under the bus in a futile effort to save his own skin from a life sentence, I don't know who it would have been.
But this is the deal: over 50 years of her life, the victim - Beverly Carter - did well. She overcame obstacles I couldn't have; she triumphed in that she held steady, kept on keeping on, and obviously brought a lot of life, love, and laughter to others. Her smile pretty much says it all.
What she suffered in the last 24 hours of her life is horrible and I cringe when I think of it. IN fact, I could hardly bear to read about it. Definitely, I don't want to minimize her terror and anguish in any way at all. She suffered horribly for the last 24 hours of her life.
However, when those few hours are juxtaposed against 50 years of living life and living it as well as I think anyone could - it's clear that the decades far outweigh the one day.
The truth is that her suffering was short lived. The truth is that she knew her Creator. The truth is that she suffered for a short time and then moved to another locality where evil is totally unknown. The truth is that she is living There right now, today.
The truth is that the big prize in all this as far as Evil is concerned (and I'm not talking about the human pawn - or should it be spawn? - who showed out in the courtroom yesterday before being justly sentenced to two consecutive life sentences) - as far as Evil is concerned, the real contest here is, I think, for the souls of Beverly Carter's friends and family.
It took 5 or 6 minutes to brutally snuff out Beverly's earthly existence. However, the mental replays of how she suffered can go on and on indefinitely in the imaginations of those left behind.
Plus, while the family was reeling from the senseless murder of Beverly, Evil threw in some of the most vicious lies I've ever heard in an effort to smear this woman who could not defend herself. (Can we say, "despicable"?) Kidnapped. Murdered. And then pilloried to a degree that boggles the imagination.
Enough to crush the heart and soul of anyone who loved her.
Yet, from what I've seen, it didn't happen.
Apparently Evil didn't win.
The family has grieved in untold ways and is still walking a hard road even as I write this. It's not over til it's over and part of this will never be over until they eventually move to Heaven to be with Beverly.
However, almost from the moment it was learned that Beverly's soul had flown to higher places, the family has worked hard at turning the worst lemons life can hand you into life giving lemonade for the many. They have been proactive in launching a campaign to prevent this type of thing from happening to other realtors. They have been gracious under intense pressure and scrutiny. And like their matriarch, they have somehow kept smiling, even through this awful trial this past week.
Could it be that they want justice but at the same time, they don't want to be overcome by evil themselves but rather they want to overcome evil with good?
Whatever their reasons, I hold the family in highest regard for the way they have handled this long ordeal in the public eye. They have done well, far better than I think most people would have done. The way I see it - Evil has deeply wounded them but it hasn't won- obviously Beverly Carter's family can still feel, live, love, laugh - and even show mercy - under the most difficult of circumstances.
When this story comes up in the collective psyches of all who have heard about it, the family hopes that the name of their loved one, Beverly Carter, will shine forth and that the notoriety of the one who murdered her will be obscured by the sands of time.
Amen and Amen...
Here's to a beautiful lady who stayed the course and in spite of the vicissitudes of everyday reality, by all accounts lived a good life. Her smile as well as her family testify to who she was ... and is.
Here's to Beverly Carter, someone I absolutely look forward to meeting when I transition to the only City which has foundations.
Beverly Carter - may her memory - as well as the good her family has tried to bring out of all this - live long in all our minds and hearts.