Now, normally for the Halloween season, I like to show off some of the more macabre religious art. After all, there is a lot of macabre religious art subjects. From the Fallen Angels and Beginning of Death at the very beginning of the world, to various horrifying events from the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ… there’s a huge amount of difficult stories from scripture that artists sought to capture. And, let me tell you… it’s usually quite a fun challenge to find and show you such works, plus explain the scripture and meaning behind them!
But something horrifying happened in our neighborhood a couple of weeks ago which has dampened my mood for celebrating anything remotely Halloween this year… and so let me tell you that story instead.
Now, you have to realize that I stumbled — literally — on the scene, quite by accident. I was walking my daughter to her school, trying to my best to hurry her along, when I suddenly noticed the crime scene tape. It was everywhere.
Now, this wasn’t too uncommon a scene. After all, this happened in October, and our neighbors love to dress up their houses with the spookiest decorations that they can find. These neighbors, in particular, were well known for their Halloween decorations, and their little statue of a dog in front had been dressed in a ghost light necklace since last Halloween. Our neighbors had used crime scene tape before in their decorations, and, at first glance, that is exactly what I thought had happened.
But this was different.
The crime scene taped stretched out, blocking the sidewalk where we usually walked in order to get to school. In fact, in order to avoid the tape, we would have to cross the street at a bit of a blind spot where we would have to be extra careful to make sure cars weren’t coming.
I was admittedly annoyed at first. This time our neighbors had gone too far! After all, couldn’t they not block the sidewalk?
And then I noticed the huge police van with the words “Crime Scene Investigators.”
I noticed the door had been kicked in.
And yet, the house was suspiciously quiet.
And so I held my daughter’s hand just a little bit tighter and we walked to school.
They were there all day. It was only until after four, when we returned home after running through the park after school, that I saw police investigators starting to come out of the house, wearing white hazmats suits and grim looks on their faces.
The next day, an unmarked van that was full of cleaning supplies came there. And they stayed there all day, just cleaning up.
I can’t express how unnerving the whole thing was. First, the investigators were there the whole day. Then, another full day was spent with just the cleaners, who were in an unmarked van. A full day.
Something horrifying must have happened here.
Later, we would find out the story from the newspapers:
Both the neighbors had been violently stabbed in their homes. There had been signs of a lot of violence and struggling, but the investigators had no reason to believe that anybody had come from outside the home, and it was probably a murder/suicide in which drugs and mental problems were suspected to be used. Before the man had been seen in the neighborhood walking around naked with a large serrated knife and yelling out things. He had briefly been following somebody who had been walking through the neighborhood and threatening them, but his wife quickly got him back into the house instead. And it was there, he probably killed her. Several days elapsed without anybody realizing what had happened, until somebody called the police to let them know that the woman hadn’t been to work for the past couple of days and could not be reached. When the police came to the door, they looked through the glass and noticed a dead body inside, and that’s when they forced themselves into the door.
They also mentioned a strange Facebook post by the man which they suspected had come shortly before he murdered his wife, and I, like an absolute idiot, decided to find that strange Facebook post, which was public for all to see. (I know, I know, dumb idea!) I am not going to quote it, since I don’t particularly want to look at the post ever again, but it was something about seeing the light and never being weak again. Of course, this could be the ravings of a crazy person, but it was… well… horrifying, honestly to see what the initial responses were to it.
One person complained that he should stop vaguebooking.
Another said something like, “Ah! So you’ve seen the light of Lucifier!” (Apparently, both the man and the woman were big on Satanism and the occult… both of them posted Satanic memes and the like.)
Another person said that they loved and supported him unreservedly in what he felt he had to do, and then wishing he and his wife well.
You know, the sort of normal responses that you expect from social media by now.
And then, the comments began to change as the news began to come out and people realized what exactly had happened.
People posting the question WHY to the dead man’s Facebook page.
A question that he will never be able to answer.
And a question that nobody probably wants to know the real answer to anyway.
And so, admittedly, my enthusiasm for Halloween is at an all-time low this year.
Now, my thoughts have been swirling around this whole entire scene for a while now because there’s just so much here that happened.
For one, this happened about a block away. We would wave hi to them if we passed by and they were out, but nothing much, especially since everybody has been locked up as of late. We didn’t see or hear anything for that evening, but some of our neighbors did… and they didn’t say anything until the police investigators came with questions. And by then, it was already much, much too late. And so the question, “Who is my neighbor?” comes to mind, and let me tell you… it’s not a nice question right now.
For another, it is such a grisly, grisly scene that seems quite… diabolical, if I am honest. Yes, drugs and/or mental distress probably had a lot to do with it too. But, there is something evil about the whole event that distresses me at my core and chills my blood. Something fundamentally wrong happened in that house. Something evil happened that should not have ever happened at that house.
And, like I said, there are a lot of questions to the whole thing. The police have already said that most of the questions will probably never be answered. And I fully believe that to be true. Right now, my role is to pray for them and the repose of their souls and to keep a closer eye on my neighbors to make sure that they are okay.
But also, I have to make sure that I am okay, because I am admittedly shaken by this whole event too.
And so, I have been praying with this picture a lot…
It’s one of the pictures that I used to illustrate the Saint Michael’s Prayer book, which you can buy here, if you want. (It’s basically a picture book that illustrates the St. Michael prayer line by line with classic art, if you’re wondering!)
Anyway, it’s a really, really complicated picture that shows the battle between the woman and the dragon, as told in the Book of Revelation…
1 A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. 3Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. 4Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. 5She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. 6The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days.7 Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, 8but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.
Also, the woman is stamping on the head of dragon, because of Genesis…
15I will put enmity between you and the woman,and between your offspring and hers;They will strike at your head,while you strike at their heel.
And so, it is a picture that shows St. Michael and the angels defeating and destroying Satan, with God depicted gloriously!
And it is my reminder, of sorts, that no matter bad things get here…
No matter how many evil acts seem to occur…
And no matter how evil and horrifying those evil acts seem to be..
That good will eventually conquer out the evil in the end.
That Goodness will ultimately triumph over evil.
And God will win.
And so, I hope all of you have a wonderful and happy Halloween in this year full of strangeness!
And I pray that you will stay close to Jesus today and always.