One of the other Directors at Defense Industrial Supply Center, an Army
Colonel, stopped me after an executive meeting: "Ben, there's a family
in my church who are having problems with their son, and I thought you might
be able to help them."
"How so?" I had talked with him a few times about two-way prayer, and spoken to a couple of groups at his church.
"They say their son, Jim, is acting goofy -- not like himself. He's always been very bright and talented and a real pleasure to them and everyone he meets. But now he seems dull and listless and almost stupid. He just can't seem to do anything right. He broke up with his girl, lost his job and his apartment, and moved back in with them. I think there may be something to what they say, because he used to sing in the choir -- he had a gorgeous voice -- but now he can't even carry a tune."
"Was this change slow or sudden?"
"Apparently it came on suddenly."
"When? How long ago?"
"Last summer, according to his parents. I noticed it this fall, when the choir came back from summer vacation."
"Was he sick? High fever? Has he been seen by a doctor?"
"No, he hasn't been sick in a long time. They took him to a doctor, thinking it might be a brain tumor, but the tests didn't show anything."
"Any indication of drugs? Or booze?"
"No, none of that. What has them worried now is, he's started acting scary. He quarrels with them, which he never did before. The last straw was when they found him sharpening a butcher-knife, and he said, 'I'm gonna kill the dog.' He always loved his dog. I happened to be in the church office while they were telling the minister, and I thought of you. Will you meet with Jim and see what you think is wrong with him?"
"Well ... Okay ... I'll talk with him, but I'm not a psychiatrist, and I can't guarantee anything.
"Sure. Jim's folks know that -- they just want your opinion."
I made an appointment and went to their house. Jim met me at the door -- a young man in his late twenties, fairly tall, a bit overweight, with a gentle smile and a feeling of mildness about him. He said, "My folks went out," and asked, "What room do you want to use?" He seemed diffident or shy, not dynamic.
I chose the family room. He turned off the television and moved a couple chairs so we sat facing each other. I opened the conversation by asking him if he knew why I was there.
"To find out what's wrong with me."
"Well ... not exactly. I'm not sure anything is wrong with you. But I understand that something has changed, something is different than it was before. Let's talk about that."
First, I asked him about singing. He said, "I remember singing. But I can't do it."
As we continued talking about things he remembered, he took little or no initiative in the conversation, and his responses were ... slow, and minimal ... but pleasant enough. He was smiling, and not aggressive. He did not seem hostile in any way.
"What about the dog?"
"His name's Bill. I used to love him more than now. I remember a couple times I was going to kill him, but I don't know why."
"How do you feel about him right now?"
"He's Okay. Just a dog. Like any dog."
"So, right now, you don't love him, but you don't want to kill him?"
"Yeah, that's right. I remember doing it ... sharpening the knife. But I don't remember why." As in his previous answers, he was not sullen or defensive or apologetic, just ... what? Slow. Sluggish. Is he mentally retarded? Brain-damaged? An amiable loser?
I asked, "What else is different now, from the way it was before?"
He touched his head above his right ear: "I used to sit farther back in my head."
"Where do you sit now?"
"Right up here." He touched his forehead. "Right behind the eyes."
"Did this happen suddenly, from one moment to the next or one day to the next?"
"One night. From one night to the next morning. I remember that."
"Do you remember what you were doing just before it happened?"
"I remember going on a retreat. Three days."
"What kind of retreat? A church group?"
"No, Eck ... an Eckankar retreat ... Do you know what that is?"
His question sounded as though he didn't know what "Eckankar" meant. But I did. At this point, everything fell into place -- the whole pattern. Eckankar is a group that advocates out-of-body travel. Jim went to a retreat where they taught out-of-body travel techniques. After he got home, he tried to get out of his body, and succeeded. But it was like he left his car parked with a door open and the motor running. Anyone who happened to be in the neighborhood might hop in and drive it away.
I said, "It occurs to me that you may not be the original resident in this body. That's why you have Jim's memories but not his abilities."
His eyes got wide and he started trembling all over. "I think I'm gonna wet my pants."
"Don't soil your underwear. Just focus your attention on me. I won't hurt you. I'm just going to ask for some guidance." He stopped trembling, but his eyes got even wider and his mouth hung open. I said, "You know who I'm asking, don't you? You know who I work for."
He nodded: "Jesus."
"Yes. So ... Okay, let's see what he has to say."
What popped into my mind was not like anything I had heard or read about before: "Three souls involved -- original occupant, this one, and a bad one. Original occupant is not interested in coming back now. Strengthen this one."
I said, "This is what I got: there are three of you involved with this body. Jim One left his body and is not interested in coming back right now. You're Jim Two and not a bad person. Jim Three is the one who fights with the folks and wants to kill the dog."
He nodded, but he looked worried.
"We're not going to cast you out, because you're not an evil spirit. We're going to ask you to stay in this body, and keep Jim Three out, until Jim One decides to return."
He still looked worried. "But I don't know ... if I can do that. I don't like to fight. That other one is nasty, mean. I just like to stand back and watch."
"I understand. But if you do that, the nasty one will do something terrible, and the body will wind up in a padded cell. Would you like that?"
"I think you can keep him out. Otherwise, he would take over this body all the time and keep you out. I think you're stronger than you think you are."
"Maybe ... just a minute ... somebody says it's not how strong ... Oh, yes. I can keep him out, because he sits where I sit, up close behind the eyes. If I don't leave, he can't sit there."
"Good. Are you willing to do that until Jim One comes back?"
"All right! You can be a good tenant in this body-house. Keep the bad guy out. Be good to the folks and take care of the dog. If Jim One never comes back, you can stay as long as the body lives. If he does come back, you can return it to him without being ashamed. In either case, you will have done a good thing and earned yourself some merit -- something to be quietly proud about."
Tears came up in his eyes. He smiled and nodded: "I'd like that."
"Good. So that's where we'll leave it. Oh ... one more thing: Remember the one who said, 'It's not how strong' -- the one who explained how to keep the bad guy out? That's a good one. Listen to him. He will guide you from Okay, to good, to better. Understand?"
"Oh! ... Yes ... I'd like that a lot."
I stood up and he stood up, smiling, with tears in his eyes. I gave him a hug and patted him on the back. He came outside with me, shook my hand before I left, and we waved to each other as I drove away.
The next day I told the Colonel that I had met with Jim, counseled him, and outlined a course of action. Now we would have to wait to see if it made any difference. I did not tell him the rest of it, because I felt that it wouldn't do him or Jim's parents any good.
I didn't hear any more about Jim for several months. Finally I asked the Colonel how he was doing.
"Oh, that's right. I've been meaning to tell you. His folks say he's doing Okay. Not like he used to be, but not so goofy, and not scary. He got a job as a janitor, and keeps his room clean, and does what he's told. They all seem to be getting along pretty well."
"What about the dog?"
"They said he feeds it every day and takes it for walks. No more of that scary stuff."
Almost a year after I spoke with Jim, the Colonel stopped me again, after a meeting. "I thought you'd like to know -- things are looking up for Jim. He's got a new job that he really likes. He made up with his girl, and he's back singing in the choir again."
"How well does he sing?"
"Great! -- a gorgeous voice -- just like before. I don't know what you said to him, and it took awhile, but something sure seems to have worked."
"Good! I'm glad."
As I turned away, I thought, "May God bless you, Jim Two ... You were a good tenant."