One of our popular walking trails just down the way from the parish, where a bunch of us priests went hiking one beautiful afternoon of the diocesan retreat some time ago, was booby-trapped with many dozens of hidden spikes impaling the feet of hikers. The path was closed and a team of metal detector guys was sent out. As of this writing, about 40 spikes have been found along 18 miles of trails being investigated.
I could understand that some kid getting horrifically smacked down at home might, in a psychotic episode of rebellion, set one or even a few spikes, all in a blur. But not dozens. That demonstrates forethought and a malice that is not in reaction but on the attack. I don’t think it is just some meanie meanie knucklehead. We did have arsonists go out to set the forest this past Summer. But that was easy. You light a match and walk away. But to set spikes to be invisible as in the picture of one of the spikes above takes a huge amount of energy just for one. This is not just a case of the meanie meanies. You prepare these spiked branches beforehand, then make multiple trips on the trail with a few at a time, digging them into the ground and then making the ground look undisturbed. I mean, this is not the work of a druggie on drugs, as the drug effect would wear off long before setting even a small number of the spikes. Moreover, there are so many set so quickly that this is not just one person, but a fairly large group. And to hide something right in front of someone’s eyes takes a great deal of attention to detail that druggies even good moments simply do not have.
Outside of the casinos, the economic salvation of far Western North Carolina is the tremendous natural beauty of these highest of mountains in the eastern United States. Smoky Mountain National Park is the most heavily visited of all National Parks in these United States.
We’ve had an actual terrorist incident at a local high school a while back, where one kid was planning a horrific attack but was discovered before being able to put it into action for ISIS. Even here. Incredible. I guess even we, in the remotest of places, are not so remote that terrorism cannot reach us. But people are in denial. Typical comments are about people just not being nice anymore. “Not nice.”
But maybe I’m just shell shocked by having been to many violent places right around the world. Maybe I’ve talked with too many people who have suffered the fate of landmines and this triggers a response in me. There are places where there are literally millions of landmines with the local populace still being blown to bits decades after they have been set. It’s not all about mental health or giving people a job they don’t want. Evil is real. Do we want to share the greatest love of our lives, Jesus? Yes. Some people don’t want to know this love. We don’t give up on them, but we do take in the reality of what is happening.
Could this just be a sick kid. Perhaps. At any rate, have situational awareness. I’ve said before that an important method of situational awareness is to calmly note ways of diffusing any possible situation. I would add that another important element of situational awareness is the famous: “If you see something, say something.”
Example: As I recounted in another post, for all I say about situational awareness, I must confess that I was caught totally off guard while sitting in the office of the local law enforcement to have a chat about the executive order on immigration when a guy came in brandishing his weapon in my direction. The unexpected does happen. Did I expect that? No. Did hikers expect spikes? No.
Can you think of an analogy for the spiritual life?