Mary sat on the pew next to Amy. Amy had on her light pink chiffon spring dress and crocheted shrug. Her toes were painted a coordinating color and held in check by white strappy sandals with two-inch heals. Mary noticed every detail. She’d watched Amy paint her nails the day before. Now she let out a long silent sigh of useless movement. Mary doesn’t breathe air. She is a spirit. To be more accurate, she is Amy’s Protector. She stays with Amy day and night, never sleeping, always protecting Amy from Shadows that would try lead her astray.

For now Mary looked at the crowd of Easter morning worshipers. Everyone stood on cue with the worship leader’s request. They all began to sing “I Surrender All.” Some sang with half-hearted vigor, others raised their hands and closed their eyes. The Protectors stood at attention next to most of the worshipers. Some stamped at the floor or moved to protect their charge from the vile dark spots that sought a weakness where they could find it. It was true that some did not have a Protector. Shadows crept along the aisle and up the corners of the great room. They snugly snaked around the shoulders of a few people.

This invisible, silent battle for the souls of the living went on even right there at Easter Service. Maybe most especially at an Easter service. By all appearances, this was believers proclaiming Jesus’ authority over death: A love fest of Christians on the pinnacle day of rejoicing. Mary knew different. Not that Easter was not to be celebrated, most certainly it is, but that Easter did not destroy evil once and for all. It’s still there, poking and prodding for a way in to someone’s heart.

Amy looked down at her toes and wiggled her foot back and forth admiringly. She’d paid $34.99 for those sandals. She looked over at her kids in new dress clothes and her husband in  a lavender Oxford. She smiled just a bit smugly as she sang the next chorus.

A Shadow was at her ear, “You have such a lovely family. All dressed perfectly. Watch as the other women nod at you in approval.”

Mary tried to swat away the Shadow, but Amy listened and continued to smile. There is only so much a Protector can do when the person insists on listening to the Shadow. “You’re here to worship Him. Remember Him. Your pride is in your faith, not your family’s appearance!”

The tug of war continued until Amy seemed to snap out of her smug reverie. Mary noticed Amy’s attention was caught by someone up front. A teenager holding a fat baby. The baby looked like he needed a bath. Its clothes were stained around the collar from dripped formula. The teen’s dress was two sizes too big. What was most noticeable was that she was standing in the front row singing with all her might, eyes closed, and not seeming to care that anyone else was there in that over-crowded sanctuary.  In fact, she was slightly off key.

The baby’s little fist was clasped tightly around a section of his mother’s hair and giggled as he yanked. Nothing could distract the teenager from adoring the One who’d given her a reason to hold her head high.

Amy smiled again, but this time in approving acceptance. The Shadow lost hold and fell away. Amy’s voice boomed higher, “I surrender all.”

Mary gave another silent sigh of relief, as though she really still breathed air, thinking to herself, “Whew. One battle at a time.”