Let’s just start out by saying that I don’t scare easily. For those of you that know me and are laughing right now, startled is different than being scared. I do startle easily. Sudden noises? I’ll jump higher than a kangaroo.
Every Good Friday at the Tenebrae service, I was startled when my Dad would slam the Bible shut. Pastors nowadays just can’t slam a Bible like my dad. It would go like this:
The largest Bible of the church is on the altar, open to Isaiah. The church is completely dark. Congregation members sit quietly in their pews, know that any second, Pastor will slam the Bible shut, signifying that the Prophesy has been fulfilled. I brace myself, waiting for the slam.
I know Dad is up there. I can barely see his shadowy figure up by the altar.
When is he going to do it? I’m ready. Wow. Everyone is being so quiet. It’s coming. I know it is.
I should be praying right now. Yup. That’s a good idea. What should I pray about? Repentance? Yeah, it’s Good Friday after all. Repentance would be good.
I can’t concentrate on repentance! When is he going to slam that Bible anyway? Come on, Dad, slam the Bible shut! DO IT!
Oh, shoot. I have tickle in my throat. Please don’t cough. Every one else is so quiet and they’re probably all praying. They’ll know it’s me who’s coughing. The pastor’s daughter is coughing. PLEASE DON’T COUGH!
You can hear the pews creaking as everyone is a bit startled, and then an almost audible sigh of relief as the congregation members settle in their seats to listen to the soloist.
The past few Tenebrae services I’ve attended have been more like this: Lights go out. Pastor barely waits a few seconds, closes the Bible, the service continues. No one can slam that sucker shut like my dad.
So yes, I am easily startled. But NOT easily scared. I used to babysit by myself in creaky, old houses. Wasn’t scared a bit. I lived by myself for ten years in various apartments, and am used to being alone. Not scary. I even lived out in a farmhouse in the middle of a corn field all by myself. Not scary. When I taught at a summer camp in the Wisconsin Northwoods, I would walk by myself at night, in the woods, with no flashlight. Not scary.
But there was this one time…
On a Saturday morning in March, I decided to go out for a walk. The weather was mild, and I needed to train for the 2-day Avon Breast Cancer Walk in June. I planned on walking four miles that morning, so I got an early start. I was on the last stretch, heading for home. Trees branches, their limbs devoid of leaves, stretched over the sidewalk as a stark canopy above me. I was huffing along, looking down at the sidewalk, tired and sweaty, ready to get home. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a figure up in the tree ahead of me. A large, body-shaped figure.
A large, crouching figure wearing black clothes fluttering in the breeze, looking like he was about to pounce down on me.
My heart pounded. My thoughts raced. I started freaking out. I started getting kinda scared.
Who could it be? My rational mind thought maybe it was a teenager climbing a tree just for fun. Surely it was too early for a teen to be up on a Saturday. Should I look up? Say hi? WHO IS IN THE TREE?
My irrational mind thought FOR SURE that it was a serial killer, ready to pounce and slit my throat wide open.
I looked up.
A skeleton’s empty eye sockets looked down at me. It was tied with chains up in the tree, left over from Halloween. Relieved and feeling just a little bit silly about the whole serial killer theory, I walked home and told the girls about my scary encounter minus the murdering killer part. So of course, they wanted to go see the skeleton in the tree. We had plenty of time…that skeleton is probably still there, ready for another Halloween.