What’s All The Fuss Over Spooks?
Halloween is all about them. Of course it is! Spooks of all descriptions show up on the doorstep of my home just after dark on that appointed night. So my dog is leery. She’s ready with her mask and a suspicious eye.
I remember my first experiences with spooky things. They happened at the slumber parties with my friend Suzanne at her Aunt Susie’s on Halloween night and other special nights. She had an enormous house that seemed to swallow an entire half acre on the main street of Gallatin, Tennessee.
Aunt Susie set out food at midnight in hopes we nine-year-old girls would settle down shortly thereafter. But now that I think about it, she probably didn’t mind. She was one of those people who just let you be you. If that included being spooky after midnight then so be it. In an upstairs bedroom, we told ghost stories—in the dark—till the wee hours of the morning. I was not alone in absorbing their appeal with an equal measure of horror and intrigue.
The ones about the Bell Witchof Robertson County, Tennessee were the scariest.
We Americans Love Spooky Stories
The more macabre and grotesque the better! My favorite many years ago was The Fall of the House of Usherby Edgar Allan Poe. He was a master at establishing a forbidding atmosphere—enough suspense to keep me on the edge of my seat.
Poe (1809-1849) is considered America’s first well-known professional writer. He made his living as the country’s first great literary critic and theoretician.
He was a literary trailblazer—best remembered for his tales of terror and haunting poems. Poe is also credited as one of the earliest writers of short stories, the inventor of the modern detective story, and an innovator in the genre of science fiction.
I love his poem The Raven:
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping . . . .”
Ah! It’s so rhythmic and dramatic!
Halloween’s Ghosts, Goblins, and Skeletons
While we’re on the subject, you need to know this about coffin alarms. The fear of being buried alive was so severe in the 19th century that a device known as a coffin alarm was invented. The contraption was simply a bell attached to the headstone. It had a chain that connected to a ring placed on the finger of the corpse. You get the picture. Now that’s what you call a dead ringer!
A Spooky Place
My husband and I bought a house that was built in 1832 and lived in it for ten years. The experience far surpassed living through ghost stories at slumber parties. It was not a haunted house by any stretch of the imagination. It did, however, make us wonder about a few incidents—things that went bump in the night. Even though they were harmless, we decided they were better left to themselves.
Little Spooks and Young Mothers
Referring to kids—my first one was born on Halloween. After hearing my hospital roommate broadcast this announcement to her very long phone list: “I have a little spook!” I decided my enlightened roomy’s enthusiasm was way too loud, too often, and perhaps a little too insensitive.
She’d delivered a baby on October 31. I had as well, and one that I didn’t expect until mid-November. I was alone in a big new city with my husband who had a new job. And it was snowing. And I was tired. I was not—like my roomy—enjoying the luxury of a list full of family and friends to join in the jubilation.
The young mother next to me made sure I was grasping the full import of the distinction of a baby born on Halloween. She made it official, “You have a little spook, too!”
So my first child was a bonafide spook.
“It Ain’t Necessarily So”
Fortunately, labels others confer on us (or our children) don’t have to stick. As far as I know, my child bore the distinction of being a “Little Spook” for only a day.
We tend to assume that what has been, always will be. We adopt the labels that come with the struggles: loser, failure, addict, anorexic, and others. But the solid Biblical reality is that we are not our labels.
Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
When Paul the Apostle said that, he meant that his identity was not summed up by his past actions. Paul moved forward as a changed person with one label as a believer: “Christ In Me.”
What Does My Boxer Have To Do With This?
Not much, but she’s pretty savvy. And come Halloween, if my dog’s suspicious, I am too.