Last October, Philadelphia had a historic snowstorm right around Halloween. There was about a foot of snow that fell. And while Pennsylvania is no stranger to snow storms, we were not ready for it in October. Schools were closed, power lines were down and people were unseasonably stuck at home. The heavy snow clumped around leaves on trees, making them unusually heavy and weighed-down. Fallen trees blocked roads and took down power lines. Some lost power for over a week and some more. In short, it was a disaster.
We were luckier than most because we only lost power for a few hours and passed the time affably. The children rode sleds outside or stayed indoors and colored and read. As the sky grew dark the last few came inside and we gathered around the fireplace with our dinner and blankets. The house grew very dark and, inevitably, as fireside gatherings go, the ghost stories began.
In his usual fashion, my husband began a story benignly enough. There was a haunted house and a pond. To my chagrin, the story grew more sinister and there was murder by drowning, an unsolved mystery and, of course, a ghost. As he told the story, he pretended to have been body snatched by the ghost. Our teenagers egged him on, absolutely thrilled. The younger kids and I, however, begged Daddy to stop. His token answer? “I am not your Daddy. I am The Ghost of the Pond.” Our pleadings went ignored.
As the story ensued, Rick, who had suddenly become “Daddy” again, heard a noise upstairs and announced that he was going to check it out. I groaned. I knew what this meant.
I must preface by explaining that, my husband, Rick, loves to spook me and the kids by turning out the lights and hiding in corners sometimes. On this occasion, he had the perfect set up. The power outage had ensured that there was not a single room we could escape to and turn lights back on. The whole house was his playground. We were completely at his mercy.
It is a mental game. I have learned that I must not show any weakness and bravely pretend that I’m bored by his antics. If it doesn’t discourage him, sometimes we tag team him and [try to] wrestle him to the ground while another turns on the lights.
Sounds of struggle and screams came from upstairs. Rick made a big show of hooting and hollering and slamming into walls to sound as though he were being attacked by a gang of robbers. The hysteria mounted downstairs and my youngest, Susie, clung to me and begged me to pray to make him stop. I was completely exasperated at that point and had little hope of making him stop. But I couldn’t say no to prayer. So I tried to pray over the noise, “God, PLEASE STOP THIS NONSENSE!”
Around the same time, their Daddy had decided to continue his spectacle by practically throwing himself down the short flight of steps into the den where we all huddled together in his mock attack. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, the power instantly went back on and we were showered in light. My husband suddenly looked awfully silly.
There was a stunned moment when we all realized that God had literally pulled the plug on Rick’s show exposing him as nothing more than their dad just making a lot of noise. The kids started cheering. My prayer had worked. God beat the bogey man!! I was struck by the hilarity of God’s timing and couldn’t stop laughing. Even Rick was amazed and felt a little sheepish, bless his heart.
As I reflected on this later, still chuckling to myself, it brought to mind a deeper truth. The real bogeyman, Satan, tries to makes us afraid so often. In our fear he can control us by paralyzing us into not acting or speaking. In truth, he is nothing but smoke and mirrors and a phony. If we are children of God, we have nothing to fear.
For there is nothing hidden which shall not be made manifest; nor does any secret thing take place, but that it should come to light. Mark 4:22
Copyright 2012 Victoria Gisondi