Sunday, October 14, 2012

Out of shorts

We watched a scary movie last night. It was a fairly complicated time-travel-I'm-actually-the-killer thing, with a few horrible images, somewhere between Groundhog Day and The Shining. The plot was interesting enough ("Wait! Does this movie even have a beginning or an ending?") that we spent some time reading possible explanations on the internet, and then, stupidly, turned off the lights and tried to go to sleep.

Fear of dark dreams kept me from sleeping, but my half-awake state was probably worse. One can wake up from a nightmare and feel a shock of relief, but delirious, repetitive gropings at reason insist on justifying themselves over and over again. I kept trying to figure out the movie, and of course I became the protagoniste. It wasn't the worst post-horror-movie night of sleep I've experienced, but it was very unpleasant.

Sometimes, even if I'm not afraid of some ghoulie jumping out at me on the way to the bathroom, I can be afraid of a room. I'm probably not alone in this; in fact there is probably a German word for overwhelming, ambient horror. Last night I remembered a strange instance of this feeling: One dark October morning two years ago the moon impressed me with a deep dread, and I felt almost paralyzed by its gaze. I prayed myself out of bed and leapt onto my bike to pedal madly through the dry chill, tearing down the streets of Santa Fe as a hounded supplicant.  Warm panes of light and my co-worker's opening-shift jazz welcomed me to the coffee shop, and I wanted to tell him how glad I was to see him, but I could not bear to tell him that I was afraid of the moon.

Halloween is coming. I always wonder whether we should let little non-existent Jimmy and Susie (not our actual non-existent children's names) join in the fun. Aren't there really uncanny things to be afraid of? Mightn't something besides dry leaves be sweeping about in that exhilarating air, of which there is certainly a Prince?

If we have children, and if they simply must go trick-or-treating, I would like to teach them to sing this as they walk:

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation,
His baptism in the Jordan River,
His cross of death for my salvation,
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my god to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

No contest.


  1. Very good idea, about the prayer/song for Halloween.
    I can't watch horror or even most thriller movies, because the images replay over and over in my mind for days -- and nights, pushing aside the prayer that I'd like to encourage...

  2. It's funny, I think of that song more at Halloween than around St. Patrick's day. I imagine him binding the name to himself out of sheer necessity, having to walk around in the fey hills with old earth and water spirits rising up to tempt or frighten him. "Who is so great a god as our God?" doesn't mean as much to us, because we don't even think about any other gods! Spooky evenings make me remember the dark side of the spiritual world, and remind me to put on the Breastplate.