Why do our fears seem to magnify to enormous proportions in the dark of the night?? Things that are very ordinary in daylight can take on ominous connotations in the dark, silent hours of night. My dad's job required him to work swing shift and this made it necessary for my mother, my younger sister and I to spend many nights alone. We were perfectly safe, of course, but my dear Mama, bless her, was cursed with a fearful nature She would be jarred wide awake at the slightest sound and her imagination would be off and running at full gallop. She made herself miserable expecting something terrible to happen. I have often seen her peeping thru the curtain into the darkness outside, eyes and ears straining to uncover the threat she imagined lurking there. She would turn all the lights off inside and grope and feel her way about from window to window to door, checking locks to make certain we were safely barricaded from whatever waited, hiding, outside.
One night, the three of us had gone to bed. Everything was perfectly normal and we were all soon sound asleep. I don't know how much time had passed, hours, to be sure. Suddenly I was being shaken, a hand was on my mouth and a whisper spoke in my ear. "Shhhh. Don't make a sound. Somebody is trying to break in the house. "I was a teenager at this time and as all teens can sometimes be, I was more than a little irritated at my mother for waking me from a sound sleep and pleasant dream with one of her imagined dangers. With a huffy exhalation of breath, I shrugged off her hand, flipped over on my other side and closed my eyes, and told myself, "If I lie real still, she'll finally go back to bed". It didn't work that way this time. Her hand again was shaking me and her voice was urgently imploring me to get up and listen. "Mama, you're just imagining it, there's not anything there.” ..I spoke rather sharply to my mother who was obviously distressed. "Shhh...be quiet. Listen." she ordered. I flopped back on my pillow when suddenly I heard it, too. The unmistakable sound of something or someone brushing against the outside bedroom wall. I suddenly discovered first hand what the saying "My blood froze in my veins” meant. I sat up in bed ,gripping my mother's hand, holding my breath, waiting, listening.
Our stirring about had waked my young sister, Barbara, and she spoke in her clear young voice that carried so well to ears that might be listening outside. "What's the matter? Why are you whispering?" "SHHHHH." We both shushed her together, "Be quiet. Somebody is trying to get in.” Now all three of us are sitting huddled on my bed, leaning forward, staring through the room's darkness toward the window, faintly illumined around the edges of the drawn shade. The sounds were really frightening now. There was no attempt by the intruder to muffle them. It was as though some heavy body was roughly brushing the wall outside and apparently was just under the window. What was happening? Was someone putting a ladder up to the window? What did they want? Could we get help? We decided we better try to peep out the window and see if we could determine how many interlopers were there, then one of us would slip into the next room and phone Daddy at work and the police. Who would do it? By common assent, I took one side of the window and Mama the other. Trembling, we barely moved the sides of the shade enough to get a view of the area beneath the window. At first we saw nothing ,then suddenly, something moved directly beneath us. A huge head raised itself and two enormous dark eyes were staring directly up at us. "It" opened it's mouth wide and bellowed forth a horrible sound . "MOOOOOO". For an instant we were frozen, then we began to laugh and laugh. Laughing till tears ran down our faces, holding on to each other in relief. Barbara was clutching at us repeating over and over, "What is it? Tell me, what is it?" We recovered enough from our gales of hilarity to pull her up to the window, threw up the shade and invited her to "Look". "Why, it's Mrs. Cynthi's cow!!!! "Our neighbor's cow had somehow escaped from the barn and cowpen and wandered down to graze a midnight snack in our front yard. Then she mosied over and began to scratch her broad back on the side of our house. She was probably as startled to see us staring down at her as we were to find her big eyes gazing up at us. This story is one of our very favorite family tales. The night Mrs. Cynthi's cow paid us a midnight call. The night our fears turned into peals of laughter.
Fear has a way of binding us in dark imaginations of what might be lurking, waiting to pounce and destroy us. We become prisoners in the dark world of dread and anxiety, and we are afraid to face the facts that create our fears. Just like our fears were fed on the unseen menace outside our window that dark night, we so often are kept shaken, and cornered and helpless before the things that threaten our peace. Have you ever considered how many times the words "Fear Not" appear in the Bible?? They are too numerous to list here, but the words were spoken by angels, by Jesus Himself and by other people...always the words are spoken to troubled PEOPLE. And always the result was peace. Fear is our enemy. So many times the things we were so frightened of become harmless as Mrs. Cynthi's cow. As balloons filled with air become shriveled and empty when the air is released with a WHOOSH. Whatever it is that strikes fear to our hearts, that thing loses it's power over us when we take it to Jesus and He shines the light of His love into our hearts and minds and speaks those blessed words…"Fear not." and His peace floods our being and we are no longer afraid,
Copyright Ruth Martin. June 2005