Some years ago, a woman I knew gave me a present, something that she considered an even exchange for a small present I had given her months earlier.
I am a martial arts geek. I studied TaeKwon Do during high school and college, leaving classes behind only when my life took a big turn into married life. I practiced on my own when I could no longer attend class because it was something I truly loved and something I knew enough to be able to do alone. After my children had become adults, I stumbled across a class in Medieval Long Sword being offered at our community college. It turned out that the instructors belong to a group called The Chicago Swordplay Guild (feel free to google them -they're amazing) and so for some years, until our life again took a big turn, my husband and I learned what we could about Italian longsword, single sword, dagger, and grappling, with an occasional foray into pole ax and spear. (Note: this is not re-enactment; this is western martial arts.)
All of this is background to the above-mentioned exchange of presents. The woman I met had joined the Guild, and she and I were building a friendship. During the course of this, I gave her a little hand-held self-defense tool that I was handing out to all my female relatives and friends at that time. I think every girl, every woman, should know how to defend herself.
And then this woman gave me her own idea of protection: a St. Benedict medal. Even though I was raised Catholic, I had no idea what the medal was for. She told me it was to ward off evil. I have since looked into this and found that it is considered to be a medal to repel the devil. There is an inscription on the back that actually says as much. It has also been in widespread use for centuries among Catholics and other Christian religions for this purpose. I never knew.
At any event, she knew I was into ghost stories and the paranormal, and she figured this would be good protection for me, so she gave one to me and one to my husband. Since that time, I've even seen the medal featured on one of my paranormal reality shows as a viable form of protection.
So I spent yesterday watching some of my DVR'd paranormal shows, and last night, I had a dream that I was with a group of ghost hunters in a purportedly haunted graveyard. In my dream, I remember reminding myself that before I left the cemetery, I needed to announce in a loud voice that nothing should attach itself and follow me from the site: that it would not be welcome in my life, in my house, or anywhere around me. I woke up from that dream wondering where on earth it came from. True, my husband and I are planning a trip to Charleston, South Carolina in the not-too-distant future that will, of course, include a ghost tour. Maybe that was what was on my mind.
Still, when I have a dream that vivid, I pay attention. Writing what I do, fascinated by what I am, attracting what I might, being prepared and cautious is a good idea. I believe in staying safe in everyday life and heartily recommend that every girl, every woman, have a handful of strategies to use when threatened. It should only follow that I be as prepared, as cautious, in the realm of my particular career.
Thus, St. Benedict is with me every day and at my bedside every night. An ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure, they say. I've already had a run-in with something I'd never want to meet again, so I'm grateful for my protection. As for that run-in? Well, that's an entirely different story.