While reading the Psalm text and commentary in today’s lectionary (Ps. 9) about the ebb and flow of the experiences of life – from euphoria over some peak experience to the “sober assessments and the realities of life” – I realized that today is Friday the thirteenth. I further realized that I had no clue to the origin of the superstitions of it being an unlucky date that have become the basis for books and horror movies in modern Western culture. I was quite surprised when I “Googled” the date and found the following:
The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday.
There are other references, with the biggest impact not beginning until the 19th century, and I was also shocked to see the “social impact” section of the information which estimated that 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, some so paralyzed that they avoid their normal routines “in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed.” In Finland the date is touted as National Accident Day to promote awareness in driving because statistics indicate a greater number of traffic accidents on this date than normally.
The report continued but I needed no further information to recognize a concern in me for the easy way in which we slide into belief about what we hear – which then can become a trend and later a facet of a culture. The commentary on Psalm 9 this morning was calling me to reflect on my own life experiences and what I “learn from the rhythm and flow” of their impact. While I feel no distress about today being Friday the thirteenth, I wonder now what subtle influences of culture do affect me in negative ways, thereby inhibiting me from living each day in the best way open to me.
Just a thought…but I need to get going. Be careful out there on the roads today, everyone!