“Today is the last of October, 2014. It’s Halloween. It’s All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Hallows Day. And that makes it two days before All Souls Day. And, oh, there’s a Reformation Day anniversary, too, right?….
For the Friday Five today, I ask you to name five favorite traditions or occurrences of this particular time of year. They can be common to your locality, denomination, or culture, or particular to you, your family, etc.”
It’s All Hallow’s Eve–that strange occasion when long suppressed fears of the dark, the yelps of children discovering a candy bar treasure trove, parents intent on teaching their children “please” and “thank you” in the face of raw desire, childhood remembered and traditions far more ancient than a childhood long past converge.
For me, Halloween has become so much more than ghosts and goblins and carving pumpkins. For me, Halloween is so much more than those pillow cases filled with candy that my brother and I dumped on the floor and then engaged in a game of swap and trade.
For me, Halloween is a call to the past–the past of my own childhood and the past of my forebearers–people who at this time of year returned from their summer camps, took the coals from their home fires, joined with neighbors and kin, and gathered around the new fire. I like to imagine they told stories about their lives in the summer camps. I like to imagine they remembered people who had gathered around the fire in years past–people long gone–and gave thanks. I like to imagine they saw those gathered around the fire–people who had driven them nuts, people who pushed their buttons, people who often brought out their lesser selves–in a new light. I like to imagine that Halloween fire heating coals that would carry folks through the winters of their lives.
Fears of the dark and the fears of the darkness in our own lives–this on the day a friend calls with news that his mother is dying while another friend joins me in planning a workshop on the stumbling blocks and building blocks that can defeat or lead to the Beloved Community here and now. It’s hard work. We challenge one another. We laugh. We talk. And sometimes we go off course.
My young friend tells me, “I used to trick and treat in your old neighborhood. There was no candy in my neighborhood. Yours was a gold mine. Full-size candy bars.” We pause. We look at one another. And we realize the gap between the already of a friendship that crosses lines of age and race and class and gender orientation and the worlds from which we live and move and have our being. Holding a lantern of friendship, we stumble together in the dark.
“What do you say?” a mother says to her kids sweating under their hot costumes. A ballooned boy replies,”Trick or treat?” The mother repeats the question. A long pause and then, “Thank you.” I love this night. Parents and kids walking the streets of a neighborhood known for good candy. Parents teaching kids how to ask for what they want and maybe even what they need.
But there’s a minor key to this night of ghosts and goblins. This night of people crossing over. This night of parents escorting children to neighborhoods of full-size candy bars where it’s safe to walk in the twilight and the dark. There are neighborhoods in my home town where kids aren’t safe. There are homes where candy bars, desserts and even three meals a day are a luxury. I can imagine the bags of candy collected on Halloween hold treats spread throughout the year. Could tonight be a reminder that the Beloved Community spreads treats to all? Halloween a call to justice? Maybe so.