Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween's gift of perspective.

Why do people put up pictures of skeletons at Halloween?
What is so scary about a skeleton?
We all have them!"
Questions of a seven-year-old,
who has been taking this journey with his mother.

I smile inside.
He is getting it.

The Bible is filled with this scripture cannot escape it,
or help stumbling upon it.
Over and over.
And fearlessness.

Around October, as the leaves are dying and the grass is browning,
We can all see and smell it:  death.
We feel the chill in the air.
And there is a holiday, typed permanent on the calendar,
at the death of October.
The hours of its very last breaths,
dedicated to one thing:  fear.
Scary pictures start to adorn every store, the windows of homes...
Haunted this and that,
Pictures associated with death:  spirits, ghosts, skeletons...

Only in Christ?
None of that scares.

It sure scares the world.

Halloween at our house is a time of prayer for the scared.
Because the scared?
God is chasing us with abandon.

Ever stopped to wonder....
how is it, that if we are truly just winners of the survival-of-the-fittest race...
evolved from big bang soup...
WHY...why in our hearts do we think eternal?
Why is it that we spend most of our lives feeling that we will live forever?
That somehow ourselves, what makes-us-us...
it couldn't possibly just up and vanish.
This feeling doesn't assist our fittest-survival.
Often it causes us to do silly things.
Like teenagers behind the wheel, power at their stern.
Causes us to outright give up our lives.

We spend our lives wondering, searching for the eternal...
as if it was a compass, put there to point us somewhere.
Are we listening to it?
Or are we muddled with noise.
Avoiding listening to the quiet that unsettles us.
God place eternity in our hearts.
He placed His Image there.
The Eternal.
Hear it?

I often think about how this survival-of-the-fittest theory
has one big unanswered conundrum:
The fittest?
The top of the chain winners at current?
We are ruining our planet...
We are destroying all things good, all the time.
The air.  The trees.  The water.
We are on a one way mission to destruction, all the time.
And death can be scary to a culture who knows deep-down that it will live forever.
That its choices have eternal value.
Only what forever looks the scary part.
And where the Halloween images come to play.

Halloween wasn't always this fearless around our house.

Gabe was five month old.
I simply had-to-have-it.
That little costume.
The peapod one.
So I beelined for the Halloween store.
I darted my eyes among the grotesque and morbid,
eyes glancing FAST and trying to avoid dwelling on an image that would
haunt me.
I have always had a tender spirit.
I see something awful, and it dwells with me.
I wished they would separate that store into sections...
for the easily-scared, like me.
in the very back.
And the
in the front for those of us timid.
I found that little peapod,
paid way too much.
Got outta there.
Put it on my son on Halloween,
snapped a TON of pictures.
Didn't think twice about it.
It's what people do, on Halloween:  the routine.
Even dressed up the dog.
Handed out candy to the cute travelling door-to-door kids.
While holding back the crazy, barking dog....
who wanted to lick those kids...

That was my first Halloween as a mother.
Going with the flow.

Then the mind, it got to pondering.
The muddled ponderer.

I have always battled with a spirit of fear.
When I was a little girl,
our home was targeted on a few occasions
by those wishing evil.
They left blood in the snow, with an upside down cross.
Because my mother had been writing Jesus poetry for the local paper.
They banged on the door hard another time,
when we were home alone with mom.
We thought they were breaking in,
the police were called, and the neighbor came running.
I think I shook for hours straight.  Pure fear coursing my veins.
It never left.

A few years later, a dear friend of mine had rabbits in a hutch outside.
Little sweet ears floppy and soft little snugglers.
Momma and babies all tucked in for the night.
And someone got ahold of them and murdered them.
Laid them out in a circle on the lawn.
Exists, everywhere.
We cry about it when we hear it on the news.
When it erupts in our cities.
Yet one day a year the country worships the idea of it.
Evil suddenly becomes funny, trivial.
How to make that leap?
I will never understand.

I wondered if society realized what they were celebrating?
Or was it more about the dress up and candy...

And I fought myself hard on this one.
Because I wanted my son to be able to dress up and get loads of candy.
Like I did, when I was a kid.

But then I realized,
If I send him out there and we step foot...
how to explain that it's okay to dabble in evil, as long as it's done lightly?
In a world where there is no longer a line in the sand between good and evil...
just wavy, just skewed, just choose-for-yourself grayness.

I chose to stop and make a line in the sand.
To make it easy for them to see it right there,
to avoid any confusion.
When I drew that line, initially, it was in fear.

It's a journey.
A journey littered with mistakes,
but one that grows me.
More than my kids.

I know the stories about Halloween,
its roots, its traditions, its evil.
A little googling on the net?
And one can be scared right outta their wits about it.
I know loving, honorable parents who still do the trick-or-treat thing.
But I've always been a black-or-white kinda girl.
Always thinking about the motives just under the surface.
Not wanting to wishy-washy.
Never doing a single thing just-because...
and always knowing that choices have cost.
Both sides.  Of every choice.

Over the years of not-celebrating-Halloween,
avoiding all the yucky of it...
I came to realize that I still feared it:
And that as a proclaimed Christ-follower I was missing the entire point:
Of not celebrating Halloween.
This year God is growing me.

What man intends for evil, God uses for good.
We nailed him to a tree.
He turned right around
and CONQUERED DEATH in our name.
He rose again, redeemed us.  While we still hated Him and His love.
We screamed we hated Him...and He screams back, "I love you."
It's great to have a holiday to remind every one of us,
that we all share one universal finale: death.
And what we choose to do with that reality
makes all the difference.
In wether a skeleton scares us,
or reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
By an intentional Creator...

My family has a line in the sand.
We stand on the side of the line that says,
And we celebrate death daily...

    "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.   And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.   Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father."  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
Romans 8:10-17

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
1 Corinthians 15:55

I know there are those that avoid pumpkin carving,
the historical paganism of it.
I get that.
If it blurrs the line for you, makes things grey...
dispense of it.
The line?  It's a glorious dance between you and God.
I decided that I'm just not going to let Halloween claim pumpkins.
We gathered this year with family and we picked out perfect
round, little pumpkins.
And all the little ones decided upon how to decorate them ~
with glitter glue, stickers, markers....

I faced my fears head-on this year,
handing the knife to my seven year old.
Despite eyes wide all around...fearing....
my own heart racing.
But it was time.
Time to hand him something dangerous,
and see what he would do with it.
To let him know, in a little tiny way...
that his mother?
She trusts him.
She is aware that he is growing into a young man.
Only a parent knows when this time arrives.
When the first autumn will be...
when we bravely hand over the carving tools.
Ready for the outcome...
wether it be artful and beautiful,
or a trip to the emergency room.

And then there's Quinn,
who does all things whole-heart.
Who was the last one decorating his pumpkin at that table.
Covered that thing in pure black permanent marker.
Didn't stop 'til it was covered.
And his hands showed it, covered too.
Little tongue out,
in his 'concentration' mode.
I love the way his tongue does that...
Thank you, God, for carving Quinn the way that you did.
For the tongue-thing.
Icing on the cake.



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