This post was written on November 1st. After I wrote it I discovered my laptop no longer connects to the internet. Le sigh. So, it has taken me a while to get this where it needed to go. Apologies in advance and all that good stuff……
I was one of the many, perhaps you were too, the ones who went to Harvest Parties, Fall Festivals, and Hallelujah Nights. We dressed as Rebecca, Ruth, Moses, and Peter. Sometimes we were daring and went out on a limb as Laura Ingalls Wilder. We spent our Hallows Eve in church basements that protected us from the darkness that seemed to press in from all sides.
We did our best.
Our pastors did their best.
Our parents did their best.
Last night I took three pirates into the darkened streets of my neighborhood. And I found light.
Our feet walked through puddles and wet leaves up and down our neighborhood block. Streetlights burned bright and jack-o- lanterns lit the way. Some houses had music playing; some window displays; one an animatronic light and musical extravaganza that was on par with the Pirates of the Caribbean at Walt Disney World. And all the way the giggles of my girls and their friend traveled intermingling with the other laughter and squeals of delight from the dozens of children that swarmed the sidewalks.
Our neighborhood is just that – a neighborhood. When we moved in at the end of this summer, we quickly found that out. We've met most of our neighbors and have been given folders of information – phone numbers, meetings, annual parties, etc. But never have I seen so many neighbors as I did last night.
Despite the rain, we were all out there. Kids gathered in groups. Parents shook our hands and introduced themselves. We met more neighbors yesterday than I have in my almost 40 years. Everyone was kind. Houses were decorated and inviting. And in over half the houses, the owners were not just waiting for the doorbell to ring, but sitting outside, ready to welcome the least of these.
And this is where I’ll probably lose you, but it almost felt, dare I say it, holy. And if Jesus were here today, I can’t help but think he’d be dressed up, walking up and down the street with the kids, laughing and helping hold umbrellas to keep them dry. He’d be standing with the parents, asking them how they've been doing. He’d be smiling at the folks opening up their homes thanking them for their kindness.
I grew up in a church culture that wanted to be far removed from Halloween. And if you were going to dip your toes in, it was as outreach - a way to reach through the darkness and show God’s love. But last night I didn't need to set up outreach. I didn't need to do ministry. I didn't need to be “intentional.” My neighbors, the ones that I have been told my entire life to reach out to were the ones who did the reaching. They brought joy to my girls. They told them they loved their costumes. They treated them like they were part of the community. They made them feel special. They blessed my kids. They made this mother cry with gratitude.
Sometimes, most times, holy work is here in the everyday.
So next year we will turn on our lights, get a ton more candy and goodies to pass out, decorate our stoop, dress up, and welcome our neighbors, because they have welcomed us.
This year, as I did last year, I’ll be *attempting* to blog each day in November, listing five things each day I am grateful for. Think of it as advent for Thanksgiving. The amazing PrudyChick is hosting again, so why not join along?
01 Trick or Treating with my girls
02 Humidifiers and Vicks Vaporub
03 Pumpkins lining rainy steps
04 Joni Mitchell songs that remind you how far you've come
05 Bursts of brave that shake you to your core
06 Dress up. Always Dress up
07 Time with my family
08 Learning what it is to love your neighbor
09 Sitting next to a friend
10 Being able to smile, even when the croup is raging
11 The Sunday paper
12 Coupon inserts!
13 Taking drives with the family
14 Being able to treat your kids
16 A morning at preschool after a long long sick days
17 The public library
18 Rental vans
19 Monsters University
20 Notes from friends
21 S'mores Parties
22 Homeschooling my kids
23 Reading books together snuggled under blankets
24 The excitement in planning an anniversary date
25 Opening your home to others
26 Chicken mummies
27 Husbands who make the chicken mummies
28 Kids excited to make the chicken mummies
29 The brilliant (?) thought to use the cheaper cornish game hen instead of a chicken for said chicken mummy
30 The sound of your children singing a funeral dirge for the chicken mummy