As Halloween draws near I thought I’d share with you a reflection from the blog of one of my favorite religious writers, Episcopal priest, The Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton. I hope you like it as much as I do!
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ
Spooks in the Garden, Spiders on the Porch
Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
The spider web hangs a little low — I secured the corners from the same nails we use to hang the Christmas garlands, and the web is designed to stretch and stretch until it is thin as a thread. The postman will have to duck his head in order to come ring the front doorbell. Perfect.
The web came with a selection of black and albino plastic spiders, and I had retained two fat black ones from last year. So we have our spider needs covered, more or less. And I have a new skeleton, who hangs from the redbud tree just as Judas did, the legend goes, in his remorse at his own treachery. So the skeleton is named Judas.
What’s wrong with his hip? Q asked when he came out to admire my handiwork so far.
A skeleton has a hard time keeping any orthopedic secrets: Judas’ sacrum seemed to be where his pubic bone should have been. In fact, on closer inspection, his whole pelvis seemed to be on backwards. In further fact — what’s this?– his whole body was on backwards. It proved simpler, in the end, just to turn his head around.
I’m not finished out there. A garland of witches on broomsticks and another of pumpkins, and two strings of leaves. Then the actual pumpkins, of course, which we will carve into the usual jack o’lanterns.
I spent a few years regarding the dramatic upswing in Halloween outdoor decoration with a disapproving sniff, before deciding that it was just another way to have fun and why not have as much fun as you can? So I shocked my grown children and grandchildren last year by joining in, moving beyond the carving of pumpkins into faces in the hanging of ghosts, the lining of the walk with little pumpkin lamps to light the way to the door, the dangling of spiders into spaces where they would brush the faces of unwary guests.
This was a good move. Before the change, or tick-or-treat guests were few and far between. The Geranium Farm’s house is tall and purple and oddly shaped enough by day: it could be truly frightening by night, and small children feared to approach. But get a few plastic spiders and a string of witches out in front, and people understand where you’re coming from.
I want the trick-or-treaters to come, want them like I want hummingbirds in the summer: little beings, bright and interesting, shy and beautiful, little beings who might come closer if you offer just the right things to attract them. And have something to feed them when they come. I want them to come to our house and see that it is not scary, that it is friendly and good, that it is warm and beautiful inside, that the people in it love them from afar and wish them well in every way you can wish a child well, which is a lot of ways. I want them to remember childhood this way: People would help you if you needed help. People were good. Old people were like grandmothers and grandfathers, even if you weren’t related to them. Many people loved me, just because I was little and needed love. Even people I didn’t know were happy just to see me. And we cut our terrors out of colored paper with our blunt-end scissors, drew cartoons of witches, dressed up like monsters, and we were so safe that we laughed and laughed at them. And we were not afraid at all.
I want them to remember that there was a time when they laughed at scary things, laughed at their own fear. May then, when the kingdom of God draws near and they are afraid of it, perhaps they will remember another time when something seemed frightening at first and ended up being perfectly wonderful.