Tonight has got to be one of the most beautiful Halloween nights that I can remember. Usually up where I live, there's already snow. Kids stuff their costumes overtop snow pants and parkas and parents freeze in their vehicles.
But this year… it's warmer. The leaves can still be seen all over the ground… the clouds spattered rain against an eager pavement… and the wind ruffled the lake, leaving that addictive whooshing crash against the shore — that sound I could stand and absorb into my skin for the rest of my life.
Yes… it is a beatiful All Souls' Night… it's a night made for possibility. I understand the various theologies on All Saint's Eve/Day, Reformation Day, Samhain and so on. This isn't about theology. It's about possibility… that whispering from God across the gaps we can't cross ourselves, here in nature, that we are not alone.
Hear what Shane Claiborne has to say:
"Before there was "Halloween", there was "All Hallows' Eve" — and All Saints Day. For hundreds of years, before jack-o-lanterns and zombies and candy corn, Christians around the world have remembered the dead, the saints, the cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. Halloween comes from the same root word as "hallowed" or "halo", meaning holy.
Rather than glorifying death, it is a time we can celebrate life, remembering the lives of our loved ones and the heroes of the faith. In fact, while we don't need more gore and blood, there is something sweet about being able to laugh at death… after all, we know the dead can rise again. Oh death, Thou art dead. Happy Halloween.
Here's a great thought for All Saints Day: Frederick Buechner said saints have the scent of God, and they leave us the aroma of Christ. In God’s flirting with humanity, God occasionally drops a handkerchief — these handkerchiefs are called saints." (Claiborne, October 31, 2013)
This year I'm dressed as Hermione Granger.
(Confession: my girl-crush is Emma Watson)… But I also love Hermione — frizzy-haired, bookish, wall flower, slightly bent towards being a know-it-all, smart, clever, & unfailingly kind. Did I mention I stood up and cheered when I first read about her standing up for the House Elves, fighting for their freedom from slavery?
(Is Hermione a "hero of the faith"? I probably wouldn't go that far… lol! It just so happened that Shane's thoughts coincided with my decision to show up today as the cleverest witch of the age).
So here I stand… upstairs at the Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre, patio doors cracked, rainy breeze tousling my hair, wind tousling the lake, leaves scattering all around, & water pounding the surf out of the shore… waiting for some incredibly cool high school kids who, right now, are sweeping the community with "Halloween for Hunger". Instead of getting candy (although I highly suspect SOME candy will be got!), they are going door-to-door asking for donations to the food bank.
Each year I wait here for them to unload their haul. We give high-fives all around. And go home exhausted, but exhilirated. Some great cloud of witnesses taught these kids that life doesn't always work out… even when we work hard… sometimes it gets downright bloody. And these kids listened to those witnesses and took up the torch.
Sometimes laughing at death is a good thing. Sometimes believing in our thin places — our places where the spirit and the tangible touch in holy communion — needs to be more powerful during certain times in our lives.
It's a perfect All Souls' Night.