Open Doors, Open Hearts
A very liberal columnist for the Denver Post wrote an article not long ago about Halloween. He talked about how two words struck fear in the hearts of most kids in the month of October - "fall festival." I had to laugh, remembering all the semantic gyrations our churches used to engage in so as to offer something on that night, but not cater to the whims of the world. Fall festivals indeed.
Overall, the article was not a keeper, but there was one point that I found very intriguing. He said that we, as Americans, need Halloween as a holiday. Why, you might ask? Well, this gentleman believes Halloween to be the one remaining holiday built on the premise of opening our doors to the stranger. And if there's any time in the history of the good old U.S. of A that we need a discipline to help us be more open to those we don't know, those who don't look like the rank and file, those of lower economic status, those with the courage or the gall to ring our doorbells and open their sacks, hoping for a treat - well, it's now.
Is it possible that we might look beyond the ghouls and goblins and see that our children are being taught something beneficial, even if it comes via something not so perky and nice? That if we don't go out and trick or treat, at least we would keep our porch light on, answering the door and opening it in order to give something away. And not just anything, but M&Ms or Hershey bars.
I'm familiar with the darker elements of the night and I'm not entirely certain what we're going to do tomorrow evening. But I felt the liberal columnist raised a point worth considering. For some, Halloween should be banned outright. It's a distraction and participation in it opens the door to all sorts of stuff. For others, it's no big deal, just ease up and put on the Homer Simpson mask. But is there a middle way, to be of but not in, to be willing to open our front doors to mask-wearing, bag-holding kids of all ages, red and yellow, black and white, Harry Pottered or Jack Sparrowed, and extend to them a gift of sweets and a whispered blessing: You are the stranger. I don't know you, but I welcome you. It's dark out there, why don't you come up into the light, if only for just a moment? Mercy covers the borders of this door. May mercy cover you as you step back into the night.