Stop putting a camel hair rope around Halloween on October 31st,
and instead take advantage of what happens on Nov. 1st – All Saints
It seems like we used to hear more from Christians who
decried Halloween as a time to glamorize demons and the devil. If observed at all, some
Christians decided to create their own versions of haunted houses called “Hell
Houses” with the purpose of
scaring people into belief by showing regretted abortions, gay people with
AIDS, and addicted prostitutes.
In 2009 a more accurate Hell House might be a family that has lost their
home to foreclosure, a baby starving for lack of food, or a polluted water
supply. But maybe Hell Houses
should just die its ghoulish death in 2009.
I say let kids have fun on Halloween. I mean, how bad can God be offended
with kids dressing up as cowboys, princesses, matadors, hobos and even as
ghosts (Charlie Brown anyone?).
The only real sin here is gluttony as kids pack candy into their faces. But that has its own immediate
punishment offered by nature – the stomachache.
Instead of worrying about Halloween, take advantage of it as
the springboard for Nov. 1, which is known as All Saints Day and Dia de los
Muertos (Day of the Dead). All those faux scary spirit world
reminders of Halloween can be used as a springboard for a conversation about
the real ‘life beyond life.’
All Saints Day is a great time to talk about what happens when we die,
to commune with our loved ones who have died, and celebrate their life and
their presence with God in heaven.
For Latin cultures this generally means going to a cemetery
and having a party around the graves of family members. This might sound spooky for those who have not grown up
with the practice, but it isn’t experienced that way. It is a family celebration that
reinforces the ties of commitment and love that continue even after the death
of a loved one and an encouragement that there will be a similar party for us
once we have died.
All Saints Day, like Ash Wednesday, can be a time of
reflection on our own mortality. The
line between the living and the dead is very thin and we will all cross it some
day. On Ash Wednesday as I impose ashes I say to congregants the powerful words: “Remember that you are made from dust
and to dust you shall return.” But
then I add in a whisper just for the individual: “So care for your soul, which
All Saints Day is a celebration of those who cared for their
soul by fulfilling Jesus’ commandments of Love of God and Love of Neighbor. It is a reminder of that one true task
that Jesus has set before us.
Instead of cordoning yourself off this weekend, embrace this opportunity
to reflect on the reality of death and celebrate the Saints who now live in
God’s eternal embrace.