October is crisp – at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Bright yellow aspen or ruby red maple leaves cascade like confetti. Honeycrisp apples go on sale. Fragrance floats from chimneys for the first time in months. It is a month for plaid blankets over shoulders while huddling to watch a football game. The scent of the leaves conjures nostalgia, a primal urge to chop wood and make a hearty chili.
Maybe that’s what grown-ups think about October. But ask any child and October’s reason for being is, of course, Halloween. Costumes, characters, face paint, disguises, parades and bags of treats are their topics of conversation, daydreams, and planning.
When our children were still at home, Halloween was a chaotic mix. Part of it was the mental gymnastics required for appropriately smart and funny costumes (Julius Caesar in toga and laurels; a (balloony) bunch of green grapes; a cloud with a silver lining; the concept of “between a rock and a hard place”….) Part of it was the visceral thrill of gutting pumpkins, the kids up to their elbows in the seedy goo. Part of it was the anticipation of gobs of candy handed out by cheerful neighbors. Part of it was the inevitable psychological trauma inflicted on the family dog as the doorbell triggered his barking and frantic agitation all night long.
That was an exciting, creative and delightful time of year while it lasted. Now my husband and I live in an area where no children live within ten miles of us. The doorbell is silent on Oct. 31st. and there’s no need to stock up on goodies to hand out. This, too, is a happy season. It gives me time to think about that sacred aspects of Halloween. And I do mean “sacred” and not its anagram “scared.”
Halloween is a time to muse, as church leader Chieko Okazaki did, on the spiritual lessons of the season. Where and when else do we get to present ourselves at our most ghastly and receive not punishment, scolding or judgment – but bounty and welcome beyond our imaginings? Halloween through that lens is a joyful reenactment of the grace and mercy of God.
Enjoy the bounty of this month’s journal. There are plenty of goodies in it for you!
Linda Hoffman Kimball
Co-Editor in Chief
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