We’ve had a wonderful weekend with our children. We hosted our first Trunk or Treat event last Friday, and it was great to see the little ones all tricked out for Halloween. I’m always fascinated by what people choose to come out as. Most of our kids dressed up as people with special powers: comic book superheroes, witches, fairies, Jedi knights, ninjas… Maybe I’m off base, but I wonder if these costumes express a desire to be more on the part of our children, a reaching inside for something latent and powerful. I wonder if there isn’t a bit of yearning for transformation there, too. Though I doubt they would express themselves that way.
Reflecting back on our adult role as parents and community role models, I am toying with the question of how we can help our children develop the positive self-awareness and self-esteem necessary to appropriate the personal resources they are developing not only for becoming mature human beings, but also for growing into people who transform the world around them – for that is what super heroes, and other people with special powers do – they touch chaos to create a welcoming, healing and nurturing place, setting things right once more.
The costumes the adults wore equally fascinated me. We had a veritable convention of witches swoop down on us. But then, one shouldn’t be surprised at that. We are after all a congregational church and we have a long history in New England with witches. It just goes to show that the tendency to sweep things under the carpet doesn’t make issues in the church go away. It just makes for an increasingly lumpy carpet!
But some of the other adult costumes were telling. Many of them spoke to a character representing a more nostalgic life or time: Fred Flintstone, a contented cow, a Golden Rule (don’t ask, just take my word for it), a flower child (60’s version), the Blues Brothers. Collectively, in our increasingly fragmented, fast paced and disintegrating culture our adults seemed to be saying, “Slow down, simplify, integrate life.” Maybe there’s a lesson there, too, for what we should be doing as the church – providing a place where church life does not replicate the dehumanizing demand of increased activity resulting in radical personal disengagement, but a place where instead we may learn, practice and celebrate what it really means to be human, and where we may all be truly cared for and appreciated.