One of my favorite musicals is ‘Mame’ the story of flamboyant Mame Dennis, whose life motto goes something like:”Life is a banquet and most poor people are starving to death!” Her fabulous life with her wealthy friends is interrupted when the young son of her late brother arrives to live with her. They cope with the Great Depression and the on set of world war in a series of adventures.Truth be told it is on my bucket list to perform this role on stage before I make my own grand exit. Don’t mark your calendars just yet!
In one of the scenes the characters of this play is lamenting the state of the world and wallowing in all the negative things happening around them. To this Mame declares that what they need is a ‘little Christmas’. Of course, being a musical, a song ensues in which they remember all the small but joyful things they love about the celebration of Christmas. This singing leaves them breathless, laughing, and wrapped in the joy that comes from being together with those you love and care about doing the simplest of things. Even the most cynical of characters is lifted above their ordinarily somber selves.
As this day, October 31st, Halloween has approached, I have thought a lot about Auntie Mame. I have thought “What we need is a ‘little Halloween’!” This holiday in which kids rule the day, on which we throw all attention to nutrition right out the window, is a day we have set aside to not take ourselves too seriously. Houses are decorated with pumpkins and ghosts, vampires and the things that go bump in the night. All throughout our neighborhood houses have orange lights twinkling and bats and other flying creatures suspended from the now naked trees. It all makes me laugh just thinking of it.
It seems to me that in these days when we are nearly overcome with the fear mongering that wears the mask of political advertising, we need the harmlessness of pirates and clowns, princesses and superheroes arriving at our doors. We need the gift of fresh faces looking up and shouting as they have been coached at home: “Trick or Treat!” Holding out their bags we have the opportunity to not only put in a sweet morsel or two but to say to these young ones that they matter, that the world is a wonderful, gracious place, that their fears are held at bay by family and stranger alike.
Of course Halloween is just an extension of an ancient holiday celebrating the time believed to be those days when the veil between the seen and unseen, the living and the dead, is thinnest of all. These are the times when some will place favorite foods of departed loved ones out so they will once again be reminded of their good days on earth. These are the times the Christian church set aside as All Soul’s and All Saint’s days. They are important days to remember the fragility of life and the goodness of those who have graced our lives. Important, important things to do.
What are your plans for this Halloween? Will you don a mask or costume to greet those that arrive at your door? Will you look into the eyes of those young ones and offer them blessing, blessing against all their fears real or imagined? Will you allow yourself to laugh and enjoy the sheer silliness of this ritual of giving candy to those who show up as hero or fool?
I pray that you allow all this to happen and more. That you, that I, allow these days of glimpsing the seen and unseen to create a blanket of comfort and rest for our living. May we honor that place within that just needs a ‘little Halloween’.