I’m pretty sure time stands still on October 31st.
Every Halloween, all of our lives, frozen still in amber. Here we are as little children, grinning behind the old plastic masks – cowboys and Indians, back in the day. Casper and Sylvester the cat. We lit jack-o-lanterns with tapered candles that our mom had cut into halves, sticky caramel on our fingers, cold wind in our hair. Running, always running, through the crimson blitz of autumn, gold leaves spinning in a smoky twilight sky.
November as far away as tomorrow.
My daughter was a week old on her first Halloween. She wore a teensy black cat costume, and I took her trick-or-treating in her stroller, winding full-speed through our trailer court with maple spinners crunching beneath my tennis shoes. Already smiling, already caught up in the enchantment. The child she was – the child I was – they are still here, suspended in perfect bursts of autumn color.
Three gorgeous kids, years and years of costumes and cookies and scavenger hunts. Bonfires, buckeyes and bob-for-apples. Every year, a year older. Every year, still magic. We did Build-A-Monster, cemetery walks, the town parade - and always, always, the air was crisp as a new apple, the moon a sharp crescent in a broad and purple sky. Dizzy with laughter, drunk on excitement, we zoomed from house to house and never seemed to touch the ground.
Another year – pumpkins already on the porch, lights strung through the bushes, Jack Skellington climbing the hill again, bony silhouette against the fat yellow moon. Children grown and new steps going up to the cemetery. Endless busy days – work and college and meetings; and nothing has changed at all. Not on Halloween.
On Halloween, the world stops spinning while the moon comes up and the ghouls come out and the jack-o-lanterns leer from the shadows. We hold our breaths while the magic, the never-ever-failing Halloween magic, fills the air and fills us all. For an instant, we are grinning kids again behind our silly adult masks.
And so, my friends, the biggest, the bestest holiday of all is soon upon us. Wishing you all a wonderful, fantastical, beautiful night.
“Oh wow, that is magic.”
Just the moon. Set unmoving in a broad and blameless early morning sky; it is perhaps a little red. So we huddle in the parking lot outside our fire station with our chins tipped up like the Peanuts gang on Christmas Eve, and we almost forget to breathe. Such beauty, so undeserved.
I’m not a Doomsday Prepper, but I have to admit to a certain fearfulness lately. Ebola, Isis, D68. Not just the evil that we foist upon each other, but the randomness of catastrophe. It’s a scary world out there, isn’t it?
We’re hunkered down, frightened, so much of the time.
We have to remind ourselves to look up.
But more than that, we have to look for that same prettiness down here on earth, both boots on the ground.
Well here, it looks a little like this -
“I finally got my student loan money.” Oh yay, she has been waiting for this. Counting pennies, literally. But her voice is hesitant now, so I wait for the other shoe to drop. “I gave five hundred dollars to Operation Smile. It’s a charity that helps kids with cleft palates.”
Ah God, for a moment I am breathless. This girl, my child, isn’t wealthy by any standards; five hundred dollars, to a charity, is a drop in the bucket – to her it is, well, the moon.
I’m made small by this, I really am. I’m humbled by a kid who would give away the moon so another person could have a pretty smile.
And this –
The tones go off at the station, both fire and ambulance needed for a motor vehicle accident. My partner and I jump in the rig, and as we round the corner, here come our new recruits. Three wonderful young men, not a decent vehicle amongst them. They are on foot, running full-out to our station to answer the call.
They don’t get a paycheck for this.
Wow, right? Are we not better than we give ourselves credit for?
So, here is the awesome news to hang onto today. In the midst of sickness, war, poverty and ignorance, we still exist. And by “we” I mean the cashier who recommended her favorite herbal remedy for your child’s cough. The elderly lady who brought cookies to the kindergarten book fair. The kid who found a twenty dollar bill and tacked it up on the bulletin board at your local convenience store.
Why don’t we look harder at the goodness in each other? And in looking, why don’t we take heart? We’re not small, ignorant, dysfunctional or petty. We are – or at least we have the capability to be – good, shining and bright.
We just have to look up.
Importing my blog onto the new website has been quite the feat. My team and I are still in the process of categorizing and fine-tuning the years of posts you'll find here. We hope you enjoy our work-in-progress library. Check back soon for updates!