It was really fun and auspicious for me to be able to attend an annual Halloween Party at a congregation. In the life of such a community, celebrating the dead and examining our fears are some of the most crucial spiritual tasks we do together. Children remind us that we can do this serious work through play.
I walked right into being given the big role of tour guide for this Haunted House. It turns out my character would also be the subject of the storyline from long-long ago -- the lost child.
This story teeters on a funny bone and raw nerve. This story tells us our children feel safe to play act. This story also tells us the nature of their real, deep fears -- to be lost, forgotten, heartbroken. We know this part of the story is all too often true. I know some children for whom this is true, now. I know that my mother died just over a year ago with this fear.
I was unprepared to play this role yet I drew on my storehouse of opinions about what is fun/scary and what is too/scary. I'm a fan of suspense in which nothing particularly is acted out, nothing is graphic; all the while the mind and gut are feverishly trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Being put on the spot to narrate this story for the wide-eyed travelers, I was amazed at the storehouse of clever ridiculousness I had in me -- "come this way, come this way, into the corner of no return; bone by bone, light by light, wire by wire, spark by spark, rope by rope, dark by dark; take a left at the rotten, jagged yellow leave in the forest....muahahahahaha" (with deep throated cackle). "I'm scared," I heard whispered....
In case any of us have drifted away from fully participating in these days of saints, souls and the dead -- make haste and be with the children. You will feel better; comforted; perhaps even blessed.
Everyone has a Halloween story. We all have a fear story. Each of us has a broken part of our heart. Our children need to know that they are not the first generation with overwhelming concerns. They do need to know what skills can get developed to be courageous and caring.
It takes, time, creativity and consistency to find ways to be "there" for each other.