Every day for the past week on my way to work I have biked past a home whose front yard is elaborately decorated. The lawn is covered with creepy crawly things; witches and skeletons adorn the porch. There are tomb stones and cobwebs filling the grassy space in front of this otherwise ordinary suburban house.
Of course, the decorations are in preparation for next Wednesday. On October 31, once again the community of little people in our neighbourhoods will indulge in the annual orgy of accumulating mounds of sweet tooth decay from generous home owners who will dole out the goodies in response to every cheerful cry of “Trick or treat.”
Most of Halloween is simply good clean fun.
But is Halloween nothing more than an innocent pleasure that ends in tired little goblins falling exhausted into their beds at the end of their rush from house to house? Is there perhaps something more going on in all the energy we seem to pour into this elaborate celebration of ghosts and ghouls?
In the neighbourhood where I will haunt the dusk with my grand-children on Halloween, a warm sense of community will emanate from every home on the block in spite of the chill evening air. For many people, Halloween may be the only time they ever knock on a neighbour’s front door. So, Halloween creates connections between people. Connection is always a good thing.
Historically, Halloween is associated with death which feels like disconnection.
The word “Halloween” is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve, indicating that it falls on the evening before the celebration of All Saints’ (“Hallows”) Day.
All Saints’ Day is the day in the life of the church on which church members are invited particularly to remember those who have died. On this day we acknowledge that there remains a link between those of us who continue here in this physical realm and those who have gone before us into the invisible realm of life after physical death.
The beauty of All Saints’ Day is that it emphasizes that those who are no longer visible, are not completely gone. All of life is a holy unity. We are all connected. There are no degrees of separation. The visible realm is permeated by the invisible; the invisible transcendent dimension of the spirit seeps always into the visible tangible realm of sense and time.
Perhaps it is this deep intuition of the reality of other realms even more than the allure of candy that gives Halloween something of its power in our culture. It is possible that, at least once a year, some intuition towards mystery stirs in our being and it becomes acceptable to give expression to that part of our being that yearns for the reality of spirit.
Whatever hold Halloween has over us, it is worthwhile to open to the promise of community connection that this celebration seems to hold. We are always enriched by opening more deeply to the power that links us with one another and joins us in a community that spills over beyond all those artificial parameters, boundaries, and distinctions we so often maintain with such force.
Halloween invites us into a vast community that embraces all of life, visible and invisible. It encourages us to honour the hallowed reality of the bond that unites all creation in one eternal realm of goodness and light. This seems worth preserving, even if the sugar highs and dental dangers make us cautious about too much indulgence in this annual festival of the spirit.
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