Let me take a moment to tell you about my excellent Halloween night.
As 6 o’clock came – the official bewitching hour in my town – the sun was sliding toward the horizon, turning the bottoms of the wispy clouds a gentle pink. It was so warm that trick-or-treaters could avoid wearing jackets.
I set up a chair at the end of my driveway and a small table with my jack-o-lantern and a bowl of candy. I could see the first group of kids making their way down the street, dashing door to door. Their excited, young voices filled the autumn-scented air.
I love Halloween!
A year ago, I missed the chance to give out candy because I was out of town covering a football game. It felt so good to be enjoying All Hallow’s Eve again.
As I waited for the group to reach my house, I watched the sky turn colors and saw a jet fly overhead. Whenever I see a plane, I get a bit distracted. I’m amazed by how those heavy tubes of metal can fly.
I get amazed by us, too.
Remarkable stuff in every way
We do some amazing things, we humans. Consider airplanes, for example. We dig up rocks, melt them down, do some fancy math about air and drag, design wings that fit the formula, and shape melted metal into specific forms. And then, we get inside of them and we fly.
Remarkable stuff, in every way. And so is what happens on Halloween night.
I live in a racially diverse neighborhood. There were black kids and white kids in the same group working their way down my side of the street. Parents and grandparents walked with them, having friendly conversation. Neighbors and strangers, sharing and enjoying each other’s company.
That’s us at our best. Celebrating our sacred humanity.
Sure, it’s amazing when we make planes that fly above the clouds, and rockets that take us to the moon, and drugs that kill diseases, and buildings so tall that they seem to scrape the sky. But we’re at our most amazing when we’re walking together and sharing our humanity.
As I was thinking about all of those things, a couple with a 2-year-old girl dressed in a frog costume approached my house. The girl’s eyes were wide, her gait uncertain. She looked like she was just trying to take it all in. Her parents said it was her first time trick-or-treating.
Anyone who asks, receives
I handed the girl a small bar of chocolate. Her mom told her to say thank you. She muttered “thank you” while inspecting the candy bar. I’m guessing she was trying to wrap her head around this unexpected generosity of a stranger to someone dressed as an amphibian.
Isn’t it wonderful to watch generations pass down this tradition of unconditional giving and unmerited receiving? It renews us and reminds us of our common bond, how each of us is both receiver and giver – not just on Oct. 31, but every day.
The coolest part of Halloween – besides the costumes and the decorations and the pumpkin patches and the corn mazes – is how we celebrate giving with no strings attached. We share with anyone who shows up at our doorstep. Anyone who asks, receives. No one is judged as more deserving or less worthy. Nobody wonders whether the kids have earned their treats.
Everything is freely given. Everyone is accepted and welcomed, regardless whether they’re a cute 2-year-old frog or a teenager with fake blood dripping from a corner of the mouth.
You look great. Here’s a treat. Enjoy.
A bit of grace inside each wrapper
We just give. And along with each small treat, we put a little bit of ourselves into the transaction – a smile, a kind word about the costume, a simple hello to the parents and grandparents.
Us, at our best. Giving the greatest gift that any of us can give – a bit of grace inside each wrapper.
In my experience, people enjoy the giving part so much because they remember the times they’ve been on the receiving end. They know what it’s like to be the young child getting a piece of candy.
Also, they’ve known times throughout their lives when they were running low on joy, love and hope. Maybe food and other things, too. Their bag was pretty much empty. And someone came along and filled it again.
That goes for all of us.
Each day begins with the best gifts simply plopped into our bags – another breath, another heartbeat, another day freely and joyfully given. Then for the rest of the day, it’s our turn to give generously and joyfully. And to receive thankfully and joyfully.
To try to fill everyone’s bag until it’s overflowing.