As we approach Halloween I see more and more decorations out that celebrate the macabre. A house down the street from us has skeletons climbing over the house, and it’s lit up at night with eerie purple lights. I smiled when I saw it… thought, “Cute.”
Cute? Really? How did symbols of death and mortality become something we decorate our houses with and hand out candy to celebrate? We don’t really see them as something to fear anymore! Before you agree wholeheartedly at how wrong that is I’d just like to point out that the cross or crucifix many people wear daily was a symbol of the most gruesome death imaginable in Roman times. Now, most see it is a symbol of hope.
Of course there is a whole other layer of Halloween decor that comes from the Horror Movie genre and there will be lots of that out on display too! I actually wore a clown costume for Halloween in my childhood… it was cute… it would take on a whole new meaning now!
Do we normalize the gruesome at Halloween and laugh and enjoy a good scare because we don’t want to be afraid? Maybe we hope that if we watch the scary stuff on a screen nothing in real life will ever be that scary!
The things that we parade around flippantly at Halloween were often parts of complex rituals to ward off the evil that people believed surrounded them. We laugh at their fears now with our “advanced” understanding of the world around us, but what will people in the future think of our fears. There will probably be a Coronavirus costume or two out there… but it’s too soon for most to find it funny. You’d only find it humorous if you haven’t watched someone struggle to breathe because they have Covid-19.
In the world of Foster Care there is a completely different set of fears for which there are no costumes. What does it look like to be afraid that the security you now enjoy could be snatched away at any time. What if the ghosts that haunt your dreams are parents with addiction issues. What if your story includes the horror of a consistently empty fridge… or nothing but sour milk and rotting food. The recurring nightmare of being alone… or worse yet… trying to care for younger siblings with nothing.
These horrors are real for some children and the Pandemic has increased the risk of abuse and neglect for many.
So as you take your kids trick or treating, creatively hand out candy, or shelter in your home and think about the scary things in the world; I challenge you to consider handing out hope.
I received a call this week from a young man we helped out a number of years ago. He lived with us for almost 2 years during a rough space in his life. He was afraid of many things… he learned to hope again. He called to say thanks and let us know he was doing okay.
We will always have fears, but there are things no one should ever be afraid of. Look for ways you can share hope in the place of fear. Consider donating what you typically spend on candy to a Food Bank. Check for places to donate hats, mittens or warm coats. Or maybe you can offer time to be a mentor for a young person or respite care to a struggling family. Maybe it’s time for you to overcome your fears and check into being a Foster Parent where you can offer hope everyday!
Hope is more powerful than fear… in the midst of this season let’s be intentional about holding out hope instead of feeding fear!
In the midst of the mess