It’s evening now and we’ve had the last of the trick-or-treaters. My own kids are safely home, tired, sugared and happy. They were worried about this evening. It wasn’t set to be the best Halloween ever because they inconveniently had choir practise at 6:15 and there could never be enough time for proper preparations let alone actual trick-or-treating before that. They told me all about it after school. It was going to be awful. Still, somehow we managed to get a pumpkin planned and carved and even supper cooked and eaten in a reasonable span of time. Then the Spouse came home a little early from work to escort the choristers and their lion-costumed little brother through the dark streets. They all came home happy.
It’s a funny holiday around here. It is seen as North American and therefore interesting but possibly suspect. At the school, I was asked by several parents if my kids would be trick-or-treating tonight. This was not a question when I was growing up. You would only miss Halloween if you had the plague. In suburban Ottawa, the annual candy haul was a child’s right. But this evening, I sat by my window with my bowl of chocolate at the ready and watched family after family walk right past. Surely, our pumpkin carving wasn’t that dreadful. I wonder if people around here tend to visit only the families they know. We’re still relatively new here, and most of the kids on this street attend the local Welsh immersion school while my kids go to the English one. That might explain the house-skipping. Not a bad habit – just a different one. When you choose to live overseas, you get used to things being different.
I wonder if that is true. If I was used to different, I wouldn’t be remarking on it. Difference makes us notice and wonder why.
All Saints Day dawns tomorrow and brings with it other kinds of difference. In different places and different churches, this day holds different meanings. Is it a celebration of all people who have gone before us or just those who shone with a special light? Do we mark the unity of the church or the specific witness of some lives? Who is a saint and how should they be remembered? Aren’t we all saints in Christ? There seems to be a lot of difference circling around this question.
One of the preachers at our church recently wrote in the newsletter about a visit he made many years ago to a primary school. He asked the children what a saint was and one nine-year-old boy told him that a saint was someone in a window that the light shines through. Lovely, don’t you think?
There is something transparent about anyone that the Church refers to as a saint. They are the see-through among us, and the stories of their lives are shared so that God’s grace can be seen. All our lives can work like that when we share them openly. God’s grace can shine through all of us, making beautiful even the most ordinary details and all the homey workings-through in our daily lives. In all our lives, through all our habits and happenstances, God can shine and bring beauty.