I've been taken this week by a quote I saw on Facebook from retired Methodist minister Steve Garnaas-Holmes. He writes:
Halloween: A day when we get it right.
Strangers come to us beautiful, ugly, odd or scary,
and we accept them all without question,
compliment them, treat them kindly,
and give them good things.
And he closes the quote with a question: "Why don't we live like that?"
Now, I could posit a few ideas in answer with fear being right at the top of the list (and perhaps even most of the others falling under it). I would like to wonder instead what would happen if we strived to live like that more often. What would happen if this is what we did at church -- every Sunday? What would happen if this is what we did in our regular daily lives? What would happen if we welcomed not only the beautiful, ugly, odd and scary strangers and neighbors but the beautiful, ugly, odd and scary parts of ourselves and those we love.
I know if I'm honest, this is a scary idea for me. This last Friday, I got a text from one of the women who helps run the McKinney Vento program supporting youth who are unaccompanied, homeless or living in unstable housing in the Thompson Valley School District. She had a student who needed somewhere to stay for the weekend. A student who was going to be flown to her mother in Texas if she didn't find some sort of temporary housing, and there were no foster homes available in the area.
I wanted to know if she was beautiful, ugly, odd or scary. Now, those weren't the questions I was asking, but I basically wanted to know if she needed supervision, whether my kids would be safe with her in our home, and whether or not her needs would take over our weekend. Needless to say, I did not offer my home as an option for her.
I'm grateful to be a part of a community where I could reach out to others for such support. Within an hour, we had 2 places for her to stay, and I daresay, we might have found more given more time or the need.
And still, I can't help but think of Steve's statement about Halloween and us getting it right. This is truly the tension of our faith -- knowing that God calls us beyond our fear to extravagant, unconditional welcome and generosity. And sometimes that's a risky thing. I'm grateful for all those folks who risked opening up their doors to my family on Halloween -- we weren't a scary bunch, but to most who opened their doors to us, we were strangers.
Here's hoping that we'll embrace the spirit of Halloween's welcome and generosity a little more often!
With love and peace,