It's of no significance that I married a man whose family - both sides - hearkens from the mountains of Transylvania.
Imagine my surprise to learn, upon giving my heart and life to Jesus, that the people in his church (at least the church I landed in) considered Halloween to be evil.
Evil? Honestly, it had never crossed my mind. And no sooner had I pursed my lips to utter the word, why? than somebody handed me a cassette tape on the subject by Mike Warnke, and he had been a Satanist High Priest in his pre-Christian days, and so he had the scoop on all things evil - only he didn't. We later learned he'd made up his whole life story.
But I didn't know that then, and everything Mike said made a kind of sense to me. So, a bit sadly, I gave up Halloween. Or I didn't give it up so much as I gave up liking it so well. There were still Harvest parties where we celebrated vegetables by eating candy.
A confession: there is still, for me, a particular cozy, anticipant joy associated with October. I love the electric chill to the air, the numinous cast to the light. The inscrutable sense that the veil between the physical world I see and the spiritual world I feel has worn quite thin, and anything - anything at all might happen.
I still love stories that lift the hairs on the back of my neck.
One of my favorite passages comes from The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, something the lion Aslan says to young Shasta who has just complained about the ghoulish time he has had:
"I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the tombs. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at night, to receive you."
I hope you're relieved to find I haven't made friends with the devil. It's just that I realize that his is not the only (or the most powerful) camp in the spirit realm. And the remembrance that there is a spirit realm gives me such comfort. Imagine if the physical world, the beauty yes, but also the violence and sorrow - imagine if that was all there was?
I'm reminded of something Walter Wangerin Jr. wrote in Swallowing the Golden Stone, about the safety of writing monsters into stories for children:
"Adults who write to their image of a child, rather than writing to genuine children, do in a real sense utter baby talk. And they miss the mark of a child's intense experience. They make a conventional assumption of pastel innocence, angelic goodness, fresh unsullied souls ("trailing clouds of glory do we come/from God who is our home") and in consequence their language lisps, their menu of topics is reduced to to the sugar cookie, and their attitude is offensive. Even as they presume to know better than the child, they present a teller and a tale too simple and simply less than a child can (and ought to, and wants to) experience. Simpletons tell simplistic tales."
Am I the only one who finds in his words deep wisdom for those of us who write for grownups? Let me tell you no simplistic tales.