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Take time to hallow

Trick-or-treaters on Halloween

What is the true meaning of Halloween? Kay DeMoss invites us to sit with her and remember all the saints who have encouraged and nurtured us in life and faith.

Michigan Conference Communications

“Hallow.” It’s a word we twenty-first-century folk rarely use. One of its forms shows up whenever we say the Lord’s Prayer. Hallowed be thy name. And, of course, it is at the root of the holiday we will be observing on October 31. Halloween.

To hallow is to make holy or to set apart. But Halloween has come a long way since its Christian origins as All Hallows’ Eve. A tour of my neighborhood reveals that is so.

Giant spiders have invaded East Grand Rapids. Front yards on our street have sprouted gravestones, tibias, skulls, and femurs. Speaking of bones, the most popular lawn decoration of 2022 seems to be the 12-foot-tall skeleton. We’ve spotted five within five miles of our house. Quoting CNN’s A.J. Willingham, “Perhaps Skelly is a bridge between the extremes of our human nature; sorrow and joy, famine and excess, the sacred and the profane encased together in high-density polyethylene.” Want one? There’s still time! Amazon promises two-day delivery.

According to a feature in the local Press, you are likely to see numerous mini-Mandalorians at your door on Monday night, an anticipated top-costume choice. And if you want to make those trick-or-treaters happy, welcome them with a big bowl of Peanut Butter Cups or Kit Kats, voted top candy choices.

All of which makes me feel like a Hallow Party Pooper. Our retirement community does not allow trick or treating. Guess we’ll just have to buy and eat those Peanut Butter Cups ourselves. Shucks! Furthermore, those of us in “senior living” deal daily with aching bones; no skeletal reminders necessary, thank you!

But a glance from my kitchen window reminds me that our household fully embraces the spirit of this holiday.

Red rocking chair with fall decor
~ photo courtesy Kay DeMoss

The rocking chair came to our backyard five years ago when Lynn and I sold the family farm where I grew up. On my parents’ front porch, the rocker provided a comfortable place to watch the fields for deer and sandhill cranes. In 2017, with the help of a grandson, the chair was painted red—my mother’s favorite color—before coming to rest in our yard. Now, when I sit in the red rocker, I see the lilies and irises moved from Vicksburg to our garden in Grand Rapids. But when I rock with my eyes closed, I see the fields they once saw. I see Mom and Dad, sitting side by side, holding hands and laughing together over a family memory.

That is what Halloween is truly about. Not the spooks that scare us but the saints who have blessed us. All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day (October 31–November 2) are times when the lines between the realms of life and death are said to become the thinnest. These are days to rejoice, not despair.

John Wesley is said to have loved this trio of holy days. I love them, too, even though I do not have a 12-foot skeleton beside my front door. On Halloween, I plan to sit on my red rocker with a bowl of candy corn, my parents’ favorite treat. I will remember them and all the saints who have encouraged and nurtured me. As I feel them draw close beside me, I will thank God for sending them my way. I invite you to find a quiet place on October 31 and take time to hallow those precious to you.

Last Updated on November 2, 2022

The Michigan Conference