Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Witch Hazel & All the Rest

I love all things scary and spooky. Horror movies, haunted houses, TV shows that I don't always confess to enjoying, at least in public. It started young, with my love of the TV show Unsolved Mysteries, and has only gotten worse as I've gotten older.

The other part of that story is that all things scary and spooky were off limits when I was a kid, mostly thanks to church. I discovered horror movies in college about the same time as I discovered peanut butter and jelly. (No, no one thought PB&J was immoral, we were just more of a grilled cheese sort of family.) Halloween came with churchy Halloween alternatives, the worst version of which was a Hell House or Judgment House, basically, a really scary house telling people venturing there all the reasons they're going to hell. Or creating what they imagine to be hell and ending the tour with, "So here's what to do if you don't want to go to hell!"

And here I am, this year, with a witch costume much resembling Witch Hazel from Bugs Bunny and enjoying every minute of it. I've had a few kids edge away from me with my scary make-up. One kid came up to me and asked, "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" I assured her I am a good witch. I'll be sporting the costume again this Thursday, on actual Halloween, when hanging out at my church's coffee shop. Yep, we'll be handing out candy to any trick or treaters as well.

I still hear the echoes of my childhood and many of my friends wrestling with, "Is it ok for us to celebrate Halloween?" There are plenty of articles about Halloween's origins and plenty more talking about its ties with the demonic/satanic/take your pick. Some of them are probably true. Most of them have some kernel of truth.

And you know what? I don't care.

For about 99%* of the people who celebrate Halloween, it's about having fun dressing up. Or enjoying handing out candy. Or liking being scared. Kids get excited and they look darn cute. Adults get to be silly, too. And there's chocolate involved. Lots and lots of chocolate.

There are way worse things in the world.

*Don't think this is a real statistic or anything like that.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cat Vomit and Getting It Together

Some mornings are better than others. This morning was not particularly good for multiple reasons, including the fact that I had to clean up cat vomit before I left my apartment. I was also awakened by the cat vomiting at some point in the early morning hours, which certainly didn't help the morning along. At least with cat I was welcome to ignore her and her vomit until my normal getting up time.

Mornings like this make me think I don't have it together at all. Mornings like this make me think it's really obvious I don't have it all together. And mornings like this make me more gracious to folks who don't have it together at all. And more gracious to folks trying to get it together a bit better.

It took most of my life up to this point for a bad mood to turn to graciousness to others rather than annoyance with them. Some days, annoyance still wins, but it wins a lot less than it used to.

At church, we're really good at whispering the things that we still need to get together--the kids throwing tantrums and the college classes we're trying to take and a crazy sibling or two. But the day to day I wish this were better things are most always whispered. We want to look like we really, truly have it together or are pretty darn close.

I think of the man who asked Jesus if he could go bury his father before he followed Jesus. Jesus told him no. On some level, that was the question of, "Can I go get it together before I do this?" And Jesus answer was, "No. Come on any way." There was a graciousness in that answer that I've mostly missed, a graciousness that said, "Don't worry about having it all together."

A church that follows that Jesus will probably help me laugh when I realize there's still cat vomit on my shoe. There's a great deal of Gospel in not having it all together after all.