It only took me 35 years to dress up for that evil, pagan holiday called Halloween. I was the proverbial Alice, lost in (Fundamentalist) Wonderland. I used to think Christians celebrating Halloween was comparable to Jews celebrating Hitler's birthday. That mindset dies hard, baby.
This year something felt totally different. I wasn't afraid. At all. Of ANYTHING.
Not even the gory, bloody ghosts and ghouls. My 13 year old daughter dressed up as a zombie ballerina and I was all: that's so cool!
Because I'm no longer afraid of death.
Death is real, yes. But what is also becoming evermore real for me is that love conquered death. In my heart, the love of God is breaking like a morning sunrise. The brighter the sunshine of His love, the less I fear the valley of the shadow of death.
This year, in fact, I actually laughed and chortled and giggled with sheer delight at the haunted houses, the creepy villains, the grim reapers. I laugh because I know why the darkness rages: it's been defeated.
All the darkness can do is roar. That's it. It's powerless. O death, where is thy victory? O grave, where is thy sting?
What does the word "Halloween" mean? It means the night before All Saints' Day. Who cares if Halloween has a "pagan" origin? In Christ, all things are made new. This is what Christians do: they flip the script. They take what was meant as a celebration of darkness and turn it into a victory dance.
All celebrations of darkness are shattered by the victory of Christ's love.
There is nothing left to fear.
Last night, that became a reality for me.
I could look straight into the eyes of ghosts and goblins and witches and I wasn't afraid. I feasted on candy and remembered the sweetness of love. I pranced up and down the streets with our kids and acted out this remembrance: yes, death is real but love is MORE real.
There is no fear in love for perfect love casts out fear.
This morning I went to Mass and celebrated All Saints' Day. For the first time in my life I finally understood the full power of Christianity and it was because I fully embraced Halloween. Yes, death is real. Yes, there is pain and suffering. Yes, there are powers of darkness. Yes, there is evil.
But there is something stronger than death. And it is the love of Christ.
Today, like no other day in my life I am finally living in the knowledge that NOTHING--NOTHING can separate me from the love of God in Christ.
I am not afraid.