It had been a few (ahem!) years since I trailed along behind Trick-Or-Treaters, so I didn’t realize at first how treacherous the sidewalks in our neighborhood have become.
Once smooth and featureless, many of the concrete slabs now show their age – forced by tree roots (and other forces of nature) to snarl and jut. Not a lot…just a little. Just enough to trip up an eager three-year-old, intent on making a Kit-Kat score at the house next door.
After that first face-plant, Gramps learned his lesson…and hustled up to keep a closer eye on Grandson #1 in the gloaming. (I even grabbed the little guy’s hand once or twice…although he wasn’t really having it. Speed was of the essence, you see, during this chilly Halloween excursion. You don’t want some Old Dude holding you back…particularly since chocolate has a way of taking the sting out of a scraped knee.)
Fortunately – at least from my perspective – a three-year-old and his little brother don’t have the stamina for an all-night candy quest. Four or five houses, and they’re basically done. Which means I soon get to ‘repair to my lair’ …and there, contemplate the manifold blessings of family.
Halloween is the perfect time for such reflections, too – although you’d never know it based on the modern ghoulification of All Hallow’s Eve. Today, we remember the saints…in particular, the ones only we know to be saints. The ones who may have flown beneath the radar of the Curia in Rome…but still somehow managed to show us the face of Christ.
I love these ‘friends-and-family’ saints the best, I think. It’s not that I have anything against the heroic martyrs of days gone by, or even recent Popes and nuns and Cardinals. It’s just that I tend to rely a bit more on help from those who actually caught me when I fell…and then bandaged up my wounds.
Or the saints who kept me from stumbling in the first place, by offering me the benefit of their experience. In some cases, by offering me their very brokenness.
All of these blessed ones, I’m inclined to believe, are included in the Evangelist’s
…vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue [who stand] before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
God often shows us salvation in exactly this way, it seems to me. God provides real people, saints-with-skin-on, to serve as our stay against the stumbling that will inevitably occur in our lives.
Life, like 30-year-old sidewalks, can be treacherous. But Halloween can provide a reminder of our best defense against the juts and snarls of the Evil One: We are not alone. There are truly saints among us, bearing us up. And it’s a promise that God has kept…even from ancient days:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.
I really am glad for the saints. We are in good communion. I had the litany of the saints at two funerals I had to plan. I was lucky the choir could use the names of our saints in the song…it was moving. We do so need them from guardian to grave. Good writing John, as always. Could be the influence of St. John, no less.