A great mystery was on my mind as the grandkids arrived to show off their Halloween costumes this weekend.
I love my grandkids, dearly. And so, I like to think I know them fairly well. But when they present themselves in character, I can see there’s still very much to learn about what animates their precious little minds and hearts.
Grandson #2 is the easiest to figure out: He wanted to be a Bunny this year, no doubt a tribute to the hoppy and furry little creatures he encounters almost daily in his backyard. Life is simple – and mostly innocent – for a 3-year-old.
But what am I to make of Grandson #1? His choice was to head out costumed as a Giraffe – not many of which are native to this part of the country. So was he inspired by a story book? A recent trip to the zoo? I am left to wonder.
And Granddaughter turned out to be the most mysterious of all – a fact which she gleefully declared upon entering our foyer: “I’m Wynter, somebody you’ve probably never heard of,” she giggled. A completely accurate assessment on her part, of course. (For the Equally Clueless in my generation, Wynter happens to be a character in the Disney TV movie Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2).
No doubt, it’s pointless to put too much thought into the decision-making process that went into these costume choices. From a kid’s perspective, Halloween is really all about the candy. The character is merely a means to an end.
But as I basked in the glow of each child’s delight, I was moved to reflect on the Mommy’s role (and perhaps the Daddy’s) in pulling this whole thing off. A kid can always come up with a thousand cool costume ideas, right? But then somebody has to make it happen: Pull all the pieces together…find a creative (and hopefully inexpensive) solution to some complex costuming challenges.
It may sound simple. But it ain’t easy.
And that reminded me of the remarkable teaching we hear on the lips of Jesus this week. A scribe asks him, which is the first of all the commandments? And Jesus replies, quoting scripture:
“The first is this: Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.”
The command is simple, right? But not easy. How do you actually go about doing that – loving God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength?
It occurs to me that a Mommy tends to know the answer. She can see the face of God, disguised in the Little Ones who’ve been put in her care. And so, she’s willing to pull out all the stops – say, for instance, when her kid comes up with an outrageous request for a Halloween costume. Other priorities are set aside, and the Halloween magic starts to happen.
Some might question the wisdom of such a prodigal love, poured out on the Little Ones in one’s life. At times, there may not seem to be much return on the investment. But Jesus also points us to the payback for finding a way – even against the odds – to put self aside and love God in our neighbors, our family members.
He said to [them],
“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.