This past week on Instagram I’ve been sharing images of what I’m calling nature’s Halloween. While people in my neighborhood are staging ghastly scenes in their front yards, I’m seeing both the stark beauty and the raw death and destruction that is revealed in nature all around us if we simply pay attention.
Neighborhood Halloween displays also pale in comparison with the frightening realities taking place in our world. Global warming is frightening (and very real). Changing weather patterns have brought terrifying hurricanes and devastating floods and destruction along the coastlands of North America, while wildfires are frightening those of us who dwell in the tinder-dry American West.
Both this summer and last, I traveled to places in Colorado that had been devastated by fire. Nature’s Halloween includes these blackened graveyards where the only haunting indicators of all the life that perished here are pine skeletons and blackened earth.
What do you think it will take for us to pay as much attention to the state of “this fragile earth, our island home” (as Eucharistic Prayer C in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer so eloquently reminds us) as we do to our Halloween and Christmas decorations? What will get us to look beyond what divides us politically to the frightening future that ought to unify us? How can we be working together to change the way we live so that future generations can simply have the opportunity to thrive here?
I don’t have a lot of answers, but I know, for me, it begins by approaching the world with love. Many of us are understandably frightened, and my goal is to engage everyone I meet with compassion, as another of God’s beloved children—frail, and imperfect, and sometimes frightening as we are. As I noted last week, we Christians are all equipped and called to be mystics. We can listen to the Holy Spirit, speaking in and through us, to do our part in making the world a less terrifying place.
What frightens you most this Halloween? How is the Holy Spirit calling you to respond?
Amen and thank you, Shirin.
You’re welcome, John!
It isn’t nature that frightens me, though I do feel a deep concern for the ways we turn a blind eye to what is right before us, including climate change. What frightens me these days isn’t even the division and discord in our society. What frightens me is the heedless normalising of acting upon this discord and even hatred. There seems to be too much license (which is not to be equated with real freedom) and not enough responsibility; and there is certainly a great lack of compassion.
So, yes, being one who walks through each day with compassion at the forefront makes good sense. And it’s one thing to open a door for someone, or listen to someone who is venting. The difficulty is how to reach those who won’t listen to others and who feel no moral imperative to be kind in their dealings. So I guess what frightens me in all of that is seeing how many people cannot discern truth from lie. Is it too late to encourage them to be compassionate, whatever they believe?
What I feel called to do is Encourage the Good.
Oh, thank you, June, for this thoughtful reply. I concur with much of what you state here, and yes, it is frightening how many people are willing to normalize such behavior. I am shocked with how quickly there’s becoming so little left upon which to build a society in which I’d like to live. It shows how deeply so much fear and hatred resides in most souls…and reminds me of how few mystics there really are in the world and how easily we are misunderstood.
Thank you for encouraging the good. I definitely join you in that, whenever and however possible!
Decades ago, Karl Rahner wrote:
“The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, or he will be nothing.”
Just today, I had a guidance meeting with a good soul who is definitely a mystic. So refreshing to hear another speak of (well-grounded) experiences that so many write off as nutty. It helps to know them and that we are not alone.
Take heart, dear friend. ✨💖✨
Oh, June, thank you for sharing about this supportive and uplifting meeting. Yes, we are not alone, even if we are not thick on the ground, as they say. 🙂 I do take heart, and am grateful for your companionship on the journey.