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?