Last year, I posted on Halloween, pondering the frightening floods and fires caused by climate change. This year, human conflagrations are on my mind, especially in Ukraine and the Holy Land. Wars where uncaring leaders have made pawns of helpless civilians are much more frightening than the decorations in my neighbors’ yards.
Yet the truth is that Halloween has its roots in fear. The Celtic seasonal celebration of Samhain marked the transition between summer and winter, a moment when my cultural ancestors believed the barrier between this world and the next became thin enough for ghosts and spirits to return to Earth. Scary costumes, big bonfires, and raucous parties were designed to scare those spirits back to where they belonged.
Today, I think most Americans would say they are not afraid of ghosts—but there are plenty of other fears to focus on, and unscrupulous leaders are taking advantage of this. There’s a saying about the news that goes back more than a century: If it bleeds, it leads. Fearmongering is being taken to new heights (or depths?) as media companies seek to retain followers over the twenty-four-hour news cycle.
So, what do we do when faced with such a scary, perpetual Halloween? I mentioned last year how I’m finally beginning to comprehend the idea of the “wound of love.” Trauma is all around us, woven through every culture and every generation (I’ll ponder that more directly next week). Yet, if we can discern and live into that differentiation between our “lower” and “higher” selves (read this post to understand what I mean here), I believe we can continue to listen, pray, and work for peace even when our efforts don’t seem to bear fruit.
In this season when scary things fill suburban front yards and social media feeds, what gives you hope?