Friday, October 31, 2008
What Scares Us the Most
"One's life does not consist in the abundance of one's possessions." Luke12:15
It's Halloween, and as I was driving back from the train station, after dropping my husband off, I noticed all sorts of oddly dressed people exiting cars in my neighborhood. We have a high school, an elementary school and a grade school all within in a few blocks of our house. Most of the costumed people I saw today were high school students since they start the earliest. There were the usual witches and baseball players along with some characters I couldn't recognize. Halloween is a wonderful moment, just before we move into accepting the cold, just before we turn our clock back and accept the very early darkness, just before we admit to winter -just before all of that - children dress up and go door to door expecting candy from strangers. And they get it. And the people that greet them delight in their costumes and their silliness. The roots of Halloween, as we all know, are ancient customs adapted to the life of the church. In older times, the Eve of All Saints' was the time when the poor were admitted to the grand halls and fed, all in preparation for honoring and remembering those who had died in the past year. Indeed, it is an ancient custom, the celebration of a moment in time when the living and the dead are in close proximity. This is a very liminal moment, where the border is porous between the living and the dead, the past and the present, when we listen for a time to the whisperings of departed souls.
Into this day of mostly childlike good fun, Jesus suggests something most profound. He suggests that we are fools when we worry about storing up possessions and money. How apropos to the climate we live in today. Greed and uncontrolled consumption and lending have led to horrible consequences. The stock market has tumbled and the job market looks bleak. Panic has set in across the nation, and across the world. We really aren't frightened by the goblins and ghosts that haunt this night, but the terror of being without, of being poor and needy, and relying on others. That's what scares us the most, divides families and relationships and keeps us from loving others.
My prayer this day, when we are rightly frightened by harsh economic times, is that we might use these times as God's prompting us to be generous. I pray that when this worry try to set upon me, I will take heart and reach out to others. I want to be generous to others around me, and I want to be rich towards God. It is normal to be scared when the money runs out. And it also can be an invitation to remember that God's love, care and compassion never runs out. There is abundance, even in the midst of these hard times. May we all have the courage today to be more and more dependent on God.