The massive displays of pumpkins, mums, and candy signal autumn and Halloween are here. October 31 is one of my favorite childhood memories. For one night a year, I enjoyed a fun costume and received candy from people I didn’t know. What is not to love? But looking back, my appreciation of that evening isn’t in the cool costume or the big bag of sugary delights. Now, I realize it was an evening spent with my father. It remains a special place in my heart.
My sisters and I hurried to get our homework done before donning our simple, hand-me-down costumes. A ghost, a witch, or a skeleton were reused year after year. They consisted of a step-into jumpsuit with a single tie in the back and a plastic mask secured to our sweaty faces with a tiny band of elastic. If someone wanted to be mean, they could snap that piece of elastic and sting your head. Like I said, if someone wanted to be mean.
I believe my father got the trick or treat assignment because we traveled to his neighborhood where he grew up and worked. He knew the homes where we would be welcomed. He was familiar with the side streets and back alleys which added to the excitement. Just picture this small group of short hobgoblins scurrying through the dark alleys, the fallen leaves crunching under our feet as we chattered excitedly, Where we going next, Daddy?
Our evening began at my father’s childhood home where my grandparents made the first deposits into our empty bags with the good stuff: Milky Ways, Snickers, and Mr. Goodbars. My grandfather had a sweet tooth so there was always candy around. From there, we headed out though the little town of Paramount, Maryland.
We followed my father. We knew we were safe and in good hands. He knew the way; he knew the route. We just needed to follow and keep up. We trusted him to lead us. House after house. Trick or Treat. Thank goodness, no one ever demanded a trick. I had no tricks up my little ghost sleeve. Just thankful for the yummy treats.
My father would hang back as we made our way up the front steps, half blinded by our lopsided masks and drooping costume pant legs. Trick or Treat. Then my father would come out of the shadows and make some small talk with the neighbor. We made sure to say thank you. Manners always.
Where we going next, Daddy?
“This way”, he would respond with a little bit of mischief in his voice. He enjoyed this as much as we did! Later, I discovered this precious joy of parenthood: enjoying fun activities with my own children.
With simple, childlike faith we followed our father. We didn’t have to be concerned about the direction; he knew which way to go.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. Matthew 18: 1-5 (NIV)
I enjoy revisiting my childhood memories, like Halloween night. Life was imaginative, playful, and spontaneous. The foundation of my faith was built in tiny Sunday School rooms with flannel graph pieces illustrating the stories of Jonah, Daniel, Paul, and Jesus. I believed and followed with childlike faith.
Unfortunately, now I have allowed too many adult-like doubts and questions to cloud my once joyful relationship with my Heavenly Father. I want to return to a childlike faith that is wholly trusting, transparent, carefree, and full of joy. I want to follow my Heavenly Father with childlike faith through life’s alleyways, just like I followed my earthly father through the dark alleyways those chilly but magical Halloween nights.
Where we going next, Daddy?
This way. Follow me.