It's okay to be afraid. It's okay to be fearful of strangers, robo calls, people with guns and angry individuals who might hurt you; but there are a lot of other things people tend to be afraid of that really are harmless.
Consider Halloween. I know of families who will not allow their children to go trick-or-treating because they are convinced that Halloween is a satanic holiday associated with all sorts of demons and bad critters. They tend to hide in their homes Halloween night, close all the doors and cover the blinds, hoping that nothing evil sneaks in on them. And, they don't want their children to see the ghostly costumes going up and down their street.
I remember when our daughters were young and excited about going out on Halloween. We didn't have enough money to go purchase Halloween costumes, so my wife made something for each one of them. However, when we came to our youngest, we ran out of ideas, and my wife took an old sheet, put it over her, cut eyes for her to see, and snugged it around her neck. She was a ghost, albeit a friendly ghost. Frankly, we got some feedback on that one, but I sneaked a peak under the sheet and, sure enough, there was our daughter; and she was not a ghost.
Now, I'm not totally sure what a ghost is, but like any normal person today, I googled it and discovered that it is an apparition of someone who has died and was returning to do something probably harmful. As far as I know, no one has ever been able to prove anyone has returned from death (except Jesus); but the facts don't appear to slow anyone's thinking these days. Regardless, I kind of liked Casper the Friendly Ghost, and have to think that if an apparition did return from the grave it might just as well be for some good cause instead of something evil.
I don't believe in ghosts, ghouls, monsters, and especially zombies, but I do believe in snakes, alligators and the man-in-the moon -- snakes are pretty slow and I can outrun them; alligators tend to stay out in the swamps and I have yet to see one in my backyard; and the man-in-the-moon is merely a reflection of earth. So, I think I'm pretty safe. However, I do remember when I was a young boy how my dad sneaked into a vacant bedroom in our home and jumped out to scare us kids when we passed through. He really scared the daylights out of us, and none of us really trusted him in that room again; but we laughed and enjoyed the fun. After all, it was just dad, not a monster.
We lived in Bella Vista for 23 years and never had a single trick-or-treater come by. Our street had very few people living on it, and it was not very productive for kids to come by looking for a lot of treats. Not realizing this, I went out and purchased a lot of candy to give to kids our first Halloween only to discover I had to eat it myself when no one showed up. This year was different. We now live in a neighborhood where there are a lot of young families with small children. It was a lot of fun watching the kids all dressed up in their costumes coming by with their families. There were even some police uniforms. No one was over 10 years old, and they were all overly polite. I was impressed.
In fact, our little puppy dog, which barks at everything, also was impressed, and stopped barking in order to enjoy the fun.
Several things stood out for me. First, no child came by our home without being accompanied with his or her parent or guardian. That's the mark of a caring family. Second, we did not have any of the older kids coming by trying to get all the candy they could. Dressing up for Halloween is for the kids, and it's not just for getting candy. Third, I was immensely surprised at how polite and courteous these children were. It made me a lot more hopeful for the future with such beautiful people in it.
There will be a lot of bad things reported about Halloween again this year, but in our area that was not the case. I was told that over 100 children had fun on Halloween night, and I know for a fact my wife and I enjoyed everyone we saw.
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Robert Box has been a law enforcement chaplain for 30 years. He is a master-level chaplain with the International Conference of Police Chaplains and is an endorsed chaplain with the American Baptist Churches USA. He also currently serves as a deputy sheriff chaplain for the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Opinions expressed in the article are the opinions of the author and not the agencies he serves.