Dear West – 31 October 2019

Happy All Hallow’s Eve friends.

I hope and pray that you make good costume and candy decisions. I myself intend to dress up as a suburban middle-aged dad living a life of quiet desperation. That means I can just wear what I do every day, which is a top to toe ensemble from the designers at Target and Costco, and it also means that I get to eat all the candy I want, ‘coz…dad bods don’t create themselves.

Our family has found Halloween and all of the associated trimmings that go with it to be one of the stranger things about American culture that we have experienced. To be fair, it has some competition in the strange things about culture stakes, but, it is up near the top to be sure, together with baseball, public bathroom stalls, the menu at The Cheesecake Factory, and the way you spell aluminium. I have always wondered if there was a committee who met at some point and decided that some English words simply had too many vowels for the busyness of American life. Something had to be done, and they had to begin with aluminium. No one has time for that sort of vowel extravagance (ironically a word with 5 vowels, which does seem wasteful, so I propose we try xtrvgnc).

I digress.

In October, our lovely and altogether ordinarily sensible neighborhood suddenly transforms into the cover of a Steven King novel. Deborah (I just presume that is her name because she looks like a Deborah), with the messy bun and the yoga pants, who drives the minivan with the electric doors, waves happily at us as she does every morning, but in October she does so from within the graveyard she set up on her immaculately manicured front yard. I took my dog for a walk the other day and it was like a scene from the Walking Dead. Ordinarily I am trying to keep her off other’s lawns, but in October I have to keep her from stealing fake severed limbs from our neighbor’s Zombie apocalypse collection, which I am told is also available from Target. Everywhere I go in our neighborhood there are skeletons. Skeletons swinging from trees, skeletons climbing up walls, and even skeletons playing in a band. One of our neighbors set up an entire stage with four skeletons playing different instruments, and a sign that says, “The Rolling Bones.” To be fair, he could have just stuck with “The Rolling Stones”, because as I examined the skeletal imitators, they looked exactly the same as the actual band.

If I am honest, I was feeling a little distressed by all of this representation of death when I was out for a walk the other evening, and then it struck me, through a song lyric taken from a Scripture that came blasting through my headphones.

“Come alive, come alive, come alive dry bones.”

My mind went to Ezekiel 37, where the prophet Ezekiel gets a vision of a valley full of dry bones. God instructs Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones that the Lord would breathe into them and that they would come alive to the Lord’s Word and to the empowering life that He offers. God then says,

13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

Here’s the deal, without the Spirit of the Lord breathing new life into us, we live as the walking dead. We are all in a valley of dry bones. This focused my mind and my prayers as I walked. Suddenly, I was humbled, and asking God to breathe afresh into my life so that I didn’t become like one of those skeletons. Suddenly, I was asking God to breathe life into the precious people in my neighborhood, so that we wouldn’t be a neighborhood of dry bones.

Maybe Halloween gives us a true a glimpse of the spiritual death that lingers behind immaculate lawns and electric door min-vans? It isn’t just in October that my neighborhood is filled with skeletons. It’s year round. Oh God, please breathe. What I need, and what my neighbors need is the breath of the Spirit.

Come alive, come alive, come alive dry bones.

See you Sunday.

Ross

 

 

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