"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it."
Reflection by Maren C. Tirabassi
"My mother never let me go," my sixty-something neighbor says, after tricking up his annual extra-spectral front door spookiness, a contrast to the candle propped straight in a serenely smiling pumpkin on the steps, "I was allowed to hand out candy. No costumes. Not even at school. We were immigrants and she was very clear there would be no begging door to door. I was the only one who couldn't go out - all my friends said it was lots of fun!"
The world is full of mixed messages. What she meant and how he felt. Orange vegetable grin for the littlest ghosts and stringy-clingy spider webs and creepy music for their big brothers and sisters. At this house every one of them will receive a scary book, appropriate to the age, for the third annual "All Hallows Read – Give a book for Halloween." Mostly they are books he loved as a child. And chocolate.
Everything is prepared, and he waits for the first knocks and giggles. He's rehearsed all his lines: "What a beautiful princess you are!" "Oooo, I am frightened." "Don't tell me ... Harry Potter?" "Happy Halloween!"
And, of course, to the tiny echoes of loud parental whispers from the bushes, he replies, "You're welcome. You are so very welcome."
God, help me put on like a costume all my memories - the sweet and the teary, the deep and the simple - so that I can offer hospitality for all your wandering children. Amen.
Click to order Hark! Advent Devotionals 2012 from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.