Today is All Saints Day, and it doesn’t feel good.
We’re still stuck unable to run errands due to the situation on the bus during the pandemic. The county is still Code Orange with high incidence, and few people are taking care. Michael walks to Kroger with the hand-pulled shopping cart and buys a few extra groceries to share at the Free Pantry, and then he walks the cart downtown to the Friendship Room when we have enough groceries to fill it. Rosie rides her bike around the block and sometimes walks with Michael, carrying her dinosaur-speckled mask in her pocket. I stay home and worry. I don’t know when we’ll get to Mass or confession again. That will have to wait until we get a car, and can drive someplace where they’re taking adequate precautions. Over in the diocese of Pittsburgh they have mask-mandatory Masses you sign up for ahead of time, and parking lot confessions. But we can’t get there yet. For now, we avoid every place that’s indoors and crowded with people who won’t take the mask order seriously. Michael has asthma. He could die if we don’t.
I have a friend I know online I haven’t spoken to in a few days. She was tweeting from the hospital where she kept hoping to recover from COVID-19, but she’s been taken to the ICU since then. You can’t tweet on a ventilator. I don’t know if I’ll ever hear from her again. I have another online friend tweeting from a homeless shelter, where he went when he ran out of money for his motel room. A homeless shelter is a dangerous place to be during a pandemic. And I have a third friend who has completely exhausted his unemployment and doesn’t know how he’ll keep his home either. He has children. And yes, each of those people have crowdfunds if you’d like to do what you can. Meanwhile, we pray and we wait.
The political situation in this country isn’t encouraging either. No matter what happens, whatever the result of this week’s election is, we know that the famously impulsive Donald Trump and his ragtag disciples are about three days away from having absolutely nothing left to lose. As it is, yesterday they seem to have tried to force Biden’s bus off the highway and the president cheered for them. Traditionalist Catholics with podcasts are publishing truly creepy videos where they engage in lurid fantasy about civil wars and armed insurrection. It’s not at all a comfortable feeling.
Last night was Trick-or-Treat. That’s the one holiday that’s already outdoors in fresh air with masks involved. In an act of sheer desperation, I took Rosie out with a mask on under her costume. I wore a brown mask over a thrown together Aunt Lydia costume, which is easy because I’m already plump and own a lot of frumpy brown skirts. I warned her that we would not stay out long, we would stay back from crowds of children, and we would have to go back if we couldn’t trick or treat safely social distanced. But we would give this a try, just to see if it was possible, because it was the only fun we’d had in months.
And it was possible.
Neighbors had put tables out on the lawn, with candy set out in buckets; they stayed a safe distance away to admire costumes without touching anyone. Some just watched from windows and had a bucket of candy on the lawn– that’s what Michael did while we were gone. Some people even put the candy on the table carefully far apart so you could grab one piece without getting your germs all over the other pieces. Other neighbors had barricaded the porch with glowing pumpkins and were throwing candy at passing children, like a reverse parade. Two neighbors were driving around in their car, masked, giving out handfuls of treats from there. A lady dressed as a Ghostbuster had set up a Candy Chute that looked like it was made of a piece of a roof gutter, and she slid a whole bag of treats down off her porch to each child. She even gave me one.
People were playing music. They were smiling and dancing on their porches, doing everything they could to make a happy evening for children.
Here in grim LaBelle, do you know how rare that is?
And that’s my meditation for a grim All Saints’ Day: the world is a terrible place. It’s also beautiful, wonderful and worth loving. God loves this world and put us here on purpose. But through the mystery of sin and evil, there’s terror woven into everything at the same time. Life is hard. People do and suffer unspeakable horrors, and much of the time you may have to watch helpless while they do. But right here, in this terrible world, is where you are called to do good. Not in some ideal world where everything looks right and it’s easy to find your niche, but here in the terrible one where nothing goes according to plan. Here where there are pandemics and natural disasters and wars and rumors of war. Here, you plant your garden, you walk to the supermarket, you pray for people and try to find a way to do good. Here, you set up your candy chute or start throwing treats, to try to make the world a little brighter for somebody’s children. Here and not anywhere else. We are called to be saints here, or we’ll never be able to be saints in the better world.
It’s here in the chaos and dark, or nowhere.
Fortunately, Christ descended from Heaven to earth, in order to be with us in the chaos and dark. With Him, we can do this. We can be saints, here.
There’s a treat for you, for Halloween and All Saints Day.
Now, what are you going to do?
Image via Pixabay.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross.
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