The Post A Week Photo Challenge continues, this week our theme is “opportunity.”
I loved Halloween as a kid. My mom was a supervisor at a fabric store when we were growing up and would sew our costumes at the end of the summer in order to display the costumes in the store. I had an awesome poodle skirt, a Garfield the Cat costume, I was a cow one year, and even Pinocchio (complete with a “prosthetic” nose). Some of my happiest childhood memories come from Halloween, and trick or treating. Would we be daring enough to knock on the farm-style house tricked out with black lights, scary music and cobwebs across the street this year? What would our next door neighbor Lorraine think of our costumes this year?
Trick or Treating is trickier, less of a treat, in the neighborhood where I minister than it was where I grew up.
For starters, we have had one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the state. A friend of mine just walked around the block last week and counted 5 homes that appeared to be abandoned or foreclosed. Two of the houses on the block had bright orange posters on the door, not anticipating Halloween, but announcing that these buildings had been condemned.
Secondly, while the neighborhood looks peaceful in the day time, at night at least four different gangs fight for whose “turf” it is. Just last year, a middle school girl was in her front yard, only a block from the church when she was shot, she continues to recover, but faces incredible challenges for the rest of her life.
Third, many of the blocks in our neighborhood are poorly lit. On my quiet street growing up there were several street lights, porch lights and garden lights on the block. This isn’t the case in our area.
But kids in the central neighborhood still love Halloween. At 4:00 on Halloween a few years ago, I stopped at the Kmart in our neighborhood to pick up some candy. I am sure that I have never seen more people at Kmart in my life. African American, West African, East African, Asian, Latino, Native and White parents all crowded up to the registers holding plastic hangers with promises of princesses, power rangers, and pirates for their children. Everyone wants to give their child the opportunity to be someone fantastic for a night, to gather candy and to be a kid.
So this is my picture for “opportunity.”
Each year, our church, Park Avenue United Methodist Church. Hosts a “Trunk or Treat” in our parking lot during trick or treating hours. Families from the church and friends of Park Avenue folks decorate their cars with a theme. We keep the parking lot lights on, we play games and provide a safe, non-spooky, well lit concentrated area to trick or treat.
It’s an opportunity to be salt and light. Or maybe for Halloween we become sugar and light. It’s an opportunity to see who our neighbors are. It’s an opportunity to say. We love you. We want to be a part of seeking peace and prosperity in the community. Thank you for allowing us to have church here.