Here’s a story I’ve never told anyone.
I was about six years old, and I was standing in the bedroom I shared with my sister. Glowy afternoon sunlight filled the room. It was after school and I was unloading some of the day’s treasures on our bed. I remember putting a roll of stickers – one of my most prized possessions at the moment – in the center of the bed. A few moments passed and I turned away from the bed, but then I heard some movement. I turned back around to see that the roll of stickers had unrolled itself and was now on the floor of our room.
I raced around the bed, expecting to see my sister or little brother there, devilishly smiling at making mischief. No one was there. No one was under the bed or in the closet. It was just me, my backpack, some school papers, and a roll of stickers now unfurled across the bedspread and, there, resting on the floor.
* * * * *
Though my parents were devout Southern Baptists deeply entrenched in the peculiar culture of that denomination in the late twentieth century, they never steered us away from that which smacked of magic.
Halloween was always an elaborate event with my mom making costumes for four kids and my dad driving us to the best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. My dad could tell a great story, and much to my mother’s chagrin, he could easily spook us with tales of the Snow Wolf or how he heard footsteps late at night in the last house we lived in or the time he saw a man in white walking on the side of the road and when he glanced in his rear view mirror, the man was gone.
You’re getting up with them when they have nightmares tonight! my mother would scold him.
* * * * *
It was this easiness with the unexplainable, and maybe even the little moments of experiencing the supernatural for myself, that made a it so easy for me to buy into a religious faith that centered on an invisible, triune God.
A wondering about magic gave me the space to believe
in a God that spoke and created all that is seen and unseen,
in a Jesus who turned water to wine and healed the sick and raised the dead
and said this bread is my body, when you eat it remember me,
and this wine is my blood, when you drink it remember me,
and in a spirit – oh Spirit unseen! – who would take up residence somehow within me
and make me a new creature.
A comfort with believing there is more to existence than what our veiled eyes can see allowed me to stand between wooden pews as a child and sing without irony or hesitation that
I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say!
I see His Hand of mercy, I hear His Voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart. (*)
* * * * *
When I hear some within the church warning against the way of mystics, I get a little incredulous. We do all understand, don’t we, that we partake in a faith built on the resurrection of the Son of God? And that His death on a Roman cross atoned for the sin of all – past, present, and future?
Someone please tell me what in time or history or space is more magical, more mystical than that.
* * * * *
It was never a question for my husband and I whether or not our family would “do” Halloween. Of course we do! And we keep it silly and fun but we make space for the spooky, too. I just think it’s okay, you know, to stretch that space within us that wonders about that which cannot be nailed down, that which no amount of logic can explain.
Because someday, they’ll come to me with something like 2 Corinthians 12 and say, “Um, so the Apostle Paul is saying that he … went to Heaven somehow? A heaven or The Heaven?” And we’ll look at each other with big eyes and I’ll shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know! It’s almost like it was … magic.”