Tonight was Halloween, and usually i'm the first to don a costume and thrive on the spooky silliness that surrounds this ridiculous holiday. But today I got home late from work, and Kev and I took a while getting out the door. I'm sure you know the routine.
Every Monday night Kev and I walk one street over, from Topaz to Garnet Lane, to the Solid House and gather together with the crazy kids we love for what we call "Alpha". We break bread together (more like pizza or Del Taco or something classy like that), and listen to a local pastor as he speaks on the rhythms of loving Christ and loving each other. It's hot and stuffy, and yes, we're all crammed together with kids playing in the background and Bible verses flying left and right. It's church at its finest, as we all seek to live a kingdom life together.
But tonight, well tonight was a different set up. Lovely Sara had planned a big event with a band, and beat poetry, and food and worship....and yes we were late. So walking out the door, Kev and I made a beline from one gem street to the next, eyes focused ahead. Our neighborhood was abuzz with costumed niños and mamas following close behind with strollers keeping tabs on their sugar induced little ones. But still, we were breaking one pace and that was hurried.
And then it happened. A massive orange pumpkin popped out of the bushes and into our view, and the next thing I knew we were being hugged by this flash of orange wearing a straw hat. Her hug filled my heart with JOY...mostly because she was our dear neighbor, and partly because she looked so darn endearing in her homemade costume compiled of a sweet Cal-trans colored poncho, face paint and hat. She again reminded us to mark our calendars for December...she was having a big party and we had to be there. From day one when she met us (and the same day invited us to her daughters baby shower, which we attended by the way) we have felt nothing but love and acceptance from her.
And then we continued on our way to Alpha, long strides and big grins. Almost to destination, and then I heard it. "Hey"....I flipped around. It was dark, but one more word and I was convinced of the caller. "Katie!" she squealed in delight. It was my dear sweet Nataly, whom I affectionately call Chica. She was head to toe fairy princess, and just about the cutest sight on the block. I smashed her poor wings as I scooped her up into my arms. Somewhere between the words "candy" and "candy" I learned of her adventures trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. She climbed into Kevin's arms, an always comfortable spot for any child, and proceeded to tease him like usual. We both wrapped our arms around her, and then placed her back on the sidewalk. In the last year I have become extremely close to Chica's mom, who comes to a girls group I hold at my house every week. Kev and I are head over heels for her, and seeing her tonight made my heart even fuller for the community we have in this neighborhood.
And then it hit me. We hadn't even reach Alpha yet, and were almost an hour late. And yes, that was our final destination. But whoever said life is about the journey and not the destination was legit. The journey means that we stop to embrace people, to invite them into the soul of who we are, to give them precious minutes in our life. Community is birthed out of a mutual love and regard that time together necessitates- the giving of minutes and seconds and hours to show people that they are loved, valued and welcomed. Joanna Weaver reminded me that "Christ just ministered as he went along. On his way. As he went out of his way. In all kinds of ways". Tonight my neighbors reminded me of that, and my prayer is that I will continue to live like Francis of Assisi calls us to when he says "It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our preaching is our walking."
Happy halloween, and may we all be encouraged to embrace dear ones on the journey:)