What’s Your Super Power?

I’m a sucker for Halloween. I’ve always been. Show me an old-fashioned jack o’lantern flickering with candlelight on an eerily still autumn evening, and I am bewitched. Walk through a blanket of fallen leaves, kicking up the golden and crimson carpet to make the crunching louder, and I am captivated. Give me a bowlful of candy corn (with some bite-sized peanut butter cups), and I am your friend for life. There’s just something about this ancient Celtic festival that captures my imagination.

So, when I found myself picking up a few household items at a discount store, I wasn’t surprised that I instinctively made my way to the store’s Halloween shop. As I walked up and down the aisles I couldn’t believe how much of a big business Halloween had become. When I was a child, costumes were made from pillowcases and sheets or bought at the local Woolworth’s. Those costumes came in a box complete with a plastic mask held on by an elastic band that if you pulled to tightly around your head, it would hurt. Let’s not forget, as well, the many stumbles and falls while trick or treating all because the mask would slide down or sideways, impairing one’s vision.

With each plastic skull, battery-operated pumpkin and motion-sensor bat I picked up, I reminisced about the good old days of Halloween when simplicity made it special.

I steered my cart around the corner only to discover something incredibly scary. A group of five-year-olds were in an excited frenzy grabbing for the costumes they wanted. While a few costumes were zombie and werewolf inspired, many were of superheroes. That’s when I overheard the salesperson, thrown into this chaos like bait to hungry sharks, ask one of the children what superpower they had.

The child was so animated in his reply I had to sneak a peek into the mom’s cart to see if he had already devoured a bag of candy. Nope. No sugar high. This was just the child’s normal behavior. Note to self: Say a prayer for his mother.

“I have the power of cutting people into two,” he screamed. I edged slowly away from the four-foot menace, but still close enough to hear his mom feebly scold him on how it wasn’t nice to hurt people. The boy came up with another answer.

“How about put them in a pit of snakes?”

Before his mother could answer, the sales associate intervened.

“What about having good superpowers?” she asked. She then shared with the little boy a long list of all the good he can do if he had superpowers. The boy, not quite on board with the notion of good superpowers, quietly considered what he heard. As he did, I walked away deep in my own thoughts.

We all have superpowers, don’t we? How often, though, do we use them? There’s the super power of prayer. Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find. Yet when was the last time we boldly came before God to ask, to seek or just to simply talk to our trusted, dependable and mighty friend?

There’s the super power of forgiveness, a power that heals broken relationships, families and communities. There’s the super power of love, which is one super power Jesus himself commanded us to use all the time. Love one another just as I have loved you, he said, before going to the cross for us. Then there is the super power of faith in God who has shown us countless times how God is one who keeps a promise. Are we forsaken? Alone? Hopeless? No, we aren’t because God said He would never leave us.

And yet, the world around us seems to be like that little boy who would rather use power to hurt rather than to heal. What if we were more like that sales associate, who I have sainted for her patience and wisdom with five-year-olds, urging our children to think of the help they can give others? What if this Halloween all the gore was replaced with good? What if there were more angels trick or treating than devils?

What if…

This Halloween, the little white church in the rural village I serve will once again have its front lawn lit with jack o’lanterns proclaiming a message of faith for trick or treaters to see. It’s a tradition I started years ago because I just don’t love the sight of glowering pumpkins. I love the sight of God’s word illuminating dark skies and filling His children with awe.

This year’s word shining out to the community is going to be simple — PEACE, a superpower we all have in superhero belts and one we need to share with others. For blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus said.

What superpower will you use this Halloween?


Pumpkins glowing with an inspirational message in front of the little white church. This year’s message will be “Peace.”

Never Just a Pumpkin

There it was. A big mush of orange slowly disintegrating into the soil that once fed it life. I took hold of its green vine in the same way I have taken the hand of one about to leave this earth. Gently, gingerly, with a sense of sorrow mixed with the awe of the divine present. After all, the divine is always present in the passing of a soul.

I felt as if I should bless the vine; bid it farewell and whisper, “well, almost well done, my good and faithful pumpkin.”

But I didn’t. It was just a pumpkin, after all.

I held onto the vine.

My father and I worked hard tilling the ground in the spring, getting rid of the many weeds and rocks that overtook the garden. Then there were the grubs in the ground to contend with. After several dustings of milky spore, I prepped the ground once again, turning over the soil. Finally, I was ready to plant the pumpkin seeds. On my knees on a hot day I molded the soil into little hills as instructed on the seed package. I felt like a little girl once again playing in the dirt—sweat mixing with soil releasing an earthy fragrance more appealing to me than sweet perfume. Giddy with excitement as to what I was creating, I pushed a seed into each little hill, wondering all the time will a pumpkin grow?

All summer, I marveled at the signs of life popping through the dirt. An infant shoot gave way to a gawky leafy adolescent which gave way to a mature vine. Soon yellow blossoms appeared announcing the coming of a pumpkin and sure enough a little pumpkin began to emerge. My parents would remark each time they came to visit how wonderful my pumpkin was doing.

“Yep, it is going to be a good crop,” I said, feeling proud, as I wheeled with great expertise my birthday present from my parents —a shiny orange wheelbarrow. “Yep, I know what I am doing,” was the message I was sending to the universe.

The universe, though, decided to trip up this cocky, wanna-be-farmer. One day, like an overturned wheelbarrow holding precious cargo, I too, felt as if I had been overturned, allowing all my precious dreams fall away from me.

The one promising vine with its blossoms, so green and hopeful, didn’t reveal what was going on. The ground it hugged was too wet to continue to thrive and ultimately the pumpkin had turned to mush.

I broke the news to my parents.

“I lost my pumpkin,” was all I said.

Silence on the other end of the phone and then finally, “What a shame.”

I know. It was just a pumpkin. But it was more to me. It was my sense of accomplishment. It was my symbol of belonging to a rural community. It was my own promise from God that I needed. That promise that I would indeed bloom where I was planted.

And now that symbol of hope, belonging, a fruitful future, was gone.

I know. It was just a pumpkin. But still…

My parents were up the other day. My dad, who in his late 70s, still loves to help me with my projects I come up with. And so, they were up as dad worked on my latest project: building a rustic chicken coop, complete with a shake roof.

Sofie, my bumbling Bernese Mountain dog, was eager to leave the confines of the fenced yard to see what was going on over in the field. So, I grabbed her leash and ran with her to greet grandma and grandpa. The hammering of the roof made the old girl a bit skittish and so she decided to explore the rest of the field. She soon made her way to the wilting autumn garden. She sniffed away at the parsnips and onions still in the ground and then made her way through the corn stalks. Their dried leaves rustled in the wind as if waving to greet us. As I walked with her, I noticed a blob of orange. The blob got bigger and rounder. I had planted my pumpkins next to my corn, but could it be possible that one vine grew hidden in the corn? Sofie was soon sniffing and licking the most perfect pumpkin ever to be seen. I stood there laughing at the beautiful sight. For it was beautiful.

As it turned out the pumpkin wasn’t a lone survivor from my waterlogged ground. My mom had snuck it into the garden to surprise me. And, boy, did she ever.

Before leaving, she asked if I was going to move the pumpkin to the front step of the house. I decided not to.

I like the pumpkin peeking from amidst the corn stalks. For it reminds me how often it is God steps into the failures of our lives and surprises us with a sign peeking through the rubble that all is not lost. Whether the surprise is one fashioned from divine hands or simply a thoughtful gesture from the hands of a mother, every day there are signs of hope all around us. All is not lost.

And so, well done…good and faithful servants — servants who fail, servants who doubt, servants who replace mushy pumpkins with healthy ones, servants who keep on trying, servants who never lose hope, servants who vow not to let setbacks stunt one’s life, servants who will always be surprised by God and servants who stand in awe of such a God.

Yep, it was never just a pumpkin.