taking care of business.

I have to talk to students about fire and tornado and lockdown procedures in the library. One time, a perceptive sixth grader looked at me and said, “If someone came here with a weapon, they’d come to the library first. It’s right here at the front.” This is, in fact, what the school resource officer told me, but I downplayed it and told the student that it was my job to worry about that. “But what would we do?” he persisted. I told him that I would do my best to get him to a safe place and protect him. He looked at all five feet two inches of me and said, “I don’t think you could protect me.”

And he’s right. I probably couldn’t. I can’t protect myself from misunderstandings and miscommunications. I can’t protect Atticus from bad dreams and loud noises. I can’t protect students from hunger. I can’t stop a hurricane.

I got unexpectedly emotional when I saw that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had tweeted that kids shouldn’t be scared about the hurricane, that adults were taking care of business. He seems so gruff that it was sweet and unexpected. Maybe it touched me because it’s not true, as much as we all want it to be. We adults do try to take care of business and keep kids from being scared, but it’s not that simple.

This is why I like Halloween, the idea that we can dress as things that make us afraid, can own them for ourselves. We can put on silly costumes and laugh with our neighbors. We can do the hard and holy work of letting this be a thin place: remembering the people who have passed on, knowing that this last great enemy has been defeated and that we have nothing to fear. Atticus is mocking sin and death this year by dressing as a wild and wonderful six-year-old boy whose best friend helps him face everything this world has to offer.

Tonight we will walk the streets with ninjas and ghosts and fairies. The hems of costumes will trail behind them as they run, high on sugar and excitement, down the sidewalks. Little ones will hold parents’ hands as they step from the safety of a street light into the darkness.

I will tell Atticus one thing I know for sure: It’s a magical world. This, too, is holy work: the business of childhood, the business of imagination, the business of naming the things that we most fear. I will send us out with this benediction as we carry that magic with us and as we seek to find it.

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    Takin Care Of Business Dress

    […] can teach our children to not be afraid, to laugh at evil, and to be a bright l […]

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    taking care of business. – Through a Glass, Darkly


  1. I love the idea of Halloween as a thin place. Yes, it is a magical world – and oh, I love that Calvin & Hobbes costume. A perennial favorite!

    Posted 10/31/2012 at | Permalink
  2. Gosh, sometimes your words just blow me away. Thanks for reminding of the holiness of Halloween.

    Posted 10/31/2012 at | Permalink
  3. Nancy

    The business of imagination is one of the most important endeavors we can engage in. Thanks for sharing this today.

    Posted 10/31/2012 at | Permalink
  4. Cassandra stafford

    I.love.this. The end.

    Posted 10/31/2012 at | Permalink
  5. Loved this as well. Tender and realistic, with a touch of sadness, but you end with hope…

    Posted 10/31/2012 at | Permalink
  6. GREAT costume. :~)

    Posted 10/31/2012 at | Permalink
  7. I love how you got from we-can’t-protect-them to it’s-a-magical-world. That resonates somewhere deep.

    Posted 11/1/2012 at | Permalink
  8. Beautiful thoughts and adorable costume. That homemade-looking Hobbes is fantastic!

    Posted 11/1/2012 at | Permalink
  9. the idea that we can dress as things that make us afraid, can own them for ourselves.

    wow. this is eye-opening for me. we can teach our children to not be afraid, to laugh at evil, and to be a bright light in the midst of it. and oh, kari, what a perfect costume. so, so good. love you.

    Posted 11/1/2012 at | Permalink
  10. I liked this post. I also liked your kind comment on my guest post at Imperfect Prose. It
    encouraged me. 🙂

    Posted 11/2/2012 at | Permalink
  11. this is beautiful. i want everyone i know who thinks that halloween is the opposite of holiness to read this.

    Posted 11/5/2012 at | Permalink
  12. Jenna

    Lovely post.

    Out of curiosity, where did you find that Hobbes? (We have a baby Calvin in our family and we’ve been searching for the right Hobbes. Thank you.)

    Posted 10/10/2013 at | Permalink

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