My four-year-granddaughter got scared at church yesterday. I was standing beside her, and I saw the terror in her eyes as she grabbed tight onto her mother, who lifted her into consoling arms.
We were standing in line in the church parking lot, waiting to get to the cars lined up with Trunk or Treat Halloween candy for the children.
To entertain children with mild spookery as they waited in line, there was a man walking on stilts that were hidden beneath clothes of a giant. The man’s face was Martian Green and he looked hungry.
He stood in one area of the parking lot that we all had to pass by. As we entered his zone of spookery, he engaged us in mild Halloween manner. He simply said, “Boo.” But with a touch of vinegar.
Normally I would have chatted. I like a sparkle of vinegar.
But as our little group became the next to approach Mr. Green, my granddaughter slipped her way back to the ground, I suspect because she wanted to get as far below him as she could.
“Are you afraid?” I asked her.
“Let’s make a plan.”
I moved close to her ear. “When he says ‘Boo’ to us, you can say ‘Boo’ back to him.”
My granddaughter shook her head and said, “No. I’m afraid.”
“Okay,” I said, “I’ll say it for you.”
She turned to her mom and said, “It’s okay. Grandpa has a plan.”
Mr. Green did say “Boo.” With vinegar.
I said, “Boo.” With vinegar.
He said, “Boooooo!”
I said, “Boo right back at you!”
Some adults standing in line nearby smiled. But Mr. Green waved me off in a gesture that seemed to convey in a kidding way, “I give up.” Or, “Come on, mister.” Or, “O pshaw” (a grandpa phrase).
Introducing the superhero
On the drive home, my granddaughter, sitting behind me in the minivan began telling the story of Grandpa’s Plan.
I wasn’t the one driving, so I watched her as she spoke. We should always watch children when they speak, when we can. Their faces say a lot.
At the end of the story she looked at me and said, “It’s like you’re a superhero.”
I said, “Would you tell me that every day?”
“Yes,” she said.
I suspect that all four adults in the van smiled. But I can’t be sure because I was watching the energy my granddaughter was generating.
Who knew it took so little to become a superhero.
“Let your light rise and shine. Let people see it in the compassionate work you do for others—and in other ways. That’s how you make your Father in heaven look good” (Matthew 5:16, Casual English Bible).
Sometimes, it’s also how you show people you love them with the strength of a superhero.
It’s not hard to do. We just follow Superman’s example: Stay alert to opportunities to help and then put on a cape and fly.
The hard part isn’t the flying.
It’s wearing a cape in public.
Actually, it’s vigilance…staying alert to people who could use some help.
“Boo to you.” With cider and a donut.
Nine minutes with the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mountainside, from Matthew 5.