“They Come in Droves”

Eight years ago, when Dave and I first moved into our circa 1890s house in Colorado Springs, the neighbors warned us about Halloween.

Apparently, our Victorian-era neighborhood was a big trick-or-treating destination. And we could see why. With its spook-ready architecture, enormous trees (lots of fall leaves to kick through), old-fashioned lamp posts, and light traffic on wide streets, our part of town is pretty much goblin heaven.

“They come in droves,” one neighbor told us.

We should have asked her to define “droves.” We figured it probably meant dozens, and prepared accordingly. But before that first Halloween night was over, Dave had made three emergency runs to Safeway for more candy. Apparently, droves means h-u-n-d-r-e-d-s.

I had never seen so many trick-or-treaters in my life, and such original costumes! The Energizer Bunny with his drum, the ghost of Raggedy Ann, a jumbo box of Crayola crayons, bee babies, angels, pirates…they all charged our door that night, buckets and bags in hand, in a line that stretched out to the sidewalk.

At moments, it felt like mayhem. And yet, when things finally settled down at around 9—it was a school night, after all—I was sad to see it end.

The next morning, out for a walk with Edmund, we saw signs of Halloween-past everywhere. A pirate’s scarf stuck on our fence post. A Kit Kat on the walkway. “When I went to the gym earlier,” Dave said, “I saw glittering angel wings blowing down the street.”

I imagined an angel from the night before—now waking up, just a little girl again. I wondered how she lost her wings, and if her parents promised to make her new ones for next year.

Later that day, I came upon the familiar verse in Hebrews that invites us to, “Come boldly to the throne of grace so we can find help in our time of need.” I had always loved that passage, but now the word “boldly” struck me as a stretch. Did God really want me to approach him with that kind of audacity? Like I expect something good—even now?

You see, this was also my first year in recovery. And just two weeks before Halloween, I had suffered a relapse —gotten angry at Dave and drank at him. Lately, I was more inclined to approach God like Edmund approaches me after he’s gotten into the garbage again—skulking, ears back with guilt.

Then I remembered all those kids from the night before. How confidently they had come tromping up to our door. None of them came because they thought they deserved our candy. They came because they knew we wanted them to come, hoped they’d come.

Surely, that’s how it is with God, too, I decided. God doesn’t care how spectacularly we’ve failed, or how recently we’ve lost our wings.

I don’t know what Halloween looks like where you live. But I hope it involves lots of excited kids. And I hope they remind you to storm God’s door, breathless with a good kind of greed for a grace more generous than you could possibly deserve.

P.S. If you’re in the neighborhood tonight, stop by for a bowl of soup, to sit by the fire, or—if you dare—take your turn on the porch with the candy. Last year, we counted a thousand kids…and every single one got a treat!

P.S.S. This post was oringaly published two years ago.

Author: Heather Kopp at SoberBoots.com

Heather Kopp is an author and blogger who writes about the intersection of addiction and faith. Her memoir about her recovery, Sober Mercies, was published by Jericho, a new imprint of HBG (Hachette Book Group) in Spring 2013.

31 thoughts on ““They Come in Droves””

  1. I had to laugh last night while taking my sons tricker-treating: at one home, the door-answerer saw me on the sidewalk and asked my 10-year old, “Is that your mom?” and he nodded, so she handed him something to give to me. It was a cold beer. Not kidding. I laughed out loud, because not only is God full of grace, but full of irony as well. Nope, lady, (I should have said, but didn’t) I don’t NEED a beer because I’m out in the cold, I’m rather enjoying this rainy, sober trot through the hood, and I’m finally present enough to take it all in, crunchy leaves, screaming ninja turtles, smiling elderly people and all…funny how sometimes people boldly GIVE, precisely what we DON’T need.

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  2. I love the idea of coming to God full of assumptins of ‘treats’/ what a nice image. I had a day from ….well it wasn’t heavenly, to be sure. but I didn’t relapse when I got home. didn’t even really cross my mind. instead I went to work on what i needed to do so I can finish the week strong.

    life is good.

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  3. Such a nice post. Wow, a thousand kids – makes our 71 pale in comparison! This year I decided to go healthy and give out juice boxes and peanut-free granola bars; I’d read about child labour being used to fulfill the global desire for cheap chocolate, and I felt a little convicted. I know at least one little girl from my son’s school was thrilled with her juice because she told me this morning that she’d brought it in her lunch. But probably there were lots of kids who wished I’d skipped the healthy “lesson” and just gone for the goodies! I suppose how this fits your analogy is that God’s grace is always good for us (even if it’s not what we thought that we wanted) but that it’s always given lavishly and lovingly, not out of a desire to “make a statement”.

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  4. Heather, I love what you have written here. It is so evocative, and the analogy you draw is both fresh and fitting. I just read a quote from Martin Luther that complements what you are saying: “Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.”

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  5. That was the most amazing story I ever heard. I,live in CT. For,the,past,two years are Halloween hasn’t been the same. It my favorite time of year. Your story but a smile on my face

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  6. Today I heard a priest talk about this holiday as the night we welcome the scariest fears we can imagine up onto our porches and greet them with hospitality and fearlessness.

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  7. I think you’ve given me a way to reclaim my attitude towards the droves of kids we’ll see tonight. I can look at each of them with fresh eyes and be reminded of the way God invites me into the Throne Room. Thanks for a wonderful analogy!

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  8. I loved this post, it actually brought a prickle of tears. Maybe because I’ve long cherished that Hebrews promise, and you’ve made it fresher and bigger and better than ever. Something beautiful to ponder as we accompany our own eager trick-or-treaters door to door tonight…

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    1. Thanks for this Katherine! Sorry it took a while to get it through. I love thinking of you thinking of this as you greet your trick-or-treaters. It’s the next day now, but I am still grateful for the comment. Just stayed too busy yesterday getting ready. Hope you’re well and congrats on the progress you to told me about. So promising. Praying.

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  9. What a great picture! I needed to be reminded today that God does wait for me to come, whether my wings are still attached or not. And He sits ready to give me what is good. I think somewhere down the line, I hear myself using that analogy in a conversation with my children. They may not be able to hear it today. Their single minded in purpose–CANDY!! Maybe that’s another great picture. Were I only able to grasp what it fully means to pursue God and be that focused! Thank you Heather for a beautiful perspective!

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  10. The past 26 years in the boonies of Colorado, I had no trick-or-treaters. This year, in Arkansas, we are also out in the country so I am expecting the same, but who knows.

    I really needed to read this post about asking God for favors as I had just come to the conclusion that my prayers were not necessarily the best kind. I saw that they were primarily concerned with making things easier for my children or for myself, and felt that maybe I shouldn’t be praying along those lines. That maybe I should just be thankful that things are “Okay” and not ask for more.

    However, your post has me rethinking my ideas, and looking at them in a new light. I still don’t know for sure, but my answer to my doubt is simple: when in doubt, pray.

    Nancy

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    1. I’ve been thinking about this on and off all day, and figured out that when trick-or-treaters come to the door, they do come expecting good things, but they don’t know exactly what that will be. It seems my problem is I come to the door and demand to be given what I want and not what God wants to give me. Thus I am anxious, worried and ungrateful way too often.

      Nancy

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    2. Nancy, great comment here–and below too! I think you arrived at a wonderful insight here. Really. So true–that we tend to come boldly but then think we know what God should give us. You got me on that one. Thanks for the reminder, friend. Love the way you respond with your heart.

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  11. Wow! I thought we had a drove at about 400! I bought candy for 500 this year. We set up in the driveway…music on the boombox, a firepit (safe with a screen surround…although it’s never cold enough), an extension cord lamp and we dress up. This year I’m the Grandmother Mermaid and Marvin is the fisherman that caught me. I just love it that we can welcome kids from all over…pickup trucks full. Some of our neighbors complain that there are too many kids from outside the neighborhood. They leave their lights off. I feel privileged that kids want to come…they stay and dance (usually Marvin is dressed as Sylvester the Cat and there are a couple little girls who just won’t quit dancing with him). The parents want their picture taken with us…it has become a tradition of sorts. I hope we are the place of grace these young parents are seeking for their kids. And when the teenagers come I shame them for not wearing a costume (or pretend they have a costume on)…then give them candy.

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    1. I absolutely love your costumes! That’s so great. One of my neighbors dressed up as Harry Pothead. Yes–weed for hair, and round glasses… I love the sound of your celebration. It sounds a lot like the joyous one we have here. I don’t mind all the kids coming in from outside. Though the local news ran a story on our street the night before and last night we planned on a 1,000 and ran out–and Noah ran to the store–and still we ran out again by 8:30. But we had such a good time. Magical, really. When you think about it, what is more Christian than having strangers at your door and giving them something good? Love it.

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  12. I miss your words when you were gone. You bless me in the being back, friend. This is lovely but I always find treasure and surprise in your words delivered dripping in grace. This IS warm soup for me, the words weave wonderful. Your art, your voice, your heart. All a gift.

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  13. We live in an area with no sidewalks, so we get less than 10 kids. I think last year we had 3. Now that some of our neighborhood kids have gotten older, I don’t even turn on my porch light. Our son was born on Halloween, so that’s my favorite reason for the day.

    Kids with their child-like innocence have no problem ringing doorbells and holding out their treat bags while yelling, “Trick or Treat!” When we get older, we are more cautious (at least I am) not to be so bold as to offend or risk not using my manners…many times it’s the same way with God. Sometimes I’m cautious when I approach Him for fear of offending, but I think He’d prefer my boldness and confidence.

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  14. Wow, a thousand kids! I wish I lived closer…..
    I am currently reading a book about spiritual connectedness and I’m on a chapter about INTENTION. It is good for me to read this at this time in my life. Mostly I solve problems by worrying, then praying, then giving it up….it is refreshing to read about and hear you quote “Come boldly….” Whew, just what I needed today! Thank you, xo Joanne

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