A family down the road loves Halloween almost as much as I do. Mother, father, and son—Mikey is his name. Mikey’s seven.
Mikey already has his costume picked out—it’s Jack Sparrow this year—and already has his pumpkin carved. All that’s left are the decorations. Mikey’s folks get a kick out of decorating for Halloween.
But as with most things in life, all this excitement and elation is sprinkled with dread. Decorating for Halloween, you see, means having to get the decorations out. Not a problem usually, but in Mikey’s case it’s a big one. Because all the decorations are in his basement.
All of that old and mostly forgotten stuff down there gives Mikey the willies. It’s scary down there, he’s told me. Dark and stinky, too. It’s where the spiders and mice and ghosts live. Also the furnace, which he believes may well be the gateway to hell. When you’re a kid, nothing is scarier than the furnace.
At night before bed, Mikey doesn’t worry about the front or back doors being locked, he worries about the basement door. He’s seen the movies (though he won’t fess up to me which movies he’s talking about) and knows what can happen. He’s not afraid of someone coming in, he’s afraid of something coming up. But there’s a problem. The lock is on the inside of the door, not the outside. The builder’s mistake, on that his father never gotten around to fixing. Which means the spiders and mice and ghosts can keep everything in, but Mikey can’t keep them out.
So when the first week of October rolls around, he’s both elated and scared to death. His father expects Mikey to go down there with him. He has to help unpack it all, too. And lay it all out right there on the basement floor. “You never know what’s going to be in there,” he told me. “Spiders love to crawl in those boxes. Zombies, too. I seen em.”
This fear, this dread, is Mikey’s alone. He hasn’t told his parents about the basement, and how he worries about the lock on the basement door before he goes to bed, and how he prays that eventually his dad will change the lock around to the other side so he could get in but they couldn’t get out. It’d make him seem like a kid. And when you’re a kid, the last thing you want is to act like one.
Me, I understand all of this. The kid part, but especially the basement stuff. I might not have a basement in my house, but I do have one inside of me. Deep down, seldom seen. It’s the place where all the junk is kept, the fears and worries and failures. The sins I’ve committed and the regrets I have.
It’s a mess, my basement. Junky and moldy and dark. I suspect things crawl around down there, too. And there are ghosts. Plenty of ghosts.
I’m not alone here. Flip through your Bible and you’ll find plenty of people with junky basements. Moses had one, what with that murder charge and all. David too, with the whole Bathsheba in the bathtub incident. Peter when he denied Christ after saying he never would. And let’s not forget Paul, who had the blood of hundreds and maybe thousands of Christians on his hands. They found out, like we do, that living with junk in the basement is tough and scary.
They also found out that God can clean those basements up. He can get rid of the junk, scrub everything down, and chase away all the nasties. Problem is, He won’t do it alone. We have to open the door to let Him in. Because like the Mikey’s house down the road, there are locks on our basement doors, and they all lock from the inside.