Ghosties and Goblins and Zombies, Oh My!

Columbus: You see? You just can’t trust anyone! The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me!- from  Zombieland

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Being raised in Christian Science, I guess I was sort of culturally deprived when it comes to ghosties and goblins – I’ve never believed in that stuff. And I think that’s why I was never able to get into movies like The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby or the recent crop of vampire dramas  – they just never made any kind of sense for me – I had no cultural context for them.  My friends would be trembling with wonderful frissons of terror as poltergeists and Satan’s spawn appeared on the screen, and I’d be sitting there trying to figure out what in the heck all the fuss was about. These things on the screen – the rotating heads and the walking dead and the wispy spirits – it was perfectly obvious, to me, that they weren’t real, that there was no reason or cause for them, and no reason to get all worked-up and freaked-out over ’em.

Nosiree, bub. If I’m going to watch a Frankenstein movie – it’s going to be Mel Brooke’s Young Frankenstein with Gene Wilder, Madeleine Kahn, and Peter Boyle. If I’m going to see a vampire movie, it’s going to be Love at First Bite with George Hamilton.  Werewolves? Yeah, give me An American Werewolf in London. Ghost stories? Give me Ghostbusters. And for zombie movies you cannot beat Zombieland. I mean, why would I want to get all ascared about something that doesn’t exist, when i could be laughing at it all instead?

Here’s wishing everyone a Halloween packed full of laughter and crazy costumes, and lots of chocolate!

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Mortals evolve images of thought. These may appear to the ignorant to be apparitions; but they are mysterious only because it is unusual to see thoughts, though we can always feel their influence. Haunted houses, ghostly voices, unusual noises, and apparitions brought out in dark seances either involve feats by tricksters, or they are images and sounds evolved involuntarily by mortal mind. – Mary Baker Eddy

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“Go into the arts…”

??????????photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something. – Kurt Vonnegut

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I love the Vonnegut quote above.  It expresses really well how I feel about the creative arts in my own life. I’ve come to feel that art is the purest expression of Soul, and I’ve found that the older I get the more important the expression of Soul has become in my life.  Photography, singing, writing – these things help me stay focused and help me stay sane. Literally help me stay sane. Looking back, I think photography was a big help in pulling me out of the whatever-that-was several years ago. When I’m out taking pictures I’m always looking for the magic – for the beautiful and joy-filled – for the “idea of truth”; and the other things – the things that would distract me from the beautiful and good – are stilled in my thought. When I’m out and about with my camera, the dialogue of mortal mind is silenced for a while, and I’m on a vacation from it.

In photography there’s that moment when the photographer spots something remarkable and captures it – to get that moment the photographer has to have appreciation for the beauty around her- she has to be able to recognize it when she sees it. And then the photographer takes home that moment and downloads it to the computer and does the art thing – crops and contrasts and highlights and saturates and leaches out the color until the artist in her recognizes that something has popped out that’s just perfect. And then she gets to share that moment with other people – gift an audience with that moment, too.

The audience is a huge part of the art – the people who read the books, or listen to the music, or look at the pictures, become, themselves, a part of the expression and experience.  When the audience members laugh or gasp at the right time during a play – they are working with the actors, helping them create their expression.  When the artist’s audience applauds or writes a review – laughs and cries and feels and learns because of the art – the audience becomes a part of the artistic endeavor, too.  🙂

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Mortals are egotists. They believe themselves to be independent workers, personal authors, and even privileged originators of something which Deity would not or could not create.”  I’ve found that when what I’m seeking in my work is applause or personal recognition – when I’m creating something to show-off and impress – rather than to share and express – the work never turns out quite right. It’s lacking something genuine in it. Something real.  It’s a stilted, self-conscious, self-indulgent, self-absorbed, SELFED and ridiculous thing.  It really stinks.

But when the work comes from the inspiration of Love (God) – from the beauty, joy, and kindness I see around me and just HAVE to share with everybody else – then it’s real. Then it’s WORTH sharing.

Whatever furnishes the semblance of an idea governed by its Principle, furnishes food for thought. Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics, thought passes naturally from effect back to cause. Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal. – Mary Baker Eddy

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Tartan Kippah

Last weekend a new friend invited me to a Jewish service – she was providing the food for the oneg Shabbat afterwards. I’d never been inside a Jewish temple before, and was really looking forward to this opportunity.

The service was of the Reformed Jewish type – informal and friendly – we all sat in a circle and sang songs and heard stories. It was cool. The rabbi conducting the service was a woman – attractive and funny,  intelligent and kind.  After the service was over, we all went downstairs and feasted on the food of the oneg Shabbat – breads and fruits, and sandwiches and triple chocolate cake.  Chocolate and new friends and a new adventure. Can it get any better than this?

And I’ve just got to share this picture – one of the temple’s members was wearing a kippah made out of a material with a Scottish tartan pattern on it – it totally cracked me up – he started laughing when I asked him about it. He actually got this one when he was visiting Israel – he’s partly Scottish, and this tartan happens to match his Scottish family tartan!  Here’s Doug in his tartan kippah:

Doug and his way cool yamulke

 

Hear what Love is saying…

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  – I John 4

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I’ve been performing a sort of experiment the last couple days.  The experiment started when I was conducting the service yesterday morning, and reading with my way cool podium partner, Liz.  Yesterday’s Bible Lesson was on the “Doctrine of Atonement” – or, the doctrine of “at-one-ment” – the concepts of Love and unity and one-ness filled every section of the readings.  And, as I was listening to Liz read her citations from The Bible, I found myself mentally replacing the word “God” in the citations with the word “Love.”

Liz read (from Deuteronomy 6): “The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thine heart, and with all they soul, and with all they might… Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you…” and I heard: “God is one Love: And thou shalt love Love with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might… don’t pursue, seek, follow, or desire anything but Love…”.

Liz read (from Ezekiel 33): “Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord.” And I heard: “Come, I pray you, and hear what Love is saying…”.

Liz read (from Psalms 77): “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God. Thou art the God that doest wonders…” and I heard “Love’s way is the way to find peace: who and what is so great as Love? Love performs wonders.”

Liz read (from Jeremiah 32): “…the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work…” and I heard “Love is mighty, strong, and powerful.  To follow the counsel and course of Love and to perform the work of Love gives us power.”

This experiment has been a revelation for me.  It has added, for me, a new depth to the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”   If you think of “Love” as the “me”, then what that first commandment is really saying is “Don’t put anything else before Love. Don’t make anything else more important in your life than Love. Don’t worship any power but Love.”  And duh, right? Haven’t we all found that when we pursue money, prestige, position, material possessions, political power – when those things are our goals – we’re never really satisfied.  I have learned through my own life experience that to follow after anything but Love is not going to bring me joy, or peace, or wholeness.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Dost thou ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind’? This command includes much, even the surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship. This is the El Dorado of Christianity.” And in Matthew 6Jesus tells us, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Replace “kingdom of God” with “Love” and see where that leads you. Whoahhh…. right? 🙂

Jesus tells us (Luke 17: 21), “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Love is within us.  We don’t have to die to experience the kingdom of God.  It is ours to claim right now. Love lived is heaven on earth.

I know this has been said a gazillion times before, but that doesn’t make it less true:  It – everything, life itself – really is all about Love, isn’t it? Love is the purpose. Love is the solution. Love really is the answer.

I used this hymn – with words by Mary Baker Eddy – during the service yesterday.  I believe Eddy’s words totally capture the power of Love:

Brood o’er us with Thy sheltering wing,
’Neath which our spirits blend
Like brother birds, that soar and sing,
And on the same branch bend.
The arrow that doth wound the dove
Darts not from those who watch and love.

If thou the bending reed would break
By thought or word unkind,
Pray that His Spirit you partake,
Who loved and healed mankind:
Seek holy thoughts and heavenly strain,
That make men one in love remain.

Learn, too, that wisdom’s rod is given
For faith to kiss, and know;
That greetings glorious from high heaven,
Whence joys supernal flow,
Come from that Love, divinely near,
Which chastens pride and earthborn fear.

Through God, who gave that word of might
Which swelled creation’s lay:
“Let there be light, and there was light.”
What chased the clouds away?
’Twas Love whose finger traced aloud
A bow of promise on the cloud.

Thou to whose power our hope we give,
Free us from human strife.
Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is life;
And life most sweet, as heart to heart
Speaks kindly when we meet and part.

“I am not willing to die to save society money.”

My friend, Nikki – a beautiful, amazing, talented woman who is a most perfect expression of Soul – sent me a really powerful message the other day. I think Nikki’s message needs to be shared with my readers. I believe it’s time for our society – our for-profit health insurance companies, our politicians,  and our citizens – to ask what is really valuable to us. Is money really more important to us than life itself? Here’s Nikki’s message –

“I was told today that people that are a drain on society should no longer be given any care/benefits and left to fend for themselves. The person then said “No matter the reason, it just should be that way, I’m tired of paying for other people when I barely have enough as it is” (Side note: Said person is single, living rent-free with a friend and makes 70,000 a year). I was told that people that drain society are the exact thing wrong with our country, and that if it weren’t for us, we wouldn’t have a government that is shut down.

“So here’s the deal: I am a financial drain on society. I get it. I do. Trust me, I do not WANT to be a drain on society in any way, shape or form. There is nothing I can do about it, however. The only other option is death, and I am not willing to die to save society money.

“My medical care costs upwards of 1 million a year. My private medical insurance (which comes with a hefty premium) covers 80% of that, and doesn’t cover all of home-health nursing. They cover 50% of my home-health nursing costs.

“That means, left over, is 250,000 give or take, plus another $75,000 for the rest of the home-health nursing. Add to that my other benefits which are: 30,000 for respite, 7,500 (give or take) for social security and $70,000 for my enrollment in a state-funded care program for adults on ventilators (which provides ventilator care and supplies).

“All told, that is an average of 430,000 a year my insurance doesn’t pay for. That’s WAY over double my parent’s income, by the way, which means without that 430,000 I would not be alive. So, I am sorry everyone has to pay a lot of money to keep me alive. I truly am. But I have no choice, other than death.

“I am a financial drain on society. If we’re not willing to take care of our most fragile (medically speaking, age, disability, or income) then what on Earth is wrong with us? Aren’t we supposed to take care of each other? That’s how it works.”

“Delicious autumn!”

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth

seeking the successive autumns. – George Eliot

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I trust in nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility.

Spring shall plant and autumn garner to the end of time. – Robert Browning

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In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. – William Blake

I love this time of year.  I love the musky, cidery smell in the air, the sunny days that have just a little bite to them, the gold and crimson in the leaves, and the gathering of the harvest.  There’s a huge satisfaction in bringing in the harvest and squirreling stuff away for winter, isn’t  there?  I feel a connection to the generations of peasant ancestors that came before me, and to the world that gifts us with the seasons and earth’s bounty. I feel connected to Life.

Last July, being the cheapskate I am and not wanting to spend a whole lot of money on a factory-made arbor, I asked my son – the engineering student – if he would design and construct an arbor for my grape vines from the flotsam and jetsam we have stashed away around our property.  With an old gate and four posts he found in a pile of wood, the son and his friend built a really cool grape arbor for me.  I wove the vines into the mesh of the old gate at the top of the arbor and awaited developments.

Soon clusters of little grapes were beading on the vines. And then, in due time, the beads became full-fledged grapes – ripe and purple and ready for harvesting.

And yesterday it was time to turn the grapes into my very first ever batch of grape jelly! Et voila! Behold…

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Yup. I made the grape jelly glowing in the morning sunshine in the jars on my kitchen counter. Aren’t those jars beautiful?  I look at those jars of jelly with a kind of awe. That jelly came from the grapes that grew on the arbor my son built for me.

Cool. 🙂

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. – Genesis 1: 29

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. – Matthew  8: 22

(all photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

More Malala and less Kardashian, please (or …”when your dreams are powered by your heart…”)

If money was my only motivation, I would organize myself differently. – Placido Domingo

I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart. – from The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

You must not treat others with cruelty… you must fight – but through peace, and through dialogue, and education… I even want education for your (the Taliban’s) children as well. – Malala Yousafzi (from an interview with Jon Stewart)

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Amid all the political jostlings and rivalries – the posturing and finger-pointing and self-serving nonsense – I have found reason for hope for our planet.  Two reasons, actually.  The reasons have names – Malala Yousafzai and William Kamkwamba. Where others might be motivated by the desire for wealth or fame or power, these two young people were, and are, motivated by the selfless desire to make the world a better place.

William – whose story can be found in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (http://www.amazon.com/The-Boy-Who-Harnessed-Wind/dp/0061730335/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1381549584&sr=1-1 ) – survived famine and drought, and being pulled from school because his family had no money to pay the school fees – to design a windmill that brought electricity to his community and water to his family’s crops. Although his invention brought him fame, and enabled him to return to school, fame was the last thing on his mind when he began gathering the scraps of material he needed for his windmill. He was driven by the yearning to learn, a curiosity to understand how things work, and the desire to make his family’s life easier.

Like William, education was and is very important to Malala Yousafzai. So important that she’s willing to risk her life for it.  So important that she almost DID lose her life for it.  A year ago Malala was shot at point blank range in the head by men who did not approve of her belief that girls in Pakistan should have access to the same education that boys have in her country. Did shooting Malala in the head stop her from speaking on behalf of the girls in her country? Nope.  Watch her in this interview with Jon Stewart:  http://www.upworthy.com/watch-this-incredible-young-woman-render-jon-stewart-speechless

William and Malala are the people I want to hear more about. These are the people I want to see pop up on my Yahoo News.  The shenanigans of our politicians and reality TV stars just do not interest me a whole lot anymore, you know?  I don’t feel ill will towards any of ’em. But I’m also determined not to give any of them the power to dictate the quality of my life.  As Ma Jode says in The Grapes of Wrath: “I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared…. Rich fellas come up an’ they die, an’ their kids ain’t no good an’ they die out. But we keep a’comin’. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out; they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, ’cause we’re the people.”

Money.  Eesh. Gloria Steinem says, “It is more rewarding to watch money change the world than watch it accumulate” – and this, for me, is true. Money holds no fascination for me. It never has, really. It is not an end in itself.  We can’t eat it, create a roof with it, or plant it in the garden and watch it grow. It’s just paper and whatever-else-they-put-in-there. The joy, for me, comes in exchanging that paper and whatever-else-they-put-in-there for things that really matter to me – school, experiences and adventures, music, art, books, providing the basics of Maslow’s pyramid to my family, and community.

As I’ve opened myself up to the infinite forms supply might take – and not limited my idea of supply to “money” – needs and wants have been met in extraordinary ways. I’ve had opportunities, for instance, to do things I always wanted to do, and, rather than having to pay to do these things, I have been given the opportunity to do them for free – and then been paid MYSELF for doing them! And, as I have made time for myself to do those creative pursuits that bring me joy, to express Soul – I have been offered money for those pursuits. I have proven, for myself, the truth of Marsha Sinetar’s words: “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

If he needs a million acres to make himself feel rich, seems to me he needs it ’cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he’s poor in hisself, there ain’t no million acres gonna make him feel rich. – John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Wealth is in ideas – not money. – Robert Collier

God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for tomorrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. – Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. – Matthew 6:21