Of Pea Soup and Spinning Heads

(Reworked from a post originally published in 2014.)
I’ve never seen The Exorcist, but I have seen that scene with the pea soup and the spinning head – and lately I’ve seemed to encounter a lot of what I would put in the “pea soup and spinning head” category. There have been times, recently, when personalities have seemed to spin themselves out of alignment with the individuals they really are, spewing out all kinds of hell – anger, frustration, jealousy, fear, revenge, hatred, finger-pointing. And I’m embarrassed to say that on at least a couple occasions recently I myself was the spewer – feeling really angry and hurt about someone I felt had treated me unfairly.

It none of it felt good.

But then I came across yet another spewing-spinner on a discussion board, and found myself just stepping back and kind of observing in interested fascination as the pea soup flew and the vitriol sprayed. The pea soup and vitriol had been intended for me, but they were so over-the-top and spewed so high in the air that it simply erupted above the spewer’s head and ended up landing back on her. It didn’t touch me at all. And, standing there on the outside of the mess, it became really clear to me that the spinning-spewing personality was not at all the real individuality of my fellow poster. It was obvious that what I had just witnessed was nothing but a spinning-spewing counterfeit of the real man and woman, made in God’s likeness – made in the likeness of Love.  And it also became clear to me that I had no desire or need to spend my time engaged in conversation with a counterfeit. I was able to step back and move on and find other interesting dialogues that better served me.  I didn’t give the counterfeit the power to push me OUT of a space where I belonged, and nor did I give the counterfeit the power to pull me INTO a space where I didn’t belong. I didn’t have to react or respond to the counterfeit at all.

This encounter with the counterfeit poster helped me come to terms with my feelings of anger and wish for vengeance towards the personality who had treated me so poorly in the past. I had to recognize that the real man is the child of God – that God loves him no less than he loves me – and that God is instructing him, and leading him down his own path in life, with its own lessons waiting for him. And none of that is any of my business.

My business is keeping watch on my own thoughts and actions. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Christian Science commands man to master the propensities, – to hold hatred in abeyance with kindness, to conquer lust with chastity, revenge with charity, and to overcome deceit with honesty. Choke these errors in their early stages, if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success.”

As Paul says, we all must work out our “own salvation.”  It’s rewarding work. It’s satisfying work. And it’s also enough work to fill my moments and my days for eternity. Who has time to worry about working out someone ELSE’s flaws and foibles, when I have enough of my own to worry about?

Spinning heads and pea soup, be gone!

The Humbling

Unfed, shred, and shed
every humbling shrinking
the ego until it loses all
hold, all importance, all
power and perspective
shifts and what’s true
emerges from the tatters.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

And maybe someday I will say more about that. 🙂

Quiet Time of Quarantine

Enfolded in a sense of perfect well-being
a pure peace and stillness and quiet
surrounds me as I glide on my bike past
green fields and red barns and little yellow
flowers framing the craggly snow-topped
volcano in the background. I can smell
the briny bay and the sweet new buds
on the alders and the earthy scent of the
dairy farm – familiar and comforting.
One or two cars pass me, but I am mostly
alone on this road on the flats. Is it selfish
to say that this quiet time of quarantine
has been a blessing for me? I have thirsted
for a break from the angst and agitation,
the buzzing busyness and frantic, frenetic
frightful panicked pace of politics and ego.
I am enjoying this simple time of just be-ing.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Peace, be still.”
– Mark 4:39

mount baker this one (2)

The Burden of Ego Lifted

Humbled and inspired –
the burden of ego lifted
from me in a moment
and understanding came –
Hush. It’s your turn to listen,
to let yourself be supported,
to let someone else share
her talents and gifts with you.
And Love gifted me
with the expression of beauty
offered by another
of Her children. Blessings
abound and surround,
here, now, all around.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

So, like, when did being bitchy become a good thing?

“Rudeness is merely the expression of fear. People fear they won’t get what they want. The most dreadful and unattractive person only needs to be loved, and they will open up like a flower.” – M. Gustave in The Grand Budapest Hotel

So, like, when did being bitchy become a good thing – a thing to be proud of? I posed that question to a young friend the other day. I’d seen someone wearing one of those “Proud to be a Bitch” tee-shirts or something, and I found myself wondering about it – wondering when rudeness became something to brag about. My young friend gave me an answer that I thought was kind of profound. My friend said that young people get their cues about what it means to be an adult from older people – they hear older people cussing and swearing, see “grown-ups” driving aggressively, observe their frustration with work, and their impatience with life – and, because they want to look like “grown-ups”, too, they copy what they see and hear. The only difference, my young friend said, was that young people don’t have the life experience and history, yet, to go along with their cussing, frustration, and impatience – they haven’t really “earned” the right, yet, to swear and be bitchy.

My friend’s thoughts about bitchiness sent me all kinds of directions. I had to wonder, for instance, what kind of example I’d been for young folks. How many youngsters had learned how to be rude and impatient and frustrated by watching me? Now THERE was a humbling thought. Ahem. I quickly moved on from that one to other ones…

What is it that makes us, as human beings, proud of our anger – proud to have “told someone off”? I decided that was all about ego, really – wanting to prove we are somehow better, braver, stronger than other people. And THEN I thought about that and came to the conclusion that a) in my own experience, yelling at other people has never seemed to convince them I was right, or changed their ideas about stuff, and b) it doesn’t take a whole lot of courage, really, to spout off one’s opinions and beliefs, and cuss and swear and be rude.

It is my belief that it takes a lot more chutzpah to love – it takes a lot more courage to trust in  each other’s good will and humanity, than it does to scream obscenities at each other. In fact, when I think about it – the times when I’ve been the rudest are the times when I’ve been the most scared that I wasn’t going to “get my share” or I was going to be left out somehow, or forgotten or over-looked or harmed in some way.

And something in that last paragraph just made me think of a time when I found myself trying to break up a fight in a parking lot – one guy sitting on top of another punching his face bloody, banging his head into the concrete, and a ring of other guys around them – I found myself in the middle of the circle trying to yank the one guy off the other one, screaming, “Stop it! You’re going to kill him! Stop it!” Instinct (and, in retrospect, a kind of foolishness) had put me in the middle of that circle – there’d been no thought given to what I was doing, and so I can’t claim any special kind of courage there. But – and here’s the part that still gives me a kind of awe when I think about it – after security guards had hauled away the brawlers I stepped back and found that another woman – the parent of one of my former students – had stepped into the circle with me. I remember saying to her, in a kind of wonder, “You’re here, too!” And she said, “I wasn’t going to let you stand here all alone.” She HAD thought about what she was doing – she HAD made a conscious choice to put herself in harm’s way for another human being. She hadn’t screamed. She hadn’t yelled. She’d just stood there beside me. Now THAT was courage. Oh gosh. I’m tearing up right now as I think about it.

“There is too much animal courage in society and not sufficient moral courage.” – Mary Baker Eddy

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Gandhi
“Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.” – Gandhi
“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” – Gandhi 

yelling

Humbling Experiences are the Best!

Pretense stripped away. Vanity ripped all to shreds. Left with who you really are, and discovering that’s enough. Yeah. I have had some experience with this. 🙂

humbling experienced