Champion

Champion is a story I’ve worked on for many years, and has been revised lots of times in significant ways. 

Mara-Sue is dear to my heart, a plucky girl who doesn’t give up in the face of difficulty.  Neither does her Mom, who raised her single-handledly, and recently took a job in Grayson, Kentucky.

Mara-Sue was inspired by a friend’s niece who impressed me so much with how brave she was diving fearlessly into the Ohio River, not that I recommend kids should dive into dangerous waters.

Rather, this girl exemplified boldness which seemed empowering for girls.  Here was a fierce kid who wasn’t going to take no for an answer, not only when it came to a swimming hole, but also about important matters.   

At least that’s what I hoped my character, Mara-Sue would do. 

The cover art of Champion the horse was painted by me. It seems very similar to an ethereal painting I did in an art class in school when I was about ten.  How odd that what we did long ago in the past can arise again and play a part in our lives.  I wonder how many other people experience these sorts of things?

Bhagavad Gita: Shadow versus Evil

In my first blog about the Bhagavad Gita, I mentioned how I’d struggled with the idea of reading about war as a spiritual matter, but that in the spiritual life we need to integrate our own shadow as part of our growth. While I believe this is true, as I read the second chapter of the Gita, I became perplexed by the basic idea expressed by the God-representative (Krishna) to Ajuna, who has refused to do battle with his relatives, and sunk into despair. God (Krishna) tells Ajuna that it is his nature as a warrior to do battle, that is his dharma (his basic nature), and furthermore there is no death, because life is an eternal stream. A friend told me Hitler used this concept of eternal life to justify the extermination of millions of people.

With this in mind, I reread the second chapter of the Gita. It became apparent to me that the Gita is not talking about integration of the shadow, but about waging war against evil. Krishna says, “For a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil (64).” This is evil external to the self, and is in harmony with the Biblical idea of evil as separate from God in the form of Satan.

One of the things I learned from this study is that it is all too easy to become a literalist. I think of those who picket military funerals to protest gays in the military because they believe they fully understand the Bible; I think of women who never cut their hair because the Bible says not to; I think of people in a religious frenzy handling snakes because the Bible says to be truly one with God is to be immune from harm. Such understanding is shallow, as surely as my initial reading of the Gita is also shallow. I think of Mahatma Ghandi, who I greatly admire, and remember he was a Hindu with broad understanding of the Gita, and also a student of Jesus. He certainly waged war against the evil of British imperialism, but he did it nonviolently. He not only understood the humanity of all people, including the enemy, he practiced compassion for them by not reacting to their anger with more anger. We would do well to understand this within our lives as individuals, and as a nation.

It is too easy to grab a fact and run with it. We all need, myself included, to read comprehensively. I am once again reminded that study of the Bible is a life-long enterprise–full of surprises, multi-faceted. Clergy people, laymen and scholars are often in disagreement. So how can I, a Westerner, possibly grasp the wisdom of  a Hindu spiritual classic when I am not immersed in Hindu culture? What I can do, though, is respect its teachings, read it carefully, think about its implications for the creation of a better world, and not run at the mouth about ideas I do not fully appreciate because they are addressed to people with a different cultural bias.

I am unsure what else I will learn as I continue my reading and reflection on the Gita, but clearly I need to read the whole thing without superficial judgment. Clearly, it is important to respect the religions of other cultures. Not only might they be in accordance with our own religious ideas in many ways, they may also teach us new truths that deepen our lives.

Ajuna, the warrior, wants to know what people who are completely in touch with God are like. Krishna responds, “They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart (67).”

Free Illustrated Story for Kids: Misty the London Pony

I am doing my best to learn how to work with PDF files and make them available for free.  I was able to create a PDF file of my children’s story, Misty the London Pony, put a link on my site, download to my own computer, and then e-mail my Kindle successfully.

The story is one based on my own life when I was a little girl in London, desperately in love with horses, and no money or way to get one of my own.  So, I wobbled along on my red bicycle on mainroads, passed by big double decker buses, trucks, cars.  My mother never knew:)   And I found this horse riding stable where they let me muck out the stalls.  I now wonder if this wasnt very exploitative of them.  They paid me nothing, never gave me a free ride…  I didn’t care.  I was in heaven to be with horses.  I saved all my pocket money and got to take a pony I adored, Misty, on a halfday outing.   But then Misty got bought…

So, the story is free to anyone who wants to download it.  Hope it is a story kids and adults will like.  I wanted the ponies who were also exploited to be upheld as well as the little girl, who was based on my experience.  I also wanted a happy ending.

Bhagavad Gita

I have begun reading The Bhagavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran, a spiritual leader I greatly admire.

In the past, I’ve not had much desire to read the Gita because I read it focuses on war.  In fact, I am against war that my novel Emily’s Shadow is not only a fantast novel, but also an anti-war novel.  

The Gita does begin with a battle, but it is at a metaphorical level a battle of the soul with its shadow (to put it in Jungian terms).

I found myself reading the initial words and names with very little understanding, aware that this culture is not my foundational tradition.  Yet, as I read a chronology of names, I was reminded of the Biblical chronologies, which signify a grounding in a particular cultural and religious tradition.  It made me think how important it is to practice and learn faith language, so that we are grounded in the litanies and liturgies, songs and celebrations.  If we are Christians, then or course, we must be in Christian community, struggling with putting into practice the teachings of Christ.  Buddhists need to learn the wisdom and teachings of Buddha.  Hindus need their rich Indian traditions of Brahman, Atman, and Divine Mother.  Moslems need to struggle with the practices of Islam.  All have merit.  All reveal ourselves to ourselves.

There is so much to learn from all spiritualities, and though I am but a student and learner, I saw much in the opening chapter of the Gita that paralleled Bibical truths.  For instance, Sri Krishna, who is the representation of God, is Arjuna’s charioteer.  In other words, God takes the form of a servant, just as Jesus does.  Arjuna is all men struggling.  Ultimately, Arjuna wants to lay down his weapons, and does so, because he does not want to fight his relatives, evil though they might be.  In fact, he sees himself in them.  This reminds me of our battle with our interior demons.  Arjuna is like the Christian desert fathers and mothers confronting their enemies who would prevent their union with God.  It is the shackles of our own emotional hangups of anger, fear, jealousy and so on that must integrated into the reality of the human condition which is both dark and light.  We see we contain the seeds of anger and despair,  rather than allowing these things to create destruction, we nod to them and accept them in ourselves, allowing them to grow us by helping us recognize we are not better than anyone else, not worse either. 

All people are our relatives, our ancestry, and it seems to me when we can embrace the world’s cultural diversity, not by submerging ourselves, or latching on to other religious beliefs, but rather by becoming tolerant, being accepting, opening wide to learn from those not like ourselves, then we will move one small step closer to the new Jerusalem of Christian tradition.