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Goats from Bob’s Mobile Petting Zoo munch the begonias along the front walk of the brownstone. On the front stoop, kids bottle-feed spring lambs and pet others. Nearby, a saddled pony tosses her blonde mane and waits with her handler for the next rider. Ducks squawk as a neighbor, broom in hand, shoos them from her roses. Rock music and squeals of laughter pour through opened windows, their lace curtains frisked by winds within the froth of play.

It’s Chris’s surprise party for his twelfth birthday.

Inside, multi-colored streamers festoon the walls and fixtures, helium balloons smooch the ceilings, paper plates drip with remains of pizza and ice cream. Upon the dining room table dances the father who organized this after-school party; Chris and his buddies gyrate in tandem with him. In all the rooms more kids wearing party hats jump on sofa cushions and dance.

A sense of concerted play makes complete sense of this apparent mayhem until abruptly ended by the return of the irate mother, an interior design executive. “The party’s over,” says the father, and their shared camaraderie fizzles.

So the 1994 movie, Mrs. Doubtfire, begins.

Had not the mother axed this party, it would have continued into the evening; its momentum, open-ended and spiced with joy, fired imaginations of the participants and blessed them.

Imagine if Mrs. Doubtfire (the father’s later disguise) would throw a similar party on Capitol Hill—It would have to be a surprise.

 

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Across time and space, the fertile ground of the unconscious has attracted visionaries and depth psychologists: the former from the vantage of religion and the latter from psychology. Both access the Numinous. Both compel obedience. Both demand publication for the benefit of like-minded seekers. Both effect substantial change in the community that, on its own, is incapable of producing.

Fortunately for us, there is a seminal study, Experiencing Hildegard – Jungian Perspectives (2012) written by theologian Avis Clendenen that leads the student into such complexities of the unconscious explored by these seekers: evil, the dark side of God, the Divine Feminine, anima and animus, and synchronicity and viriditas (greening).

No matter that eight centuries separate their arduous work, achieved through suffering: pressura (migraines) in the Benedictine Abbess and psychic disorientation in Carl Jung. Hildegard’s subsequent Illuminations and Jung’s Red Book evidence the profundity of these revelations that still draw others toward this paradoxical diminishment and enrichment—within which lie the freshest life springs, within which lies conversion of life.

And fortunately for us, Avis Clendenen will frame her rich insights within multi-media presentations at the meeting of the C. G. Jung Society of St. Louis, next Friday and Saturday, October 14 and 15, 2016, at the First Congregational Church in Clayton, Missouri.

We are in good hands.

 

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Never has the genteel brutality of slavery been more assiduously depicted than in the historical novel, The Invention of Wings (2014), written by Sue Monk Kidd. Her meticulous research into John and Mary Grimke’s family and their aristocratic brick home in Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1800s, helped fashion this riveting story of violence on multiple levels. Fourteen slaves, seen as commodities, were siphoned from the Grimke’s prosperous cotton plantation to serve their elegant city home. Their black shadows bear silent witness to multiple atrocities, some even ennobled by them.

The story opens with the mother’s birthday party for Sarah, her eleven-year old, upon whom she presses the gift of Hetty, the slave girl, to serve as her personal maid for the rest of her life. At first, Sarah refuses, until pressed to comply. Thereafter, she seeks ways to emancipate Hetty through secretly teaching her to read and write behind the lock door of her room. Their punishments were severe when found out.

The story follows both girls into womanhood, defying subtly and openly the strictures of the culture surrounding them. Adhering to their inner wisdom, they painstakingly developed new wings. Undaunted by multiple hardships and beatings, they finally emerge as lights for the oppressed: Sarah, becoming a Quaker, author, and spokesperson for the Abolition Movement and inadvertently, the first voice for women’s rights; and Hetty, using her cunning as a seamstress, fashioning grieving gowns for her escape and that of her sister Sky, in the company of Sarah.

 

 

 

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While flipping the pages of this historical novel, glimpses of my own violence, both conscious and unconscious, surfaced, begging for deliverance.

 

Available on Amazon

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