Angela Sage Larsen's Blog
November 11, 2016
Happy Veterans Day. I’m sure grateful for those individuals on the front line. I bet they were often scared, sometimes unwilling, and maybe didn’t vote for the Commander in Chief who deployed them. We have a lot to learn from Veterans, whose main role is service to their country.
Like a freight ship going at full-speed that needs to make a sudden turn, my thought is tough to steer right now, but I’m realizing that the time for agonizing, commiserating, and bingeing on rhetoric is over. If indeed there is work to do, and there is, then do it. This is the start of my work. There is much more to say, but here I am, starting.
If my team had won, how hard would I be willing to work right now? Honest time: not very. I’d be gloating and floating on a cloud, and maybe (who are we kidding: would be) sticking it to the Other, even if not directly in their face.
But actually, this is an even more special time than any celebration would be. Yes, it is time to work. But…the work to be done is not the work of a rebel, but an empathizer, a creative, a healer. We know all the analogies: chick breaking out of an egg, butterfly from a cocoon, diamond in the rough, dross burning off of the gold. How often is there growth when patience, resilience, persistence, is not required? When there is not some immediate pressure to put off limitation? In the kingdom of heaven, harmony is the law and there is no resistance, true…but it evidently takes a little doing to acknowledge that state of present perfect being as our own consciousness and as here now.
It is clear our sweet little baby country is in need of healing. Why resent this fact? Why point fingers? Our government is We the People. It would be We the People, whoever takes office. And now the guy who was anti-government is the government. The people who elected him want to hold government accountable. They still get to do that, and now more than ever. No one is off the hook for the hard work to come in the next four years (+ forever).
Healing comes when the revolution is in individual thought. When the revolution starts collectively, it’s not always an opportunity to self-reflect, it’s often a swell of group think, it is a rush, it is high emotion swirling and adrenaline pumping. But when we stop to identify the opportunities for healing and start with our own thought—“Do I love, always? Am I ever driven by self-interest, enraged when my interests/values/needs are marginalized? Am I willing to listen with my heart to my neighbor? Do I truly want to find a solution that benefits all—not just prove that I am right?” —we are heading in the right direction.
The temptation is to think, “Okay, fine, I can do that, but what about him [my neighbor/brother/sister/political adversary]? Is he going to?” Dunno. Maybe, maybe not. But I’m not in charge of that guy, I’m in charge of me. This is the beauty of democracy. It takes great trust, great patience. But if I don’t start, that’s one less person demonstrating any sense of self-control. Democracy doesn’t mean we all have to flip our switch at the same time; it simply means we have the freedom to act on our individual highest sense of right. The definition of “liberty” in Greek (as used in the New Testament) is freedom to serve God. We are free at any and every moment to serve Love—and to choose Love as our God, even if we are being actually literally abused—to draw our thoughts from Love, to wait on Love, to act on Love. The more the “Other” guy doesn’t, the bigger our opportunity, the faster we will grow in patience and charity, the quicker we will burst out of the cocoon and see a bigger view of life, soaring above the very circumstance we feared we’d never escape.
We aspire to be a compassionate and intelligent civilization, and as such, we cherish the opportunity to help those who can’t help themselves; so why would we not relish every opportunity to love, even those who do not agree with us, even those who we want to label as racist, misogynistic, etc., (…or those who would categorize us that way), who abuse and persecute us. (“Poor in spirit” means “poor in spirit;” it’s a broad term. See Matthew 5:3, and the following verses about loving our enemies.)
So instead of pontificating about what a compassionate and intelligent society “we” should be, how about I start demonstrating it, right here, right where I am, starting with my thoughts, ending with my actions, and how I treat my neighbor with whom I disagree? That is the real work that will bless, that is the revolution. And it has begun.
In the quote below, the word “body” can refer to our body of government, and “sickness” could easily be any kind of discord in the body:
“To be ‘present with the Lord’ is to have, not mere emotional ecstasy or faith, but the actual demonstration and understanding of Life as revealed in Christian Science.* To be ‘with the Lord’ is to be in obedience to the law of God, to be absolutely governed by divine Love, — by Spirit, not by matter. Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, — and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well. Sorrow is turned into joy when the body is controlled by spiritual Life, Truth, and Love. Hence the hope of the promise Jesus bestows: ‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; . . . because I go unto my Father,’ — [because the Ego is absent from the body, and present with Truth and Love.]” – Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, page 14 (Marginal heading: Spiritualized consciousness)
*Christian Science is a way of life; it refers to the law of love applied. Christian means following the example of Christ Jesus, loving and healing as he did; and Science is the divine (immutable, absolute), spiritual law. Like math, it applies to everyone everywhere under every circumstance and is not subject to the numbers it governs.
June 16, 2016
There are 2 kinds of plots, I teach my creative writing classes and independent coaching clients: plot-driven narratives and character-driven narratives. In the first, the action of the story moves the narrative forward and the character serves the action; often the protagonist doesn’t change much by the end of the story (think summer blockbuster where action is queen). In character-driven narrative, the story unfolds with our protagonist at the heart of it; how does she respond to conflict? What will she do now? By the closing scene, our main character has been reformed—in my favorite stories, it’s always for the better. You might be surprised to know that romances are generally plot-driven…that’s because it’s all about the action! The romance itself is the star of the show.
The greatest love stories are constituted of the characters finding each other, losing each other, and ultimately coming together despite great odds. In Greece, they tragically part ways. If it’s a Hollywood/Disney ending, they live happily ever after. I’m in the midst of one of those great love stories. Ok, actually, I’m smack dab in the middle of two. They are both happy journeys, they are both action-packed, and they are both character-driven. One is my marriage, and the other is my love affair with Love, which is what I’m taking a closer look at here.
My favorite author is masterful at writing about Love affairs. She also writes about tragedy, comedy, writes for young adults, children, and the elderly. Sounds like an amateur! Know your reader, I doggedly pound to my students, everyone can’t be your ideal reader! But this writer does know her reader. In the first page of her bestselling book (over 10 million sold!), Mary Baker Eddy “commits these pages to honest seekers for Truth” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, xii:26). She wrote about mankind’s Love affair with Truth.
Like all great love stories, we come back to the Truth often times against great odds. We come into our own, even when the villain in our story is presses us to give up, run away, curl up in a ball and hide in the dark…or is maliciously pursuing us to kill us! J.B. Phillips put it this way in his translation of St. Paul’s words, “The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own” (Romans 8:19).
Love: coming home & moving forward
My Love story is about coming home, finding myself, finding true unconditional Love, seeing the world through Love-colored glasses, discovering my strength and potential…and at the same time, going out into the world to have a great adventure. The only way to come home and go out into the world simultaneously is to take home, or in this case, the kingdom of heaven (love) with you in your heart.
It’s been since I was a little girl that I wanted to write, create art, and live a creative life. As I’ve progressed, and hopefully become a smidge less selfish, I’ve admitted that the purpose of my creative endeavors have been to bless others; and if I’m being honest, it’s not only to bless, but to heal. My Love story has the very talents bestowed on me by Love sometimes distracting me from loving (every great story should be laced with a little irony, after all). Self-seeking, pride, discouragement, even greed, get me headed down the wrong path, confused, perplexed…lost. Where am I? What am I supposed to be doing? My favorite author wrote, “Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching” (Science and Health, page 454). I’ve come home to this simple and profound reminder more times than I can count. And the very next sentence gets me on track and moves me forward: “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.” Annnnnnnd… the sentences after that keeps me moving forward (see? Plot-driven and character-driven!): “Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action. Love is priestess at the altar of Truth. Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept. Patience must ‘have her perfect work.’”
If you, too, are looking to come home and find a way forward, Love inspires, illumines, designates and leads the way. The happy ending to your Love story is right now; and it’s just the beginning.
June 9, 2016
This seemed like a good summer time anthem! I fell in love with this quote, and with this visionary, when I visited his site (linked below) on advice of a friend. Inspiration is everywhere, but this man’s work is extraordinary.
If you need a creative spark, check it out.
“The colourful, the abundant, the manifold, is always better than mediocre grey and uniformity.” – Friedensreich Hundertwasser
September 23, 2015
August 3, 2015
Who doesn’t love LOVE?? (No one, that’s who.)
If we’re friends on Facebook, or you follow me on Tumblr or Twitter, you know I have a thing for hearts (#loveis all around). The hearts are an excuse to look for evidence of love every day. You’d think I could do that without looking for hearts, but having a project seems to help The following is a “treatment” I wrote out for myself a few years back and I work with often; it came out of a study of I Corinthians 13. I’ve never shared it publicly, so I admit it’s taking a bit of courage to do so now. [By treatment, I mean a kind of prayer that aligns my thought with the divine, specifically: divine LOVE, and my experience then necessarily and naturally follows suit and healing results.] I use words like “the devil,” “animal magnetism,” “liar,” and “mortal mind.” These terms are somewhat interchangeable and are meant to signify a kind of thinking that has fear, death, disease, and limitation as its premise and intent–all the while disguised as my thinking. It is magnetic and mesmeric in nature and ultimately is unreal because it is illusory and not based in the divine. My thoughts actually have their source in the one spiritual divine consciousness Itself! I cite my sources, but spoiler alert, they’re all either from the Bible or from Mary Baker Eddy’s writings. Oh, and Love with a capital “L” refers to God, the source and substance of LOVE, which is reflected in our lives in infinite ways.
Thanks for reading! I hope it resonates on some level.
“The devil takes everything that Love has given and puts its hands all over it; tries to make it its own. Chews it up, spits it out, analyzes it, doubts it, has its suspicions about it, leaves its animal scent, belittles it, tries to remold it to its own substandard, mocks it, locks it up to save it for later, and betrays it. Mortal mind is petty, calculating, limiting, stagnating, stifling, acidic, cynical, doubting, fearful, paranoid, jealous, hateful, penurious, churlish, selfish, short-sighted, swollen, illusive, vengeful, broken, fragmentary. It “fosters distrust where honor is due,” and “trusts where there should be avoidance” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, page 211; Mary Baker Eddy). It uses pride to get us to present an appealing outer image meanwhile neglecting the inner; ignorance bids us depend on the lesser in place of the greater, a “false convenient peace” (ibid.). It says, “I can do it myself” in childish ignorance.
Whereas the childlike “I can do nothing of myself” (John 8:28) is the key to Love’s authority and “individualize[d] infinite power” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, page 165; Mary Baker Eddy). Love has reduced animal magnetism to bite size chunks where we have the dominion to dismiss it; we have the thrill of seeing the devil’s sheer nothingness and utter powerlessness as we live love. Undisturbed about our Father-Mother’s business of loving, all the claims of this dastardly liar fall by the wayside as the dust they are, to be trodden under foot as we move, uninterrupted, on. No offense, no obstacle, no looking back, we are walking forward in Love, always on the watch for opportunities to put into practice our dear skill of being kind, being patient, being courteous, trusting, being generous, forgiving without condition.
Love liberates, comforts, empowers, forgives, enables, emancipates, encourages, elevates, blesses, unlimits, enlarges, purifies, simplifies, glorifies, trusts, bestows, leads, grants, pacifies, heals, demonstrates. God’s child is always equipped to love as the object, reflection, and manifestation of Love. Always ready to say, “my pleasure,” when the Samaritan brings a lost soul to the inn to be cared for, even when we might not get “paid” for it ‘til later or never (See Luke 10:30-37).
Love is never either/or. “It is impartial and universal…” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, page 13:2-3). It does not take from one and give to another, it has no need of borrowing, traveling, juggling, competing, counting, or procrastinating. Love is the “open fount free to all” (Christian Science Hymnal, Hymn 269) and never leaves a man behind. Where one is loved, all are loved. Where all are loved, one is loved. “All is infinite [Love] and its infinite manifestation, for [Love] is All-in-all” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, page 468).
My body is the works of Love that I do in Love’s name (not in my name, for my glory, to pacify my conscience or check a duty off my list). My body is the substance of my thought and when the substance of my thought is my practice of Love, I am the image of Love. I exist as the idea of Love, in Love. I am not physique [physioō* =1) to make natural, to cause a thing to pass into nature; 2) to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up; a) to puff up, make proud; b) to be puffed up, to bear one's self loftily, be proud. *Phsysis= b) birth, physical origin; c) a mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has become nature]–a blob of matter that needs modeling or shaping or cultivating.
I am the active expression of Love, Love expressing itself as me. I am Love expressed–as unselfishness, kindness, benevolence, patience, gratitude, generosity, serenity, calm, joy, honesty, tenderness, trust, vitality, strength, loveliness. These substantial qualities make up my only identity, my only body. Mortal mind’s conception of me as a mixture of good and evil needing improvement or process is a thing that is added to me as God’s beloved child; but that which God creates/reveals can have nothing added or taken away. I am always at the standpoint of perfection–complete demonstration and practice of my true identity as the loved of Love.”
December 3, 2014
Spoiler alert: I am Umission.org’s Person of the Week!! Yes, that was the cheering you’ve been hearing this week. Apologies if it has been distracting. I love this organization, whose mission is for you to have a wonderful life.
In this candid interview, I reveal personal details that have never been shared publicly (including my “worst” and “best” days and how I cope); I offer advice to writers, artists, and creatives; and I note “the beautiful symmetry of Petalwink – I have the promise that these ideas work because I have had to live them.” Check out the whole interview here: umission.org/person-of-the-week/angela-sage-larsen/
“Just telling Petalwink’s message means I have to live it. As strange as it might sound, I look at Petalwink and say, ‘If this were a Petalwink story that I was writing, what would Petalwink do?’ There have been a number of times that I have thought that there’s a lesson in there somewhere and so the Petalwink stories come to mind and I think I too must live that message – forgiveness, believing in yourself, sportsmanship, how to be a good friend. Before or after or during writing these stories I’ve had to actually put those messages into practice in my life….This work has brought my spiritual practice in alignment with my every day life. I do not keep those separate.”
Thanks, UMission.org, for the recognition and for the inspiring work you do!
November 25, 2014
Love always heals…divine Love, which is powerful, spiritual, ever-present. No element of mortality, limits, opinions from a singular (or dual) point of view. Guns and violence don’t heal and they never will. We watch Ferguson burn and our hearts burn with it; some in anger, some in mourning and anguish, some in acidic disappointment. We justify the verdict, or the rioting, or the tear gas. We react, argue our case, posture for each other (we can do this in the luxury of our homes which are not in Ferguson, you know. Pass the Grey Poupon, darling!). It is all a thin, fragile, crusty (mustardy?) layer of human opinion and if we dive down, we will see and be an ocean of Love. What appears is rarely what is.
Christ Jesus “plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures), wrote the woman Mary Baker Eddy, who understood Jesus’ mission the best by doing the works he did. Our work is not on the surface; it is going deep, deep, as deep as we can, into our own hearts to wrestle to stay in that Love. To let our thoughts flow from it, our motives be determined by it, our words and actions reflect it. There is no other solution. Nothing else brings healing. Yes, the dialogue and the creative solutions, the adjustment of law are progressive; but these bless or function only when the foundation of them is Love.
Christ Jesus raised the dead not because he made some really good points and had some lovely, sound reasoning (he did), but because he lived love and in his presence even death fled. When the men came to unjustly arrest him (to eventually kill him after a mockery of a trial), his self-appointed protector cut off a soldier’s ear. Jesus didn’t cheer Peter, cut off the soldier’s other ear, or condemn Peter, he healed the soldier’s ear. He lived love and even the panic and self-justification of a cut off ear could not remain. It didn’t stop Jesus from being crucified, but it was Love who raised him.
It is Love that raises us all from the death of fear, self-justification, hate, deep-seated racism (white, black, doesn’t matter). All this Love requires of us is the self-control to turn to it and allow ourselves to wallow in it, lavish it on ourselves and others.
Maybe because I saw Interstellar last night, maybe because I had to work through some bitter disappointment last week, maybe because it’s a ginormous poster in my studio and so it’s on my mind all the time anyway, but it seems appropriate to reference my favorite photograph ever taken (and yes, it’s a selfie) –
The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of 4 billion miles from Earth, as part of the solar system Family Portrait series of images. In the photograph, Earth is shown as a fraction of a pixel (0.12 pixel in size) against the vastness of space. The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and to take a photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space, at the request of Carl Sagan (click on the image to read his powerful words about this image).
June 11, 2014
Sometimes Facebook is too much. I probably speak for most Facebook users when I say “I love it!” …and also “I hate it!”
I love it, of course, because I’ve connected with friends across the country (from my childhood especially: LeeAnn and Marta!) that I relish being in contact with and may not have found them otherwise. I’ve even made some amazing business connections, rare, but it’s happened. I’m grateful for that good stuff. I’m grateful for the memes that crack me up. I’m grateful for the pics of my friends’ kids (although there’s that whole “why are you posting pics of your kid to the internet??” debate. Which brings me to…)
I “hate” it because of the endless debates, the conspiracy theories and the just plain bad news. I despise the premise on which Facebook was started: comparing women to each other …and to farm animals and comparing sexual conquests. *Neat* she says with an eye roll (I feel like a hypocrite every time I enjoy something on Facebook; there’s this nagging voice reminding me of how this all got started. And yes, I know there are other platforms. But my friends aren’t on them!). I don’t like that Facebook has taken the “free market” aspect of my fan pages and made them commercial. I could go on complaining about Facebook, but we all know the downsides. Instead, here’s what I’m learning.
I just took a four-day break from Facebook. Whenever a friend (I mean, you know, in *real person*) said, “Did you see…?” My answer was no. And I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. But because of my life’s work (and who I am in general), I can’t just disconnect totally (but it’s nice to know I can take breaks).
So here’s what helped me think through this today. “…thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:1, 2)
The word that stood out most was “when.” My effort should not be to avoid untoward circumstances (Jesus said “resist not evil,” after all), but to not be alarmed when those circumstances are dropped right in my path. I thought, no matter what the world presents me, Love is with me, I am Love’s and loved. 100% of the time when I’m leaning on that Love, I love. My Facebook experience has got to be about me loving. So instead of signing in and hoping for the best (or rather, hoping to avoid the worst), I can know that even when I “pass through the waters,” deep issues that demand attention; or through “rivers”–currents of thought that have the potential to overflow me and drag me under and sweep me away; or even those threads, comments, or posts that would incense me for their lack of decency, basic humanity or empathy; even in the midst of any of those circumstances, I am Love’s. And trusting in that, I see that everyone is Love’s and loved. Facebook (and the whole internet) becomes an interaction with the world for the purpose of discovering what is needed and then giving it, not jumping on the “get wagon” that is veering into a deep ditch. Facebook (and all social media) is one more opportunity to love my neighbor–anyone in my neighborhood of thought. I’ve learned that “to love” means to identify an object with their source and it is the fulfilling of the universal law of unconditional good and progress. I am rich in opportunities to love and Facebook has made me a gazillionaire!
May 30, 2014
I was relieved when my brother called me the next day. “How’d it go?” He asked on Tuesday about the Petalwink: The Musical Song and Dance Showcase held on Monday.
I used all the superlatives he expected (so rarely does he get an answer about how anything in my life experience is mediocre: “It was the WORST!” “It was the BEST!” and naturally, the Showcase was “The BEST!!” It really was, though). He then empathized with me about how it feels to be going 8,000 mph on a creative project with a cast and then be suddenly done. We talked about how much restraint it takes to not stalk the cast and how most moments are filled with self-doubt: Why aren’t they texting me about how much they miss me and the project? What are they doing that they can’t just pick up the phone?
It’s a strange feeling to feel so full and happy and at the same time like I’ve been hit with a wall (not that I hit a wall…but the wall hunted me down and slammed into me). To feel like I gave everything, but didn’t give nearly enough. To feel like I could have done so much better, but I did my best. To feel the culmination of something wonderful, but know it’s just the beginning.
On Memorial Day at 3:00 and 7:00, Davis Black Box on Principia College Campus (thank you Prin and Department of Theatre and Dance for your hospitality and support!) in tiny, quaint Elsah, IL was brimming with heart-pounding, inspiring music, while characters who had before nestled only in my imagination and on paper were coming to life in full, three-D color. More than a staged reading (’cause why would we do something so expected, routine, or normal? Or…sigh…simple?), the scenes were deftly directed (thank you, Trish Brown), beautifully choreographed (thank you, Kelly Nichols), and included fabulous live underscoring along with big rich musical tracks and clever lyrics (thank you, Deborah Hurwitz). My ever-remarkable husband (Whit, is there no limit to your talent, dedication, and endurance??) ran the sound with the brilliant (thank you, Darin!). Our videographer did more than video and snap photos, she helped with lights, staging, strike and more (thank you, Piper Hillman!) and our lighting board guy came on board with just 3 days to go and blended right in perfectly (thank you, Aean McMullin!). We are grateful to Leah McFall and Denisse Scholz Luzio for helping with costume concepts. And I still cherish the story of how this project got rolling: Jennifer Ragan Kelly and Jason Whicker contacted us and saw what the show might be. Our generous supporters–donors to our “cause” have been indispensable. We had a packed house, and their tears, laughter and cheers will echo happily in my memory forever (thank you, friends and family!).
My heart is owned by the precious cast members (past and present), however, above all. Weddings (“Petalwink”‘s for example!), work, life-after-college, summer plans, international travel, and family time were all put on hold so they could participate on a volunteer basis in the two-week workshop (and several others over the past year) that led to the Showcase. They were tireless, unselfish, joyful, hilarious, hard-working, generous, and on top of that: talented.
The first question everyone asks is, “What next?” Great question! Next I will finish the script (the book), Deborah will finish the music and lyrics and we will continue looking for next partners, for those who have a vision as big as ours for this tiny fairy. My benediction for what we’ve done so far and my prayer for going forward are the same: Thank you.
The Cast of PtM Showcase gestures to Composer/Lyricist Deborah Hurwitz during their last curtain call. Photo courtesy of Piper Hillman.
We are still needing and gratefully receiving donations that will enable us to put together a production package! We are just getting started. If this is a project that resonates with you, get more info and please donate here.
May 21, 2014
I’m a proud mama. The cast for our upcoming Petalwink: The Musical Song and Dance Showcase (Memorial Day, if you’re wondering and want to get tickets …and believe me, you do) has been working night and day to show you something really special. They are being stretched out of their comfort zones by about 100 miles. Singing, dancing, character development…and that’s onstage. Offstage, they are stagehands, lighting techies, costume assistants, gophers, and…set painters. They never complain, grumble, or argue about being asked to work even harder than they already are. They’ll tell you it’s because they love Petalwink and her message…but I’ll tell you the truth. It’s’cause they’re awesome.
Please come see the fruit of their hard work!