Jean Reid Knerr, my mother, was born October 21, 1891 and died December 4, 1977
She taught kindergarten in center city Philadelphia public schools while living with her parents and four siblings, Edward, Helen, William, Jr and Laura. Her father, William Laurie Reid, Sr, was a commercial artist and her mother, Lillian Shreve Reid, ran a boarding house. She married Horace C. Knerr, an engineer, in 1923 and they had four children - Conrad, Rosanne, myself and Barry. They lived in the northwest area of Philadelphia.
She was an avid gardener as well as a fine amateur painter mostly in oils. She continued her studies at the Woodmere Art Center, in Chestnut Hill. Interested in spiritual matters most of her life she sometimes acting as a stenographer for an old German lady who received messages from various sources as a medium. Mother wrote them all down in English or German (in which she was fluent) and once in a phonetic translation of some foreign tongue that experts later didn't recognize.
She was a sweet-natured, gentle person. At seventy-eight she recorded her life philosophy in the following essay.
thoughts on soul growth (excerpts)
Jean Reid Knerr, 1969
..... one must see that everything is good - not good in the sense of some final perfection of goodness, but good in the sense of useful - serving the purpose of creative power, perhaps as a necessary step... (toward)... a better tomorrow.
..... all our institutions; governments, schools... hospitals, etc., are spiritually based, because they owe their existence to the love giving power of the soul of the people. It is the caring power...that is the prime mover in all life. What they can care about determines a person's level of usefulness to themselves and to society. The other working partner of the soul, the brain, directs the activity. It takes both working together in balance to achieve one's desired destination and true understanding.
In the... miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus divided, and a limited supply fed the multitude... the spiritual significance of this parable... is in the word "divided" and... has been demonstrated by the material well-being of America. Never before has a society demonstrated so much generosity... in sharing its products... God's bounty is unlimited if allowed to flow freely...
..... consider the nature of good and evil; good applying to what sets life forward, and evil to what does not. They are both relative terms. At our present state of consciousness all values are relative, good versus evil, dark versus light, etc. What was thought good in the past we find no longer good enough, and, as we grow, we are continually putting new content into that word... It never seemed credible to me that an all good and all powerful Creator would create man, in his very nature, evil, as many believe, unless we perceive that evil is ignorance. We are certainly born ignorant and given the chance to overcome it...
..... God is life, and we are born into a way of life that leads the soul to develop an ever widening self and sphere of consciousness, a growing capacity for concern, reaching outward to include ever larger groups; another individual, the family,... the region, the nation,... the world, the universe.
Nationalism, a legitimate and quite advanced state, is increasingly being found limiting by a world beginning to think internationally. But a sense of national awareness and loyalty is still far in the future for a large part of the world's people. We must not try to hurry them. Soul growth takes time.
Unlovely behavior in adults is an expression of arrested emotional development, and can be helped only by soul growth, stimulated by kindly and sympathetic treatment... There is much unlovely behavior in the world today, but loving help for it does not necessarily mean overlooking or excusing or explaining it away. Truly loving a naughty child demands of us, not permissiveness, but whatever treatment will help set him or her back on the path of right living and toward the more abundant life.
To the extent that America can burst the bonds of material thinking and come forth into conscious knowledge of our very real spiritual gifts, we shall be better able to understand the nature and solutions of our problems as a leader in the world and defender of freedom...
These spiritual gifts manifest as creativity and productivity, advancement in social consciousness, selfless generosity, good will and helpfulness toward recent enemies. Some speak disparagingly of this, calling it enlightened self-interest. True, but where before in the history of the world has self-interest been so enlightened, and enlightenment is of God.
..... The Golden Rule, considered by many a perfect guide to behavior, is all right so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough... People do not need to be treated as I wish to be treated, but as they need to be treated, and our only clue as to what that is, is by evaluating their behavior...
Now certainly a nation that calls a treaty "a scrap of paper", or that consistently goes back on all its commitments, is demonstrating a lower level of standards and of spiritual perception than one which does not, and cannot effectively be dealt with on the same terms. If you treat a child as though he were an adult you only confuse him. You do not promote harmony. Too much permissiveness, in dealing with ignorance and inexperience and aggressiveness, is an indication of our ignorance...
We cannot have peace in the world, as many short-sighted individuals seem to think, by telling a bully we won't fight no matter what he does. If we have love enough we shall be concerned about his welfare... to try to help him to better ways. I find it hard to see how so called pacifists can ignore the evil of unprovoked aggression, for example. Horrible as the Second World War was, it would have been worse if Hitler had been permitted to go unchecked. What our world would be like today beggars description. That sort of behavior, like a forest fire, grows by what it feeds on, and eventually demands violent counter action, such as a back fire, to stop it. If the nations of the world could have agreed, and made a united stand against aggressive warfare, in principal, when Japan went into Manchukuo and Italy into Ethiopia, the world might have been spared the horrors of World War II.
..... That is the mystic way of soul growth. We all follow in our progress through life, at first blindly and instinctively, then consciously, intuitively and inspirationally, reaching toward the light of understanding, the more abundant life.
the complete essay
I feel that when I'm in my highest self, I still get help from my mother with my art and life - for this I'm very grateful.
Here's a poem I wrote for my mother on October 21, 1991, the centennial of her birth.
I seek a few words in your memory
..........a few words only
To mark the path of following
.................your soul in its growth along a line
.......................and where to end?
A line marked of words recorded
.........an act of service
.....................to pass the message on
But the earliest
...........inhabitant of the words was you
Lifted into early light
.............................................you rainbowed them
..................standing along the dark plain
..................................in spite of their radiance
© ted knerr 1991
The poem for my mother resulted in this painting
number 5 - 1991, 'reflected light', acrylic on canvas, 38" x 51"
for me almost an abstract visualization of the words
The large form in the shape of an E combined with an F recurred in most of my work for many years. My kids dubbed it 'the eef'. For me it represents a being in the midst of the force field of the universe.
memorial for my father
1 ..... site philosophy
2 ..... artist's statement
3 ..... politics
4...... the holocaust and columbine
6...... animal allies - free game
8.......nancy - a memorial for my sister
9...... sam averiett - a homeless man in new york city
10.... memorial for my father
11.... memorial for my mother
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