Thursday, 26 May 2022

G Guest Editorials

Celebrate Lit: My Summer Vacation

By Denise Barela

Over the summer my parents had the crazy idea of going on an eight-week trip across the country and back. When I heard they were going to Massachusetts, I knew I had to go. After all, would I ever have the chance to do it again?

So, I spent most of my summer in the backseat of our truck riding across the country.

Now, I’m sure you’re asking why I wanted to go to Massachusetts so badly. The answer to that is a threefold one. But first, let me give you some backstory.

Folklore, myths, legends, history, and how they all come together is a deep fascination of mine. I love reading about the different creatures people from around the world believe in and how the lore came to be. So naturally, when I discovered a podcast that delved into these topics, I was curious. I’ve learned so much from that podcast and the others that host has produced.Silencing the Siren 663x1024

It’s through these podcasts that I came to learn about the Hockomock Swamp and Danvers State Hospital. I also learned the truths behind the Salem Witch Trials. These locations were on my bucket list of places to visit at some point in my life, so I jumped at the chance to go.

I got to see the swamp first. We did a 1.7-mile loop around the swamp, and it was beautiful! All you heard was the wind in the trees. People have reported seeing these little creatures called Pukwudgies in this area, and I’m happy to report we had no such encounters. I still find myself interested in knowing more about why people think these creatures live there, but that’s a story for another time.

The next day was packed, but still so much fun! We stopped in Boston on the way to meet old friends of my parents in Danvers. It was fun getting to hear how my mom and dad had a hand in bringing them to know the truth of the Lord.

From there we drove up to where Danvers State Hospital used to be. Only two of the original buildings still stand, but I was so surreal to say I’ve been there. This place had such a sordid history. So many patients were mistreated and suffered horribly. It became so infamous, that it actually inspired an author to write a horror story about it. You may know him. His name was H.P. Lovecraft, and he is the father of the asylum horror genre. He named his fictional asylum Arkham Asylum. If you’re a Batman fan, then this name should sound familiar to you, because this is where they got the inspiration for their asylum. It all started with this hospital.

Now, you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with my book, Silencing the Siren. I can’t say too much about it, but I took my fascination with this place and was able to use at least a little bit of it in my book. That’s all I can say on the subject I’m afraid.

Our final stop was Salem. I learned that this Salem is actually not where all the drama took place. There was Salem town (that’s the Salem we can see today) and there was Salem village. People used to live in both places, but everyone had to commute to Salem town, and it caused a lot of problems. That trek takes anywhere from twelve to thirty minutes by freeway and car today. There was so much tension over religion, politics, land, family feuds, and power. People who were different were targeted and killed despite their innocence. It was incredible to see the stone benches they crafted in honor of those who were unjustly convicted. That topic inspired me from the moment I took on this little mermaid retelling. I had seen The Greatest Showman and Love Never Dies not too long before and thought freak show mermaid. What better way to tackle the problem of mistreating those who are different?

We tend to look at people and immediately judge what we see. I know how heartbreaking it is. As someone with green hair, black lipstick, a nose piercing, a septum ring, and a lip ring, I know how it feels to have someone look at you with disgust before even talking to you. I wanted to shed some light on that with this. We are called to love our neighbors. That doesn’t mean approving of all their choices, but it does mean treating them with the kindness Christ showed to those He came to save. How else can we shine the light of Christ to those around us?

Oh, here’s a little fun fact for you. Did you know Salem village changed its name? You can still find modern day Salem village. All you have to do is search Danvers. Curious, right?

I hope this article inspires you to go out and shine the light of Christ to those around you as you go about the new year. It’s one of my resolutions for this year. I also hope you do some digging of your own into history and lore. You’ll find some fascinating stories there.

Grace and leave be to you all!

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Denise Barela’s passion for fiction, her faith, and general creativity define her life. In all things, she strives to glorify God, though especially in and through her writing. She has spent the past six years working for a publicity company and five years working as the head editor for a publishing company. With an MFA in Creative Writing and a Professional Writing certificate, Denise enjoys using her education and work experiences to help authors achieve their own writing dreams. When she’s not working away at her desk, you might find her reading a good book or following Alice down the rabbit hole…

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