15th Anniversary of Book Publication

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of the publication of Blessings. Whoah. Times flies when you’re having fun… 🙂
(It has 33 reviews and 4.7 stars now! Whoo hoot!)
Here’s the introduction:

“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.”
-From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

***

Years ago an old boyfriend said to me, “I can’t see that Christian Science has made you any better than anyone else.”

“I know!” I said, nodding my head in complete and happy agreement, “But can you imagine what I’d be like without it?!”

He raised his eyebrows and laughed. What could he say? He was looking at a self-centered, moralistic, stubborn idealist who saw everything in terms of black and white. But I could have been worse. I believe without Christian Science I would have been worse.

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: I am not the best example of a Christian Scientist. I’m not as disciplined as I could be. I have fears and worries and doubts. I’m a little neurotic. I am the Lucy Ricardo of Christian Scientists.

I should probably put in a disclaimer here, too—the views expressed in these pages are not necessarily the views shared by other Christian Scientists. Christian Scientists are really a pretty diverse group of people—there are Democrat Christian Scientists and Republican Christian Scientists, “Green,” and “Red,” and “Blue” Christian Scientists, and Christian Scientists with no political affiliations at all. Frankly, I like that about us. We keep each other on our toes.

I should also tell you that this book is not an authorized piece of Christian Science literature. If you want to actually study Christian Science you should probably read the textbook for this way of life, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

My purpose for writing this epistle is really two-fold (I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “two-fold” in my life, and using it now is making me feel sort of professorial. I like the feeling.):

First-foldly, to introduce you to one Christian Scientist so that if you ever hear someone talking fearfully and ignorantly (feargnorantly?) about Christian Scientists you’ll be in a position to say, “I have a friend who’s a Christian Scientist, and, although it’s true she’s a bit of a nut, she’s also…” and you can go on and talk about how your friend has used her study of Christian Science to try to make the world a happier place.

Second-foldly, I feel the need to acknowledge God’s blessings in my life. I don’t want to be like those nine lepers in the Bible who couldn’t take the time to thank Jesus for healing them. I want to be like that one leper who “fell down on his face at his feet” before Jesus and gave him thanks (Luke 17). Through my study of Christian Science I’ve witnessed some incredible proofs of our Father-Mother God’s love for Her creation in my life. God has filled my life with infinite blessings and it’s time for me to acknowledge these blessings to others.

When I Thought Climbing Was Normal

At the time it all seemed kind of matter-of-fact normal. I climbed Mount Hood at 15. Climbed Rainier the summer before I turned 21. Climbed Baker the summer before I turned 31. Climbed Adams the summer before I turned 41. And I felt challenged by these climbs, for sure – felt like I’d had to push myself to get to the tops of these peaks – but this is what the people around me did. I guess this was my “normal.” It’s not been until recently that the significance of those climbs has really hit me. And I’m kind of astounded by myself, to tell you the truth. I mean… who did I think I was that I would even CONTEMPLATE climbing those mountains?!!

I’m reading a book by Joe Wilcox right now about his climb of Denali back in 1967. He references Mount Rainier several times in his book – talks about how Rainier is often used to prepare climbers for major expeditions and how it’s used to test the strength and ability of climbers to see if they are fit to climb in major expeditions. A lot of expedition climbers are from the Pacific Northwest because of their experience on Rainier. And most folks who come to Rainier to climb it have probably been preparing for that climb for months or even years. It is a big deal. Apparently.

Here’s how I got to climb Rainier: I was working in the gift shop at Paradise – hiking around up there before and after work – my body was used to the altitude. I was sitting outside after work one evening – looking at the mountain. My friend, Perky Firch, who also worked at the Paradise Visitors Center, was sitting next to me. I said to her, “We’re going to climb that mountain.” She said okay. I called my dad to ask him if he could guide us to the summit, and he agreed to be our guide. Two weeks later we were standing on the top of Rainier.

And the sheer naive confidence of my young self – the fearless innocence of it all – astounds me!

What a blessed life I’ve enjoyed! What opportunities came from being Dee Molenaar‘s daughter! I don’t think I fully appreciated that until now.

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Excuse the quality of the photo. I was too lazy to take it out of its frame on the wall.)

Karen on the summit of Rainier – with her father, Dee Molenaar on the left, and her brother, Pete Molenaar, on the right.

GunsandGod

Why do folks put guns and God – “gunsandGod” – together in the same breath like they’re somehow connected – somehow equivalent? It makes no sense to me.

Ed Mazza wrote a story in “The Huffington Post” that talked about our president’s attack on his political rival, Joe Biden – an attack that appeared to include the “guns” and “God” equivalency. Mazza relates: “Although Biden is a practicing Catholic who has for years talked openly about his faith, Trump claimed he was ‘against God,’ then launched into a rambling attack on Thursday: ‘Take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything. Hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy. Our kind of energy.’

Mazza continues: “Biden later defended his faith as the ‘bedrock foundation’ of his life.’It’s provided me comfort in moments of loss and tragedy, it’s kept me grounded and humbled in times of triumph and joy,’ he said. He described Trump as ‘shameful’ for the attack. He added: ‘My faith teaches me to love my neighbor as I would myself while President Trump only seeks to divide us. My faith teaches me to care for the least among us while President Trump seems to only be concerned about his gilded friends. My faith teaches me to welcome the stranger while President Trump tears families apart. My faith teaches me to walk humbly while President Trump teargassed peaceful protesters so he could walk over to a church for a photo op’.”

Guns and God. Turnips and God makes as much sense to me. If you love God, you must love turnips, too, right? Or… if you don’t love turnips, you must not love God? Or… if you love turnips you must love guns…and God…? Eesh. Maybe it’s all too deep for me to understand.

Anyway. Here’s some of what The Bible actually says about weapons:
“Wisdom is better than weapons of war.”
– Ecclesiastes 9:18

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.”
-Isaiah 2:4

“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place:for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
– Matthew 6:25

And here’s what Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, has to say about “the cannon’s mouth”:
“A few immortal sentences, breathing the omnipotence of divine justice, have been potent to break despotic fetters and abolish the whipping post and slave market; but oppression neither went down in blood, nor did the breath of freedom come from the cannon’s mouth. Love is the liberator.”

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Photo of cannons at Antietam by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

 

Talking Politics Isn’t a “Bad” Thing

A friend said something in a comment that got me to thinking. (And that’s a good thing, right?) She said that she didn’t know a conversation she had participated in was going to “devolve into politics.” I understand where she was coming from with that – I know not everyone is comfortable discussing politics. But I’d like offer a different perspective.

The implication in my friend’s comment was that discussing politics is a bad thing – maybe an uncivil thing? When something “devolves” it “degenerates” – “deteriorates, declines, sinks, slips, slides, worsens” (Google definition).

And I think it’s a real tragedy that participating in a discussion about political issues and concerns – sharing our thoughts about things that matter to us, our community, our world – is considered a bad thing. I learn so much from these dialogues! If we live in a vacuum – separated from the thoughts and perspectives of others – how are we ever going to be able to know the problems and challenges our fellow earth-travelers are experiencing? How are we going to be able to reach out and help each other? How are we going to learn from each other and understand each other?

I know these kinds of discussions aren’t enjoyable for everyone. And that’s okay. I don’t think anyone should be FORCED into sharing their beliefs. But I also don’t think people should be made to feel they’ve somehow done something wrong by sharing their thoughts about stuff. I’m not going to apologize for wanting to talk about things that matter to me. The freedom we have to share our ideas and beliefs with each other is a part of what made America a place my grandparents wanted to immigrate to.

Dangling “to” – and I ain’t apologizing for that, either. 🙂
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Trump Not the Answer

Originally posted in The Skagit Valley Herald (7/29/2020)
The political signs are up now. Every time I drive by one of Trump’s “Keep America Great” signs I have a deep visceral reaction. I mean — seriously? — keep America great?! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or scream.

My country is in serious need of not keeping things as they are. We are in the midst of a pandemic — caused, in part, by Trump’s lack of leadership, and lack of concern for his citizens.

We have government agents in our streets — rounding up innocent protesters, beating and detaining them unlawfully as they try to practice their First Amendment rights. We have an environment that is being poisoned relentlessly by corporate greed. Racism is running rampant.

Our constitution is threatened by the very person who took an oath to protect it. We are in deep trouble here. And no, Trump is not the answer.

Karen Molenaar Terrell

Derring Do and Adventure in the Land of Social Distancing

So I’ve been pretty much wearing black for the last five months. Although I’d like to say that I’ve been doing this in protest or something – it’s really just because I’ve not had any interest in my clothes. I have, like, five black tops and I just rotate them over my black shorts or my black jeans and I don’t spend much time thinking about it. But today it occurred to me that maybe that’s affecting my psyche. Maybe I should make some effort. So I put on a purple top; Put on my new capri blue jeans; I EVEN went so far as to put on a pair of dangly earrings – and my smiley mask, of course. And then I got myself in the car and drove to Sisters Espresso and showed off myself to Brooke. “See? See?” I mumbled through my mask, “I’m not wearing black today?! And see – I’ve got new capri pants! And I’m even wearing earrings!!!” Brooke (I so love her! ) gave me the exactly right feedback and encouragement I needed for making an effort.

I ordered a lavender green iced tea for myself, and then I looked across the espresso shop to the drive-thru window and yelled across to the bearded man, waiting patiently in his truck: “I’m buying you your drink today!” He smiled. “Sir, are you expensive?” I asked. He nodded his head yes and grinned. (His order wasn’t expensive at all.) “I’m also taking your punch on my punch card,” I informed him, pointing to my Sisters punch card, and he laughed.

And so ends another tale of derring do and adventure in the land of social distancing.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

Watching People Being Awesome

Quote

I sat at a picnic table near the children’s play area at Boulevard Park and watched people being awesome and doing good things. There was Susanne, picking up the litter she found (“I was a Girl Scout, ” she said. “Old habits die hard”). And there were Ashley (with her pup, Okanee) and Trista sitting on a couple of benches below me, becoming new friends across a socially-safe distance. And there were parents getting their children outside for fresh air and sunshine. And Alden and Ducklin carrying around a log that they just really liked. And old friends chatting and laughing together. I felt inspired by my fellow beings today…

via Watching People Being Awesome

Ten Perfect Minutes

I found ten perfect minutes today – sitting in the shade outside the coffee shop – all alone in the space set aside for patrons, sipping my blueberry-spinach-coconut milk smoothie. I watched the sailboats and paddle boarders and kayakers gliding by on the bay – and, with my mask securely fastened about my face – asked a pair of friends who’ve known each other for 40 years if I could take their photo for them – they said yes and thank you.  Another pair of friends – a black woman and a white woman – walked by and stopped on the walk in front of me to look out at the water – and I had to comment on the beautiful sweater one of the friends was wearing – she smiled and thanked me and told me she ordered her sweater online. Just as I was contemplating leaving and continuing on with my walk a family came out of the coffee shop and joined me in the space for patrons – my table was the only one in the shade, and I told them that I was leaving and they could sit where I was. They smiled and – making sure to keep the proper social distance – we moved around each other and they took over the table out of the sun.

Ten perfect minutes is a pretty wonderful thing.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

A Karen Reflects on True Identity

“The sense of identity is the root of all suffering.”
Mooji, Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space

Your true identity does not depend upon
a job title or a five-star review or your age
or the money in your bank account
or how many followers you have on your page
or your gender, weight, height, skin color, or name,
or your religion, political party, family or fame.

Your true identity is eternally held and maintained
safe in Love and Truth, free from shame.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Karen to Andrew: I’ve lost my parents; I’ve lost my youth; I’m losing my hearing; I’ve lost my beauty; I’m not a teacher anymore; now even my name stinks.
Andrew: You know what comes next?
Karen: The grave?
Andrew: (Laughing.) Nah, you get closer to God.

I just had a HUGE breakthrough, my friends! Lately I’d found myself feeling some negative bias towards people who used my name as a synonym for a white supremacist anti-mask Trump supporter. I’d come to believe that those who use “Karen” as a pejorative were not original thinkers, tended towards bigotry, were prone to labeling and stereotypes, enjoyed deriding and laughing at others, were bullies, and were unkind. BUT…

NONE OF THAT is the truth about ANY of us! If I accept that lie about even ONE of God’s children, I am allowing myself to get pulled into a whole tangled rat’s nest of nonsense – that, in the end, is going to bring me nothing good.

“When we identify ourselves with the sense of personhood, we are much like a wave on the surface of the ocean. Rather than resting in the vast space of pure Being, we become identified with some kind of passing event, thought, or emotion – perhaps a wave of anger, a particular role in our life, or even our entire sense of personhood.”
Mooji, Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space

“Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you ‘What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?’ Instead they demand ‘How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?’ Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Quotes on “identity” from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy:
“The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal.” (70)
“The one Spirit includes all identities.” (333)
“The universe reflects God. There is but one creator and one creation. This creation consists of the unfolding of spiritual ideas and their identities, which are embraced in the infinite Mind and forever reflected.” (503)
“The divine Mind, not matter, creates all identities, and they are forms of Mind, the ideas of Spirit apparent only as Mind, never as mindless matter nor the so-called material senses.” (505)
“This scientific sense of being, forsaking matter for Spirit, by no means suggests man’s absorption into Deity and the loss of his identity, but confers upon man enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace.” (265)
“The loss of man’s identity through the understanding which Science confers is impossible; and the notion of such a possibility is more absurd than to conclude that individual musical tones are lost in the origin of harmony.” (217)
“Error supposes man to be both mental and material. Divine Science contradicts this postulate and maintains man’s spiritual identity.” (287)
“Breaking away from the mutations of time and sense, you will neither lose the solid objects and ends of life nor your own identity.” (261)
“The material body and mind are temporal, but the real man is spiritual and eternal. The identity of the real man is not lost, but found through this explanation; for the conscious infinitude of existence and of all identity is thereby discerned and remains unchanged.” (302)
“Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love.” (477)

An alpine butterfly flits among the flowers on Table Mountain. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

I Am Tired, My Friend

Message to a friend –
Plato told us to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I know some of the battles my friends on here have been through that you know nothing about. I’ve been through my own battles that I don’t feel comfortable sharing on a public thread. I’m going to assume YOU are going through your own battles, too – probably dealing with stuff that I know nothing about – and that is what is giving me some restraint here. I am busy enough dealing with my own flaws and foibles and don’t have time to spend working on someone else’s.

But some of the things you’ve said on my threads have, frankly, horrified me – you seem to think it’s alright for federally-funded storm troopers – people my tax dollars have employed! – to round up innocent protesters, beat them, and detain them unlawfully – and that is… I can’t even wrap my head around it. You have implied American citizens should stop using their constitutional rights because federal thugs have become violent towards them. And no – what should happen there is that the federal thugs should be the ones removed from the streets – not the protesters. In my mind, you have it backasswards – the thugs shouldn’t be in control; the law-abiding citizens should.

I am tired, my friend. Worn down by the insanity. After reading your comments and other comments by other friends on other threads, I am losing hope for my country. The last three years have exposed to me things about the people I consider “friends” that… I am, frankly, shocked and disheartened by the callous disregard for other people; the hate-mongering and fear-mongering; and the fact that some of my friends are okay with storm troopers in our streets, bullying my fellow citizens.

What has happened to common decency? To caring for one another? To reaching out a hand to those in need of support? To standing up together against bullies and bigots and thugs? What has happened to the Golden Rule?
– Karen Molenaar Terrell