So There’s This Photo Contest…

National Wildlife Federation is hosting a photo contest and I’ve entered five of my photos in it. True to form, I got ’em in just under the wire yesterday. If you would like to vote for any of these submissions (hint, hint), here are the links:

Heron at Sunset

Otter Family at Boulevard Park

Otter Family

Marmot at Mount Rainier

Marmot on Mount Rainier (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Trumpeter Swan Landing

and
Trumpeter Swans Landing

Trumpeter Swans in Bow, WA (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Thank you!
Karen

Getting the COVID Vaccine

“In the end, it was actually my background in Christian Science that gave me the courage to get the vaccine.”

Several folks dear to me – family and friends – have asked me if I was planning to get the COVID vaccine. To those dear ones concerned about my well-being: I already got my first dose last week.

If you know me, you can probably imagine the thought that went into this decision. In the end I got the shot for my community – to help the people around me feel safe and comfortable, and to help alleviate any worries they might have for me. And I got the shot so I could travel and be with my friends and family without the guilt and responsibility I might feel if I didn’t get the shot.

I had to address a lot of fear in my thoughts before I got the vaccine. To be honest, I was more scared of the vaccine than the virus. I’ve always been less than enthused about getting vaccines – and not because I’m a Christian Scientist (pfft) – but because I’ve had this belief that my body was designed to heal itself naturally and I didn’t want to interfere with that “healing process.” In the end, it was actually my background in Christian Science that gave me the courage to get the vaccine. As I was thinking about my fears, metaphysically, it came to me that it made no sense to think it’s unnatural to put humanly-made vaccines in my body, but to accept the virus as “natural.” Metaphysically, none of it is natural, and none of it can touch my real, spiritual identity as the expression, idea, reflection, image, likeness, manifestation, and child of Love and Truth. I am safe in God. We all are hid safely in our Father-Mother.

So. There you have it. My second vaccine is scheduled in a couple weeks.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The temporal and unreal never touch the eternal and real.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Let not your heart be troubled…”

– John 14

“Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
– Colossians 3:3

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”
– Matthew 22:21

“Whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself.”
– Mary Baker Eddy


Cosmic Give and Take

He was waiting outside the store
when I came out with my groceries
and I said hi. He smiled and said hi back.
Give and take.
Who taught him to smile? Who taught me?

I started to wheel my cart to my car
mentally scrolling through my shopping list
to see if I had anything to share with him.
Tangerines!
I rolled my cart back towards him.
You want an orange?
Sure!
Can you catch it?
Yeah! And he smiled at the idea
of a game of catch.
I tossed. He caught.
Who taught me how to throw?
Who taught him how to catch?
My dad? His dad? And now our dads
are connected in our give and take.

As Scott drove west, a train engine
went west in reverse. Our car
passed the train as the engineer
sat facing me and I smiled across
the tracks at him and he smiled
and waved back to me.
I caught his wave and returned it.
Who taught him how to wave?
Who taught me?
All the cosmos connected in a giant
give and take.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Marriage Equality

I believe that every citizen – regardless of race, ethnicity, social and economic status, religion, non-religion, gender, or sexual orientation – should have the exact same rights as every other citizen – including the right for consenting adults to marry whom they love.

On Wednesday my husband and I will celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary. Every year about this time I find myself thinking back to that happy day and the days leading up to it.

You know those shows you see on television where the bride spends HUGE amounts of time, thought, and bucks choosing the just right ring, dress, caterer, flowers, music, photographer, and reception venue for her “big day” – those shows where every minute detail of the wedding production is analyzed, critiqued, and judged for its merits on visual perfection? Where the ceremony is somber and refined and the highlight of the whole shebang is the dress the bride wears?

Yeah. That wasn’t us.

My engagement ring was a little garnet ring I picked out from a small jewelry shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the man who sold it to us was cheerfully, flamboyantly, hilariously gay – he had us cracking up the minute we walked into his shop. My wedding dress was the first dress I tried on from the sales rack at our local Bon Marche. Cost me $120. Our minister was a hoot – we’d met with him for a required counseling session, and when he told us that anything he had to say to us would be pretty much useless at this point – because it’s really only AFTER the wedding that the bride and groom realize what they’ve gotten themselves into (we later learned that he’d just recently been divorced), we immediately recognized the man had a sense of humor, and he was, for sure, the minister we wanted officiating our nuptials.

The wedding was a joyful, light-hearted affair in a small Methodist church in Gig Harbor – I remember the minister asking us if we really wanted to hold the service in his church – it was very small – could maybe hold 100 people – and very old (it’s since been torn down and a larger church built in a different location) – but, for our purposes, that little church was perfect – I liked the cozy smallness of it and the stained glass windows – and from the church’s steps we could look out across the water and see Mount Rainier rising above the hills in the distance. The wedding itself was simple, joyful, and natural. We weren’t too concerned with “perfection” – we just wanted our guests to feel comfortable and loved. The reception was held in my parents’ backyard – with the sound of laughter, and the smell of daffodils and plum blossoms, filling the air. And we played volleyball in the pasture – the groom’s team won, but it was a close game.

The minister came to the reception, and fit right in with our hooligan families and friends. Before he left he told us that sometimes he’s really worried about the future of the newlyweds he marries – they often seem more concerned about the wedding than the actual marriage – but, after watching us yukking it up with our families and friends, he felt good about being a part of our ceremony. He knew we were going to be alright. We knew how to laugh.

When I think about that day, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to deny other people the right to a wedding, and to a life-long commitment in marriage with the partner they love. I can’t understand why any heterosexual couple would feel their own marriage is threatened by giving everyone else the same rights that they have. I feel a real yearning for other folks who love one another, and are brave enough to make a commitment to each other, to be allowed to have what my husband and I were allowed to have.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

***

“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.” –
from the chapter titled ‘Marriage’ in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021

Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021 is now available as an ebook AND a paperback.

On January 19, 2020, my 101 year-old father (Dee Molenaar, a well-known mountaineer) died. Two days later, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States – in a town 40 minutes to the south of my home. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered the next month, and George Floyd was killed a few months later. We watched as our friends went insane with QAnon conspiracies; our president ordered peaceful protesters tear gassed so he could hold a Bible in front of a church; and white supremacists marched in our streets waving Nazi banners and Confederate battle flags. Then – because 2020 wasn’t done with us, yet – murder hornets were found in the United States – this time in a place 40 minutes to the north of my home. And on January 6th our country was turned upside down and our democracy almost shaken out of its bag.

In an effort to process Dad’s passing, and the year that followed, I began combing through news stories, Facebook posts, and my own blog. I found moments that made me laugh out loud, and others that were gut-wrenching for me. I found moments that had me shaking my head – wondering what the hell had happened to my country – and other moments that inspired me and made me proud to be an American. At some point during this process, I realized I was creating a book.The book, Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021, consists of news stories, personal anecdotes, essays, poems, and observations of what we all lived through in 2020.

A Year and a Day

On the nineteenth of January my father died
And so began the roller coaster ride
that was 2020 and 20 days –
a year we struggled to find our way.

At first there were empty streets and quiet weeks
of smogless skies and distant peaks
I found peace in the stillness – peace in the calm
That time alone was a much-needed balm.

But after – a montage of images flashes
now through my mind –
much of it dark, some of it kind –
exploding up, crashing down,
fire and rage all around
Our nation boils and seethes
and a Black man gasps, “I can’t breathe”

Veterans protect fathers with leaf blowers
who protect the mothers who protect our Black sons
and daughters from tasers and guns.
Ahmaud, Breonna, and George – say their names
Black Lives Matter – our nation sits in shame
as bigots and bullies scramble to shift the blame –
and settle on “Karen” (which is really lame).

And a just woman with a doily collar
and a selfish man who keeps up the holler
and lie of “Stop the steal”
and refuses to let the nation heal –
our neighbors reel and keel in their zeal –
fed rumors and news that are not real.

Dye runs down a lawyer’s face
a narcissist screams, “Show your strength!”
NAZI and Civil War flags fly in our streets
D.C. police pummeled and beat.
Racism and bullying and bigotry and hate,
caskets of COVID victims, rioters climb gates
Long lines for vaccinations, as people wait.

In the end the heroes win – as heroes always do –
they step up and vote and stop the coup –
they wear masks to protect each other – me and you –
they stand up for Breonna and Ahmoud and George –
and in the fiery fire a stronger land is forged.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Let’s Stop Dehumanizing Each Other

At a time when we desperately need to come together and support the good in each other – at a time when we need to do away with stereotypes and stop dehumanizing each other – it was very disappointing to see the headline in the paper today. It felt like a punch in the gut. It’s time for people of privilege to stop using “Karens” as their scapegoat – as a way to show that they are allies to the disenfranchised and that they aren’t bigots. In actuality, people who use “Karen” as a pejorative are revealing their bigotry – their sexism and ageism – by using the name in this way.

Using “Karen” as a label for a racist isn’t funny or clever. It’s mean. Those named “Karen” feel pain; they cry and mourn and grieve and deal with mental health issues just like everyone else. And this kind of bullying hurts – I have at least one friend named “Karen” who has contemplated suicide in the last year. Using “Karen” in this way does not add anything good or kind to this world. And this world is in desperate need of kindness.
Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Good You Seek

The Good You Seek

I want to take a break, I said.
Can I step out of life for a moment,
or maybe stay in bed?
Can things go on without me?
Can you just pretend I’m not here?
For life is a messy business
and I’m tired and I’m weary
I’ve made too many mistakes to count today
And I’d like to not make anymore, not any.

And the still small voice reached into my thought
– gentle, peaceable benediction –
“All the good you seek and all that you’ve sought
you can claim right now – and that’s no fiction –
for Love is yours to express, to feel, and to be
– you are wealthy beyond description.
Nothing else matters, there’s no other power
no warring opinions, no need to cower
You are loved and you’re loving
and that’s all there is to it
Love’s loving child, and there’s nothing else
but loving, simply nothing.”
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, A Poem Lives on My Windowsill