I just had a flashback from 40 years ago. I was on a ferry from Seattle to Bremerton – I think I’d been visiting a friend in Seattle. I was standing at the railing of the ferry by myself, looking out over the water. A good-looking young man with blue eyes approached me and started chatting. He was visiting from another state, he said. Out here to lead a meeting or a gathering – I don’t remember his exact words now. He thought I might be interested in going to this meeting. I asked him what it was about. He said he was with the KKK. I remember feeling like I’d just been kicked in the gut – thinking he did not look like what I thought a KKK member would look like – shocked that there was anyone in the KKK in Washington State – wasn’t the KKK a southern thing? I told him no, I was not interested in his meeting. He tried to convince me to join him. I remember saying something like: “The KKK is against rights for blacks. The KKK hates black people.” And he smiled this really charming smile and said that no, the KKK wasn’t about hating black people – the KKK just wanted to make sure white people had rights, too – or something like that. I told him no, the KKK is racist, and no, I was not going to go to his meeting, and I walked away.
Back in February and March – when COVID-19 was first making the news – I had terrible fears for a loved one who was traveling though Europe. (Maybe someday I’ll share more about that.) My terror caused me to pull out all the tools I’d acquired in my life to get me through troubling times – and one of the chief tools was expressing gratitude for all the good in my life.
I remember lying in bed one night in particular – my thoughts were all agitated and I couldn’t find peace. I was just staring at the ceiling, trying to calm myself, and I started listing in my thoughts all the people I was grateful for in my life – my sons, husband, Mom and Dad, siblings, nieces and nephews, in-laws, friends from grade school, junior high, high school, university, Mount Rainier friends, neighbors, colleagues, church friends, Humoristian friends, FB friends, WordPress friends – and then I found myself including people who might not be considered “friends” – people I thought had maybe treated me unkindly or unfairly, people I’d had a rift with – and I found myself genuinely grateful for THEM, too, and for my connection to them.
It was a cosmic moment for me. I felt my connection to all of God’s, Love’s, creation – and each and every expression of Life. I knew this overwhelming gratitude that I’m not solitary and alone in this vast, infinite universe – grateful for my connection to all the infinite expressions of Life. I felt Love’s presence with me – supporting me – sure and comforting and healing and powerful. My fears dissolved away and I was able to go back to sleep.
I’m going to practice having more of those cosmic moments.
And I know those moments begin with love.
I found another treasure while sorting through my piles and cupboards during the COVID-19 lockdown: the memory of an old friend.
I found the memory as I was going through the shelves and more shelves and stacks of books I’ve accumulated through a lifetime of reading. I have books from my sci-fi phase; from my fantasy phase; from my romance phase; from my mystery phase; from my memoirs phase; from my true life adventures phase. I have books from authors who make me laugh and books by authors who make me think, and books by authors who make me do both. There’s my Tolkien collection and my Vonnegut collection and my Douglas Adams collection and my old Earl Emerson collection. There are my Neil Gaiman books and my Norah Roberts books and my Jane Austin books and my Agatha Christie books. And, as I was sorting through my stacks, I found I’d accumulated a whole lot of Christian Science books, too – and that’s when I stumbled upon the memory of my friend.
I’d come upon yet another copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy – this one was a 7 12″ by 10 1/2″ “Reader’s Edition”– an old black leather beauty. I opened it up to see if I could find out where I’d come by this one – and that’s when I saw – written in elegant red calligraphy – the name of my dear friend, Jane Elofson. Just seeing her name there awakened a sweet memory of my friend’s beautiful smile.
Jane Elofson had been one of the people who had made me feel welcome when my husband and I moved to Skagit County 35 years ago and I began attending the local Christian Science church. Jane, and her husband, Gordon, must have been about 68 or 69 then. They were one of those couples from The Greatest Generation that exuded a kind of classy kindness and grace. Gordon was handsome and dignified without being stuffy – he had a wonderful laugh and a great sense of humor. And Jane was stylish and gracious and funny – she had a “Ginger Rogers” kind of class about her.
As I stared at Jane’s name in the book I couldn’t remember when I’d last seen Gordon and Jane – and when I’d lost contact with them. It’d been decades, at least.
I thought it might be cool if I could do some googling and see if I could find some children, or maybe grandchildren, that I could send Jane’s book to. I imagined her loved ones opening up my package and finding Jane’s name in the book, and I imagined the happy surprise that might bring them. But there was little information to glean from the internet about Gordon and Jane. There was a 1940 census that placed them in Oregon when they were both 23 and newly-married. There were possible obituaries in Minnesota and an old photo of what might have been a younger version of Jane. But, eventually, I hit a dead end on the world wide web.
I contacted a mutual friend who had loved the Elofsons, too, and she gave me a bit more information – she told me she thought the Elofsons had a son, an artist, who lived on the east coast somewhere. I went back to googling, but soon stalled out again.
In the end, it seems the only physical evidence I have to show that Jane Elofson was ever on this planet is her elegant signature in the leather-bound copy of the Science and Health I found in my stacks of books.
Maybe this is what she would have wanted. Maybe there’s something kind of clean and simple about leaving this planet with no trace of yourself – no trace that you ever lived on it, or were ever a part of it.
But I can’t help myself – I feel a real yearning to call out Jane’s name at least this one more time – to bring her name to the world wide web and acknowledge her existence – acknowledge her kindness to me and remember her beautiful smile.
Went for a hike on the Baker Lake Trail yesterday with the family. I really needed this…
(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)
It is Father’s Day – and it is also my dad’s 102nd birthday – a double whammy. When Dad was 99 and lying in a hospital bed with a UTI, angry that he wasn’t being allowed to leave, he announced to my husband and me that he was “going to live to be 102!”
He almost made it, too. He died January 19th of this year – just five months short of his goal.
A lot has happened in those five months. If my dad were suddenly to reappear here today and look around at what’s happened to our world in the last five months I’m not sure what he’d make of it all. I know he’d be celebrating some of it – I know he’d support the Black Lives Matter movement and be glad to see the progress that is being made towards equality for all people. He’d probably be baffled to see everyone walking around in face masks – but I think he’d like the smiley face on mine. 🙂 He might be frustrated by the way elderly folks are being isolated from the community and he probably wouldn’t like not being able to have a lot of visitors. But – as he always managed to do – he’d make the best of the circumstances – he’d rejoice in the good, patiently wait for the bad stuff to pass, and remain hopeful about the future. He was born at the end of WWI and the beginning of the Spanish Flu pandemic; survived the Great Depression and service in WWII; and survived 10 days in a small tent in a blizzard at 25,000′ on K2 – he wouldn’t be daunted by 2020. Pffft.
My dad, Dee Molenaar, had a full and wonderful 101 years and seven months. He saw his share of tragedies, but he also saw his share of triumphs.
I miss him. As I look at the photo of him, standing next to my mother on their wedding day, I feel him with me. I feel them both with me. Giving me courage. Telling me it’s all going to be alright. We’ll make it through this.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.
Let’s stop shaming each other,
stop blaming each other –
stop looking for the faults and flaws
in each other.
No human is perfect –
we’ve all made mistakes –
let’s stop pointing fingers
and each do what it takes
to tear down the walls,
and set free the doves
celebrate our differences
and practice Love’s love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell
“If the Christian Scientists would be saved they must love. If there is any health in love, in life, you must stop hating. Stop saying hateful things; stop doing hateful things. Simply get to work at number one and make a lover of him as rapidly as possible. Do not think you ought to find fault with some one else; let him alone.”
– Edward A. Kimball, Lectures and Articles on Christian Science
“Remember that no human being is without shortcomings. Even if you were in the company of an angel, eventually they might tick you off about something, and then you would say, ‘Look, I’m sorry but you have to go. Get thee back to heaven!’ But maybe instead of kicking the angel out the door, just acknowledge that no one is perfect and you won’t take it personally if it turns out that the person is merely human after all.”
– Mooji, Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space
Excerpted from “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman (click here for a really powerful youtube video of a workshop session for the movie):
I’m not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one will love you as you are…
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious…
And I know that I deserve your love
There’s nothing I’m not worthy of
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is bruised
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me…
– Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’
and bigotry of whatever kind will always stink.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell
Alrighty. Carry on then… 🙂
Without going into detail about what was going on here, my eldest son just witnessed me talking to a customer service rep on the phone. During the course of the conversation the customer rep asked me my full name. I told her I was really embarrassed to give her my first name now because of the meme, but I promised her I wasn’t going to want to talk to her manager. The son could hear her laughing through the phone. We had a delightful conversation and she helped me solve my problem and wished me a good day.
The son said he really enjoyed listening to how I talked to the rep. He said he witnessed me “dispelling myths and solving problems at the same time.”
That felt good. 🙂
Honestly, though? Lately I’ve been struggling with the Karen meme a little. For years my Karen friends and I have marched, gone to rallies, written letters against bigotry and injustice, fought our own personal battles for equality – and now it feels like all that we’ve invested in equality – all our words and efforts – are being brushed aside like they never mattered to anyone or made any difference. The Karens – or maybe middle-aged women in general – are being lumped into one monolithic group and stereotyped – told by others what we believe – our own personal narratives taken from us and discounted.
And that really stinks.
Yesterday morning I read an article about a man who wrote “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on his own property and was chastised for doing that by a woman NAMED LISA who didn’t believe him when he said it was his property. I was immediately indignant on this man’s behalf – ready to share his story in my Facebook progressives group. And then I saw it. The news writer covering the story – a mainstream media writer named Madison Vanderberg – wrote: “The world is still protesting, marching, calling DA offices, signing petitions, and overhauling their social media presence in the name of civil rights and yet, despite all of this, Karens of the world are still calling the cops on people of color.” And a little further on the man himself – the very man who had been a victim of bigotry – referred to the woman NAMED LISA as a “Karen.” (It is interesting to note that no label was attached to the woman’s husband – who was also present.)
I found myself shutting down – just staring at the screen and trying to process what the hell I’d just read there.
And here’s the thing: Exchanging one target of bigotry for another is not progress, you know?
Let me share some of the stories of the Karens who are my friends –
Karen Blair Troinello was a gifted runner, born at a time when females did not have equal opportunity to participate in school sports. She changed that: “Troianello is more than a passionate advocate of sports for girls. She is a pioneer who left her name — her maiden name — forever etched in state history. She is the former Karen Blair, the named plaintiff in the landmark Blair v. Washington State University lawsuit in 1979 that forced greater gender equity in college athletics.” (The Seattle Times, June 16, 2012.)
Because of Karen Blair Troinello equity was legislated for females in school sports. Let’s show her some appreciation.
My friend Karen Beckner has long fought for equality – here’s a photo of her in The Skagit Valley Herald, marching for the rights of migrant children.
And my friend Karen Rippberger ran for public office as a progressive in a conservative district in Oregon, and – although she didn’t win the election – she’s played a huge part in helping her local LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights. Laura Camacho wrote in her voter’s guide: ” Karen Rippberger has a servant’s heart approach to leadership that is palpable on her website.”
Trust me – you want the Karens who are my friends fighting on your side. The Karens who are my friends don’t put up with bigotry, inequity, stereotypes, ageism, racism, sexism, discrimination, or lazy labels.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell
This morning’s rant. I apologize in advance for any offense this may give, but…
IS THERE ANYONE WHO REALLY WANTS ANOTHER FOUR YEARS IN THIS COUNTRY LIKE THE LAST FOUR?!!! Holy crap. It’s not just about what’s happened since COVID-19 – it’s all the other !@#$ leading up to COVID-19: Environmental protections squashed; the planet, literally, on fire; the seas rising, along with the deficit; big corporations and the CEOs who run them getting subsidized, while the poor keep getting poorer; the rise of hate crimes and racism (and all other brands of hate-ism); NAZI flags and Confederate flags in our streets; our elections tampered with by a foreign power; long-time alliances lost; treaties ended; foreign service employees and the FBI under attack by our/their own president.
And last week this happened: Our president ordered police officers to tear gas peaceful protesters and clergy so that he could stand in front of a church, holding the Bible, for a photo opportunity.
Is anybody really enjoying the path our country is currently on?!!!
Karen Molenaar Terrell
“The powers of this world will fight, and will command their sentinels not to let truth pass the guard until it subscribes to their systems; but Science, heeding not the pointed bayonet, marches on. There is always some tumult, but there is a rallying to truth’s standard. Love is the liberator.”
– Mary Baker Eddy