“…the Year that for you waits…”

A Flower unblown: a Book unread:
A Tree with fruit unharvested :
A Path untrod : a House whose rooms
Lack yet the heart s divine perfumes:
This is the Year that for you waits
Beyond Tomorrow s mystic gates.

– Horatio Nelson Power

Flowers and books and harvests, new paths and new friends – 2013 brought me an abundance of all of those things…  my Secret Garden gave me flowers like never before; my work  brought me wonderful new students and colleagues and adventures; and Goodreads tells me I recorded reading 20 new books – amongst them Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Navigation of the Globe, The  Boys in the Boat, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Born to Run, Biocentrism, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Hiroshima, The Aviator’s Wife, Miss Buncle’s Book, and this was the year when I finally discovered Kurt Vonnegut and read his Breakfast of Champions, Sirens of Titan, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Cat’s Cradle. 

And now we stand at the threshold of 2014. What new friends await us on the other side of the door? What new paths will we discover? What new adventures? And what new books?  I’m looking forward to the discovering… 🙂

Time is a mortal thought, the divisor of which  is the solar year. Eternity is God’s measurement of Soul- filled years.  – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy


“Drop thy still dews of quietness…”

Drop thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from us now the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.

– John Greenleaf Whitter


I woke up a few days ago with a really weird harmonic ringing in one of my ears. Whenever I’d talk or sing or hum,  a sort of odd echo – not quite on the same note as my voice – would start ringing and clanging through my head.  It was driving me nuts – comparable to having a bee stuck inside a helmet on one’s head.

It’s Christmas time and –  like all of you – there is a lot going on in my life right now – there are students to teach, church services to conduct, a Christmas caroling party to host, family and friends I want to spend time with – and I began to worry that, with this ringing in my head, I wouldn’t be able to do all I wanted and needed to do in the coming week.  I wondered, too, if this might not be a permanent condition – and how I would be able to function if this ringing never left me.

The first part of the day was really busy for me – there was a pile of Christmas gifts to wrap, and cards and letters to send – and I really was in need of a long walk on the bay, too. By the time afternoon arrived my kiester was dragging.  I made myself a nice cup of herbal tea and sat down at my computer to check up on my online life. And this is when I discovered that I had somehow managed to become one of the targets for a rumor and gossip festival. (I know, right? Seriously?! But the mortal counterfeit of man – not the perfect man of God’s creating, but the bogus one  – does choose to spend his time in some really peculiar ways now and then. )  Ahhh…. no wonder my ears had been ringing! 🙂

I saw what I needed to handle in my thoughts.

The topic of last week’s lesson sermon in Christian Science churches was “God the Preserver of Man” – and it was really helpful to me. In the Responsive Reading we read, “O you afflicted one, Tossed with tempest, and not comforted… You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you. No weapon formed against you shall prosper…” (Isaiah 54)  Later in the lesson-sermon we find this passage from Psalms: “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” And from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “All that really exists is the divine Mind and its idea, and in this Mind the entire being is found harmonious and eternal… Look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality. Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts… Universal Love is the divine way in Christian Science.”  As I read these passages, I found myself filled with a feeling of complete and total love towards all of God’s creation – towards all my brothers and sisters. A feeling of peace settled over me.

One of my favorite passages from Science and Health was included near the end of the lesson-sermon “It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established.”

As God’s child, I realized I am invincible and safe – nothing can harm me. I have nothing to fear. Love never leaves me. Truth never abandons me.  And there is never a moment when the clamor and clanging and clashing of human personalities can intrude or separate me – or anyone else – from the peace and joy of God, Love.

By the time I went to bed the ringing in my ear had stopped. I was healed.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2: 14

The Christmas Cat

“Once I was holding her, she stopped hissing and fidgeting, and when I sat down in the car with her, she relaxed against me, laid her head on my arm and began to purr as I petted her head and ears. As the son drove us to the vet’s I sang the song I’d once sung, years ago, to the Christmas Dog. “Everlasting arms of Love, are beneath, around, above…” (words by John R. MacDuff) and the kitty looked up at me with the same look of trust and love that the Christmas Dog had once shown me…”

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

(Originally published on December 19th, 2011)

Yesterday I told you about the Christmas Dog. Today I have a Christmas CAT story to share… 🙂

A few days ago my son came home from his walk with Sam the Dog, to tell me that they’d found a bloodied little calico cat on the side of the road.  She seemed to be injured, wasn’t moving much, had just enough energy to hiss at the dog, but not much energy beyond that. I grabbed a towel (the yellow Pittsburgh Steelers towel my dear in-laws from Pennsylvania sent us several years ago when the Seahaws and the Steelers were duking it out in some bowl game – I figured if any of my towels was going to end up bloody, it might as well be that one) and followed the son to the kitty.

She was curled up on the side of the road…

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Perfect Day Update :)

Follow-up on my last post:

I HAVE had a most perfect day…  listened to Sarah MacLachlan singing Winter’s Night on the drive up to Bellingham, went for a really long walk along the bay, met some new friends (both canine and human), heard the last performer of the season singing at the Farmers’ Market, and right now I am sitting here, laughing and watching the Men in Black with the son (Will Smith just sent that superball thingy ping-ponging around the MIB offices.)

And here’s something I realized today – letting myself feel overwhelmed and depressed and hopeless because there is cruelty in the world, and violence, war, and famine – is not in any way going to help people who are struggling with cruelty, violence, war, and famine.  There are things I CAN do to help – I can donate time and money; I can use what skills and talents I have to give my support to those struggling with oppression; and I can send out my joy and love into the collective consciousness of Good…

The good you do and embody gives you  the only power obtainable. Evil is not power. It is a mockery of strength, which erelong betrays its weakness and falls, never to rise. – Mary Baker Eddy

Beloved children, the world has need of you, —and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. – from Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy

The Perfect Day…

Today I am going to make a perfect day for myself. I’m going to do those things that bring me joy – I’ll take a nice long walk, take some pictures along the way, meet some new friends. I’ll sing my favorite songs. Listen to some Alison Krauss maybe. I’ll find stuff to make me laugh. Put on my sparkly necklace and earrings even thought they won’t match the jeans and cotton shirt that are comfortable for me and that I’ll be wearing with the sparkly spangles. I’ll look for the glory around me – in Nature, in people, in art. It’s going to be SPECTACULAR!!!

(Question: What would a perfect day look like for you? 🙂 )


The Pressure to be Merry

May joy settle upon you gently, moment by moment – may you catch it in the playful grin on a child’s face, in the uplift that comes from Beethoven’s Joy, in the smell of something good baking in the oven, in the hug from a friend – may you relax and enjoy those moments for what they are, and what they give you. And may any pressure you feel to somehow make those moments bigger, or brighter, or louder ease and lift from you… (optional)

The Christmas Dog

You can listen to the radio version of the Christmas Dog story here – it begins at about 16:30: http://sentinel.christianscience.com/audio/sentinel-radio-edition/2000/the-real-spirit-of-the-season-alive-and-well-and-right-where-you-are-program-051

(originally posted December 2011)

Christmas Eve, 1988.  I was in a funk.  I couldn’t see that I was making much progress in my life.  My teaching career seemed to be frozen, and I was beginning to think my husband and I would never own our own home or have children. The world seemed a very bleak and unhappy place to me.  No matter how many batches of fudge I whipped up or how many times I heard Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas,” I couldn’t seem to find the Christmas spirit.

I was washing the breakfast dishes, thinking my unhappy thoughts, when I heard gunshots coming from the pasture behind our house.  I thought it was the neighbor boys shooting at the seagulls again and, all full of teacherly harrumph, decided to take it upon myself to go out and “have a word with them.”

But after I’d marched outside I realized that it wasn’t the neighbor boys at all.  John, the dairy farmer who lived on the adjoining property, was walking away with a rifle, and an animal (a calf, I thought) was struggling to get up in the field behind our house.  Every time it would push up on its legs it would immediately collapse back to the ground.

I wondered if maybe John had made a mistake and accidentally shot the animal, so I ran out to investigate and found that the animal was a dog.  It had foam and blood around its muzzle.  She was vulnerable and helpless – had just been shot, after all – but instead of lashing out at me or growling as I’d expect an injured animal to do, she was looking up at me with an expression of trust and seemed to be expecting me to take care of her.

“John!”  I yelled, running after the farmer.  He turned around, surprised to see me.  “John, what happened?” I asked, pointing back towards the dog.

A look of remorse came into his eyes.  “Oh, I’m sorry you saw that, Karen. The dog is a stray and it’s been chasing my cows.  I had to kill it.”

“But John, it’s not dead yet.”

John looked back at the dog and grimaced.  “Oh man,” he said.  “I’m really sorry. I’ll go finish the job.  Put it out of its misery.”

By this time another dog had joined the dog that had been shot.  It was running around its friend, barking encouragement, trying to get its buddy to rise up and escape.  The sight of the one dog trying to help his comrade broke my heart.  I made a quick decision. “Let me and my husband take care of it.”

“Are you sure?”

I nodded and he agreed to let me do what I could for the animal.

Unbeknownst to me, as soon as I ran out of the house my husband, knowing that something was wrong, had gotten out his binoculars and was watching my progress in the field.  He saw the look on my face as I ran back.  By the time I reached our house he was ready to do whatever he needed to do to help me.  I explained the situation to him, we put together a box full of towels, and he called the vet.

As we drove his truck around to where the dog lay in the field, I noticed that, while the dog’s canine companion had finally left the scene (never to be seen again), John had gone to the dog and was kneeling down next to her.  He was petting her, using soothing words to comfort her, and the dog was looking up at John with that look of trust she’d given me.  John helped my husband load her in the back of the truck and we began our drive to the vet’s.

I rode in the back of the truck with the dog as my husband drove, and sang hymns to her.  As I sang words from one of my favorite hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal– “Everlasting arms of Love are beneathe, around, above” – the dog leaned against my shoulder and looked up at me with an expression of pure love in her blue eyes.

Once we reached the animal clinic, the veterinarian came out to take a look at her.  After checking her over he told us that apparently a bullet had gone through her head, that he’d take care of her over the holiday weekend – keep her warm and hydrated – but that he wasn’t going to give her any medical treatment.  I got the distinct impression that he didn’t think the dog was going to make it.

My husband and I went to my parents’ home for the Christmas weekend, both of us praying that the dog would still be alive when we returned.  For me, praying for her really meant trying to see the dog as God sees her.  I tried to realize the wholeness and completeness of her as an expression of God, an idea of God.  I reasoned that all the dog could experience was the goodness of God – all she could feel is what Love feels, all she could know is what Truth knows, all she could be is the perfect reflection of God.  I tried to recognize the reality of these things for me, too, and for all of God’s creation.

She made it through the weekend, but when we went to pick her up the vet told us that she wasn’t “out of the woods, yet.”    He told us that if she couldn’t eat, drink, or walk on her own in the next few days, we’d need to bring her back and he’d need to put her to sleep.

We brought her home and put her in a big box in our living room, with a bowl of water and soft dog food by her side.  I continued to pray.  In the middle of the night I got up and went out to where she lay in her box.  Impulsively, I bent down and scooped some water from the dish into her mouth.  She swallowed it, and then leaned over and drank a little from the bowl.  I was elated!  Inspired by her reaction to the water, I bent over and grabbed a glob of dog food and threw a little onto her tongue.  She smacked her mouth together, swallowed the food, and leaned over to eat a bit more.  Now I was beyond elated!  She’d accomplished two of the three requirements the vet had made for her!

The next day I took her out for a walk.  She’d take a few steps and then lean against me.  Then she’d take a few more steps and lean.  But she was walking!  We would not be taking her back to the veterinarian.

In the next two weeks her progress was amazing.  By the end of that period she was not only walking, but running and jumping and chasing balls.  Her appetite was healthy.  She was having no problems drinking or eating.

But one of the most amazing parts of this whole Christmas blessing was the relationship that developed between this dog and the man who had shot her.  They became good friends.  The dog, in fact, became the neighborhood mascot.  (And she never again chased anyone’s cows.)

What the dog brought to me, who had, if you recall, been in a deep funk when she entered our lives, was a sense of the true spirit of Christmas – the Christly spirit of forgiveness, hope, faith, love.  She brought me the recognition that nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible to God.

We named our new dog Christmas because that is what she brought us that year.

Within a few years all those things that I had wondered if I would ever have as part of my life came to me – a teaching job, children, and a home of our own.  It is my belief that our Christmas Dog prepared my heart to be ready for all of those things to enter my life.

– excerpt from *Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist* by Karen Molenaar Terrell


“…winged with Truth and Love…”

        Angels are not etherealized human beings, evolving  animal qualities in their wings; but they are celestial  visitants, flying on spiritual, not material, pinions. Angels are pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love, no matter what their individualism may be. Human conjecture confers upon angels  its own forms of thought, marked with superstitious outlines, making them human creatures with suggestive feathers; but this is only fancy. – Mary Baker Eddy (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)


Mary Baker Eddy defines “angels” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, as “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness,  purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality.”

When we’re receptive to them, we can  feel the presence of angels with us every where, every moment.

In the Scriptures we’re told that Mary and the shepherds heard angel-messages over 2000 years ago: “…behold,” says the angel Gabriel to Mary in the the first chapter of Luke,  “thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest… ”  In the next chapter we read,  “…there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord… And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 1 and 2)

“On earth peace, and good will to men.” What could be a purer angel-message than this?

Sometimes it seems to me I am most receptive to angel-messages when I am most in need of angel-messages. As Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health, “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.” When I was struggling with depression several years ago, circumstances trained my “suffering sense” to keep my thoughts open to all the good in every moment – trained me to recognize angel messages of love when they appeared.

God, Love, is continually talking to us – whenever we’re inspired to help our fellow man that’s the angel voice of Love talking; whenever we feel the impulse to ally ourselves with truth and justice that’s the angel-intuition of God, Truth; whenever our hearts are moved by the beauty and harmony in music, art, poetry – that’s the angel-touch of Soul.

In my last blog post I mentioned finding a great youtube clip for that Godspell song, Prepare Ye the Way. My success in finding that clip, led me to venture back onto youtube to look for a clip for the sister song to Prepare Ye the Way – Long Live God. And I found this sweet rendition by a singer named Vikki Dee: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWIK-MflAIk&feature=c4-overview&list=UUkedJ_DOLNDVkUQSLbsd7xA

I’ve been singing that song for the last two days – mixing it up a little – “Long live Life; Long live Truth; Long live Love; Long live God” – to coincide with my understanding of what God is.  And I’ve found inspiration in this musical exercise. I’ve felt the touch and power of Love inspiring me – long live Love!  What can overpower Love? Nothing! Long live Truth! What is more powerful than Truth? Zip. Long live Life! What can end the expression of Life? Nada.   “Love alone is Life,” writes Mary Baker Eddy in one of her poems.  And “Where there is love there is life,” says Mahatma Gandhi.

Long live Life. Long live Truth. Long live Love.  These are angel messages from God, “winged with Truth and Love.” They bolster me up with courage, envelope me in comforting love, and remind me of what’s really important.