What New Adventure Awaits?

Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, – this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.
– 
Mary Baker Eddy

Little children are expert at leaving the old for the new. They progress from crawling to walking to running to leaping without making any conscious choice to do so. They lay down their toddler toys and graduate to new fun without agonizing over the decision: Does a ten year-old remember the last time she played with her Thomas the Tank Engine, or the last time she she laid down her dolly? Nope. I’m pretty sure not. It wasn’t an event. There weren’t balloons and fireworks and parades for her when she laid down her toddler toys. She just laid them down and cheerfully moved on to something else.

The changes and progress don’t stop with childhood, do they? I mean… we don’t stop learning new things or exploring new ideas or laying down old toys when we hit twenty. Or thirty. Or forty. Or fifty… right?

Every decade holds something new. Heck, every DAY holds something new. None of us have ever lived this day before – none of us have ever lived this MOMENT before – it’s all of it new territory. A new adventure. 

What will we do with this new moment? What new adventures will we find in this new year? What new paintings will we paint or songs will we sing? What new books will we read or write? What new places will we see? What new friendships will we make? What new things will we learn?

What new adventure awaits? 🙂

new day

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before…” – Philippians 3:13

“…progress is the law of God…” – Mary Baker Eddy

 

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Ode to Boxing Day

Ode To Boxing Day

It’s a humble holiday, tucked in between
Christmas and New Year’s, but it’s really keen.
Things look a little bedraggled, it’s true
The tree’s a little droopy and no longer new

The movies and music of the Christmas season
Are getting on our nerves now, and we’re seeing no reason
To eat even one more sugary oversweet sweet
It’s time for broccoli and carrots (maybe hold on the beets)

The pressure for perfection comes off on this day,
the toys have been opened, and it’s come time to play.
And if before we were wearing faux holiday cheer
to blend in with the others and not Scroogey appear

It’s time now to be genuine, and honest and real.
The food banks are empty, people still need a warm meal.
The homeless and hungry and jobless and alone
still need love and care, still need a home.

So maybe we can celebrate the day after Christmas
by keeping the spirit of hope alive,
we might make that our business.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell (from A Poem Lives On My Windowsill)

 

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The Christmas Dog

Excerpted from Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist and The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book:

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.

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The Best Gift All Day

I made a very cool connection with someone today, but I’ve been hesitating to share it because… I didn’t want anyone to think this was about me or my particular flavor of religion – this could have happened to any one of you – religious, non-religious, atheist, theist – it could have happened at the local coffee shop, or in a Methodist soup kitchen, or on a bench in the local park. But today it happened to me, and in the Christian Science Reading Room.

I’d just opened up the RR when a woman walked in, and gave a glance around the space. She wondered if she might use the restroom, and I said sure, and pointed her in the direction of it. When she came out a few minutes later she asked me to tell her about Christian Science. During the next hour and a half we shared our ideas about God, expressing love to our fellow humans, book publishing, and smiles.

She is newly homeless and living in her truck. So we talked for a while about what home is, and could be. She said she’s tried to rent a home several times in the last few months, but every time the deal fell through. I suggested to her that maybe she’s supposed to be buying a home, not renting one – and her face lit up, and she said that’s what she’s been thinking, too. She told me that she had a vision of herself sitting in a warm kitchen, offering cozy cups of tea to her friends. She pictures a place where there’s light and color and she can do her art, and look out a window and see a deer looking back at her. I told her that I felt a place had already been prepared for her, and all she had to do was open her thoughts up to all the infinite possibilities and she’d find it. Nothing, I told her, is impossible to Love.

She told me she was afraid she might lose her mind during this whole process of living in her truck, and being homeless, and I told her that I didn’t believe she could lose her Mind because I believe God is her Mind, the only Mind – and God, the power of Love, can’t ever be misplaced. She laughed – she liked the idea of that.

She asked if it would be okay if she sort of put herself together while we talked, and I said that would be fine. She took her hair out of its bun and it fell down to her waist – she combed it through with her fingers – she said it had been all snarled and knotted not long ago, but that someone had given her some oil for it that had taken the snarls out and left it in good shape. She unwound the pink scarf around her neck and wrapped it around again, re-arranged her matching pink sweater, and smoothed out her skirt. She looked beautiful. She said my teeth were really white, and she was self-conscious of her own teeth – that she wished they were whiter and straighter – she felt like her teeth looked like someone had just thrown pebbles randomly into her mouth. I was completely surprised by her appraisal of her teeth. “Come here!” I told her, and grabbed her hand and pulled her in front of the mirror. “Look at your smile! Your teeth are every bit as white as mine! You have a beautiful smile! Where in the heck did you get the belief that you don’t have a nice smile?!” She said she wanted to get her teeth fixed so she could smile her love at everybody. And I reassured her, again, that her smile was perfect right now, just as it was.

In talking about Christian Science, I offered her a free textbook, but she declined – she said it would be too heavy for her to carry around. So I gave her a small pamphlet called “Place” that I found on a Reading Room shelf – I thought maybe she could get some inspiration from that – and then I remembered I had some copies of my new book of poetry, A Poem Lives On My Windowsill, and gave her one of those. “You wrote this?” she asked, “I’ve always wanted to write a book!” So I explained the process I went through to get my book published and assured her that she could totally publish her own book. I wrote the name of the publishing company I went through, and told her that the publishing company, basically, walks you through the process once you have your manuscript ready. I shared one of my poems from the book with her then, because it seemed like it could have been written just for her:

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

You need not wait for approval, my friend
You need not wait to practice Zen
You need not wait to sing and soar
You need not wait – not one second more!
You need no one’s permission to be who you are,
to express and reflect and travel far.
If you want to write and publish a book
or cook up the recipes of a cordon bleu cook
If you want to dance or hop or run
don’t wait for permission – just get ‘er done.
You don’t need permission to love one another –
to be a partner, or friend, or sister or brother.
No, you need no approval to your life live.
You were MADE to express your you-ness,
and your talents to give.

And when she asked me how I pray, I opened the book up to my poem on prayer:

Prayer

What prayer feels like for me…
it’s like waking up to a beautiful
sunrise in the morning or listening
to an inspiring piece of music,
or looking at the stars on a clear night –
it’s a feeling of uplift – of thoughts
soaring, of fear dissipating, of a
consciousness full of joy and good will.

My new friend said she was going to go get herself a coffee when she left the Reading Room, and I asked her if I could give her the money for a coffee – I really wanted to do that for her – and, although I could tell it felt weird for her, she graciously accepted my small donation.

While we were talking a man came in, selling cleaning products. He demonstrated the power of his cleaning product, and I was duly impressed. It was quite a pricey product, but… what the heck, right? I bought a bottle of it.

After he left, my new friend said she really hoped the cleaner wasn’t from The Dollar Store. I smiled, and said I didn’t really care if it was. She said, “You’re a nice person.” And when she said that, what I thought was: We see in each other what we are ourselves.

As she was leaving the sun shone through the clouds and sent a beam right on her. She smiled into it, and said, “See? You’ve brought me light! I feel so much better now.”

And THAT was the best gift I got the whole day.

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Sunlight coming through the clouds today. (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Waiting for the Christmas Spirit

Waiting for the Christmas Spirit

The kitsch and spangles and baubles and bangles,
And department store Santa, just really can’ta
Seem to bring me the spirit of Christmas.

And I’ve been waiting to feel it –
the real Christmas spirit
Hoping it’d come by now.
The stockings are stuffed,
the tree is all buffed,
The cookies are baked and frosted and fluffed
But there’s still something missing –
a feeling, a tingling
that’s supposed to come every Christmas.

Except…
Maybe that Christmas feeling,
that energy and tingling
Is something I can have every day –
It doesn’t depend on spangles, or jingly-bell jangles
Or jolly men dressed all in red.
It comes in the sharing
of laughter and caring
And the comfort in words with love said:
To all – Peace! Joy! Hope! Every moment of every day.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book

http://www.amazon.com/Madcap-Christian-Scientists-Christmas-Book/dp/1500855154/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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