Dad’s Big Birthday Bash

(Excerpt from Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom)
June 21, 2016
Dad’s (Dee Molenaar‘s) big 98th birthday bash was yesterday. I spent the week before the party trying to get the house ready for our guests – dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, washing curtains, washing windows, battling cobwebs, pulling weeds, planting flowers, de-cluttering, and policing every horizontal surface in the house to make sure no new piles of stuff started growing on them. But frankly, when one lives in a house full of active, busy people, it ain’t easy to hang onto one’s feng shui. By the day of the party I was completely wiped-out.

And my house was still… well… how shall I put this? Let’s just say my house is not something you would find in “Good Housekeeping” magazine. It is not a show house. It has been lived in, and it looks like it: The ottoman has chunks out of it from when the dog was a puppy; the ceilings have hand-prints from the sons jumping up and tagging them; and the windows on the french doors have perpetual smudges at about the same level as the dog’s nose.

A couple hours before the party I went to fetch my parents and bring them back to the house. When I returned with my parents I found my sons, Andrew and Xander, and my eldest son’s girlfriend, Sierra, had arrived and were ready to help in any way they could. The sons moved furniture around for me, and, with the flip of a sheet and a strategically-placed pillow, Sierra was able to turn a battered old chair into an attractive piece of furniture. Then the three went outside to set up the volleyball net (because what is a summer party without volleyball – am I right, or am I right?), my husband, Scott, put the salmon on the grill, and Mom and Dad got comfortably settled to await their guests – who soon began to arrive.I hadn’t told my parents about most of the guests.

I hadn’t told them about Dad’s nephew who was flying in from Chicago; Dad’s niece who was coming up from San Francisco; Mom’s niece and her husband from Oregon; one of Mom’s nieces and her husband from Vancouver (Washington); another of Mom’s nieces and her husband from Seattle; and the daughter of a niece, and her husband, from Tacoma; Fred, Bill, and Roger, Dad’s old climbing buddies from Seattle, and Fred’s wife, Dorothy; Roland, who’d worked as a mountain rescue volunteer in King County; musician Tracy Spring – the daughter of Dad’s old friend, Bob, the famous photographer; Mark Schoening, the son of the man who had saved my dad’s life on K2, and his wife, Emmy; my old high school friend, Rita, who years ago had taken a trip to California with Dad and me, and Rita’s husband, Skip; and the two young women who worked for Mountaineers Books and wanted to return original artwork from Dad’s book, The Challenge of Rainier.

And then there were the people my parents HAD been expecting: My brothers, Pete and Dave; Pete’s girlfriend, Sheila, who immediately manned the kitchen for me and kept the food coming; Dave’s children, Claire and Casey, and Claire’s boyfriend, Michael; our old family friend, Jack, whom we’ve known for more than 50 years; Rick and Jana and their daughter, Cindy, who are like family to us, and Cindy’s friends who had been in the same orphanage in China that Cindy had been in before they’d all been adopted and brought to America; my neighbors and fellow mountain people, John and Mike and Cliff; and Dean, a former colleague, and his wife, Ruth – both big time mountain aficionados.

The house was soon packed full of people. Interesting, well-traveled people. Fun people. Amazing people.

I forgot all about the aesthetics of my house – my focus shifted, instead, to all the generous, wonderful folks who had taken the time and made the effort – some of them traveling hundreds of miles! – to be with Daddy on his special day. I was overwhelmed by the kindness of that.

Near the end of the festivities, Tracy Spring got out her guitar and sang for Dad a song she had written herself. It was the absolutely perfect song for that time and that place and I started tearing up when Tracy got to the last verse. Then Roland brought out his guitar, and he and Tracy strummed the song Summertime, while I sang it.

Ohmygosh. It was such a fun day!

At the end of it all, as Dad was sitting in the car, waiting to be driven back to his apartment, I asked him if he’d enjoyed his birthday bash. He said yes, he had. But he was surprised. Had all those people come for him?! Why?! “Because they love you,” I told him, and kissed him on the cheek. He blinked at me, trying to process it all.

At some point – a couple hours into the party – two or three different people came up at separate times to tell me what a “beautiful home” I have. I thanked them, but… yeah, I was surprised. They saw my puppy-chewed, son-tagged, dog-smudged house as “beautiful”?! Wow. That was very nice for them to say, but… really?!

This morning Mom called to tell me that Dad has been asking her all morning if yesterday had just been a dream. Each time he asked, Mom assured him it had all been real.

I thought again to those comments about my home and had an epiphany. My home HAD been beautiful – not because of its physicality – but because it had been packed full of beautiful people. It had been filled full of love. How could it NOT have been beautiful?!
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

A Hike with Dad

(Excerpt from Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad)

I’ve graduated from university now. Dad has led me to the summits of Rainier and Hood by this time. I’ve seen deep blue crevasses and the castle-like suncups that form on glaciers; smelled the sulphur of volcanoes, and the ozone of high altitudes. Today, though, Dad and I are on a simple hike up to the top of Salushkin Falls.

We find a place to settle together in the heather meadows and pull out our sandwiches. We sit for a while in companionable silence. Then Dad asks me if there’s any song that inspires me. I think about this for a moment. The first Star Wars movie has just come out, and I tell Dad that the Star Wars theme song inspires me. I ask Dad what song inspires him, and he says, without hesitation, “The Lone Prairie.”

I am surprised by this. I was expecting him to name some song of the mountains maybe – Dad is a well-known mountaineer, after all, and at the moment we’re sitting on the slopes of Rainier.

Intrigued, I ask Dad to sing “The Lone Prairie” for me, and he does – in the same way a young boy might sing to his mother – without artifice or showmanship. It is a sweet moment.

“Oh carry me back to the lone prairie
Where the coyotes howl and the wind blows free
And when I die you can bury me
Neath the western skies on the lone prairie… “

(Here’s a photo of Dad on me on Sauk Mountain. Circa 2000.)

Your Life Needs You to Live It Right Now

Note to self:
You’re not born with a finite supply
of hearing, seeing, moving, being
that’s going to run out at some point
and leave you deaf, blind, arthritic,
and dead.
Don’t feel like you have to reserve life
and lay some aside like some crazy miser,
holding your life back for future use –
your life needs you to live it right now.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

It’s a Matter of Trust

It’s a matter of trust.
Without trust, we shut the door on joys and love
that might have been ours and instead spend time
analyzing and imagining the bad that could happen
if we open the door wide to what’s outside
and let Life embrace us.
We limit what we can do and be and know and see
and have in our lives.
And when eventually our lives come to an end
we look back and wonder what might have been
if we’d just trusted in Life.

It’s a matter of trust.
With trust, we can open our hearts wide to Life
and to the endless possibilities and opportunities
for being and sharing  and giving and living
without fear of lack, or hurt, or failure or loss –
knowing Love will celebrate with us
when we open our heart’s door
and let Life shower and pour
Its treasures on you and me
in ways we can’t possibly foresee.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Climate Change

“The physical universe expresses the conscious and unconscious thoughts of mortals. Physical force and mortal mind are one.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
– I Kings 19:11-12

“God quieted the storm to a whisper; the sea’s waves were hushed.”
-Psalms 107:29

From a human standpoint, our planet is in a bad way and in need of urgent care. Some of our most important heroes today are those people committed to saving our planet and its inhabitants from environmental destruction : Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough come immediately to mind. And I’m thinking the planet needs us ALL to be heroes right now.

We all know that there are things we can do, humanly, to help our planet: reduce; reusue; recycle; compost; buy local; get hooked up to solar or wind-powered energy; use an electric or hybrid car; use reusable shopping bags; and etc. (A good resource for ideas can be found in Columbia Climate School‘s article “The 35 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint”).

And, as a Christian Scientist, I also believe it’s important to align ourselves mentally with the power of Truth and Love to help our world. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science: “The physical universe expresses the conscious and unconscious thoughts of mortals.” If Eddy is right, when our thoughts are full of fear, greed, carelessness, and apathy – that’s what we’re going to see expressed in the physical universe. And, contrariwise, if our thoughts are full of kindness, gratitude, appreciation, and the desire to nurture what’s good in the world – THAT’s what we’ll see manifested in our physical environment.

Maybe one thing the human race has to work on is the problem we have with taking good for granted. I believe it’s a positive thing to have an “expectancy of never-ending good” – but part of that expectancy should include gratitude for the good we already have. Mary Baker Eddy writes: “We plead for unmerited pardon and for a liberal outpouring of benefactions. Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.”

The race in our culture to acquire and accumulate more matter has not led us to a healthy place. It seems to me that if we really trusted in God, in Love, to supply our daily need, we wouldn’t be driven by fear to hoard matter. In the Bible, Jesus tells his followers: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” (Matthew 6.) And Mary Baker Eddy begins Science and Health with this line: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”

As a Christian Scientist, I believe it’s possible to use the power of Love (God) to control our environment and to bring health to our planet – to transform the world. I believe nothing is impossible to Life, Truth, and Love – to God. I believe it is never too late to change our mental environment, and so change our physical environment. But I also believe it is never too EARLY to change our mental environment. As Anne Frank says, “How wonderful it is that nobody need waste a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Through discernment of the spiritual opposite of materiality, even the way through Christ, Truth, man will reopen with the key of divine Science the gates of Paradise, which human beliefs have closed, and will find himself unfallen, unpright, pure, and free, not needing to consult almanacs for the probabilities either of his life or of the weather, not needing to study brainology to learn how much of a man he is.

“Mind’s control over the universe, including man, is no longer an open question, but is demonstrable Science.”
– Mary Baker Eddy (p. 171)

“Is there no divine permission to conquer discord of every kind with harmony, with Truth and Love?”
-Mary Baker Eddy (394)

“When Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. A huge storm arose on the lake so that waves were sloshing over the boat. But Jesus was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!”
He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?” Then he got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm.
The people were amazed and said, “What kind of person is this? Even the winds and the lake obey him!”
– Matthew 8:23-27

“My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass…”
Deuteronomy 32:2

“Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind. They belong to divine Principle, and support the equipoise of that thought-force, which launched the earth in its orbit and said to the proud wave, ‘Thus far and no farther.'”
-Mary Baker Eddy

“The true Logos is demonstrably Christian Science, the natural law of harmony which overcomes discord, — not because this Science is supernatural or preternatural, nor because it is an infraction of divine law, but because it is the immutable law of God, good. Jesus said: “I knew that Thou hearest me always;” and he raised Lazarus from the dead, stilled the tempest, healed the sick, walked on the water. There is divine authority for believing in the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

Genesis 9:
11 And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

“In atmosphere of Love divine, we live and move and breathe…”
Christian Science Hymnal #144

Endless Joy; Forever Love; Never-Ending Truth

A prayer.
Love, Truth, and Life fill all space. Love, Truth, and Life fill every moment. Love is always with us. We are never outside the reach of Truth. Life never ends. Love, God, is the only Mind, the only Intelligence, the only power.

Mankind is the expression, reflection, and manifestation of Life, Truth, and Love. All we can know is what Truth knows. All we can feel is what Love feels. All we can be is infinite Life living Itself.

The belief that bureaucracy can interrupt the flow of Truth is a lie, for Truth is the only power – nothing has power over Truth. The belief that disease can stop Life is a lie, for Life, God, is never-failing, never-ending, always present and full – nothing has power over Life. The belief that cruelty can touch any of God’s children is a lie, for all of Creation lives safe in Love, hid with Christ in God.

There is no spot where Truth is not. There is no moment when Love is not. Nothing can usurp Love’s control over Her own Creation. Love is here right now, forever and always: Endless joy; forever Love; never-ending Truth.
Amen.

Sunset over flooded fields in Skagit County, Washington State. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

I Taught History for Two Decades…

“Covering iniquity will prevent prosperity and the ultimate triumph of any cause. Ignorance of the error to be eradicated oftentimes subjects you to its abuse.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

I taught history for two decades. My students learned about the Holocaust, slavery, the Trail of Tears, attacks against Chinese railroad workers and miners, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the killing of Charlie Howard. They watched “The Grapes of Wrath” and learned about the struggles and inequity the poor faced during the Great Depression. They learned about the Constitution – about their rights and the rights of others. They practiced being lawyers defending clients against injustice. They created their own presidential candidates out of construction paper and words, and learned about the qualifications their candidates would need to run for president. My students learned about heroes in history, too – they learned about Georgio Perlasca, Irena Sendler, Oskar Schindler, Ghandi, Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, Susan Anthony, Harriet Tubman, and the unheralded acts of kindness “common” people showed to others during times of challenge and struggle.

My students learned about these things and people to help give them tools to be heroes themselves one day.

To force teachers to skip over the ugly parts of history – injustice, inequity, racism, political and corporate greed and dishonesty – is not a help to our world, our country, or our students. It is not preparing our young people for the challenges they and/or their friends will be facing in their lives or helping to create the heroes our world so desperately needs.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

I Can Live in Now

I discovered something the other day –
I was sitting in a cranky, put-upon place
stewing in my own impatience –
and then – I shut it off. Put it behind me.
The troubles from the moment before
were no longer relevant to me.
And a laughing lightness –
a joyful presence – just wrapped itself
around me in a happy hug and –
instantly! – I felt whole and free
and at peace with the world.
I discovered I can let go of then.
I discovered I can live in now.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

May: Sunrise over Skagit County, WA

Sam the Wonder Dog

I expect to see her at the door
tail wagging
on our walks
nostrils quivering
one paw raised mid-stride
nose covered in dirt
from her latest hole
unaware of her own beauty
sleek and shiny as a black panther,
but goofy as a Disney character
exhausting
exuberant
extraordinary
friendlly, fetching frisbees and finding –
like magic! –
every tennis ball that ever landed off a trail.
It was a gift she had.
Her first night with us she ate a chunk
out of our ottoman – which we will now call
“The Samantha Terrell Memorial Ottoman.”
Then she went through an “electronics”phase –
the cellphone (chomp),
the remote control (crunch).

Sam loved her neighbors –
the dogs and their humans –
and her walks
around the neighborhood
included frisky, friendly greetings –
dog greetings and human greetings.
And now the neighbors
send us flowers and notes:
“She was a good girl.”
Our neighbors were good friends
to Samantha and their notes
make me smile – seeing the love.
I miss our Samantha
the Wonder Dog.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell