About Karen Molenaar Terrell

Karen's stories have appeared in *Newsweek*, *The Christian Science Monitor*, and *Pack and Paddle Magazine* and she's the author of *The Madcap Christian Scientist* series, *A Poem Sits on my Windowsill*, *Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom*, and co-author of *The Humoristian Chronicles: A Most Unusual Fellowship*. Her photos are featured in the spring 2014 edition of the *Bellingham Review*, and the April/May 2017 issue of *Mother Earth News*, and can be found at fineartamerica.com. http://www.amazon.com/Karen-Molenaar-Terrell/e/B0044P90RQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1312060042&sr=8-

“There is no way I’m going to be able to explain the Chicken Parade…”

Dad is eating breakfast at the kitchen table when I arrive. He looks up and smiles…
Dad: Hi, sweetheart!
Karen: Hi, Daddy! Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah.
(I wait while Dad finishes his breakfast and then Gwen helps load him into my car, and off we go on today’s adventure…)

Dad: (Pointing to a snow-covered hilltop to the right.) There’s Mount Baker.
Karen: No, we might be able to see Mount Baker up ahead, though.
Dad: (Still looking at the snowy hilltop…) There’s Baker just poking out behind those hills.
(We stop at the Sisters Espresso.)
Karen: Do you want a root beer float?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah.
I go up to order Dad’s root beer float and a breve for myself.

There’s a group of men standing in a circle as they wait for their drinks – young man, a man that might be his father, an older gentleman. The older gentleman is regaling everyone with a story of being honored for long years of service somewhere. I instantly like him – he’s exuberant and happy about life – and I become part of his circle.

Now he’s telling us his secrets to living as long as him (“I’ve never smoked,” he says). And I can’t help myself – I’ve got to bring Dad into this conversation, right? I point to Dad, waiting in the car, and tell them all that Dad is 100 years old – a mountain climber – and that’s probably why he’s so long-lived. There are some oohs and ahs then, and everyone sort of pauses for a moment – maybe contemplating the wonder of living to be 100. I turn to look back at Dad and see him wave at me through the front window. I smile and wave back. God, I love him.

Then someone mentions snow – and I say that I’m probably kind of weird, but I like the snow. The young man nods his head and agrees – he likes it, too – but especially when he can drive TO it.  The man who might be his father hands him a coffee, and then turns to the older gentleman and myself and smiles and wishes us a good day – like we’re all old friends – and the young man and he head to his car. Now it’s just the older gentleman and myself at the espresso stand. He tells me a little more about his life, and then mentions his wife and points to his car. His wife smiles and waves to me and I wave back. Then the older gentleman leaves, too, and I’m the only one left.

Courtney knows exactly what I’m going to order for Dad – she’s been making him his root beer float for a couple years now. I bring Dad his float. He opens his door so I can pass it to him. He smiles and says, “Thank you.”

I was going to try to avoid Edison today – but as I approach the turn-off to Edison I see a line of cars leaving the town and figure maybe everyone’s pretty much cleared out of there now, so I turn and head towards the town center.

I am wrong. The place is packed with pedestrians and cars trying to get out of there. I stop to let a car turn in front of me – the driver waves and I wave back – then I wait for a line of pedestrians to cross in front of me.
Dad: (Observing all the traffic in this little town.) Is there some event here?
Karen: The Chicken Parade.
Dad: What? A church service?
Karen: The Chicken Parade.
Dad: A church service?
Karen: (Pointing to a little kid dressed up as a chicken.) The Chicken Parade.
Dad: (Turning to see where I’m pointing.) A church service. Small towns can be really active places.
Karen: (I silently admit defeat. I realize there is no way I’m going to be able to explain the Chicken Parade to him.) Yup.

I drive through Edison and turn on Bayview-Edison Road. Dad is looking out the window, watching the landscape roll past…
Dad: I love going on these drives with you.
Karen: I love going on drives with YOU.
(I pat Dad’s leg and he holds my hand and gives it a gentle squeeze.)

I meander around the Skagit Flats for a while and pull over when Mount Baker finally emerges from the clouds. I point to the mountain…
Dad: (Nodding.) Mount Baker.
(I take a few photos of the mountain and then continue until I come to a field puddled by rain and filled with trumpeter swans. I pull over to snap some pictures. Dad waits patiently for me, slurping his root beer float.)

I drive a little more and then begin heading back to Dad’s home.
Dad and I don’t talk for a while, then…
Dad: I love you.
(And the way he says it – not casually, but with thought behind it – really touches me.)
Karen: I love YOU!

As we pull in front of the front door to his house…
Dad: Who are these people?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: What?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: Oh!

I help him out of the car and up the stairs and, once inside, he makes his way to one of the recliners in front of the television. I hand him his root beer float…
Karen: Thank you for going on the drive with me.
Dad: Thank YOU for taking me on the drive.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: And I love you.

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She’s Still Giving

Something really magical happened tonight. As Scott and I were getting ready to leave for our son’s improv show I looked down on the floor and saw this card lying there. I have no idea where it came from. I opened it up and it was a card from Moz! Today is the second anniversary of Moz’s passing and I’ve been thinking of her all day long. Finding her card lying there was like this huge, cosmic, unexpected gift. Inside the card was a Valentine’s message and a check (dated 2013) for the son we were on our way to see. I felt like Moz was directing me to bring the card and check to him tonight. And so I did. Moz always said, “I’m a giver!” And she’s still giving.

Moz card to us

Two Years Ago Today…

Two years ago today Moz was brought to our home for hospice care. Two years ago, around 9:30 pm, she spoke her last word to me – with a happy smile – “Okay.” She passed in the early morning hours of February 21st while I slept on the couch next to her bed.

The Brush of Angel Wings

The end was like the beginning –
the oxygen machine breathing,
making the sound of the womb,
a soothing rhythm in the room
as she slept on the bed next to me.
All is quiet, but for the pumping
of O through her mask. In my dreams
I feel the light brush of angel wings
and fear is replaced by freedom
and limitless joy that comes,
through an opened heavenly portal.
I open my eyes to see the battle
over and done. She has won.
I rise and stand on holy ground.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Angels: God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Butterfly on Table Mountain

An alpine butterfly flits among the flowers on Table Mountain. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

A Bird Adventure

Another bird kamikazied into our dining room window this morning. I heard the “whack!” and looked up to see orange feathers stuck to our window. This was not good.

feathers on window photo by scott

We usually have sun-catchers suction-cupped to our window to let the birds know there’s glass there, but our cat had swiped them all down. I went to get more suction cups for the window and then came back and looked to the ground to see if the bird had landed down there. I saw him immediately. He appeared to be on his back, and I could see he was breathing.

I went outside to check on him. When I got to him he was right-side up – maybe he always had been – and his eyes were open. He was watching me. “It’s alright, little one,” I cooed to him. “It’s okay. Hold on.” I went back inside to look for a box to nestle him in – and found my husband was one step ahead of me. He handed me a small box as I came in the door, I grabbed an old dish towel, and back I went to the little thrush.

“All you can feel is what Love feels. All you can know is what Truth knows. All you can be is the perfect reflection of God,” I told him, as I scooped him into the box and gently covered his body with the towel. He didn’t tweet or chirp or cluck or struggle against my efforts – but he kept an eye on me as I brought him around the house and set him on top of the barrel on the front porch.

little bird who flew into our window

It’s just above freezing here, and I figured the little bird must be cold – maybe in shock – and needed some warmth. As I was talking out loud to myself – trying to talk myself through what I needed to do for the bird – my husband found a small metal water bottle, filled it with hot water and handed it to me. I took it to the bird and nestled it down next to him – hoping it would keep him warm. And now I was thinking the bird would probably like to be able to see his bird buddies in the back yard, so I brought the box through the house and out to the back deck. I set the box on top of a broad shelf, brought the little thrush a bottle-cap full of water, and went back inside to get the dog to take her for a walk with me. I needed to give some prayerful thought to this situation.

As Sam-Dog and I walked around our neighborhood I thought about the bird – held him in my thoughts as an expression of God – always held safe in Her care – loved, protected, cared for.

When Sam and I got back to the house I went out to the porch to check on the bird. His eyes were bright and alert. I opened the towel and he fluttered his wings and took off! He landed on the wooden railing of our porch and looked at me for a moment. I clasped my hands together and said, “Oh! I’m so happy!” He looked at me a moment longer, then pooped, and flew off and landed on a branch on the tree outside our dining room window – where his adventure today had begun.

Life is good!

varied thrush bird this one 1

“I remember we’ve visited here before.”

February 16th
Xander and I go to Dad’s for a quick visit. Dad is sitting in the living room when we arrive. His face lights up when he sees us. Xander gives his grandpa a hug and I kiss Dad on the top of his head and ask him how he’s doing.
Dad: Oh, I’ve been watching television all day. Sports. Football. Basketball.
Karen: Are you enjoying that?
Dad: Yeah, it’s good.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you guys, too! Thanks for stopping by.

February 17th
Dad: (Looking around at the scenery passing by him.) It’s a beautiful day for a drive!
Karen: Yes, it is! (I pat his knee.)
Dad: (Clasping my hand.) I never knew I’d have such a loving family. Beautiful daughter. Handsome sons. Wonderful wife.
Karen: We love you!
We stop at the Sister’s Espresso.
Karen: Are you hungry?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yes.
Karen: Do you want a root beer float?
Dad: Yeah.
(I go up and order Dad a root beer float and a breakfast muffin and bring it all back to the car for him.)
Dad: Thank you!

I drive us west, then north and stop at a field with trumpeter swans.
Dad: Canada geese.
Karen: Trumpeter swans.
Dad: (Nodding.) Oh, swans.
(We watch them for a while and then I meander my way to my home and pull into the driveway.)
Dad: (Smiling.) I remember when Scotty first saw this property. He said he was going to own this land and build a home on it. And he did.
Karen: Yes! (I go in to fetch Scott and bring him out for a quick visit with Dad.)
Scott: Hi, Dee!
(Dad and Scott share a manly handshake.)
Dad: Hi, Scott!
(Dad and Scott have a quick conversation about guy stuff and then I pull back out of the driveway and we continue on our drive.)
Karen: (Pointing to the piles of snow on the side of my street.) We got a lot of snow!
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah!

I drive us through Edison, over the slough, and down country roads framed in red blueberry bushes and snow and crowned by Mount Baker in the background.
Dad: The clouds are starting to lift off Baker now.
Karen: Yes, they are!
Dad: We climbed Mount Baker together, didn’t we? With Scott?
Karen: Yes, we did!
(At some point we pass the Sister’s Espresso again…)
Dad: Oh! That’s the store where we go…
Karen: Yup!

I pull my car next to the front door of Dad’s place.
Dad: I remember we’ve visited here before.
Karen: Yes.
(I help Dad out of the car and into the house. He goes to his recliner in the living room.)
Karen: Thank you for the drive today, Daddy. I love you.
Dad: Thank you for the drive! I love you.

 

“Cool! What is that?”

“The weapons of bigotry, ignorance, envy, fall before an honest heart.” 
– Mary Baker Eddy

I didn’t usually tell people right away – and certainly not the men I dated. I always thought it was better if they got to know me first as a human being. Sometimes it took months for me to tell my friends. Sometimes years. Sometimes the moment never came. I have friends who maybe STILL don’t know. After a number of early experiences, I’d come to the realization that some people would see me differently as soon as they found out. In the past I’d had all kinds of labels attached to me that weren’t really me – I’d been instantly lumped in with fundamentalists and creationists; with people who speak in tongues and handle snakes; with dominionists and faith healers and fire-and-brimstone folks. When one friend – who’d known me for years – finally found out, she’d asked me if I would just leave her bleeding and injured on a sidewalk if she was hit by a car. Which. What…?!

So I guess it says something about Scott that I told him on our first date. I no longer remember how the subject came up, but I found myself saying, “I’m a Christian Scientist.” I guess I half-expected an awkward pause after my reveal, but Scott quickly responded with, “Oh! That’s cool.” Then he glanced over at me, and asked, “What’s that?” 🙂

Turns out he’d never heard of Christian Science! And that was AWESOME – it meant I could explain what it was all about from my own perspective, without any preconceived ideas on his part. I can’t remember now exactly what I said – I probably talked about the Christian Science idea of God as the power and presence of Love; I probably talked about how I had experienced healings in my life by drawing my thoughts close to this power of Love.  And as I talked he listened and nodded and accepted me. He shared some of his own thoughts about God – he’d been raised in the United Methodist tradition of New England and he, too, had been raised to believe in a loving God who cared for His children. He understood the beliefs I was describing, and accepted me as “me” right away.

Scott and I have never had a need to “convert” each other – to try to make each other hold the exact same religious beliefs. If asked, he’d probably still say he was a Methodist. If asked, I’d probably still say I was a Christian Scientist. But beyond religion, we share the same values – we both believe in the power of kindness. We both believe we should be generous to those in need; fair and honest in our dealings with others; and protective of our natural environment. We both believe we shouldn’t be quick to make judgments about others.

It’s been thirty-six years now since I  had that first conversation with Scott. Through all that time he’s continued to be supportive of me and my practice of Christian Science. I am so grateful for him, and for people like him – people who approach others with open minds and hearts – ready to listen and share and learn from each other – people able to go past stereotypes and see the individuals behind the labels.

what people think I do