What a Miracle to Be

What a miracle to wake and discover the planet’s still here
we’re still alive
and there’s still opportunity to do some good in the world
to make a difference
to change course
to sing
to write
to create
to be kind
to find beauty
to laugh
to learn
to love
to be.

To reflect the beauty of Love…
Karen Molenaar Terrell

Flipped Tulip Reflection

Flipped tulip reflection. Skagit County, Washington. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

“…Love is reflected in love.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

 

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“…keep moving forward.”

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination:

“Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Progress is the law of God…”

“Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.”

“… there is never a retrograde step, never a return to positions outgrown.” 
– Mary Baker Eddy

“…let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”
– Amos 5:24

Guemes church 2

 

 

Death Doesn’t Get the Last Word

I learned today that you’d passed away
this last week, and I felt such an odd
mixture of emotions. Shock. Sadness.
Regret when I remembered the last time
I’d seen you was ten years ago. Had it
really been that long since I’d heard
your voice? And I felt anger, too.
Anger towards death. Anger that made
me want to rise up and live bigger,
fuller, freer, more fiercely. For you.
For me. For all of us on this planet.
Death won’t have the last word in your life.
Or in mine. Death doesn’t win. Ever.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Spent Easter on a little island in the Pacific Northwest. On impulse, attracted by the rainbow welcome sign on the front of the building, we attended the Easter service at a small non-denominational church on the island. Here are some of the words to one of the hymns we sang at the service (if you want to hear it performed by a choir on youtube, click here) – the love in it filled me all up with inspiration:

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.
John MacLeod Campbell (J.M.C.) Crum

death doesnt get the last word

Butterfly in the North Cascades. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
– I Corinthians 15:55

“Life and goodness are immortal.”
Mary Baker Eddy

“Let us sing of Easter gladness
That rejoices every day,
Sing of hope and faith uplifted;
Love has rolled the stone away.
Lo, the promise and fulfillment,
Lo, the man whom God hath made,
Seen in glory of an Easter
Crowned with light that cannot fade.”
Frances Thompson Hill

Guemes church 2

“A Union of Hearts”

wedding photo

Happiness is spiritual,born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it. – from the chapter titled “Marriage” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

 

You know those shows you see on television where the bride spends HUGE amounts of time, thought, and bucks choosing just the right ring, dress, caterer, flowers, music, photographer, and reception venue  for her “big day” – those shows where every minute detail  of the wedding production is analyzed, critiqued, and judged for its merits on visual perfection? Where the ceremony is somber and refined and the highlight of the whole shebang is the dress the bride wears?

Yeah. That wasn’t us.

My engagement ring was a little garnet ring I picked out from a small jewelry shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the man who sold it to us was cheerfully, flamboyantly, hilariously gay – he had us cracking up the minute we walked into his shop. My wedding dress was the first dress I tried on from the sales rack at our local Bon Marche. Cost me $120. Our minister was a hoot – we’d met with him for a required counseling session, and when he told us that anything he had to say to us would be pretty much useless at this point – because it’s really only AFTER the wedding that the bride and groom realize what they’ve gotten themselves into (we later learned that he’d just recently been divorced), we immediately recognized the man had a sense of humor, and he was, for sure, the minister we wanted officiating our nuptials.

The wedding was a joyful, light-hearted affair in a small Methodist church in Gig Harbor – I remember the minister asking us if we really wanted to hold the service in his church – it was very small – could maybe hold 100 people – and very old (it’s since been torn down and a larger church built in a different location) – but, for our purposes, that little church was perfect – I liked the cozy smallness of it and the stained glass windows – and from the church’s steps we could look out across the water and see Mount Rainier rising above the hills in the distance.  The wedding itself was simple, joyful, and natural. We weren’t too concerned with “perfection” – we just wanted our guests to feel comfortable and loved.

The reception was held in my parents’ backyard – with the sound of laughter, and the smell of daffodils and plum blossoms, filling the air. And we played volleyball in the pasture – the groom’s team won, but it was a close game.  The minister came to the reception, and fit right in with our hooligan families and friends. Before he left he told us that sometimes he’s really worried about the future of the newlyweds he marries – they often seem more concerned about the wedding than the actual marriage – but, after watching us yukking it up with our families and friends, he felt good about being a part of our ceremony.  He knew we were going to be alright. We knew how to laugh.

When I think about that day, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to deny other people the right to a wedding, and to a life-long commitment in marriage with the partner they love.  I can’t understand why any heterosexual couple would feel their own marriage is threatened by giving homosexuals the same rights that they have.  I feel a real yearning for other folks who love one another, and are brave enough to make a commitment to each other, to be allowed to have what my husband and I were allowed to have.

I believe that every citizen – regardless of race, ethnicity, social and economic status, religion, non-religion, gender, or sexual orientation – should have the exact same rights as every other citizen – including the right for consenting adults to marry whom they love.

(originally published in 2013)

***

“Matrimony should never be entered into without a full recognition of its enduring obligations on both sides. There should be the most tender solicitude for each other’s happiness, and mutual attention and approbation should wait on all the years of married life…  Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship…   Marriage should improve the human species, becoming… a centre for the affections. This, however, in a majority of cases, is not its present tendency, and why? Because the education of the higher nature is neglected, and other considerations, – passion, frivolous amusements, personal adornment, display, and pride, – occupy thought… The scientific morale of marriage is spiritual unity… Marriage should signify a union of hearts… Beholding the world’s lack of Christianity and the powerlessness of vows to make home happy, the human mind will at length demand a higher affection. There will ensue a fermentation over this as over many other reforms, until we get at last the clear straining of truth… Matrimony, which was once a fixed fact among us, must lose its present slippery footing, and man must find permanence and peace in a more spiritual adherence.”
– excerpts from the chapter titled “Marriage” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy

 

Jeweled Sky and Winging Things

This.
This moment stands alone on the edge of time’s shore
– worth an entire lifetime of whatever came before.
Clouds of ruby, zircon, amethyst – a sky of jewels
reflected in a flooded field’s mirroring pools.
And winging things take to the sunsetting sky –
snow geese sounding a holy cacophony as they fly.
A moment shared with loved ones, unplanned,
unfettered, spontaneous, an unscheduled landing.
A jeweled sky and winging things.
This.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health

videoclip of snow geese here

(photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

 

“Springtime’s comin,'” he said. “Cannot tha’ smell it?”

Here’s something to ponder: If my dad (who will turn 100 in a few months) had decided to start closing down shop and preparing for old age at 60 he would have missed out on 40% of his life.

Yeah. Cogitate THAT for awhile. 🙂

***

So you know how in the springtime you see birds winging through the air with bits of ribbon and grass and straw dangling from their beaks – foraging for materials to build their nests? That’s been me lately. I’ve been on a treasure hunt for scraps and bits of inspiration to build a cozy little mental nest for myself. I just finished my annual spring reading of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – a book that never fails to uplift me – and I’ve been turning to the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, too, for inspiration. Mr. Rogers has, once again, provided me with a role model – someone I can endeavor to emulate in my own life. And a lecture by Michelle Boccanfuso Nanouche brought me a rush of sweet, healing tears.

Here’s some of what I’ve found for my nest –

“Springtime’s comin,'” he said. “Cannot tha’ smell it?”

Mary sniffed and thought she could. “I smell something nice and fresh and damp,” she said.

“That’s th’ good rich earth,” he answered, digging away. “It’s in a good humor makin’ ready to grow things. It’s glad when plantin’ time comes. It’s dull in th’ winter when it’s got nowt to do. In th’ flower gardens out there things will be stirrin’ down below in th’ dark. Th’ sun’s warmin’ ’em. You’ll see bits o’ green spikes stickin’ out o’ th’ black earth after a bit.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

orange pink tulips 2 this one.jpg

Tulips in Tulip Town 2017. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

“How could I have stayed abed! Th’ world’s all fair begun again this mornin’, it has. An’ it’s workin’ an’ hummin’ an’ scratchin’ an’ pipin’ an’ nest-buildin’ an’ breathin’ out scents, till you’ve got to be out on it ‘stead o’ lyin’ on your back.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the earth,” said Mary.
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?… To plant seeds in— to make things grow— to see them come alive,” Mary faltered.
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

entry to garden

Karen’s Secret Garden

“On that first morning when the sky was blue again Mary wakened very early. The sun was pouring in slanting rays through the blinds and there was something so joyous in the sight of it that she jumped out of bed and ran to the window. She drew up the blinds and opened the window itself and a great waft of fresh, scented air blew in upon her. The moor was blue and the whole world looked as if something Magic had happened to it. There were tender little fluting sounds here and there and everywhere, as if scores of birds were beginning to tune up for a concert. Mary put her hand out of the window and held it in the sun.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“She unchained and unbolted and unlocked and when the door was open she sprang across the step with one bound, and there she was standing on the grass, which seemed to have turned green, and with the sun pouring down on her and warm sweet wafts about her and the fluting and twittering and singing coming from every bush and tree. She clasped her hands for pure joy and looked up in the sky and it was so blue and pink and pearly and white and flooded with springtime light that she felt as if she must flute and sing aloud herself and knew that thrushes and robins and skylarks could not possibly help it.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Just listen to them birds— th’ world seems full of ’em— all whistlin’ an’ pipin’,” he said. “Look at ’em dartin’ about, an’ hearken at ’em callin’ to each other. Come springtime seems like as if all th’ world’s callin’. The leaves is uncurlin’ so you can see ’em— an’, my word, th’ nice smells there is about!” sniffing with his happy turned-up nose. “An’ that poor lad lyin’ shut up an’ seein’ so little that he gets to thinkin’ o’ things as sets him screamin’. Eh! my! we mun get him out here— we mun get him watchin’ an listenin’ an’ sniffin’ up th’ air an’ get him just soaked through wi’ sunshine. An’ we munnot lose no time about it.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Something seemed to have been unbound and released in him, very quietly. ‘What is it?’ he said, almost in a whisper…strange as it seemed to him, there were minutes— sometimes half-hours— when, without his knowing why, the black burden seemed to lift itself again and he knew he was a living man and not a dead one.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Circumstances, however, were very kind to her, though she was not at all aware of it. They began to push her about for her own good. When her mind gradually filled itself with robins, and moorland cottages crowded with children, with queer crabbed old gardeners and common little Yorkshire housemaids, with springtime and with secret gardens coming alive day by day, and also with a moor boy and his ‘creatures,’ there was no room left for the disagreeable thoughts…”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“I’m well! I’m well!” said Colin again, and his face went quite red all over. He had known it before in a way, he had hoped it and felt it and thought about it, but just at that minute something had rushed all through him— a sort of rapturous belief and realization and it had been so strong that he could not help calling out. “I shall live forever and ever and ever!” he cried grandly. “I shall find out thousands and thousands of things. I shall find out about people and creatures and everything that grows— like Dickon— and I shall never stop making Magic. I’m well! I’m well! I feel— I feel as if I want to shout out something— something thankful, joyful!”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

healing

“The flowers are growing— the roots are stirring. That is the Magic. Being alive is the Magic— being strong is the Magic. The Magic is in me— the Magic is in me.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“The healing power is Truth and Love, and these do not fail in the greatest emergencies.”
– Mary Baker Eddy
“Innocence and Truth overcome guilt and error.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“A false sense of what constitutes happiness is more disastrous to human progress than all that an enemy or enmity can obtrude upon the mind…”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Humility is no busy body: it has no moments for trafficking in other people’s business, no place for envy, no time for idle words, vain amusements, and all the et cetera of the ways and means of personal sense.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
– Stephen Hawking

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood won four Emmy awards, and Rogers himself was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 Daytime Emmys, as described by Esquire’s Tom Junod:

“Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award—and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, ‘All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence.’

“And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, ‘I’ll watch the time.’ There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds—and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly, ‘May God be with you’ to all his vanquished children.”
– from Wikipedia’s page on Fred Rogers

“Love cannot create His children to inflict harm on one another – not by means of heredity, or contagion, hatred, fear, violence, abuse, any other contact… anger… no – there’s no God in that history. Our eternal link to one another is Love. Our present link to one another is Love. Our past link is Love. All God’s children, in reality, are only connected through love, by Love… I let go of hurts, anger, I let go of false beliefs about connections I had with people in my life. It was so purifying. It’s like I was given a clean white page. A whole new life.”
– Michelle Boccanfuso Nanouche

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun— which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in some one’s eyes.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Flipped Reflection. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

“See here,” she said. “Don’t let us talk about dying; I don’t like it. Let us talk about living.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Robin Family

Mama Robin and babies on our porch. (Karen Molenaar Terrell)

“It’s Ice Cream Time!”

Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: That’s exactly what I need right now.

Amanda helps me get Dad in the car and we head out on today’s adventure. As we pass a nearby retirement village I remember that one of Dad’s old friends used to live there. I point to it…

Karen: That’s where Norma Johnson used to live.
Dad: Norma Johnson? I haven’t heard from her or Bob for awhile. Are they still alive?
Karen: Bob died a while ago. I’m not sure about Norma.
Dad: That’s the thing about getting old. You stop hearing from your friends. You stop expecting to hear from them anymore. People just quietly die off. I wonder if Bob’s still alive…
(I don’t say anything – he didn’t hear me the first time, and I’m thinking I should just let it pass…)
Dad: I’d try to find him, but his name is Bob Johnson. There are a lot of Bob Johnsons. He’d be hard to find. (thinking) How’d you like to be named Bob Johnson? (pause) Dee Molenaar – there aren’t a lot of Dee Molenaars. (turns to me) Karen Molenaar. There’s a good name. Do you go by Karen Molenaar or Karen…?(Dad struggles to remember my married name)
Karen: I use ’em both. Karen Molenaar Terrell.
Dad: Yeah. That’s good. You’ve got them all covered.

(We’re traveling near LaConner now.)

Dad: (pointing to the sky) The jet stream is long and straight – that means there’s not much wind today. There’s the tip of Mount Baker. (a little further) There’s the Olympics. This is a beautiful part of the country.
Karen: Do you remember when we climbed Baker together? You and me and Scott?
Dad: (thinking, and then nodding his head) Yeah. I remember that.

(I pull over to take a picture of a field of daffodils. Then we head towards Bow. We get to the top of the hill on Farm to Market Road and I see a place to pull over and take a picture of Baker.)
Dad: What do you do with all these pictures you take? Do you put them in an album.
Karen: I share them with my friends.
(Dad nods. We stop again so I can take another picture of Baker. I show the picture I took to Dad. He nods…)
Dad: That would make a good painting. The farm buildings in the foreground and Mount Baker.

(As we near the Sisters Espresso…)
Dad: (smiling) It’s ice cream time.
(I pull into the Sisters Espresso and go up to order Dad’s root beer float and a lavender iced tea for me. I hand Dad his float…)
Dad: Thank you!

(We head back to his home now.)
Dad: Who’s taking me back to Seattle tonight?
Karen: I’m taking you home now.
(Dad’s quiet – I’m not sure if he’s processing what I just said, or if he didn’t hear it. As I drive in front of his home he recognizes it…)
Dad: (smiling) Ah, the long house.

(I pull in front of the front door and reach for his ice cream float – it looks pretty empty…)
Karen: Are you done with that now?
Dad: No! There’s some left.

(I help him out and into the home. Amanda greets Dad and helps him into the recliner in front of the TV.)
Karen: I love you!
Dad: I love you!