Facing Wild Pigs in the Black Forest and Assembling a Side Table

Two years ago the son
landed in Vienna and called to ask me to pray –
he’d picked up some weird virus along the way.
Two years and a month ago he wrote to say
he’d just faced wild pigs in the Black Forest,
on a most epic day.
Two years and two months ago
borders were closing behind him
as he traveled from where they spoke German
to where they spoke Dutch,
and I wished I could touch
him again and worried a mama’s worries.
And now he sits on the floor of our family home,
quietly assembling a side table for the family room.

It’s amazing how much joy I get from watching
my son assemble a side table for the family room.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

For Eugene Goodman

I can’t know exactly what went through your mind that day –
you’ve been reluctant to step into the limelight and say –
you’ve been humble, wanting to fade quietly into the background.
But the impulse that led you to step to the front on January sixth –
the impulse that made you run towards hell –
when our government was on the verge of being felled
by its own people – continues to give me hope for our nation.
Maybe for you the choice was no choice –
you could no more have run away from the terror of that day
than the sun can stop shining. You simply did what heroes do
without question or thought.
You are a miracle. You represent the best in us.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

A Prayer

(Click here for audio.)

Feel God as infinite Love, infinite Truth – all-power, all-presence, filling all space; protecting, guiding, guarding. There’s nowhere and no one living outside of Love’s embrace. No one is ever separated from Love’s power and presence and protection. No one is ever outside of Love’s realm.

Know yourself as God’s child. You are God’s reflection, expression, manifestation, image and likeness. All you can be is what Love made you to be. All you can know is Love’s presence and power. You are strong and brave and whole and beautiful and healthy and confident. You are what God made you to be.

Love is all-in-all.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
– Isaiah 41: 10

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
-Luke 1:37

May: Sunrise over Skagit County, WA

Dismantling Christmas for Another Year

Click here to hear the audio version.

Woke up at three in the morning. I stayed in bed for a while, just contemplating life. Then I padded downstairs to say good-bye to the Christmas tree. The cats stared at the tree with me for a few minutes in quiet fellowship, and said good-bye to it, too.

Then, while my family slept, I quietly dismantled Christmas – the cats batting Christmas balls around on the floor while I wrapped and tucked the decorations back in their boxes. I said good-bye to the nativity scene on the piano, the angel on top of the tree, the popsickle stick decorations the sons made in school, the decorations students gave me, the old Hallmark decorations, the decorations I bought years ago at the Rite Aid in their post-Christmas sale, the dragonfly tree decorations from the gift shop that closed down a decade ago, the decorations from Mom and Dad’s old tree. And then I looked at the tree, standing bare and exposed in front of me, and I thanked her for bringing her sap-scent into our home and told her how grateful I was for her. I gently tugged her outside to the front porch, swept up her needles from the floor, and went to bed.

Everyone was up and downstairs when I woke up again. I came downstairs and acted surprised. “Who took down the Christmas tree?!” I asked. “Did you take it down?!” I asked Scott.

But they all knew. It was Santa Claus who took down Christmas and brought it back to the North Pole for another year. Duh.

Christmas Lights

Heading into 2022 Without Betty White

We’re heading into 2022 without Betty White and I find that kind of disorienting. Betty White was like family for a lot of us, and learning that she has passed has hit hard.

White was an amazing example of how to live a life. She was brilliant, witty, kind, talented, funny, generous, lively, bold, brave, spunky – just a beautiful individual.

She was just two weeks shy of her 100th birthday, and I guess – like my Dad, who lived to 101 – instead of making me think she was coming to the end of her life, her many years just reaffirmed for me the idea that she would go on living forever. I found myself wiping away tears tonight when I learned I was wrong about this.

I’m sure going to miss her.

Our world is not going to look the same without her in it.

The Snow Crunches Under My Boots

The snow crunches under my boots 
as I walk alone under the stars
shining above clouds in a navy blue sky.
It’s twenty degrees Fahrenheit and my breath
turns into steam as it leaves my mouth.
I keep my eyes on one star and let it pull me
into space with it. Feeling at one with infinity.
=Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Blue Cosmos (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

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 caring, 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 The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book

Deflated Santa

The Pressure to Feel Merry

(Originally published in 2012, but I think it works pretty well in 2021, too.)

It has been a challenging month for a lot of people. Yesterday when I was running around, doing last minute Christmas shopping, I ran into three friends who teared-up when I asked them how they were doing – one had lost a husband not long ago, the second had lost her mom, the third her dad. The husband of a fourth friend is going through medical treatment for cancer. And then there is the tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut. It just might be that some of us are not inclined to feel all jolly-cheery right now. And I’m here to tell you, if you are one of those folks – it is alright. It’s okay to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. There’s no need or reason to judge your feelings, or to try to force them to be what they’re not. That’s just silly.

At Christmas there’s a lot of pressure on people to feel “The Christmas Spirit.” No one wants to be the Christmas Scrooge. I think we all want to share in the spirit of joy and generosity and hope. But pressuring ourselves to be happy, trying to force ourselves to be jolly, is maybe not the best way to get there. Then it becomes a battle, rather than a natural unfolding.

Here’s the good news: There’s no law that says we can’t feel the Christmas spirit on December 26th, or December 27th, or March 1st – we‘re not limited to feeling joy, generosity, and hope on this one day a year. So even if, this year, we just can’t seem to get there on December 25th, we still have the opportunity to feel the spirit whenever or wherever it unfolds for us. And here’s another bit of good news that I’ve discovered in my own adventures with sadness and grief: I have found that it is possible to be happy even when you’re sad. Which. Yeah, I know that sounds kind of weird, doesn’t it? But it’s true!

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.

Karen Molenaar Terrell, from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book

And there’s a new review for The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book!

Jeff Chase writes:5.0 out of 5 stars
This book is a gem.
Reviewed in the United States on December 18, 2021
Verified Purchase
It’s my second Christmas with this book, and I think I’m enjoying it more this year, perhaps because it’s already feeling like a tradition. Karen’s stories, poems, and musings are full of warmth, humor, and love. There’s much to relate to here. I find myself recalling my own Christmas stories from years past. This book is a gem, made for relaxing. Enjoy!

Joy to the World!

There’s this joy in my heart – this sassy sense of unstoppable cheer – that’s risen in me the last couple of days. It’s a joy that doesn’t depend on who wins what football game, or where I am or what I’m doing – a joy that doesn’t depend on everything being “perfect” in my life. It’s a joy I don’t feel guilty feeling. I like this joy. I think I’ll keep it.

Think of all the beauty that’s still left in and around you and be happy!
– Anne Frank

Christmas Peace

On Earth Peace

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

Christmas Eve, 1914. World War I. The trenches in Belgium. 

The Germans begin setting up Christmas trees with lighted candles along the trenches on their side of the line. They begin singing carols, and although they’re singing in German, the allies on the other side of the line– the French, Belgians, and British – are able to recognize most of the carols. Soon voices are raised from both sides of the dividing line, joining together to sing “Silent Night.” A truce is called. Weapons are laid down and replaced with soccer balls.  Gifts are exchanged – chocolate and postcards and tobacco and newspapers. 

I love that story. I love the hope of peace it represents. Although the soldiers were not able to maintain their truce – within the week they were forced, under orders, to pick up their weapons and begin shooting at each other again – the end of the Christmas truce in 1914 doesn’t diminish the power of what those soldiers were able to bring to each other for that week.

May our world find that peace again, and next time may it be lasting.

“… and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
– Isaiah 2: 4

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”
– Isaiah 11: 6

        One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.
Mary Baker Eddy