The Need to Share What Matters

Four years ago, during the last election season, strangers would suddenly appear and comment on my public Facebook posts and they would say things with weird phrasing and syntax – stuff like “you are a big banana butt” and “you are a person brainless” – and sometimes their names were spelled with characters that are not used in the English language (μονοσε πουλι). These strangers would tell me to fu#& off and wished harm to me and my friends. It was an odd and interesting time.

I blocked those people (to block the names with weird characters I had to do a copy and paste – my keyboard doesn’t include weird characters on it) and learned from that experience to disallow commenting on my public posts from people who aren’t my friends.

I’m pretty sure now – looking back – that these strangers were not fellow citizens of my country. (Duh, right?) I’m not even sure that they were actually human beings.

I don’t want my posts to be divisive – that is not my intent. I don’t want to see my friends ganging up on each other and calling each other names. I don’t want to promote hate. I don’t want to let myself or my posts be manipulated or used to create havoc and confusion.

But.

I also have a real need to share things that matter to me; to share things that are important to me; to share the things that give me hope, and the things that feel like a punch in the gut, too; and to share things that might help us learn from each other.

I am struggling with how to proceed on Facebook. Honestly, sometimes the hate and mean-ness I encounter there is so overwhelming that I feel the need to leave. And sometimes I just get bored with myself – yada yada blah blah blah – and realize I have nothing more to add.

Anyway. We’ll see how it goes…
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Black Lives Mattered Then, Too

I just had a flashback from 40 years ago. I was on a ferry from Seattle to Bremerton – I think I’d been visiting a friend in Seattle. I was standing at the railing of the ferry by myself, looking out over the water. A good-looking young man with blue eyes approached me and started chatting. He was visiting from another state, he said. Out here to lead a meeting or a gathering – I don’t remember his exact words now. He thought I might be interested in going to this meeting. I asked him what it was about. He said he was with the KKK. I remember feeling like I’d just been kicked in the gut – thinking he did not look like what I thought a KKK member would look like – shocked that there was anyone in the KKK in Washington State – wasn’t the KKK a southern thing? I told him no, I was not interested in his meeting. He tried to convince me to join him. I remember saying something like: “The KKK is against rights for blacks. The KKK hates black people.” And he smiled this really charming smile and said that no, the KKK wasn’t about hating black people – the KKK just wanted to make sure white people had rights, too – or something like that. I told him no, the KKK is racist, and no, I was not going to go to his meeting, and I walked away.

And here we are. Forty years later. My heart is breaking.

Giving Each Other Some Grace

“Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Shopping at Fred Meyer’s this morning. There was an interesting feeling/atmosphere in there. Kind of edgy. When I went through the checkout I saw one of my old students was doing the bagging – Kayla with the Cheerful Heart. Kayla is ALWAYS smiling, and usually laughing. I found myself smiling just to see her there, working her magic. I asked her (muffled through my mask) how she was doing and she said she and the cashier had been yelled at a lot this morning – I looked over to the cashier and she nodded her head in confirmation. I wondered out loud what was going on with people right now. “It’s Sunday,” I said half to myself, trying to work it out, “Maybe people are just coming from church.” (I’d noticed the church parking lots were full this morning.) Kayla and the checker started laughing out loud, nodding their heads, agreeing that THAT was probably what was happening.

Then Kayla said this was the first day in months she hadn’t worn a mask – she’d been starting to feel sick because she’d had to wear a mask for months on the job and it was making her asthma act up. She said one of the customers had yelled at her for not wearing a mask. The cashier nodded her head – she’d just taken her mask off for a moment to talk to someone when the same customer had started yelling at her, too.

Sheesh.

I turned to the guy behind me in line – he wasn’t wearing a mask. I pointed to my smiley masked face and asked him if he could tell I was smiling under my mask. He laughed and said yeah. I asked him if anyone had yelled at him this morning because he wasn’t wearing a mask (probably half the folks in the store weren’t wearing masks today) – and he laughed and said no, he just did “this” (and he showed me a cranky-looking frown) and people mostly avoided him. I started cracking up. I agreed the frown probably worked wonders in those kinds of social “situations.”

My groceries all packed up in paper bags, Kayla and the checker lady – and the unmasked guy behind me – all wished me a good day and I moved on.

As I walked out of the store I started thinking about the whole masked/unmasked thing. I wear a mask when I’m in supermarkets and public places because I figure it’s the least I can do right now to help the folks around me. When I consider what generations before me had to sacrifice as they went through World Wars and the Great Depression a mask doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. BUT I am not going to judge other people’s choices about that. It seems silly, to me, to let masks (or no masks) define people or determine their worth and value.

We’re all dealing with a lot of challenges right now – financial challenges, social isolation, concerns about health and politics. People are stressed. People are scared. And, for some people, fear presents itself as anger, indignation, self-righteousness, judgmentalism, quick tempers and impatience. I’m going to make an effort not to be one of those people – but I’m also going to make an effort to understand and be patient with my fellow humans who find themselves snapping and angry and indignant. It ain’t easy being human. I’m going to trust that we’re all doing the best we can.

If ever there was a time to give each other grace, it is now.

How do you argue with Love?

You can’t argue with Love.
There’s nothing in Love to insult, offend or attack.
There’s nothing in Love to be hurt or to hit back.
Love doesn’t see skin color – not white or black.
Love fills all space – and that’s a fact.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

A Lesson from Cows

Enclosed in man’s fences
ears numbered and tagged
their bodies may be owned
by humans (as some humans
might brag) –
but the fences and tags
can’t heed the flow
of Soul, put boundaries
on Love. Still they know
Love, still they show
Love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Cow photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Gift from a Mormon Friend

Like many of you, I have been spending time in COVID-19 lockdown going through old boxes and bins, sorting and cleaning and trying to bring some order to the accumulation of decades. And, again probably like many of you, I have found treasures in the boxes and bins.

One of the treasures I found this week was the inscription that a friend wrote to me in a copy of The Book of Mormon that she gave me. My friend, Mary, had been a teaching colleague and my sons’ elementary school music teacher. She was an extraordinary music teacher – but beyond her skills and talents as a music teacher, Mary was one of the most kind and loving people I have ever known. She radiated joy and warmth.

Mary was (and still is) a Mormon (LDS) and her religion is an important part of who she is. When she entrusted me with a copy of The Book of Mormon, I felt really honored and privileged by her gesture. I made an effort to read the book when she first gave it to me, but, for whatever reason, I was never able to get very far into it. Her inscription in the book meant a lot to me, though. The inscription came from a place of love – and, for me, it was the most important part of her gift. Mary wrote:
Dear Karen (and family)
While working with you at Edison School I have come to love and appreciate you for the special person you are.

I tried to think what I might give you to show my appreciation for our friendship. This book is the most precious thing I could think of…

I so appreciate Mary’s courage in giving me a book that meant so much to her. I think she is a wonderful representative of her beliefs and faith.

I enjoy learning how other people see the world. I enjoy seeing other perspectives. I’ve never been one of those people who felt the need for everyone else to believe exactly as I believe about stuff. I figure, in the end, no matter what path we take, we’re all going to end up in the same place, anyway – living in Love.

“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

A Tiny Scrap of Existence

We have just a tiny scrap of existence here
– a miniscule piece of our eternity –
to love and learn and live
and leave something good behind.
Let’s not waste it on nothings.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

As I was scrolling through Facebook I saw a post by a friend, sharing that she’d just lost her mother. Her mother had gone into the hospital on a Wednesday and was dead on Sunday. Her death was a surprise to everyone. As I looked through my friend’s pictures of her mom, I realized that her mom was probably about my age. That realization brought me up short. Whoah. And then I thought of the loved ones I’ve lost in the last several years – some of them my age, and some of them younger – and it gave me pause.

I am not afraid of death. I’m maybe afraid of the pain involved in death, but I’m not afraid of death itself. If, as I believe, my consciousness will continue on and continue to learn and unfold – that would be fine. And if death is really the end – that would be fine, too – I mean, I won’t be around to feel one way or the other about it, right? No, I’m not afraid of death – but I hope that what I do here, during my time here, will make a difference for the people who come after me. I hope my time here will mean something, you know? I don’t want to waste even a minute of it on ridiculous rivalries, and empty quests for fame and wealth. I don’t want to waste my life on nothings. Life is too short. We only have one shot at this.

“John says of the world, not that it is wrong, but simply that it ‘passeth away.’ There is a great deal in the world that is delightful and beautiful, there is a great deal that is great and engrossing, but it will not last. All that is in the world, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, are but for a little while…Nothing that it contains is worth the life and consecration of an immortal soul…You will give yourself to many things; give yourself first to love. Hold things in their proportion.”
– Henry Drummond

(Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell, taken on a hike in the North Cascades.)

butterflies on my shoe luminex

Butterflies on My Shoe

Politicizing COVID-19

I’m guessing that pretty much all politicians – including the ones we like 🙂 – have found a way to politicize this current challenge. And I don’t blame or judge any of them for doing it – that’s what politicians do. But I think we need to be aware of it – and I think we need to each be honest with ourselves about our own biases, too. Wouldn’t it be great if people just wanted to do right by each other – without concern about political parties and agendas?

love is what is true

I’ve Been Looking at Polls

I’ve been looking at polls
looking at graphs
trying to determine
if our world’s going to last.
This poll says this
and this graph says that.
Does it look like the curve
is starting to go flat?
And which of our leaders
is gaining support?
What type of leader?
What flavor? What sort?

I guess I could spend a lot
of time looking at graphs –
looking for hope there
looking for laughs.
But maybe instead I should
go right to the Source –
go to Life, Love, and Truth
and feel the Force.
Everything can change
in a moment, you see.
But I don’t need a poll
to know Love is the key.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

love-is-with-you

Ahmoud Arbury’s Murder

I’ve been struggling to find some way to respond. I’ve been tempted to stay off the internet, dodge every source of news, isolate myself in every way from the world. But I realize none of that is going to make this go away. So. Yeah. Here we are.

When Ahmoud Arbury was chased down a suburban street in Georgia and shot in broad daylight – that was murder – plain and simple. He was innocently jogging. He had committed no crime. He had done nothing wrong. The only reason he was chased and killed was because the people who killed him didn’t like the color of his skin.

The murderers were (finally- months later!) arrested. And now there’s a group on Facebook called “Christians Against Google” that supports Ahmoud Arbury’s killers. There is so much wrong with that I can’t even wrap my head around it. “Christians”?!! What part of Jesus’ simple instruction to “love your neighbor” is so hard for his professed followers to understand?

The group’s description says: “These 2 God fearing men were only trying to protect their neighborhood” and “this man… did not comply with simple commands.” WHAT THE HELL?!!! Ahmoud Arbury was under no obligation to “comply” with the commands being given by these racist sociopaths intent on killing him – and if you’ve seen the video you know it wouldn’t have helped Ahmoud Arbury to “comply,” anyway.

The inhumanity, the hatred, the insanity, the sheer brutality and senselessness of it – there is no way for this to be justified. No excuse for Ahmoud Arbury’s tragic murder.

It needs to stop. There’s no place or time for racist hatred in our world. We were all made for better things. We were all made to be DOing better things.
– Karen

Universal Love