I am not a body. I am of THE body of I AM. And so I AM kind, competent, confident, fearless, strong, intelligent, brave, beautiful, bursting with joy, full of energy, healthy, whole, and hardy, no less than I AM filling all space, holding all power. I am of I AM. -Karen Molenaar Terrell
I yam what I yam. – Popeye
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them…and God saw every thing that He had made, and behold, it was very good. -Genesis 1: 27.31
And God said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM.” Exodus 3:14
For we, being many, are one bread and one body… – I Corinthians 10.17
For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body… – I Corinthians 12:13
There is one body and one Spirit… Ephesians 4:4
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful. Colossians 3:15
The term Mind and body literally means God and man, for man is the expression of Mind and the manifestation of Mind is the embodiment of Mind. Therefore, man is God’s body and there is but one God. Body is therefore the aggregation of spiritual ideas, forever controlled and governed by the law of Life, harmonious and eternal. – attributed to Mary Baker G. Eddy ( https://articles.plainfieldcs.com/mary-baker-eddy/body-unabridged/ )
So let me get this straight: People in Texas are going to get a $10,000 reward for following around women of reproductive age and turning them in if they get an abortion? And… will people also get a $10,000 reward for turning in people who aren’t wearing masks and getting vaccinated? I just want to make sure I’ve got it right. When is it “My body; my choice”? And when is it “Your body; my choice”? It’s getting a little confusing for some of us out here. -Karen Molenaar Terrell
Well, dang. I just found myself getting caught up in the endless loop again – that spinning hamster’s hoop again – that weird compulsion we humans have to prove we’re right – to send our little egos out to fight in a battle that no one will win.
Hurling opinions and catpulting “facts” believing that where our data lands will bring us fresh new fans And getting frustrated when it doesn’t work out quite the way we planned.
Because that’s not how Love works! Love works in kindness – in the ties of caring that bind us. Love brings us together for each other – to help and hold and heal and to embrace what’s lasting and real. – Karen Molenaar Terrell
I’m nervous about this one. It’s kind of wordy and “out there.” But I just had this amazing cosmic experience and I had to share…
I wake and feel Life quivering around me and through me. The presence of Love is here and I am within the presence, connected to the Cosmic Body. Not a “Borg” body – not a matter-body of computer chips and nanoprobes – but the Body of Spirit, the Body of Love.
You are embodied in Me, too – not embodied in “me” – but embodied in the one Me – the one “I AM.” We are cells of the same Body. Not competitors. Not separate. But connected. Inseparable. What is good in you – all that is smart and courageous and beautiful and graceful – is good in My Body, too – for we are in the same Body, and have the same Body. All that is wise and kind in you – is mine, too, for we are in the same Mind. And all that is good in me is your good, too. We can claim all that is good – all that is OF Good – for our own.
Faces pass in front of my vision – loved ones who’ve died and loved ones who are with me, here. And I’m connected to all of them still – not separated by time or space or place in this Body of Love,
.And then other faces pass in front of my vision – people I’ve thought were my enemies, my rivals, my competition. And I see that they are embodied in Me, too – not the little me, but the big Me, the Cosmic Me. And the cells are distinct, but not separate. And I love them, too – we are all in the Body of Love.
I feel Earth breathing through my window smell her sweet breath of dew and life and know she is embodied in God’s body, too, and we are connected – all of God’s creatures and I.
Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Yes, Jesus is embodied in Me, too, and we are embodied in the one Body – not the body of the human Jesus, but the body of Christ – the Body of Love.
We are nothing less than the perfection of Love. -Karen Molenaar Terrell
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” – Matthew 26:26
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 2:5
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. – I Corinthians 12:14-18, 21, 25-27
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent…” – John Donne
“The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal.” – Mary Baker Eddy
So, on my walk yesterday, I saw a man wearing a t-shirt that said: “PROUD WHITE BOY.” I’m not going to describe the physicality of this man – other than to say that, obviously, he was White.
But his shirt got me to wondering. Was he proud because he was White? Was he proud because he was a “boy”? And… why would he be proud of things he has no control over? It’s like being proud of being human, or being proud of being born in this country. Being born here, and being born White, and being born male are not things that anybody has to earn. They are not achievements. They are not proof of your courage or evidence of your hard work. They are just the happenstances of your start in life – a part of earth’s crap shoot. And there’s no reason, in my mind, to be proud – or ashamed, either – of the happenstances of your human start.
It’s what comes after your start – the life you build here – that shows the most important things about you: Are you living a life of kindness? Of moral courage? Do you stand up for others? Are you generous with the good Life gives you? Are you honest? Are you living a life of integrity? Are you using your talents and gifts to make the world a better place? To me, those are the things that matter.
A t-shirt that says “PROUD TO BE KIND” would make more sense to me. Or maybe “PROUD TO BE HUMBLE.” 🙂
“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23
Years ago, when serving as First Reader in the local Christian Science church, I put together readings from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures) on “Healing.” Something caused me to think about those readings again yesterday, and, flipping through my old Reader’s binder, I found the citations I’d read that Wednesday night, 25 years ago.
I’d started off the readings with this citation from Genesis 1: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them… And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” The citation that followed was from Ecclesiastes 4: “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it…”
I’d followed with citations from Mark in the Bible that showed examples of healing: Jesus’ healing of the leper; the healing of Jairus’s daughter; and the healing of the woman with “an issue of blood.”
I’d begun my readings from Science and Health with Mary Baker Eddy’s scientific statement of being: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-All. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.” Later I read this passage from Science and Health: “The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness.” I ended the readings from Science and Health with Mary Baker Eddy’s interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer.
I usually put together readings on a topic that I was grappling with myself, and, almost always, I found that there were folks in the congregation who were grappling with the very same issues.
And because it’s come to me to re-look at my readings from that Wednesday night 25 years ago, I figure it might be helpful to others to look at those readings, too. I’ll include a photo of the readings below, and attach a Spotify audio recording of the readings to this post.
“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 got to be the speaker at the local Unitarian-Universalist church today (via Zoom) – and, as always, I had such fun with the fellowship there. There will be an audio link to the talk in a few days, but in the meantime here’s the speech as I had it written out (of course, I sometimes deviated from the script in the actual talk). 🙂
Originally, I was going to talk today about the adventures I had with my centenarian father in the last few years of his life. But when my husband mentioned that May 9th was Mother’s Day I was, like, OH!!!! YEAH!!! THAT’s what my talk is supposed to be about!!! It’s supposed to be about MOTHER-Love! So that’s where I’m going to go today. I’m going to go to that place of Mother-Love.
As some of you know, I was raised in Christian Science by my own mom, so Christian Science is the way of life I’m most familiar with. In the textbook for Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy has this to say about Mother-Love:
“Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation. ‘
“A mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal.”
“Love, the divine Principle, is the Father and Mother of the universe, including man.“
‘Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God…‘
“In divine Science, we have not as much authority for considering God masculine, as we have for considering Him feminine, for Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity.”
Mother-Love isn’t flimsy and fragile. Mother-Love is unconditional, enduring, wise, just, brave, and fun.
My own mother was a wonderful expression of Mother-Love. When I was a little girl I’d play outside all day in the summers, and when I finally came in at the end of the day, my legs would be aching from all my playing. Mom would sit on the side of my bed and gently massage my legs and sing hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal. There’s one song, in particular, I associate with Mom during these times. I’m going to sing a little now, and as I sing I’m going to imagine my mom singing this to me. Maybe you can imagine your own mothers singing to you. The words to this song are by Frances A. Fox: “In Thee I have no pain or sorrow No anxious thought, no load of care. Thou art the same today, tomorrow; Thy love and truth are everywhere.”
I remember this feeling of being surrounded in a warm, light-filled bubble of Love, and the pain in my legs melting away. Moz taught me the power of Love to heal.
Moz was wise: I remember coming home from school in the first grade, telling Moz about my cranky teacher – she didn’t seem to like her students much. Mom’s response was, “Well, we just need to love the hell right out of her!” Mom didn’t commiserate with me, didn’t call up the school and complain about this teacher – instead she used this opportunity to teach me a life-long lesson about the power of love. I started my Campaign of Love the very next day, bringing in hand-picked flowers for my teacher, and leaving little notes of love on her desk. And by the time she met with my mom for conferences, she told my mom how very much she enjoyed me, and how much my kindness had meant to her. That’s when we learned that my teacher’s son and husband had recently died, and she had been going through some rough times. I’m so glad my mom told me to love my teacher. We never know what’s going on in other people’s lives.
Moz was a warrior for justice. I remember her shaking with indignation when I was a little girl and we encountered a racist at the Sears store. The man had nodded his head towards a Black family and said, loud enough so they could hear, that they should be shopping in their own store. When Moz understood what he was saying she was furious – “They have as much right to be here as you or me!” she told him, trembling with rage. The man had seemed to think Mom would be his ally, and seemed surprised this little 5’1″ woman was standing up to him. He got all red in the face and scurried away. That was a moment I will never forget – it had a huge impact on me. I remember feeling very proud to be Moz’s daughter. She showed me how to stand up to bullies. Last year when I attended the local Black Lives Matter rally, I could feel Mom with me. I think she was proud of me.
Moz was brave. In my twenties I was always going off on adventures by myself – hiking and traveling. And, now that I’m a mother of adventurous children myself, I can recognize the courage my mom showed during this time. She never tried to stop me from going on my adventures – even though I knew she worried. She showed the purest kind of love a mother can show by letting me go and live my life and understanding that it WAS my life to live. I think she must have come to realize, as I have come to realize, too, that our children own their own life experiences and it’s none of our business where Love chooses to lead them when they become grown-ups.
Moz knew how to laugh. A couple months before Mom died (although I didn’t realize at the time how close to the end she was), she asked to go to the dentist to get her teeth cleaned. So I brought her into my dentist. And, of course, she had all these forms to fill out. By the time I handed her the last form, she was totally exasperated. “Another one?” she asked. I told her to behave herself, and she said, “Don’t make me laugh – I’m trying to sign this thing.” She finished signing the paper and handed it back to me. “You know,” she said, “I’ll get all these papers signed, and then next week I’ll die.”
Missy, the dental lady came out to get her then, and Moz got up to follow her with her walker. “Watch out,” she said, “I don’t have a license for this thing.” Missy started cracking up.
Missy got Moz situated in the dental chair, and turned the light on to start working on her teeth. Moz told her to feel free to pluck any chin hairs she found. Missy started laughing. She handed Moz a glass of water to rinse. She asked Moz how she was doing. Moz told her, “I’m full of it.” Missy grinned, and asked, “You’re full of it?” Moz said, “Water, that is.” And Missy cracked up.
Then Hansrolf came in. Hansrolf is my favoritest dentist, ever. He’s like a stand-up comic. He and Moz immediately took to each other. Moz told him she came here for the entertainment. She told Hansrolf he should give Missy a raise. Hansrolf said what he needed to do was get all of us out of there – he was out-numbered and we were ganging up on him. Moz responded with some smartassery, and then noted, “I probably shouldn’t have said that, eh?” And Hansrolf said, “Not just before I start working on your teeth, no.” Moz started cracking up.
There was another day, near the end of her life, when I had a lot of errands to run with Moz – doctor’s appointment, supermarket, veterinarian’s. And we were sitting at the doctor’s office and Moz told the nurse, “We have a lot of appointments today. See? I wore my serious clothes.”
To which I replied, “Your shoes belie that.”
To which she replied, “I don’t have any serious shoes.”
Moz was a life-long learner. She had a thirst for learning and was an avid reader. One of her favorite authors was Carl Sagan – Moz loved learning about the cosmos. She also was a huge fan of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and actually got to meet him one time, with her dear friend, Jolene Unsoeld.
Moz had her own adventures. My dad was well-known in mountaineering – he’d climbed on some of the highest mountains in the world. But what most people don’t know is that Mom had her share of adventures, too. When she was four years old she contacted rheumatic fever, and her doctors told her family that Mom should lead a quiet, peaceful life. She did not do this. She climbed Mount Rainier twice, accompanied Dad on hikes all over the Pacific Northwest – on their honeymoon she’d climbed this humongous straight-up spire with him that looked like it was some made-up thing from a Hollywood set. Here’s a picture of her climbing over a fence to get to the spire…
A year or two after Mom died, Scott grabbed an old ice axe from the garage to take on a hike with us. We both assumed it was one of Dad’s old ice axes, but when we got up to the trailhead, we realized it was actually one of Mom’s old ice axes! It felt good to be taking her along on the hike with us.
Mother-love doesn’t die. In February 2017 I found myself in a position that seemed impossible. Moz was in the hospital with congestive heart failure, and Dad soon joined her there with a UTI. They were on different floors, both struggling to stay alive. I’d visit one and then the other and then go home, on high alert, and wait for the phone to ring announcing some new crisis.
Just before Moz was going to be released from the hospital, I learned that her assisted living place wasn’t going to accept her back into her home because of her medical issues. This meant I had two days to find a new home for Moz and Dad. In a panic, I started calling other assisted living places, but soon realized the cost of care my parents were going to need would clean out their savings in a couple months. I thought of getting into my retirement savings, but that wouldn’t last too long, either. And I really didn’t want to send my parents to some strange, unfamiliar place, anyway. I prayed – and, by this, I don’t mean that I begged and pleaded to some old guy sitting in the clouds to fix everything – I mean that I reached my thoughts out to Love and listened for guidance. The message that came to me from Love was that I needed to bring my parents into my own home and care for them myself. Scotty agreed to this plan and agreed to help. (I married an incredible man.)
I was still teaching full-time then – so this would be tricky. But it felt right to me to do this.
Hospice got in touch with me – bless them! – and when Moz was brought to our home by ambulance, a hospice nurse came over and showed Scott and I how to care for her.
We spent the whole day telling each other how much we loved each other. Moz was scared. She knew she was dying. She asked me what was going to happen – if we’d ever see each other again. And I told her that nothing could separate us from the love we have for each other – ” For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from Love.” (Romans 8) Mom’s eyes lit up with hope and she nodded her head in affirmation. She felt the truth of those words. Moz went to sleep soon after this, and in the early hours of the morning, while I slept on the couch next to her hospital bed, I felt myself brushed by joy and peace and love. I opened my eyes and it was very quiet and peaceful. I couldn’t hear Mom struggling to breathe, and I thought that was good – she didn’t need any medication. I started to close my eyes, and then I realized. I checked on Mom and she had passed on. But I could still feel her presence in the room with me. The room was full of joy and peace and love. I knew Mom was alright then.
I’m so glad Love had guided me into bringing Mom into our home for that last day.
So now I had to find a home for Dad – I’d promised Moz that she didn’t need to worry about him – that we’d make sure he was alright. Originally the plan had been to bring Dad into our home where he could be with Mom – but, now that she was gone, our home wouldn’t be the right place for him. The social worker asked us if we’d ever looked into adult family homes, and gave us a booklet with names and phone numbers.
When I got home from the hospital after my visit with Dad and the social worker, I went for a walk – at this point I was completely emotionally and mentally stretched – feeling out of my depth and scared about the future – and I needed to find some peace for myself. I prayed again – brought my thoughts close to Love – and suddenly I was filled with joy and hope – and a rainbow arched across the sky! I felt Moz there with me, reassuring me, telling me everything was going to be alright. I began making phone calls to adult family homes – and on the second call I felt I’d found the right place. My brother and I went over to check it out – there were bird feeders in the front yard, and cats and dogs – and I knew the woman who answered the door would have been someone Moz would have felt an instant kinship with. AND the cost of care for Dad would fit his budget!
I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. We had found Dad’s new home – a place I didn’t even know existed a day before!
We just never know. NOTHING is impossible to Mother-Love. NOTHING.
Not long after Moz and Dad moved to the Skagit Valley I gave my second talk at the U-U church. My husband and I brought my mom and dad with us this time –I wanted them to meet their new neighbors at the Skagit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship – I knew they’d be made to feel welcome and at home. And sure enough! – as soon as we entered the doors to the hall we were met by friendly hand-shaking people and surrounded by cheery laughter and smiles.
Being herself an expert at loving-kindness, Mom immediately recognized the love she felt there, and said that when she died she wouldn’t mind having her memorial service at the U-U Hall – the way she said this wasn’t maudlin or anything – she said it in the matter-of-fact way that a woman who was almost 89 would say it.
Within a year Moz had passed, and I remembered what she’d said about wanting her memorial service to be held at the U-U Hall, and that’s what we did for her. It was a joyful, beautiful, music-filled celebration. She was exactly right. The U-U Hall was the perfect place to celebrate her life.
On the day of Moz’s memorial service something really wonderful happened. I was waiting for my friend, Teresa, at the Fred Meyer eating area – Teresa was going to help me figure out what I needed to buy for the memorial celebration.
Pretty soon this man came in with a backpack and all kinds of bags hanging out of his pockets and out of his pack. I saw him trying to organize all his bags and was kind of intrigued by him.
Teresa came in then and started chatting with some new friends I’d met while I was waiting for her. I left them for a moment to go to talk to the man with all the bags. I asked him if I could buy him a coffee at the Starbucks – and he asked me if I could maybe buy him a couple gift cards so he could buy food later. So I found the gift card rack and he picked out a Kroger’s card for food, and a Starbucks card, and I went back to the cashier to buy them for him.
The backpack man thanked me for the cards – he said he’d been having a really negative attitude about people up until then, and I’d made him feel better about life. Teresa joined us then and said, “Do you want to know why she bought you those cards today? Her mom died and today is the celebration for her mom, and she’s buying you those cards in honor of her mom who was the most loving person in the world.” And as Teresa told him this, I realized that it was true. Moz had taught me to watch out for people, and to do what I could to help. And the idea of that brought sweet tears to my eyes.
Mother-Love isn’t limited to one gender – every she, he, and they can share Mother-love. And it’s not just something we give to our own children. Mother-Love is available for all of us to share with all of the children of the universe.
There’s a song by Tracy Spring, a wonderful musician and friend and a member of the Bellingham UU Church, that’s been a great comfort to me in the passing of my parents. Like me, Tracy had been with her Mom when she passed, and this song is about her mom’s passing. It resonates with me.It’s called “Remember” and I’d like to share it with you now.
My son was traveling through Europe at the beginning of the pandemic last year, and borders were closing down around him, places to buy food and take shelter were closing down – and I was terrified. I remember watching the news one night with my husband, and I just couldn’t take any more. I got in my car and drove to a place where I could see Mount Baker and I prayed. Words from “Mother’s Evening Prayer” by Mary Baker Eddy came to me. The first verse, especially, gave me comfort: . “O gentle presence, peace and joy and power; O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour, Thou Love that guards the nestling’s faltering flight! Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.” –Christian Science Hymnal #207, Mary Baker Eddy
I really like the idea that Love, God, owns even the waiting hours. Love owns even the in-between hours – the hours when we’re waiting for the phone to ring to tell us everything’s alright; and the plane to land with our loved ones; and the quarantine to end. Love owns even THOSE hours.
Sally found a rendition of “Mother’s Evening Prayer” on Youtube, performed by my friend, Lisa Redfern. Lisa wrote the tune for her own mother – it’s called “Sandra’s Melody. (The CD for this song can be found at lisaredfern.com.) Here’s Mother’s Evening Prayer performed by Lisa – I’d like to ask you to join me in singing this hymn.
I’ll be speaking to the Skagit Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship on Mother’s Day via Zoom at 10:30. This will be the third time I’ve had the opportunity to be the speaker there – and it’s always such a joy for me! It’s like being in a comedy club. The SUUF folks know how to laugh.
Here’s the announcement in their newsletter: A Love Story for Mother’s Day Karen Molenaar Terrell returns to SUUF to share some of the memories and stories from a love-filled life with her mother, Colleen “Mozzy” Molenaar, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 89. As a visitor to SUUF that year, Colleen was so impressed with our church that she immediately declared that it was where she wanted her final memorial to be held… and it was, just months later. Her grandson, Casey, described her as “… a giving and goofy woman.” Today we’ll hear from Karen about this, her “great taste in shoes” and much more.