A Message from the New Owners

Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.
– Mary Bakery Eddy

Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.
– Mary Baker Eddy

My parents had lived in this house, and on this land, for 48 years. They’d planted and nurtured trees, kept the local birds supplied with a steady stream of bird feed, Dad had painted a mural on the garage, and Mom had planted a rose garden. Now it was time for Dad (97 then) and Moz (87 then) to transition into a new chapter in their lives. It was time for them to leave the old homestead and leave it in the hands of new owners.

When my husband, brothers, and I looked at what needed to be accomplished in the next few months it was over-whelming. Daunting. It looked to be impossible.

There was 48 years of accumulated life to sort through – mountains of books, artwork, correspondence, journals, music, photos, mountaineering paraphernalia. As a well-known mountain-climber my dad has led an extraordinarily rich life, hobnobbed with celebrities, traveled around the world – we couldn’t just throw stuff in the dumpster willy-nilly – there might be a letter from Bobby Kennedy or Edmund Hillary hidden in the flotsam and jetsam, or a National Geographic with Dad’s picture in it. And there was so much! Three stories filled with memories.

Also – a new home needed to be found for our parents, and their old home needed to be sold. We worried: Would we be able to sell the parents’ old home in time to pay for their new home? And would we find new owners who would appreciate the homestead, and care for it, and love it the way my parents had?

I threw out our hopes and needs to God, Love, and trusted that the power of Good in which I believe would direct us and open the way. Nothing, I told myself, is impossible to Love. Nothing is beyond the reach of Love. Love would provide.

I invited two of Dad’s friends to come over and sort through books and artwork for us – to help us know what was important and needed to be kept safe and what could be donated to the Goodwill. Then my siblings and I each pledged to tackle a different floor in the house – my husband and I took the main floor, my brothers took on the attic and basement.

My husband and I gave ourselves one day to empty the first floor, and dust, sweep, vacuum, and mop it. We got there at 8:00 in the morning. About 2:00 I was exhausted and ready to give up. My husband said, matter-of-factly, “We can’t. We don’t have a choice. We’ve got to get it done.” And then he picked up a mop and disappeared. He was a huge inspiration to me that day. I couldn’t have done what I needed to do without his calm, steady, can-do attitude. At 7:00 pm – 11 hours after we’d started – we were done. It felt like I’d just summited Mount Rainier – I had that same feeling of happy accomplishment.

My mom had given me the name and number of a real estate agent, and when I called, she agreed to take us on. We couldn’t have found a more perfect person to work with us! She was kind and patient – never pushed my parents to do what they weren’t ready to do and always put their needs and wishes first.

Two weeks after putting my parents’ home on the market, it had new owners. I teared up when I read the note they sent to Mom and Dad:

Dear Dee and Colleen,

We just want to thank you both so much for choosing us to inherit this property. We fell in love with it right away. It’s our dream house. We promise to respect it and keep the spirit of love alive here. We appreciate the spirit of adventure and have the utmost respect for the incredible things you’ve done. What a beautiful life!

Dee, your art is gorgeous. We will forever treasure the mural on the garage. Colleen, we will continue to nurture the birds you’ve brought to the property. It was magical to see so many, and of such variety, during our short chat on the porch.

On a more practical note, PLEASE don’t worry about cleaning the place out. Anything you need to leave is fine. We will take care of it. It must be bittersweet to be moving on to a new chapter of life and we are in no way wanting you to feel pressured.

Of course, you are welcome any time. Thanks again. We’re pinching ourselves with the good luck of finding this home!

With love,

Chris and Janel

My parents’ old home was meant to belong Chris and Janel. They were meant to live there now. You know that old saying “What blesses one, blesses all”?  This is a perfect example of that.

My parents got full price for their old home and were able to move into a retirement community, and, more recently, closer to me – in an artsy, active little town where they can take walks along the water and visit art galleries, and get the services they need for this new chapter in their lives.

***

I recently called Janel to find out if I could use her letter in my new book, Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom. She cheerfully gave me permission, and then told me how much her young family is enjoying their new home. Oh man, that just warmed the cockles of my heart. Blessings all around.

Love is good.

Dad and his mural

Dee Molenaar and the mural on his old garage.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God (Love), to them who are the called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28

“Home!”

Okay, this little moment brought me a lot of joy yesterday: Moz and Dad and I went to a meeting yesterday afternoon (Mom had asked me to come down and go to a meeting with their bankers with them). I could tell the meeting was a struggle for Dad – he can’t hear well and was having a hard time keeping up with what was going on. The meeting took about an hour and then the folks loaded back into my car and I drove them to their new apartment. As soon as Dad walked into his new apartment his whole face lit up and he made his way to his favorite seat on the couch. When he sat down he smiled, let out a deep sigh of satisfaction, and said, “Home!”

I am so proud of Mom and Dad. They’ve made so many huge changes in the last couple months – and they’ve approached each new change with courage and fortitude and done what they needed to do. I know it wasn’t easy for Dad to leave the old homestead – “I loved this place,” he said as he sat at the kitchen counter of the homestead one last time – and then he put on his faithful alpine hat, took one last look around, turned off the lights, and headed out the door to his new life. And now, seeing him happy in his new home – that just means the world to me.

I asked him if there was anything I could bring him to his new home. He said no. He didn’t want material things anymore. He pointed to the books lying around him and said that as long as he’s surrounded by his mountain books, he’s home.

And Moz! Ohmygosh! She has just been amazing. She’s had to make so many decisions and choices in the last few months – and she hasn’t shirked from a single one – she’s done what she needed to do for Dad and for herself, and done it with grace and humor and courage.

I am really proud to be their daughter.

“I need to paint again.”

Every good painter paints what he is. – Jackson Pollock

Dad turned 97 at the end of June, and he and Mom (87) moved into a new home in a retirement community the next week. I’ve been so proud of the way they’ve forged ahead into this new adventure.

Last weekend I helped them unpack and unbox things in their new apartment – hung up pictures on the wall, cleared off the desk so Mom has a place to get organized, and cleared off the dining room table for Dad – showed him the box I’d packed for him full of watercolor paints, brushes, pencils. He said, “I need to paint again.” And then he filled up a cup with water, picked the brush he wanted, and THIS happened… 🙂

 

(3rd Book) Introduction to The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New

(Introduction to The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New)

Vonnegut, Stevenson, and Adams Talking in My Head –

In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness. And God said, “Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done.” And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. “What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely. “Everything must have a purpose?” asked God. “Certainly,” said man. “Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God. – Kurt Vonnegut

But our early man has a moment to reflect and he thinks to himself, “Well, this is an interesting world that I find myself in,” and then he asks himself a very treacherous question, a question that is totally meaningless and fallacious, but only comes about because of the nature of the sort of person he is, the sort of person he has evolved into, and the sort of person who has thrived because he thinks this particular way. Man the maker looks at his world and says, “So who made this, then?” Who made this? – you can see why it’s a treacherous question. Early man thinks , “Well, because there’s only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me, and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he’s probably male.” And so we have the idea of a God. Then, because when we make things, we do it with the intention of doing something with them, early man asks himself, “If he made it, what did he make it for?” – Douglas Adams

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love… God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. I John 4

This year I’ve had the great good privilege of holding conversations with authors Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series), Kurt Vonnegut (author of Slaughterhouse Five and other equally amazing novels), and D.E. Stevenson (author of the Miss Buncle books). Okay, so I didn’t, like, actually talk to any of them in the person – seeing as how they’re all dead and everything, but I did have the great joy of reading their books for the first time this year, and sort of… well… talking to them in my head.

We all laughed together at the nonsense of life and humankind and ourselves, we chatted about God, and I found kinship with them in our similar views of “Life, the Universe, and Everything” (another of Adams’s books).

Adams and Vonnegut were atheists (I didn’t find any place in her writings where Stevenson actually voices her thoughts regarding a belief in God) and, although I do believe in God, I, too, am an atheist when it comes to an anthropomorphic god who lives in the clouds and zaps his children to hell periodically. I am of the opinion that THAT kind of a god should have long ago gone the way of Zeus and Mars and ridden off into the sunset on his fiery chariot never to be seen again except in the study of ancient cultures and literature.

I wish I would have found Adams, Vonnegut, and Stevenson earlier in my life. I can’t believe it took me so long. I’m sad that I didn’t get to know Adams – who was only five years older than me – when he was walking the earth. I’m sad that his sudden death at the age of 49 didn’t have the significance to me that it would have, had I known him then. I wish I would have understood , then , what his early departure meant to the world . And when I read his last book, The Salmon of Doubt – compiled in the year after his death by his friends and editors – I found myself sobbing when I got to the end of it – knowing there wouldn’t be any more. I felt like I had lost a good friend.

Kurt Vonnegut introduced his readers to the fictitious but way cool religion of Bokononism in his book, Cat’s Cradle, and I will be making periodic references to Bokononism in my book.

And D.E. Stevenson introduced me to the wonderfully enlightened and wise Miss Buncle, who’s brought me laughter and the comforting feeling that I am not alone as I pretend to be a grown-up.

I’m going to bring my new friends into this book with me. They are a part of my life now, and they need to be a part of this book, too.

http://www.amazon.com/Madcap-Christian-Scientist-All-Things/dp/1499746164/ref=asap_B0044P90RQ_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415835816&sr=1-2

Every Day New

Think about it – for children every day is new, every day is full of something they haven’t seen or experienced before. And the way little children approach these new things is really inspiring, isn’t it? Children look at their world with wide-eyed wonder, eager to learn new things, fearless and unself-conscious with the newness of their lives – without making a conscious choice about it, they learn to walk and talk and run. And without conscious thought or choice they leave the ”old” behind in a very natural and unforced way – one day, without thinking about it, they put down their favorite toy for the last time, and move on to something new.

Drew and Xander on slide

Sharing a Child with the World…

 Sharing a child with the world is the absolute in love — he will be in contact with more love than he has ever had in his life. And will of course share it all with you. It’s time to sharpen your intuition and other heartfelt communications skills. If you stay in tune with him, you’ll see how easy it will be to have him experiencing the whole globe and still be connected to your heartstrings. Try to stop mourning something that you did not lose. This “graduation” into adulthood will pay back endless dividends to you and to him. So — I know that I am sounding like a big smartypants….but it is true, I AM a big smartypants! Congratulations on this essential step in parenting. Don’t worry, you have job security. Forever.                      – Linda Sola

***

My oldest son left home yesterday to return for his final year at the university. This time felt different, to me, than the three times he’s returned to school before. This time it felt so… well… final. At the end of this school year he graduates, launches off into his “own life”, and maybe returns to us once a year at Christmas.

As the son was getting himself packed up and ready to go, I was trying to figure out what I could give him to send him on his trip. If I had a daughter leaving to go back to university maybe I’d give her a card, or some little sentimental trinket, or flowers… but the son is a very male male… still… I had a sudden memory of the son at about the age of three, sweetly offering me a fistful of yellow dandelions… he’d always liked flowers when he was little.

Was it my turn to give him a flower? How would a manly man feel about his mother handing him a rose?

Oh bother. I still wasn’t sure how to proceed, but my rose bushes needed pruning, anyway, so I decided I might as well start clipping off some of the buds – and if, when the time came for the son to leave, it didn’t feel quite right to offer him roses, I’d just keep them and put them in a vase.

And then a cool thing happened: As I was bringing the rose buds inside, the son looked over and saw them. “Pretty flowers,” he observed.

And suddenly it was the most natural thing in the world to say,  “I’m going to give one to you to take on your trip,” He smiled and thanked me – kind and generous in the way of a man grown – accepting my little floral offering with the same look on his face that I’d probably had when he’d once offered me his little fistful of dandelions.

The husband and I smiled and waved as our son pulled out of the driveway and headed back to school. And then I made my way to the solace of my Secret Garden, and remembered…

Andrew and dandelion

Lifted Up by the Waves of Change

“…progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfill.” – Mary Baker Eddy

 ***

I kind of surprised myself yesterday. A friend was sharing some of the challenges he’s dealing with in his life right now – telling me about some really absurd glitches in our legal system that seem to have wreaked havoc on his financial situation. And my first reaction was to get angry at the injustice, inequity, and unfairness of it all. But – and this is the part that surprised me – as he told me about his circumstances – low on funds, looking for steady income, his livelihood depending more and more on his part-time gigs as a musician, rather than on a typical “day job” – I found myself actually starting to feel excited for him.

I recognized that he’s in that incredible place of change and growth, possibility and opportunity, that have marked the last year for me – and I felt really happy for him. I know. That must sound weird, eh? But I just knew, as I listened to him, that he has been brought to the brink of something really amazing.  He is at the cusp of change.

***

It’s been a year now since I encountered my own “cusp of change,” and it has been one of the most amazing years of my life.

Twelve months ago my life appeared to be in crisis. The underpinnings for my financial security were on the brink of being pulled out, my twenty-year career was coming to an end, and I was looking at unfairness and inequity that left me reeling, emotionally.  When the boat finally capsized, figuratively, I found myself washed up on an unfamiliar shore, stripped of financial security and purpose, and with no clear solution to the challenges of my situation. I really had no choice but to start over and rebuild from the bottom up.

And it was awesome!

For the first time in years I didn’t have to try to fit my life into a rigid schedule and a tight structure.  My life was my own to create as I felt led. Creativity danced up to the front of the line, and concerns about conformity, pleasing others, and money retreated to the rear.  Opportunities that required my skills and talents as a writer presented themselves; photography became a big part of my life; and a position at a local alternative high school opened up for me.

And I had a sort of epiphany: I never want to be paid so much money that I no longer own my own “soul.”  I want enough to live and be comfortable and to share with others – but I don’t want so much that I become dependent on it, and feel the need to give up my own sense of right and wrong to keep getting it. I never, again, want to feel beholden to a company or business or system, for my security.

The inequity and unfairness that my friend is experiencing right now, and that I experienced a year ago under somewhat different circumstances, are actually a blessing, I think.  “Trials are proofs of God’s care,” Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and later she writes, “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.”

Love, God, has always been with me – through the good stuff and the “bad” – leading and guiding me, and opening up new doors ahead of me, as other doors have closed behind me. In the last year I’ve come to recognize that Love will always provide for me and mine, and that I never need to fear what the future holds; It holds nothing but good – because even the “bad” is transformed into something good when we put Love at the helm.

Things are starting to settle in my life now. The wave of change has carried me to a place where I have the opportunity to express God more fully and completely than I could from my former position in life.  There is freedom here, and great joy. I kind of miss the wild, heady exhilaration of the wave of change that brought me here. But I’m going to enjoy all that I’ve gained from the wave, and the place where it’s brought me.  I expect other waves are waiting for me in the future, and I look forward to them.

___

“God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis.” – Mary Baker Eddy

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…” – Romans 8: 28

Or, to paraphrase: We know that all things work together for good to them that love Love.

Happy New Year! (Asparagus, Paths Untrod, and the Upward Way)

We really have no choice but to progress, you know?  You and I can no more go backwards than an oak can become an acorn, or a butterfly a caterpillar.  Grow we must.

Years ago I heard a lecture titled “Grow We Must” given by a Christian Science teacher named Harvey Wood.  I don’t remember much detail from the lecture anymore – but I do remember Harvey talking about asparagus. He said that just because we can’t see progress in our lives, doesn’t mean progress isn’t happening, and he used asparagus as an example of this – Harvey said that we don’t see the asparagus growing under the concrete in our driveways,  but once it starts growing nothing can stop it – it’ll break right through the concrete in its journey upwards. (If you don’t believe this – google “asparagus growing through concrete” and take a gander at the interesting photos that pop up.)

Entering a new year is symbolic of change and progress.  We can’t stop 2012 from its relentless march to our doorstep, and why would we want to?  Let’s embrace the new and look forward with an expectancy of good towards the future.

***

A flower unblown, a book unread,
A tree with fruit unharvested;
A path untrod, a house whose rooms,
Lack yet the hearts divine perfumes.
A landscape whose wide border lies
In silent shade ‘neath silent skies;
A wondrous fountain yet unsealed,
A casket with its gifts concealed;
This is the year that for you awaits,
Beyond tomorrow’s mystic gates.

– Horatio Nelson Powers

Happy New Year, my friends!

Karen

“This is where the magic is…”

First verse:

“In Heavenly love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear,
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?”
– Laetitia Waring

Graduating, marrying, becoming a parent, divorcing, losing a job, starting a new one, retirement, moving, aging, death – life is full of changes, isn’t it? And sooner or later everyone has their own opportunities to deal with change.

Change can be really exciting. Change can also be really scary. The words from the poem above have always been a great comfort to me during times of change. They remind me that even though the external environment and circumstances in my life may change, and though my future may seem uncertain, I can always depend on some things to stay the same: I know I can always depend on the presence of God (Truth and Love) to be with me, protecting and guiding me. And the qualities that make me “me” don’t change. I know I can bring these qualities with me into any new situation. Everything I need, I carry with me – intelligence, kindness, honesty, integrity, joy – and I can always claim these qualities as my own when I need them.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, – this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.”

Think about it – for little children every day is new, every day is full of something they haven’t seen or experienced before. And the way little children approach these new things is really inspiring, isn’t it? Children look at their world with wide-eyed wonder, eager to learn new things, fearless and unself-conscious with the newness of their lives – without making a conscious choice about it, they learn to walk and talk and run. And without conscious thought or choice they leave the ”old” behind in a very natural and unforced way – one day, without thinking about it, they put down their favorite toy for the last time, and move on to something new.

***

Second verse:
“Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.”
– Laetitia Waring

Sometimes we begin to get the sense that change is coming, and we’re able to prepare for it. And sometimes change comes so abruptly that there seems no time for human preparation. Sometimes change is a choice, and sometimes it is not.

In the last couple of years, while contemplating a change in my career, a section from Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, has often come into my thoughts: “When the ocean is stirred by a storm, then the clouds lower, the wind shrieks through the tightened shrouds, and the waves lift themselves into mountains. We ask the helmsman: ‘Do you know your course? Can you steer safely amid the storm?’ He answers bravely, but even the dauntless seaman is not sure of his safety; nautical science is not equal to the Science of Mind. Yet, acting up to his highest understanding, firm at the post of duty, the mariner works on and awaits the issue. Thus should we deport ourselves on the seething ocean of sorrow. Hoping and working, one should stick to the wreck, until an irresistible propulsion precipitates his doom or sunshine gladdens the troubled sea.”

I’ve wondered how I would know when it was the right time to make a change. Would I be able to recognize the “irresistible propulsion” when I saw it? And how could I prepare for the career changes that might await me in the future?

Although I really had no idea what I was preparing for, or when I’d need to be ready for the change, when I look back on the last couple years I see that my path was being prepared for me. I was led to take steps that proved to be important for me when change came, although I didn’t realize the significance at the time. And, recently, when the “propulsion” came, I knew it. The “propulsion” would, in fact, have been hard to ignore.

And at that moment – the moment when I knew, with conviction and without a doubt, that it was time to leave – there was no sense of regret, no feeling that I had left something undone or unresolved, no thought that I hadn’t stayed as long as I needed to stay. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me, and the feeling that stood out above all others was a tremendous feeling of relief.  I knew, absolutely, that it was time for a change.

***

Third verse:
“Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me,
Where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure,
My path in life is free;
My shepherd has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.”
– Laetitia Waring

I recently went to a workshop on “form” and “essence” given by a local life coach named Laura Lavigne. I’d never done any kind of life coach stuff before, and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little skeptical, to tell you the truth. But oh my goodness! The thoughts that Laura shared with us were really eye-opening and enlightening. Laura talked about the “form” being the physical something that represents the “essence.” A couch, for instance, might be a form for “comfort.” Laura pointed out that when we talk with each other, we usually talk in terms of “form” rather than “essence.” We ask each other, “Do you want the red shoes or the blue shoes?” When what we might actually be asking each other is what it is we want to feel: “What will those red shoes do for you? And how will that make you feel?”  We limit ourselves to the forms, rather than focusing on the essences we want in our lives. And in doing that, we limit ourselves to the forms with which we’re already familiar, and close ourselves up to the infinite possibilities of the other forms we don’t know.  To illustrate this, Laura drew a big circle on the whiteboard and cut out a quarter of it – “This is what we know,” Laura said. She cut out another quarter – “This is what we know we don’t know.” The remaining half of the circle? “This,” she said, “is what we don’t know we don’t know. This is where the magic is.”

I love that!

In the book, Lectures and Article on Christian Science, Edward Kimball writes, “It is probable that there will come a time when you will be in quest of professional or business occupation; when you will be in want of a situation. Let us assume that you will be entitled to it and that it will be right for you to be employed righteously and profitably. Such an assumption as this carries with it scientifically the conclusion that if it is right for you to have such a thing, that thing must be in existence and must be available…One of the most influential human conditions is the one which I will call expectancy…You are entitled to the fullness and ampleness of life, but you will need to learn that gloomy foreboding never solves a problem and never releases the influences that make for your largest prosperity and advantage.”

Good isn’t a miracle. It is natural for us to have good in our lives – we shouldn’t be surprised by it. We should expect good.

So here I am – facing The Great Unknown that lies before me.  I’m still not sure, specifically, what form the future will take for me, but I know what the essence of it will be. I know there will be freedom, joy, purpose, love, and laughter. Those things can’t be denied me, and they are not dependent on a specific form. As Waring writes in her poem, “My hope I cannot measure…” – the freedom, joy, purpose, love, and laughter that I have now, and are always available to me, can’t be measured, limited, confined or restricted. The future holds boundless possibilities.

***

“God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself,
broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures