“You Might Roll Down the Mountain”

In the end, it was as simple as getting in my car, driving myself up to the mountains, and taking a hike. But it hadn’t seemed that simple before I did it.

A year ago I had a fall that knocked the confidence out of me. I was trying to step onto a two -foot high curb – thinking, in my head, that I was still an agile youngster rather than the sixty-something woman I actually am – and ended up landing on my knees and arms, bleeding and bruised. It was a shock to me. What the heck had just happened there?! After the fall, I began having doubts about my physical abilities.

I’d been planning to go on a hike up Table Mountain the next day. But Table Mountain is a steep little hike up the side of a cliff and, having fallen trying to step over a two-foot high curb the day before, I thought it prudent to cancel the Table Mountain hike and do a hike a little less harrowing with my family.

After the fall, I no longer had the confidence to go on mountain hikes by myself. I found myself in a mental retreat – starting to pull inside a shell. But in trying to keep myself “safe,” I was making myself unhappy. I was BORED! And I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity,  my competence and abilities – and regain my confidence – I needed to push myself and do stuff on my own. I needed to get out and do the stuff that brings me joy and challenges me. I needed to trust myself and trust in Love, too, to protect me.

And so when I found myself with an open day and a good weather forecast, I told my husband that I thought I might go on a hike up Table Mountain. I knew that he wouldn’t be able to join me because he had knee surgery this summer, but I told him I felt I needed to do this by myself, anyway.  He laughed and said, “Be careful. You might roll down the mountain.” I knew he was joking, but I also heard a little concern in his voice. I understood. It’s always worrying when our loved ones go off to have an adventure on their own, and we can’t be there if they need us. But, to his credit, my husband didn’t try to stop me – I think he knew I needed this.

When I woke up that morning, I still hadn’t decided for sure to go on the hike. But by the time I got dressed and got downstairs, I knew I was going. I packed a quick lunch for myself, threw the hiking essentials into my backpack, kissed my husband good bye, and hit the road for my big adventure.

I got up to the trailhead at Artist’s Point pretty early – I’d wanted to avoid the heat of the day. I was probably on the Table Mountain trail by 8:30.  I was the only one on the trail when I started out. It was quiet and peaceful up there. Butterflies danced in the wildflowers and a nice fir-scented breeze swirled around me. It felt good to have my shoes on an alpine trail again. I made my way up the side of Table Mountain, stopping now and then to take photos. About mid-way up the side of the mountain there was a step that was a little too big for my 5’3″ self – a step bigger even than that curb I tripped over a year ago. But I found a rock jutting out above the step and hoisted myself up. Take THAT too-high step!

Before long I was standing on the top of Table Mountain. I texted my husband a message to let him know I’d made it to the top, and I hadn’t rolled down the mountain. I hiked around up there for a little while, taking photos and eating trail mix, before I started back down again. I passed a young family coming up on my way down. I told them they would have the entire top of the mountain all to themselves – that it was really quiet up there – and we all wished each other a good day.

When I got back to my car, I realized I didn’t feel “done,” yet. I decided to drive down to the Heather Meadows parking lot and find a little trail to hike on there. I ended up on the short nature trail – passing views of Table Mountain and the valley down below, and a creek laughing past purple wildflowers. I stopped by the creek for a while, and just let the joy of it fill my soul. I pooled water from the creek into my hands and splashed my face and neck and then plucked some wild blueberries off the low-growing mountain blueberry bushes and popped them in my mouth. I was in heaven, my friends.

In the end, it was as simple as getting in the car, driving myself up to the mountains, and taking a hike, to find what I’d lost a year ago.

“…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
-Isaiah 40:31

Investing Our Lives

Today I heard, again, the story of the servants
who were given a sum of money by their master,
with the expectation that the servants would increase
the sum and help their master prosper
while he was away on a trip.
There are times when I’ve heard this story
and felt sympathy for the man afraid of loss –
who buried his talent, afraid he would lose it,
afraid of his boss.
There are times when I’ve looked at the other servants –
the ones who increased the talents they were given
and wondered how they’d done that –
had they gotten involved in pyramid schemes
or the stock market or gambling
or something?

But today when I heard the story again,
another thought came to me: What if the talents
symbolize life itself?
What if we’ve all been given a life – one life, let’s say –
do we bury it in the dirt like the scared servant –
afraid of losing it? Is that the way?
Or do we let go and release
ourselves from fear
and witness the good increase –
watch it unfold and appear –
as we invest our lives in love, joy, truth
in the now and here.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell


An alpine butterfly flits among the flowers on Table Mountain. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

What Does Politics Have to Do with Christian Science?

There’s this belief among some in our culture that we should avoid talking about politics with each other. Frankly, I think that’s part of the reason our society is in the trouble it’s in right now – we don’t talk about stuff with each other. We’re afraid: We’re afraid of losing friendships; or afraid someone might question our long-cherished beliefs and make us actually think about them; or we’re afraid – horror! – that people might disagree with us.

But I think sharing our thoughts with each other is important to maintaining a healthy democracy. We can’t function as a democracy if we’re all living in our own vacuum, you know? We need to be able to see other people’s perspectives, and we need to learn about other people’s challenges in order to be compassionate, informed voters. We need to be able to listen to each other and learn from each other, and share our concerns and aspirations with each other in order to move forward as a nation.

My teaching major at university was history, and, maybe because of that background, I’m comfortable moving around in the world of Big Ideas. A large part of my studies involved discussing politics in class. This is how my classmates and I learned from each other – we debated and stretched our thoughts, listened and learned and saw different perspectives. Having my beliefs questioned, and being put in a position where I had to defend them, was so helpful to me! It was like sticking a rough hunk of rock into a rock-polishing machine, grinding away all the ego, nonsense and misconceptions, and pulling out a shiny agate at the end.

The belief that talking about politics is taboo exists among some of my fellow Christian Scientists, too. I was recently asked by one of my fellow CSists what politics has to do with Christian Science and why I had posted a link about the January 6th hearings in a group I had created with “Christian Science” in the title. Here’s my response to that:

For many of us, Christian Science informs every part of our human experience – we apply our understanding of God to heal broken relationships, physical challenges, mental and emotional challenges, our human governments, the environment, oppression, inequity, sexism, racism, and etc.

Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “A sinner is not reformed merely by assuring him that he cannot be a sinner because there is no sin. To put down the claim of sin, you must detect it, remove the mask, point out the illusion, and thus get the victory over sin and so prove its unreality.” Eddy writes: “If you venture upon the quiet surface of error and are in sympathy with error, what is there to disturb the waters? What is there to strip off error’s disguise?” She writes: “Though error hides behind a lie, and excuses guilt, error cannot forever be concealed. Truth, through her eternal laws, unveils error. Truth causes sin to betray itself, and sets upon error the mark of the beast. Even the disposition to excuse guilt or to conceal it is punished. The avoidance of justice and the denial of truth tend to perpetuate sin, invoke crime, jeopardize self-control, and mock divine mercy.”

I know that these kinds of discussions are uncomfortable for some people, and I totally understand if you want to scroll past posts like this and move on to other posts. But, from my perspective, these kinds of discussions can be really healing if we keep Love and Truth at the “helm of thought.” Mrs. Eddy writes (p. 201): “The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love.”

I don’t believe that it’s helpful to anyone to just let error sit there, unexposed and ignored.

Trust. Love Wins. Always.

Yesterday – before I knew – I felt
this sudden deep sense of loss.
It was like a shadow passed over me
and I felt cold.
And scared.
And I found myself reaching out
in my thoughts to the power
and presence of Love
that I’ve come to trust
is always there for me –
even in the darkest times.
I asked a question
that seemed odd and weirdly
morose at the time:
“Will you be there for me at the end?
Will you help me through?”
The answer was immediate –
I felt enveloped in this warm
blanket of love. “Yes. Always. Trust.”

I’m going to hang onto that –
through the cries of “Civil War!”
made by the brainwashed and misguided;
through the shrieks of “More guns!
More guns is the answer!”
by the terrified and confused;
through the schemes and screams
of the financially entitled
and politically powerful,
of the bigots, busybodies, and bullies.

“Trust. Love wins. Always.”
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

In the Still Evening Air

“I’m scared,” she said as she looked at the stars.
“I’m scared of the war and the meanness, and the bigotry
and the hate.
Good seems so far
and it seems too late.”

“But, child, I’ve never left you I’ve always been here,”
came a voice to her thoughts, strong and clear.
“You can’t lose Love – can’t lose what is real.
You’re safe in this moment – just let yourself feel
the Good all around you – precious and dear.”

And she let herself feel the Good with her then –
brought her thoughts close to ever-where, ever-when.
The Good hadn’t left her. Love was still there –
wrapping gentle arms around her in the still evening air.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Blue Cosmos (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Cause and Consequence

The joy is always here, you know.
War and famine, pestilence and pain,
can’t stop joy from bubbling up,
unrestrained.

Love is always with us, too –
unhampered, irrepressible, strong –
heedless of whether you’re the “wronged”
or the “wrong.”

The thing about Love and joy
is they don’t depend on circumstance,
happenstance, or material substance.
They are both cause and consequence.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Morning Prayer (February 26, 2022)

You are my precious child.
Feel yourself embodied in my body –
embodied in the body of Love.
I AM Love, all-power, all-presence, always with you.
I AM impenetrable Love,
all encompassing – the only presence or power or Mind.
You are never separated, isolated, or apart from Love.
There is no place you could go,
or be taken,
that is outside of Love.
You are never apart from Love.
You are never in danger because you are never outside
of what is Good.  You are in an impervious armor of Love.
You are a part of the Life that fills all space and never ends.
You are the expression of never-ending Life itself.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Be a Tree

The son and I talked about the tree
on the drive home.
850 years it had lived on this planet!
It had been seeded in the late 1100’s –
around the time of Genghis Khan
and England’s King John,
before Mansua Musa or Marco Polo,
da Vinci or Michelangelo.
Before Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare,
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mooji.
It rooted into the soil as a tender seedling
and grew during the Black Plague; grew
while the ash from Krakatoa blocked the sun;
and while factories sprouted up across
the northern hemisphere. It grew while
soldiers fought to end slavery; while
World War I and World War II raged
across Europe; while our planet warmed;
and while division and despair
made humans sometimes wonder
if our planet was beyond repair.
It grew.
Quietly, without fanfare or medals
or approval or star ratings –
it lived, created oxygen, and grew –
because that is what trees do.
And maybe when it was older and sturdy,
indigenous children played in its bends
and called it “friend.”
I like to think that’s true.

Yesterday I visited my wise friend, Charles.
He could tell I was scared about our world.
“Just be present,” he said. “Be a tree.”
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

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 minus a month ago he wrote to say
he’d just faced wild pigs in the Black Forest,
on a most epic day.
Two years minus 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