“O Life Divine, That Owns Each Waiting Hour”

I went for a drive – Scott had the news on and I felt the need to go into my mental “closet” and bring my thoughts close to the presence of Love. I pulled over to watch Mount Baker turn pink in the setting sun and a song from the Christian Science Hymnal came to me – “O Gentle Presence” (with words by Mary Baker Eddy). Here’s a link to my off-the-cuff rendition. Acapella here. No accompaniment. No back-up singers who can do the actual singing for me. 🙂 Just me. Probably off-key. No embellishment or anything. Thank you ahead of time for your kindness.

This line from “O Gentle Presence” especially resonates with me right now – “O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour” – I mean…think about that! God – Life, Truth, and Love – owns, manages, and governs EVERY hour – even the “waiting” ones. There is never a moment outside of Love’s control – never a moment not created by God. Those moments when we’re waiting to learn our loved ones are safe, when we’re waiting to hear the prognosis, when we’re waiting for the plane to land, or the tests to come back, or the quarantine to be lifted – God owns even THOSE moments. Whoah.
– Karen

 

Here are the lyrics to “O Gentle Presence”:

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 to-night.
Love is our refuge; only with mine eye
Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall:
His habitation high is here, and nigh,
His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.
O make me glad for every scalding tear,
For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain!
Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear
No ill, — since God is good, and loss is gain.
Beneath the shadow of His mighty wing;
In that sweet secret of the narrow way,
Seeking and finding, with the angels sing:
“Lo, I am with you alway,” — watch and pray.
No snare, no fowler, pestilence or pain;
No night drops down upon the troubled breast,
When heaven’s aftersmile earth’s tear-drops gain,
And mother finds her home and heavenly rest.
– by Mary Baker Eddy

 

 

Fear and Living in the Moment

Here’s a Dad-lesson for the times: I once asked Dad (Dee Molenaar) what he was feeling as he careened down that slope on K2, headed for the drop over the cliff and certain death. Was he scared?

No, he said, it was exhilarating! He was totally in the moment. Enjoying the ride. He knew everything was going to go black for him soon – and knew there was nothing he could do about that – so he just settled into the moment and enjoyed it.

And when I’ve thought about his answer, I’ve realized I can relate to it. The times I’ve been most scared – most filled with unspeakable dread – are the times when I’ve focused on the future – on all the many scary things that MIGHT happen – rather than what was actually happening with me right now – in this moment.

When I’ve found myself – in the moment – facing a challenge – it’s not been scary, really. I’ve focused on the problem at hand and dealt with it.

Rock-climbing is all about the moment – I remember a piton clinking down a rock cliff when I was mid-way up a climb once – I remember looking up to the man belaying me and I remember him looking down at me – I remember the exchange of looks – I remember how quickly I faced the moment and hauled myself up that rock face. There was no time for fear. It was very cool, actually.

I remember feeling that same in-the-momentness when I gave birth to my youngest son. I’d been told, suddenly, that there were complications in the delivery and I was going to need a caesarean section. I remember being wheeled down to the operating room and Mom’s face looking at me from the foot of the gurney. I asked her to call a friend (a Christian Science practitioner) to pray and she hurried off to do that.

And, in that moment, as things were happening, I didn’t feel any fear at all. I felt this amazing since of peace envelope me. I was totally focused on the moment. I could feel the love from all the doctors and nurses – wanting only the best for me and my child – I could feel the love from Scotty and my parents, and my midwife. Everything was happening very quickly, but I felt strangely calm – I wasn’t afraid about what MIGHT happen, IF… I was living in that moment.

When I got down to the OR, they hooked me up to all these machines. I remember the eyes of the medical staff looking at the machines, then back to me, and I could see they were puzzled – and then suddenly they were all telling me to push! – like they were fans at a football game, rooting me on! And they were celebrating with me!

My baby was born the old-fashioned way that day. (But it wouldn’t have mattered, really, if he’d entered the world in another manner – the form of the the birth wasn’t important to me.) One of the surgical nurses was actually crying! She said she’d never been able to witness a vaginal birth before – and it was really beautiful.

Later I learned what the CS practitioner had told my mom that morning: “Life loves that baby!”

And I know this, for sure, Life loves ALL of us – each and every one of Her children – it doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing or what the time – it doesn’t matter if we’re on a rock cliff or on an operating table, or in quarantine or on the Moon – Love is there with us, loving us, eternally and always.

Let’s do what we need to do for each other right now, humanly. Physical distance, but not isolation – knowing that we are the very expressions of Love, loved by Love, never separated or isolated from Love. Living in this moment.
– Karen

I found this quote about fear from Eckhart Tolle really helpful to me:
“The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now. You are in the here and now, while your mind is in the future. This creates an anxiety gap…You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection – you cannot cope with the future.”
– Eckhart Tolle, from Live Real

More quotes about fear:

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”
– Marie Curie

“…knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
– Rosa Parks

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
– Louisa May Alcott

“Become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.”
– Lady Bird Johnson

“Fear never stopped being and its action.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.”
– Eckhart Tolle

 

Solace at the Cemetery

In these panicked times
In these fretful, frenzied, frantic times
I have found solace at the cemetery.
The shells of those who’ve lived
here and moved on
to whatever comes beyond
no longer need to distance themselves
from anyone, from me.
I find peace with them – the chrysalises
of my friends – Mike, Rachael, and Debby.

I wander amid the tombstones, snapping
photos of them, and the spinning wheels –
the bright spinners are the only movement
in the cemetery and I feel
drawn to the movement of their rainbow
spinning, faster and faster as I approach,
in a show just for me.

I’m allowed to be here. In the sunshine.
In the peace of the cemetery.
And no one disturbs me as I wander
through the final beds
for the shells of those who
are no longer scared of what lies ahead.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

“I don’t need to claim these thoughts!”

“Stand porter at the door of thought.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I was in a funk today. There’s been another Christmas tragedy. Don’t want to talk about that, really. But it led me to some dark places in my thoughts. I stopped by to see Dad, hoping that would cheer me up. But he was struggling – questioning the veracity of a Christmas card I brought him from a friend, saying it seemed “fishy” – questionable – and he didn’t trust it. He argued with me about the background in a photograph – insisted it was a stadium with bleachers – which… it wasn’t. I told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me, and I left.

As I was driving home dark thoughts came knocking on the door of my consciousness – thoughts of despair and discouragement and fear for the future. Thoughts about death. And I felt afraid and guilty that I was even having these thoughts. And then I had this moment of clarity: “But I don’t need to claim these thoughts as mine! Just because these thoughts knocked on my door doesn’t mean they belong to me! They aren’t any part of me!” I realized I could choose whether I wanted to let those thoughts enter and be part of my identity, or not.

A decade ago, when I was going through a massive depression, I felt I didn’t have a choice – I felt I didn’t have control over the thoughts that came into my head, and the feelings of despair and hopelessness and guilt – and it all seemed overwhelming at times. But I acquired some tools for dealing with life’s challenges and struggles during that time. First, I learned not to fight my feelings – that only seemed to make the feelings bigger – but to let myself surf on top of them. I learned I could be happy even when I was sad.  And I learned a trick from Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now that was really helpful, too – and that I was reminded of today. In his book, Tolle writes: “Try a little experiment. Close your eyes and say to yourself: ‘I wonder what my next thought is going to be.’ Then become very alert and wait for the next thought. Be like a cat watching a mouse hole. What thought is going to come out of the mouse hole? Try it now.” When I tried that experiment all those years ago (and when I tried it just now, too) – when I waited for my next thought – it didn’t come! I was filled with a blessed, peaceful stillness.

I had a healing today. And it felt like this…
healing

 

“Rudeness is merely the expression of fear.”

“Rudeness is merely the expression of fear. People fear they won’t get what they want. The most dreadful and unattractive person only needs to be loved, and they will open up like a flower.”
– M. Gustave in The Grand Budapest Hotel

What is it that makes us, as human beings, proud of our anger – proud to have “told someone off”? I’ve come to believe it’s all about ego, really – wanting to prove we are somehow better, braver, stronger than other people. And I’ve come to see that a) in my own experience, yelling at other people has never seemed to convince them I was right, or changed their ideas about stuff, and b) it doesn’t take a whole lot of courage, really, to spout off one’s opinions and beliefs, and cuss and swear and be rude.

It is my belief that it takes a lot more chutzpah to love – it takes a lot more courage to trust in each other’s good will and humanity, than it does to scream obscenities at each other. In fact, when I think about it – the times when I’ve been the rudest are the times when I’ve been the most scared that I wasn’t going to “get my share” or I was going to be left out somehow, or forgotten or over-looked or harmed in some way.

And something in that last paragraph just made me think of a time when I found myself trying to break up a fight in a parking lot – one guy sitting on top of another punching his face bloody, banging his head into the concrete, and a ring of other guys around them – I found myself in the middle of the circle trying to yank the one guy off the other one, screaming, “Stop it! You’re going to kill him! Stop it!” Instinct (and, in retrospect, a kind of foolishness) had put me in the middle of that circle – there’d been no thought given to what I was doing, and so I can’t claim any special kind of courage there. But – and here’s the part that still gives me a kind of awe when I think about it – after security guards had hauled away the brawlers I stepped back and found that another woman – the parent of one of my former students – had stepped into the circle with me. I remember saying to her, in a kind of wonder, “You’re here, too!” And she said, “I wasn’t going to let you stand here all alone.” She HAD thought about what she was doing – she HAD made a conscious choice to put herself in harm’s way for another human being. She hadn’t screamed. She hadn’t yelled. She’d just stood there beside me. Now THAT was courage. Oh gosh. I’m tearing up right now as I think about it.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“There is too much animal courage in society and not sufficient moral courage.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
– Gandhi

“Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.” 
– Gandhi

“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
– Gandhi

(Originally published November 2014 under the title “So, like, when did bitchy become a good thing?”)

A Confession: Sometimes Anger Works for Me

“Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I’ve now and then shared some of the thoughts that have brought me healing.  Usually these are thoughts of hope and joy, humor and cheery positivity. But sometimes there’s another mental place I go when I need healing – a place that I’ve been weirdly reluctant to share with others. But… maybe it’s time. Here it is: Sometimes I just get completely angry and exasperated with sickness and gloom. Sometimes my inner rabble gets roused and I get this powerful sense of indignation towards anything that would try to foist itself on me that I don’t want foisted on me. Sometimes I feel this powerful surge of revolt against anything that would try to take away my God-given right to wholeness and holiness. I laugh at the gloom, pull it from its fear-built pedestal, and knock it into smithereens. Yeah. Sometimes anger seems to work well for me. So there it is. My secret’s out at last. Thanks for letting me make my confession. I feel so much better now.

Alrighty. Carry on then…
– Karen