Robin’s Egg

Another excerpt from Cosmic Connections (soon to be released):

Robin’s Egg

He comes towards me on the trail–
a big, brawny man with a bald head
and tattoos on his arms. I turn away
to take photos of the ferns on the forest
floor and when I turn back he’s passed me.
I glance back at the same moment he glances
back at me. He uses his walking stick
to point to a place on the path near me.
I turn in the direction he’s pointing –
not sure what he wants me to see –
and find myself looking at the remnants
of a tiny, fragile blue egg. A new nestling
has pecked open her shell. “Robin’s egg,”
the big man rumbles in his deep bass voice,
a sweet smile on his face. I smile back at him.
“It’s beautiful,” I say. “Yes, it is,” he agrees.
And he turns and continues down the trail
.-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Magic at Tweets

I’m getting ready to publish Cosmic Connections: Sharing the Joy. This book has been really fun to work on. I got to revisit a lot of really magical moments.

Here’s an excerpt:
Magic at Tweets

I have had a most weird and wonderful morning. I rode my bike over to Tweets in Edison for breakfast – and magic happened!

I brought my vanilla breve out onto the back deck to wait for my breakfast muffin, and was greeted by one of my former eighth graders, Reed, who was sitting with his sister and friends at one of the little tables out there. It was so fun to see Reed again – it’s always a kick to see my students all grown-up and making amazing lives for themselves. Magic!

I sat down at the table next to Reed and his friends and sipped my breve and watched life happen. Soon a young woman came out onto the deck, looking for a place to sit. There were no more tables out there, so I asked her if she’d like to share my table. She sat down and we chatted for a bit – I learned Marlo lived in Bellingham, was majoring in English at Western Washington University (what a coinky-dink! – my youngest son is also majoring in English at WWU!), and worked at the Woods Coffee shop in Boulevard Park – one of my favorite stops when I’m in Bellingham. Marlo’s friend, Hannah, joined us then and we chatted a bit more – she, too, is a student at WWU, majoring in graphics design.

As we talked and laughed together another former student of mine walked by, and smiled and gave me a hug – it turns out he works at Tweets now! Magic!

When Reed and his friends left I moved over to their table so Marlo and Hannah could have their own table. And then another woman came out on the deck looking for a table for her and her partner, Joe. I told her that, if she liked, they could join me at my new table, and they did. Liesyl and Joe were very cool – they’d traveled to Edison from Seattle on scooters! We talked about their scooter adventures, where they came from, and where they were going. Liesyl mentioned that she’d once lived in Bow (the little community I live in now) – her father had been a minister at the United Methodist church in Bow. And here comes even MORE magic…

Thirty-one years ago – before we’d ever suspected we’d someday be living in Bow – my husband and I were married in Gig Harbor (a town two hours away) by a minister who’d once been a Methodist minister in Bow. “Is your dad’s name ‘Russ’?” I asked her. Her mouth fell open and she nodded yes. “Is his last name ‘Meyer’?” I asked, and she said yes! “Your dad was the minister who married my husband and me 31 years ago in Gig Harbor!” I told her. And I told her about the wedding – how her dad’s sense of humor had fit right in with our event – and how he’d seen us laughing and yukking it up with our friends at the reception and told us that some couples he worries about – but that he knew we’d be alright.

Liesyl told me her dad had passed on suddenly fifteen years ago – and I was sad to hear this. We shared stories with each other, then, about her dad and celebrated him as we ate breakfast together.

As I was leaving I stopped to ask the man who had taken my order if I could take his picture for my blog. He graciously agreed. I asked him his name – he said “Charles” – and we realized that we were actually already Facebook friends. I’d been enjoying his posts and comments for many months! I love that!

Magic!

(Here’s the photo I’m going to use for the cover.)

My Friend, Jack

You may remember our dear friend, Jack Arends, who made national headlines last December when he fought his way through a terminal medical diagnosis to cast his electoral college vote for president. Jack has, with honesty and incredible courage, been keeping us updated on his condition since his diagnosis/prognosis and let us know early this week that he was admitted to the hospital. He has not been far from our thoughts this week. I included a chapter about Jack in the book, Scrapbook of a Year and a Day. Here’s an excerpt:

December 15, 2020

There’s a story about my friend, Jack Arends, in the Huffington Post. I’d recognize that hat anywhere. Jack’s friendship with the Molenaar family goes back more than 60 years – his mother worked in the same office as Dad – Jack’s mom was pregnant with Jack at the same time as my mom was pregnant with me (I arrived on earth a couple months before him). Our families have shared both tragedies and celebrations over the years. Yesterday Jack was my hero.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“A Washington state elector who has a terminal health issue broke down in tears Monday after casting his vote for President-elect Joe Biden, telling a local media outlet that being an elector is part of making his time left ‘count.’…A retired aviation industry analyst, Arends entered the floor of the state Senate in a wheelchair and wearing a brimmed cap reading ‘Play Nice.’ He took a less-than-subtle jab at Trump by bringing two Sharpie markers ― the president’s writing tool of choice on several headline-making occasions – to cast his vote for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”
– Curtis M. Wong, Huffington Post, December 16

Filled All Up with Cosmic Goodness

So here’s the highlight of yesterday:

My neighbor, Diana, came over while I was making note cards – and I was so excited she showed up right then because she is herself a card-maker extraordinaire and I wanted to show off to her what I’d been up to. She’d come over to deliver a message from her friend, Dee, to me.

Diana and Dee have been friends for decades – I think they are sisters of the heart – they are both kind and wise – and brave when they need to be. Diana introduced Dee to me when Dee was visiting a few weeks ago, and I felt an instant kinship with her.

And today Diana delivered a note from Dee that brought me to tears. Here’s some of what Dee wrote: “I told Frances A_ _ _ about meeting you and she said she knew you. Then, in checking out old emails, I ran across the one I tucked inside this envelope – seems Frances was trying to soothe my savage best last Christmas with one of your calming photos. So, here I am, letting you know… your influence on me began long before we met.”

Dee’s message just filled me all up with cosmic goodness. It is, for me, more evidence and assurance of the universal cosmic connection we all have with one another.

Here’s the email Dee got from Frances last Christmas – including the photo of mine that Frances sent her…

And here’s the original…

(Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Today’s Unexpected Gift

Today’s unexpected gift came by way of a recalcitrant ATM machine which spit out a message that I needed to contact my “financial institution.” The ATM happened to be attached to my “financial institution” – so I walked around the corner and got in line behind a truck at the drive-through.

Pretty soon a car pulled up in the drive-through lane next to me and I saw my friends, Phil and Courtney. I yelled across to them and pulled down my mask so that they could recognize the crazy lady standing in the lane next to them, waving at them. They smiled and waved back and we had a delightful conversation involving the opening of my son and his partner’s new scone shop, and the haircut and pink highlights their daughter is going to give me next week, and the food we were smelling from the restaurant across the street.

Then the truck ahead of me pulled away and I walked up to the teller. I explained what had happened with the ATM and she said, “You know, our lobby has been open since Easter. You don’t need to stand out there. Why don’t you come around into the bank and we’ll help you?”

I’d had no idea the lobby was open! It has been, like, a year since I’ve been in my bank! This was HUGE news! HUGE! I thanked the teller and turned around and waved good bye to Phil and Courtney, and to the people in the car behind me, too, while I was at it – and everyone waved back – then I walked around the corner and into the bank! Just like that!

And this is where I met my new friend, Kati. Like magic, she appeared from a side office, smiled at me through her mask, and asked me if I was the person who needed help with the ATM. Then she ushered me back to her office and invited me to take a seat while she sorted through the ATM confusion. While she was tapping on her keyboard I glanced around her office and saw a picture of Mount Baker. I made comment on it – it was a really beautiful photo – and she told me where the photo had been taken and said she really loved that picture, too. And then – because… every opportunity, right? – I told her I’d climbed to the top of that mountain with my dad. She thought that was pretty cool.

As Kati was working on her computer, music was playing in the background. A song came on that reminded her of “Caddyshack” and that led to a fun conversation about Chevy Chase movies.

She said she’d go out to the ATM with me now to see if the problem had been fixed. I said, “I feel like I’m on a mission from God – like The Blues Brothers.” And Kati laughed and agreed that “The Blues Brothers” was another great movie!

The ATM wasn’t fixed.

So we went back inside. Kati clicked away some more on another computer, and found a way to fix the problem – it turned out to be an error within the ATM. We went back out to test the ATM and this time it worked! Whoo hoot!

I’m so grateful that the ATM was recalcitrant this morning – look at all the fun it brought me!

“To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

Sons swinging over Lake Padden.

You’re Still Here!

Dear Republican friend –

You’re still here! Thank you for coming back! After our last discussion I wasn’t sure I’d ever see you again! I’ve been blocked, unfriended and snoozed by a lot of friends in the last four years – and I get it and am not dissing anyone for doing that – my feelings aren’t hurt or anything – but it says a lot about your character that you’re still here.

Thank you.
Karen

Sunset over flooded fields in Skagit County, Washington State. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.



Message to My Friends on the Other Side

I know I have friends who are feeling today what I was feeling four years ago. Devastated. Terrified of what the future holds. Sure that there must be some mistake. Wondering if it’s all a lie. Wondering if some miracle will change everything before the new president gets sworn in. I guess I just wanted you to know that I get it and I’m not going to judge you for whatever it is you’re feeling right now. And I’m not going to think less of you if you’re feeling scared.

I voted for Biden-Harris. I am relieved and happy they won. But I find I’m not even tempted to gloat about it.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“God bless the whole world – no exceptions.”

A Thank You to a Conservative Friend

I think it might be helpful to us to be aware that those who identify as Democrats and those who identify as Republicans are being fed completely different narratives about the state of our country. (Check out the new movie on Netflix, The Social Dilemma.) I just had an interesting conversation with a conservative friend – someone I have come to respect over the years because he doesn’t get defensive, doesn’t view me as “the enemy,” is willing to listen to what I have to say, has the courage to share what he believes in an honest and forthright way, and is able to self-reflect. He knows how to question me, but he also knows how to question himself. I think this is a rare and beautiful thing.

Anyway. We were talking about Trump and white supremacy, Antifa and The Proud Boys and the Boogaloo movements. Throwing out different links and articles to each other. And it was hugely eye-opening to me! He is getting a completely different narrative than me!

I’m not going to share all the links and articles, stories and narratives – all of that is out there – available to any of us who are willing to cross the river and see what the other guy sees from where he’s camped.

And, of course, our back-and-forthing didn’t change in any way the different perspectives we have of the world – I still see things from my perspective (vote Biden!), and he still sees things from his perspective. But what the dialoguing DID do for me is help me understand WHY he sees things as he does. This is an intelligent, kind, thoughtful human being. He is not my enemy. He is not a white supremacist. He does not want a Civil War. In fact, I think, in the end, he wants the same things *I* want – peace and prosperity, justice and fair play and equity for all.

Maybe this is the one thing we can do for each other right now – instead of dehumanizing each other and seeing each other as “The Enemy” – maybe we can make an effort to “humanize” each other – to see the good in each other.

I want to thank my friend for letting me dialogue with him tonight.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution, culture, character, from all the rest; that human life is the work, the play, the ceaseless action and reaction upon each other of these different atoms. Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities; with an equanimity so settled that no passing breath nor accidental disturbance shall agitate or ruffle it; with a charity broad enough to cover the whole world’s evil, and sweet enough to neutralize what is bitter in it, – determined not to be offended when no wrong is meant, nor even when it is…”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“The Karen Special”

Those of you who are familiar with my drives with my centenarian father might remember that our go-to place for Dad’s root beer floats was Sisters Espresso (in Bow, WA), and that my drink of choice was usually a lavender green iced tea.

Sisters Espresso is assuming new ownership in a week and my husband and I wanted to stop by and order some of our last drinks from our friends, the current owners. Brooke was behind the window and I felt a little tug of nostalgia when I saw her back there, working her magic at the espresso machine. She looked up and smiled when she saw me, and pointed to her special for the day: “The Karen” – a lavender green tea!

I have never had a drink named after me before! And to see the name “Karen” used in a happy way almost brought tears to my eyes.

Of course, I had to order one of those Karen specials for myself. 🙂 (It was on the house. ❤ )

Do Not Assume

Please do not tell me what I believe, feel, and think.
– Do not assume because I am a progressive and tend to vote for Democrats that I don’t believe in God, “hate the Bible,” and want to kill babies and take away your guns.
– Do not assume because I believe in God that I am anti-science, believe the earth is flat and the world was, literally, created in seven days.
– Do not assume that because I’m white, middle-aged and named “Karen” I am racist and want to talk to your manager.
– Do not assume that because I identify as a “Christian” I am conservative, opposed to LGBTQ rights, opposed to women’s rights, travel heavily armed, and am voting for you-know-who.

I think if we see others in terms of stereotypes we miss out on some beautiful friendships and kinship with our fellow humans.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell