Too Big a Day

Ten years ago I started my own religion on the Amazon Discussion Forums. Here is the opening post on the Humoristians thread:
On Aug 20, 2007 2:18:41 PM PDT
Alph Wingoov Karen says:
I’ve decided to create a new religion. People belonging to this religion will call themselves “Humoristians.” Here are the 5 tenets:
1) You must be able to laugh at yourself.
2) You must be able to recognize how ludicrous your beliefs might appear to others.
3) You must want nothing but good for everyone, everywhere in the universe. (Editor’s note: Don’t let this one scare you. None of us is quite there, yet.)
4) You must have a natural aversion to meetings, committees, and scheduled events (as we will be having none of those).
5) You must enjoy the humor of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Tom Lehrer, and Jerry Seinfeld (if you’re a Jerry Lewis kind of guy, you might want to think about starting your own religion – although we wish you nothing but good).

Not long after my initial post a poster who went by the handle “Golden Oldie EK” joined our fledgling church with this comment:

Hello, nice people. I would like very much to join your church. But I do have a question. Is it okay in your religion to also love the comedy of W.C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, Bugs Bunny, Tweetie Bird, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, and The Flintstones? Will you please accept my application for membership? (Actually, when I was a little kid, I always thought they should have made Walt Disney god. I mean, after all, here was a man who made the whole world fall in love with a drunken, lying frontiersman from Tennessee, and a little, black rat that wore white gloves and shoes. Church would have been so much fun: The Virgin Snow White and the Seven Apostles; “Our Father who art in Orlando, hallowed be thy name…”)

And if I am accepted for membership, do I have to be immersed in anything?

And so began my friendship with Randy, aka Golden Oldie EK. For several years Randy and my other fellow Humoristians did improv with each other on the Humoristian thread – playing off each other – sharing our beliefs, thoughts, opinions, and lives with each other. In some ways my friends in Humoristianity knew me better than a lot of my friends in my off-line life, even though we’d never actually met each other in the person. And eventually, as the Amazon forums began closing, we all met up again with each other on Facebook, and together authored a book, The Humoristian Chronicles, about our experiences meeting each other on the forums.

Like me, Randy was a writer, and he shared his writing projects with me – looking for my editorial input – and I shared my writing projects with him. He was a wonderful support for me as a writer, and his encouragement meant a lot to me.

And this morning I learned, through a message from someone I’d never met, that Randy had died.

I needed a walk.

***

I went to nearby LaConner to pay my internet bill, and, after paying my bill, was drawn towards the Swinomish Channel on the west side of town. “I’m going to take you on an adventure with me, Randy,” I told my dear Humoristian friend. He’d always talked about visiting me out here. I decided today I’d bring him along with me – in my thoughts, if not in the person.

I walked along the boardwalk there, past all the touristy restaurants and gift shops. When I got to the end of the boardwalk I kept walking. I skirted an old warehouse, turned right on a side street, walked to the end of the street, and kept walking. I found myself at Pioneer Park. Stopped to check out the fish slide. And kept walking. I found a long driveway with a sign in front of it saying it was open to the public from 8:30 to 4:30, and turned onto the dirt road.

When I’d gone maybe 100 yards I passed a man coming from the other direction. “Am I walking down a private driveway?” I asked him. He told me yes, and no. It was a private driveway, but the general public had access to it. He told me that if I went further I’d come to a boatyard, and soon after that a trail that split – if I went left I’d find myself in the marshes where the hunters were shooting at birds – but if I went right I’d go on a trail that would take me to the top of a bluff and down to a beach. He suggested I go right. 🙂 I thanked him and…. yeah… kept walking.

A little further on I caught up with another walker. Like me, she had a camera with her, and I noticed her stopping along the road every now and then to take pictures. Not far beyond her there was a “boat graveyard” – weathered old boats piled up along the side of the road with blackberry vines growing over them. I began snapping pictures with my camera, and she joined me. We began talking then about photography, and the boats, and I asked her if she knew about the trail that would take me to the bluff. She did, and offered to take me there.

I’m glad I ran into her because I’m pretty sure I never would have found the trail without her – or I might have found myself on the bird marshes with bird shot flying around me – which would have made for an interesting experience, to be sure, but not the kind I needed today. We introduced ourselves to each other on the way – her name, she said, was Annabelle. She is from Paris, and works as a dance instructor and translator. As we talked we found we had friends in common – which is always fun – as well as a shared political perspective – which is, also, fun.

Annabelle led me to the bluff – which offered an amazing view of the Skagit Bay – and then down to the beach. After we snapped some pictures, Annabelle led me back up the trail and back into “downtown” LaConner – the two of us chatting like old friends the entire way.

Eventually we came to her house, where we hugged as old friends do, and I continued on my journey back to my car parked in front of the place where I’d paid my bill earlier. “How was that for an adventure?” I asked my friend, Randy. “We met a new friend today and found a new beach,” I told him.

As I drove home, with Randy still in my thoughts, I tinkered with the idea of just spending the rest of the day processing Randy’s death – trying to come to terms with it. But then I realized there was more good I could do for someone else today – I could take my Dad for a drive in the sunshine – and while I could still do some good for someone else, I might as well do it. So I put off processing Randy’s death for a little longer, and went to pick-up Daddy for a drive.

It wasn’t until maybe 3:00 or 4:00 that I finally found myself back home.

But the day – all of it, from start to finish – was just too much to process. I still can’t wrap my head around it – from the deep sense of loss that started my day, to the excitement of meeting a new friend later on. Today was just too big.

***

Dear friend – I brought you with me on an adventure today. We saw trumpeter swans and boat reflections, we made a new friend, and you talked with me about your latest story, and I talked with you about what I’m working on, and memories of you flashed into my head – your first appearance in the land of Humoristianity, the messages of support you sent me, your comic (and sometimes really profound) interjections on my FB posts, the night we all celebrated Obama’s win together, and the night we all realized that 2017 might not bring us the leader we’d hoped. I cherish all of the writing you sent me – I cherish your book of poems – I cherish everything you shared with me. I feel a deep loss right now. The world is not going to be the same without you in it. My FB posts are not going to be the same without your comments attached to them. I love you, brother.
Karen

 

 

 

 

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Wealthy Beyond Belief

This morning when I stopped to get my breve at the Sisters Espresso, Brooke sang the birthday song to me. The lady ahead of me in the line thought Brooke was singing to her, because it was HER birthday today, too – isn’t that cool?!

In the afternoon I realized that a part of me had been expecting a birthday phone call from Moz today, and it hit me – this is my first birthday without Moz. She always gave me flowers on my birthday, and a card, and sang the birthday song to me.

And then… my dear friend, Teresa, asked me where I wanted to go for dessert – and she took me up to Bellingham – and she bought me a bouquet of roses – she said she felt Moz telling her to do that – and she bought me CHOCOLATE at the Chocolate Necessities and Gelato shop. And her gesture was so sweet that… I’m tearing up right now just writing about it.

I am so blessed – my life is so rich with family and friends. I am wealthy beyond belief.

butterfly luminex this one

photo of butterfly by Karen Molenaar Terrell

“…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
– Matthew 6:33

“Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay. Truth Life, and Love are substance…man should wish for, and in reality has, only the substance of good, the substance of spirit, not matter… To ascertain our progress, we must learn where our affections are placed and whom we acknowledge and obey as God. The objects we pursue and the spirit we manifest reveal our standpoint…”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Long Live Humoristianity!

On August 20, 2007, Karen says:
I’ve decided to create a new religion. People belonging to this religion will call themselves “Humoristians.” Here are the 5 tenets:
1) You must be able to laugh at yourself.
2) You must be able to recognize how ludicrous your beliefs might appear to others.
3) You must want nothing but good for everyone, everywhere in the universe.
4) You must have a natural aversion to meetings, committees, and scheduled events (as we will be having none of those).
5) You must enjoy the humor of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Tom Lehrer, and Jerry Seinfeld (if you’re a Jerry Lewis kind of guy, you might want to think about starting your own religion – although we wish you nothing but good).

So, have I told you about the time I started my own religion? After I’d been on the Amazon religion discussion forum for a month or so I woke up one morning with the voice of God (or something) in my head, telling me it was time to, yea and verily, start my own religion and stuff. I had not been on the forum long, but I had been on long enough to realize that the one thing that seemed to be desperately needed was the opportunity to laugh at ourselves. It seemed to me that some people were taking themselves and their beliefs waaay too seriously.

I started a thread called “Humoristians” and was soon joined by some of my favorite characters on the forum – atheists and agnostics, a pantheist, several Buddhists, a Lutheran, a Methodist or two, a self-avowed sophist, a couple of people with Mormon roots, a Discordian, and a host of other personalities from a wide array of beliefs, backgrounds, and geographic locations.

And ohmygosh, it was fun!

Our fledgling little church grew rapidly and reached people around the globe. One of the highlights, for me, was when we heard from a soldier in Afghanistan who told us she’d found our thread when she was recovering from an illness and our nonsensical little dialogue totally cheered her up.

Eventually we all drifted off the forum and the Humoristian temple there closed its doors. But we met up again with each other on Facebook, and Humoristianity continues to live – although in a different form. (The founding and history of the Humoristian church can be found in our book, The Humoristian Chronicles.)

I have a difficult time relating to people who can’t laugh at themselves, or let me laugh at myself. And I have a difficult time relating to people who feel the need to “correct” my thought, manage me, fix me, or “pray” for me without being asked by me to do so.

I have found that sermonizing bossy britches busybodies can be found amongst pretty much every group of people – both religious and non-religious. I tend to avoid sermonizing bossy britches busybodies – even the Christian Scientist ones. Maybe especially the Christian Scientist ones. This may sound weird, but I really have very little in common with those Christian Scientists who can’t occasionally laugh at themselves and their circumstances. We may all believe that God is “Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love” (the synonyms given by Mary Baker Eddy in the Christian Science textbook), and we may all believe that God heals, but if a Christian Scientist can’t laugh at herself then her approach to life and its challenges is going to be very different from mine. I believe I actually have more in common with, say, an atheist Humoristian than I do with a Christian Scientist non-Humoristian.

Just as Bossybritches Busybodies can be found in pretty much every group of people, Humoristians can, too. I count amongst my friends Jewish Humoristians, atheist Humoristians, Christian Scientist Humoristians, and Buddhist, Catholic, and Methodist Humoristians, among others.

There are times when, if I were to be asked what religion I affiliate myself with, I think I might actually be inclined to answer “Humoristianity”. A sense of humor about life, and about themselves, is the one thing the people I feel a kinship with all have in common – whether they call themselves atheists, Catholics, Christian Scientists, Buddhists, pantheists, Lutherans, Methodists, or Mormons.

Long live Humoristianity! Long may we don her Groucho glasses and play her kazoos!
– excerpt from The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New

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Taking My Bike for a Walk

Karen’s Most Excellent Adventure:
Rode my bike into Edison with the idea of getting tea at Tweet’s and saying hi to my friend, Charles, and then maybe riding on to the slough for photos. Tweet’s was closed, but Charles happened to be walking past just as I arrived and we exchanged greetings and hugs and life-updates. It was so good to see him again.

Stopped by Marioposa’s for a tea and then, as I left, the tire on my bike popped.

This was an interesting turn of events.

I was four miles out now. No spare tire. An adventure in the works.

Looked like I was going to be taking my bike for a walk.  🙂

A nice couple who’d heard my tire pop – they said it sounded like a gun shot – came out to see if they could help me – wasn’t that nice of them? I thanked them, but told them I wasn’t far from home, and I was fine. It was a perfect day for a walk.

I saw things I wouldn’t have seen if I’d been cruising along on my bike – a red-winged blackbird flitting among the cattails, a robin sitting on a sign, flowers along the roadside. About a mile down the road, I stopped at the Samish Cheese Factory for cheese-tasting (bought some chile chive cheese and cheddar) and met some way cool tourists from France (originally from Surrey, UK) who recommended the extra sharp cheddar. Back on the road, and a woman stopped to ask me if I knew how to get to the Old Edison Inn – I was glad to help – and realized I wouldn’t have been able to help her if I’d been on my bike. A little further down the road and my friend, Armando, suddenly appeared around a curve, out for a jog. He jogged over to see if I needed help – I told him I was enjoying my adventure – and then we had a lovely conversation about life and love and kindness – there, on the side of a country road, in the middle of nowhere, really – it was wonderful and kind of surreal – and we both started laughing at the delightful, unexpected magic of it. (It has been my experience that if you’re in the right frame of mind, good things will find you wherever you are. 🙂 ) A little further along and I stopped to buy myself some blueberry ice cream at Bow Hill Blueberries.

At this point I was just so filled up with the Good of Life (also blueberry ice cream and chili cheese) – rejoicing in friendship and love and kindness – so grateful that Love had provided me with this adventure today. And then I looked down – and there was a yellow paperclip lying on the side of the road. Paper clips are a kind of an inside joke between Love and me. (I’ll attach a link to THAT story down below.) Now I was totally cracking up. Put the paper clip in my pocket (I NEVER walk by paper clips when they appear for me).

A mile more and I was back home.

What a lovely expedition.

Click here for the paperclip story.

To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

Flowers for Our Friend

The flower place I use every year to send flowers to Moz on Mother’s Day emailed me to let me know about the special deals it has right now. I let my friends know about this. They know my mom passed away at the end of February, and I figured they’d know what that email notification from the flower place meant to me. Several of my friends suggested I think of someone else to send flowers to this year. I really liked the idea of that a lot.

So today my friend, Laurie – a woman my mom loved dearly – received Mother’s Day flowers. In my mind Laurie received those flowers from both Moz and me. I imagine Moz smiling. I know she would have really been tickled by Laurie getting those flowers.

flowers 2

Flower Doodle by Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“A Mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

        “MOTHER. God; divine and eternal Principle; Life, Truth, and Love.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

In Honor of Moz

Something kind of wonderful happened this morning. 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 today – and this little family came in and sat down next to me – Mom with a baby, her daughter who’d just turned eight, other family members – and I started chatting with them – really neat people.

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.

Then Teresa comes in – and brings all that wonderful energy with her – and I introduce her to my new friends sitting next to me. They start chatting, and I leave them to go talk to the man with all the bags. I ask him if I can buy him a coffee at the Starbucks – and he asks me if I could maybe buy him a couple gift cards so he can buy food later. So I find the gift card rack and he picks out a Kroger’s card for food, and a Starbucks card, and I go back to the cashier to buy it for him, and also to buy some drinks for Teresa and me. (Teresa doesn’t want me to buy her anything, until my new friend tells her that I’m the boss today, and she has to do what I say.)

So we all get our drinks – the backpack man thanks me for the cards – he said he’d been having a really negative attitude about people up until then, and I’m making him feel better about life. Teresa turns to him and says, “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 tells him this, I realize that it’s true. Moz taught me to watch out for people, and to do what I could to help. And the idea of that brings sweet tears to my eyes.

So the man thanks me and we part ways, and Teresa and I go back to our table, and my new friend, Ella, thanks me for taking care of the man with the backpack. Just the fact that she noticed the exchange with the backpack-man really touches my heart.

And THEN we find out we are both of the same political persuasion.  And now I have a new FB friend. ❤

***

Moz’s celebration was wonderful. There was music and laughter and more music and laughter and sweet friendship. I brought her shoes to the celebration and put them in the front with all the flowers. It made me smile to see them up there…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“You are not alone.”

“Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them.  You are not alone.'”
– Kurt Vonnegut

Something very cool happened this year: People I never knew existed suddenly appeared in my life voicing the same concerns I’ve voiced, sharing the same values as me, befriending me, offering their support when I’ve felt discouraged or afraid, and letting me know I’m not alone.  It’s been amazing, really, how we’ve all managed to find each other in these unsettling, dark times. Just as the metaphorical batteries in my flashlight start to die, and the light starts to go out, suddenly someone will appear out of nowhere and shine his light out of the darkness and offer help, and tell me I’m not alone.

It has meant the world to me.

There have also been friends who have “defriended” me in the last year, too, of course – because I am so controversial and badass and stuff 🙂 – but I’m thinking for every friend who felt the need to defriend me, three more new friends have suddenly appeared to offer friendship.

I am rich with true friends – both old friends and new – I am wealthy beyond imagining.

My dear Humoristian hooligans –

May you bring your abundant kindness and wisdom into today. May you lighten the hearts of the scared and despairing with your courage and good will to all mankind, and may you bring healthy, healing laughter to the stodgy, stingy, and staid. May you find hope and beauty in the good continually unfolding around you. May you make a new friend, find a new song, and leave behind something beautiful. Amen.

Go out there and work your magic!

Love, 
Karen

Happy solstice, everyone! “Let there be light!”

let there be light