The Year of Insanity

13 years ago I went insane. I did not like it so much. But I learned a lot from it. It occurs to me now that the experience I had during The Year of Insanity helped prepare me for the challenges our world is facing right now.

I believe mankind is experiencing a collective insanity today. And recognizing that is what is going on is giving me some compassion for my world and its inhabitants. I understand what this feels like. I understand that shaming someone who is mentally ill is not going to make things better. Laying guilt on someone going through a massive clinical depression – as I went through – is not going to heal that individual, or the world. Hating someone who is not herself or himself or their self, and is already contemplating suicide, is not going to fix the problem.

Having personally experienced mental illness I know the one and only thing that can reach through the fog of insanity and heal mental illness is love.

We need to recognize that those individuals who are experiencing and exhibiting mental illness right now are not themselves. This isn’t THEM. Their real identity – OUR real identity – is secure and safe – “hid with Christ” in Love – where goodness and purity and intelligence and wisdom and kindness and honesty are eternally, indestructibly qualities of who we ALL really are.

13 years ago I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to today – I contemplated suicide daily. But look at all I would have missed if I’d given up on life then! – All the beautiful new friends I wouldn’t have met! The sunsets and sunrises I wouldn’t have seen! The lessons I wouldn’t have learned! The changes I wouldn’t have been able to make! The love and laughter I would have denied myself! When I was deep in the depression I couldn’t imagine a happy ending to my story. I couldn’t imagine I’d ever get out of it. Couldn’t imagine it ever ending.

But then one day the fog lifted and I awakened from the nightmare. I looked out on the world and I was connected again – connected to the joy and the beauty and a sense of well-being. I had myself back again. Now I’m really grateful for that year of learning – that year of shedding the chrysalis (and that feels like what the whole world is doing right now). I learned a new appreciation for the power of love; gained a new appreciation for the power of a moment and a good, deep breath; I came to appreciate the power of choice; and gained renewed gratitude for all the beauty in Nature and mankind; I gained greater humility, empathy, and compassion for others; and a stronger commitment to my own spiritual journey.

I learned I can be happy even when I’m sad.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“There’s nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
– Richard Buckminster Fuller

“The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

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

Our Prayer for the World

Let’s do a prayer for the world together. I’ll start, and then you all can add on with your own prayerful thoughts. Let’s keep this non-political. Let’s keep this kind. You don’t have to belong to any particular religion – or any religion at all – to participate. This is just going to be about embracing the entire world in a big ol’ loving hug. ❤

Here we go –
I feel the presence and power of Love enveloping each and every one of us – protecting us, guiding us, sheltering us, providing refuge and sanctuary, giving us direction. I feel Love filling the universe with light – there isn’t the teensiest tiniest nano space that isn’t touched by Love. No one is out of the reach of Love. No one is out of the reach of Truth. No one is out of the reach of harmony and peace, kindness and honesty. NOTHING can separate us from Love – not fear or anger or hate or confusion or ignorance or guilt. We are RIGHT THIS MOMENT where we need to be, doing what we need to be doing, supplied with everything we need. We are worthy. We are deserving of good. Every moment we are new. We are meant to be here.

Okay, your turn… 🙂

The Christmas Dog

Quote

It is time, once again, for the telling of “The Christmas Dog” –

Christmas Eve, 1988. I was in a funk. I couldn’t see that I was making much progress in my life. My teaching career seemed to be frozen, and I was beginning to think my husband and I would never own our own home or have children. The world seemed a very bleak and unhappy place to me. No matter how many batches of fudge I whipped up or how many times I heard Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas,” I couldn’t seem to find the Christmas spirit.

I was washing the breakfast dishes, thinking my unhappy thoughts, when I heard gunshots coming from the pasture behind our house. I thought it was the neighbor boys shooting at the seagulls again and, all full of teacherly harrumph, decided to take it upon myself to go out and “have a word with them.”

But after I’d marched outside I realized that it wasn’t the neighbor boys at all. John, the dairy farmer who lived on the adjoining property, was walking away with a rifle, and an animal (a calf, I thought) was struggling to get up in the field behind our house. Every time it would push up on its legs it would immediately collapse back to the ground.

I wondered if maybe John had made a mistake and accidentally shot the animal, so I ran out to investigate and found that the animal was a dog. It had foam and blood around its muzzle. She was vulnerable and helpless – had just been shot, after all – but instead of lashing out at me or growling as I’d expect an injured animal to do, she was looking up at me with an expression of trust and seemed to be expecting me to take care of her.

“John!” I yelled, running after the farmer. He turned around, surprised to see me. “John, what happened?” I asked, pointing back towards the dog.

A look of remorse came into his eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry you saw that, Karen. The dog is a stray and it’s been chasing my cows. I had to kill it.”

“But John, it’s not dead yet.”

John looked back at the dog and grimaced. “Oh man,” he said. “I’m really sorry. I’ll go finish the job. Put it out of its misery.”

By this time another dog had joined the dog that had been shot. It was running around its friend, barking encouragement, trying to get its buddy to rise up and escape. The sight of the one dog trying to help his comrade broke my heart. I made a quick decision. “Let me and my husband take care of it.”

“Are you sure?”

I nodded and he agreed to let me do what I could for the animal.

Unbeknownst to me, as soon as I ran out of the house my husband, knowing that something was wrong, had gotten out his binoculars and was watching my progress in the field. He saw the look on my face as I ran back. By the time I reached our house he was ready to do whatever he needed to do to help me. I explained the situation to him, we put together a box full of towels, and he called the vet.

As we drove his truck around to where the dog lay in the field, I noticed that, while the dog’s canine companion had finally left the scene (never to be seen again), John had gone to the dog and was kneeling down next to her. He was petting her, using soothing words to comfort her, and the dog was looking up at John with that look of trust she’d given me. John helped my husband load her in the back of the truck and we began our drive to the vet’s.

I rode in the back of the truck with the dog as my husband drove, and sang hymns to her. As I sang words from one of my favorite hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal– “Everlasting arms of Love are beneathe, around, above” – the dog leaned against my shoulder and looked up at me with an expression of pure love in her blue eyes.

Once we reached the animal clinic, the veterinarian came out to take a look at her. After checking her over he told us that apparently a bullet had gone through her head, that he’d take care of her over the holiday weekend – keep her warm and hydrated – but that he wasn’t going to give her any medical treatment. I got the distinct impression that he didn’t think the dog was going to make it.

My husband and I went to my parents’ home for the Christmas weekend, both of us praying that the dog would still be alive when we returned. For me, praying for her really meant trying to see the dog as God sees her. I tried to realize the wholeness and completeness of her as an expression of God, an idea of God. I reasoned that all the dog could experience was the goodness of God – all she could feel is what Love feels, all she could know is what Truth knows, all she could be is the perfect reflection of God. I tried to recognize the reality of these things for me, too, and for all of God’s creation.

She made it through the weekend, but when we went to pick her up the vet told us that she wasn’t “out of the woods, yet.” He told us that if she couldn’t eat, drink, or walk on her own in the next few days, we’d need to bring her back and he’d need to put her to sleep.

We brought her home and put her in a big box in our living room, with a bowl of water and soft dog food by her side. I continued to pray. In the middle of the night I got up and went out to where she lay in her box. Impulsively, I bent down and scooped some water from the dish into her mouth. She swallowed it, and then leaned over and drank a little from the bowl. I was elated! Inspired by her reaction to the water, I bent over and grabbed a glob of dog food and threw a little onto her tongue. She smacked her mouth together, swallowed the food, and leaned over to eat a bit more. Now I was beyond elated! She’d accomplished two of the three requirements the vet had made for her!

The next day I took her out for a walk. She’d take a few steps and then lean against me. Then she’d take a few more steps and lean. But she was walking! We would not be taking her back to the veterinarian.

In the next two weeks her progress was amazing. By the end of that period she was not only walking, but running and jumping and chasing balls. Her appetite was healthy. She was having no problems drinking or eating.

But one of the most amazing parts of this whole Christmas blessing was the relationship that developed between this dog and the man who had shot her. They became good friends. The dog, in fact, became the neighborhood mascot. (And she never again chased anyone’s cows.)

What the dog brought to me, who had, if you recall, been in a deep funk when she entered our lives, was a sense of the true spirit of Christmas – the Christly spirit of forgiveness, hope, faith, love. She brought me the recognition that nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible to God.

We named our new dog Christmas because that is what she brought us that year.

Within a few years all those things that I had wondered if I would ever have as part of my life came to me – a teaching job, children, and a home of our own. It is my belief that our Christmas Dog prepared my heart to be ready for all of those things to enter my life.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, from *Blessings: Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist*

via The Christmas Dog

How can I help?

I see friends struggling, hurting, in pain, vulnerable, scared.
And I want to help.
So I ask myself: How can I do that? – how can I help?
And the answer comes to me – quick and clear.
See my friends as they really are – confident, strong,
healthy, whole, fearless, full of life and joy.
And see myself that way, too.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Beginning Times

Had an interesting exchange with a man at the supermarket today. I was sitting on a bench, waiting for my husband, and a man came up and asked if he could join me. I said, “Absolutely! Have a seat!”

He talked about the rain. And then he said something about the mess the world is in. And THEN he said, “I’m a Christian and we believe the world is in the end times.”

I smiled at him and nodded. “I’m a Christian Scientist and we believe we should heal it,” I said.

And then my husband appeared. I smiled back at the nice man on the bench and went to join my spouse.

The End.

Or… The Beginning.

***

“There are people praying for the world to end. We don’t want to destroy the world – we want to heal it.”
– Harvey Wood (his words as remembered by me)

(Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

moonrise over baker maybe this one also 2 really

Poems from a Vacation

Day 1
Before we leave on our southerly trip
I take one last walk down the street
A big dog and a Chihuahua race out
from their driveway, snarling and yipping –
the Chihuahua nipping
while their owner watches –
his hands in his pockets – and shrugs
when I show him the little dog’s bite.
I am snarling myself now, in a rage,
adrenalin coursing, ready for a fight.
But it’s time to leave. I carry the bite
and the rage with me – pack them up
for the trip and load them in the car.

Husband stops for a break at a McDonald’s
– asks me if I want anything. I’m not hungry
– but I guess one of those little parfait things
might be good. He orders one for me.
I go outside to wait. A young man approaches,
asking for money. My wallet is locked up
in the car and I have no key. I’m so sorry.
But just then the husband comes out
with my parfait – the one I didn’t really want –
and I offer it to the man – show him the
granola packet he needs to add. He thanks me
and takes it, and as we drive away I see him
mixing in the granola and eating the parfait
and some of my fiery rage slips away.
Bless him for giving me a chance to be kind.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Day 2
We lie in bed together – a luxurious waking up.
We are on vacation – no job to race to today.
I rest my head on his chest and listen to his heart
beat – steady and strong – I breathe in and out
with his breathing and drift back to sleep.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The ghosts of our past are
getting out of the car
and seeing the ocean
from Lincoln City, Oregon
for the first time.
The ghosts of Oceans Past
are running on the beach –
strong and young, unaware
of the lessons Life will teach,
and innocent of what lies ahead –
both the good and the bad.
The ghosts of the future are
there, too. Wiser than now,
I hope, and stronger, too –
they have seen what we have
not, yet, and learned lessons
and known losses from a day
to come, and experienced
healings yet to be. And today
we’re in the world between
until then and what has been.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Day 3
The birds watch from the brows
of the barnacled boulders
as humans in their exotic plumage –
pink, purple, yellow, orange, red,
scramble among the rock beds,
searching for shells and agates.
The seagulls no longer worry
about the humans taking their food.
The humans don’t seem in the mood
to look for things to eat –
they don’t want the meat
inside the shells, they seek
the shells themselves! They seek
the rocks! They seek the sea glass!
Seagulls sometimes wonder
about humans’ priorities.
Humans are a puzzle.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

I give a thumbs up and a smile
to the man with the veteran’s cap
on his head and a kite tugging
him to the sky.
He smiles back the smile of a man
on vacation – and lets out the string
so the kite can fly high.
A family from Vancouver passes by
the youngster lugging a rock
as big as an anvil – “No, Buddy. I think
you’re going to have to leave that one here,”
says the father to his son, laughing.
A pair of dogs comes up to greet me,
tails wagging, happy grins on their faces
and I reach down and pet their heads
and notice the dog bite is almost gone
from my ankle.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell. Lincoln City, OR.)

The Other Night

The Other Night

It was a strange and beautiful thing
I’ll try to describe it
I’m lying in bed at 3:00 in the morning
and my nose starts running
not like with little feet
but the kind of nose-running that involves
snot and toilet paper
So I get out of bed, blow my nose,
and settle back under the covers
again, try to fall back to sleep, but my
nose is still running, and my throat
is starting to feel scratchy, and I’m like
No! No, no, no, no, no! There is no
reason for me to be sick. No cause
for this, no purpose to it, no time for it.
And I do my mental prayer-thing as
I’m falling back into slumber. Praying in
my sleep now. Knowing myself as the
image and likeness of Love – whole and
perfect – the expression of Good. I say that
“There is no spot where Love is not”
thing. And I feel a breath come through
the curtains, through the window – breathing
on my face – like the breath from my babies
when they were newly-born and lying
in bed next to me. Or the breath of my kitty
with her nose on my skin – only this
breath doesn’t smell like cat food.
This breath is clean and cool and blows
over my skin with the touch of Love.
Comforting me. And I feel Love
tucking me in. “Rest in the arms of Love”
a healer once told me, and I remember
those words now, as I settle back into sleep.
And when it’s time to get up there is no trace
of the scratchy sneezes. Only Love remains.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

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

Love Sings to Me

I wake from a dream about mermaids
saving the world – don’t ask
And something in that dream
leads to a prayer for the world
But I’m thinking too small
and fear infuses my prayer
And I know this prayer isn’t going
to help the world. So I turn
my thoughts another direction
And walk into the waiting arms
of Love – And boom – right there! –

that is All. In All. Everywhere.

Love sings to me – songs of joy
songs of confidence, sweet, soothing
songs of peace and hope
Songs from the astronauts
moving among the stars.
Songs  from the soldiers returned
from war to a warm embrace.
Songs from the climbers standing
on the summit at last.
Songs from mothers and fathers
tucking children safe in their beds.

Songs from sleek otters rollicking in the Sound
and shimmering fish swimming in a stream
and lizards basking on a toasty rock
and herons spanning dinosaur wings
above me and butterflies flitting
among summer blossoms and leaves
skittering across autumn sidewalks
and spring daffodils turning their heads
towards the sun and sparkling
snowflakes falling gently on the cedars.
Songs from the mermaids in my dream.

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Christmas Dog

The Christmas Dog

Christmas Eve, 1988. I was in a funk. I couldn’t see that I was making much progress in my life. My teaching career seemed to be frozen, and I was beginning to think my husband and I would never own our own home or have children. The world seemed a very bleak and unhappy place to me. No matter how many batches of fudge I whipped up or how many times I heard Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas,” I couldn’t seem to find the Christmas spirit.
 
I was washing the breakfast dishes, thinking my unhappy thoughts, when I heard gunshots coming from the pasture behind our house. I thought it was the neighbor boys shooting at the seagulls again and, all full of teacherly harrumph, decided to take it upon myself to go out and “have a word with them.”
 
But after I’d marched outside I realized that it wasn’t the neighbor boys at all. John, the dairy farmer who lived on the adjoining property, was walking away with a rifle, and an animal (a calf, I thought) was struggling to get up in the field behind our house. Every time it would push up on its legs it would immediately collapse back to the ground.
 
I wondered if maybe John had made a mistake and accidentally shot the animal, so I ran out to investigate and found that the animal was a dog. It had foam and blood around its muzzle. She was vulnerable and helpless – had just been shot, after all – but instead of lashing out at me or growling as I’d expect an injured animal to do, she was looking up at me with an expression of trust and seemed to be expecting me to take care of her.
 
“John!” I yelled, running after the farmer. He turned around, surprised to see me. “John, what happened?” I asked, pointing back towards the dog.
 
A look of remorse came into his eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry you saw that, Karen. The dog is a stray and it’s been chasing my cows. I had to kill it.”
 
“But John, it’s not dead yet.”
 
John looked back at the dog and grimaced. “Oh man,” he said. “I’m really sorry. I’ll go finish the job. Put it out of its misery.”
By this time another dog had joined the dog that had been shot. It was running around its friend, barking encouragement, trying to get its buddy to rise up and escape. The sight of the one dog trying to help his comrade broke my heart. I made a quick decision. “Let me and my husband take care of it.”
“Are you sure?”
 
I nodded and he agreed to let me do what I could for the animal.
 
Unbeknownst to me, as soon as I ran out of the house my husband, knowing that something was wrong, had gotten out his binoculars and was watching my progress in the field. He saw the look on my face as I ran back. By the time I reached our house he was ready to do whatever he needed to do to help me. I explained the situation to him, we put together a box full of towels, and he called the vet.
 
As we drove his truck around to where the dog lay in the field, I noticed that, while the dog’s canine companion had finally left the scene (never to be seen again), John had gone to the dog and was kneeling down next to her. He was petting her, using soothing words to comfort her, and the dog was looking up at John with that look of trust she’d given me. John helped my husband load her in the back of the truck and we began our drive to the vet’s.
 
I rode in the back of the truck with the dog as my husband drove, and sang hymns to her. As I sang words from one of my favorite hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal– “Everlasting arms of Love are beneathe, around, above” – the dog leaned against my shoulder and looked up at me with an expression of pure love in her blue eyes.
 
Once we reached the animal clinic, the veterinarian came out to take a look at her. After checking her over he told us that apparently a bullet had gone through her head, that he’d take care of her over the holiday weekend – keep her warm and hydrated – but that he wasn’t going to give her any medical treatment. I got the distinct impression that he didn’t think the dog was going to make it.
 
My husband and I went to my parents’ home for the Christmas weekend, both of us praying that the dog would still be alive when we returned. For me, praying for her really meant trying to see the dog as God sees her. I tried to realize the wholeness and completeness of her as an expression of God, an idea of God. I reasoned that all the dog could experience was the goodness of God – all she could feel is what Love feels, all she could know is what Truth knows, all she could be is the perfect reflection of God. I tried to recognize the reality of these things for me, too, and for all of God’s creation.
She made it through the weekend, but when we went to pick her up the vet told us that she wasn’t “out of the woods, yet.” He told us that if she couldn’t eat, drink, or walk on her own in the next few days, we’d need to bring her back and he’d need to put her to sleep.
 
We brought her home and put her in a big box in our living room, with a bowl of water and soft dog food by her side. I continued to pray. In the middle of the night I got up and went out to where she lay in her box. Impulsively, I bent down and scooped some water from the dish into her mouth. She swallowed it, and then leaned over and drank a little from the bowl. I was elated! Inspired by her reaction to the water, I bent over and grabbed a glob of dog food and threw a little onto her tongue. She smacked her mouth together, swallowed the food, and leaned over to eat a bit more. Now I was beyond elated! She’d accomplished two of the three requirements the vet had made for her!
 
The next day I took her out for a walk. She’d take a few steps and then lean against me. Then she’d take a few more steps and lean. But she was walking! We would not be taking her back to the veterinarian.
 
In the next two weeks her progress was amazing. By the end of that period she was not only walking, but running and jumping and chasing balls. Her appetite was healthy. She was having no problems drinking or eating.
 
But one of the most amazing parts of this whole Christmas blessing was the relationship that developed between this dog and the man who had shot her. They became good friends. The dog, in fact, became the neighborhood mascot. (And she never again chased anyone’s cows.)
 
What the dog brought to me, who had, if you recall, been in a deep funk when she entered our lives, was a sense of the true spirit of Christmas – the Christly spirit of forgiveness, hope, faith, love. She brought me the recognition that nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible to God.
We named our new dog Christmas because that is what she brought us that year.
 
Within a few years all those things that I had wondered if I would ever have as part of my life came to me – a teaching job, children, and a home of our own. It is my belief that our Christmas Dog prepared my heart to be ready for all of those things to enter my life.
– excerpt from Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist by Karen Molenaar Terrell
 

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