We Are the Children of Love

Love is All. Love is all presence – fills all space. The only Power and Presence. Eternal. Infinite. The Only. “There is no spot where Love is not.”

We are the reflections, expressions, manifestations, creations, ideas, children of Love. Love is our Source. Love is our Cause and we are Love’s effects. We belong wholly to Love. There isn’t the teeniest, tiniest part of us that is unlike our Source, our Father-Mother. All we can be is what Love made us to be.

The belief that we can be diseased is a lie, for disease is no part of Love, our Source. The belief that we are fragile and weak is a lie, for we are the image and likeness of All-Power. The belief that there was EVER a moment when we were outside Love – unprotected, vulnerable – is a lie, for we are never, have never been, will never be, separated from Love – not in the past, present, or future. The belief that we can be separated from Life, Love, Truth is a lie, for we were created by Life, Love, and Truth. God is our Life – never-ending and eternal.

Joy! Peace! Unfaltering hope, fearless and confident, strong and invincible be-ing is ours to claim right now.

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Practitioner’s Invitation

Come with me!
Join me here
in this place where I AM.
Just there, beyond
the five senses.
A universe of Love.
A presence called Life.
A power called Truth.
Do you feel it with you?
Do you feel yourself
baptized and immersed
in this presence of Love?
Come! Join me here!

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Ask Yourself: “Is This Helpful?”

You don’t have to bring the past
into this moment.
You don’t have to bring the pain
with you as you move forward.

Ask yourself:
Is this helpful?
Is this useful?
Is this relevant?
Is there a purpose to this?

If the answer is “no” –
then move on.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“She could not fix the past and she couldn’t stay trapped there.”
― Janis Wildy, The English Bookshop

Blue Cosmos (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

A Cat in My Lap

I was in some pain last night – I think it was from the digging and planting and hauling I did yesterday- and I couldn’t sleep. I came downstairs and sang the hymns Mom used to sing to me when I was a little girl and wasn’t feeling well. I could picture her face and hear her voice and feel her love as I sang to myself and it was comforting. I began to feel better and the pain faded away.

And as I was feeling full of gratitude for that, Sparky Cat suddenly jumped up and lay down next to me, leaned his head against my lap, and let me pet him. For you to understand what that meant to me you need to know that Sparky was a feral kitty when Scott brought him into our house five years ago, and he’s still very wary of being too close to people. He likes belly rubs from Scott and sometimes he’ll sit next to my chair and let me pet his head, but he’s not one of those cats that jumps in your lap and will allow himself to be picked up. He is skittish about too much contact. So this was huge!

A Sharing for Mental Health Day

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on life all those years ago. When I think about all the new friends I never would have met; all the sunrises and sunsets I would have missed; all the adventures and travels I never would have had; and the hugs and smiles I wouldn’t have been able to exchange – I’m just so glad I made the choice to stick around.

Facebook sent me a message, suggesting that as a “community leader” (?) I post something for Mental Health Day – which is, I’ve learned, tomorrow.

So I went back to some of the posts I’ve written about my own experiences with depression – my first experience in 2007-2008; and my second experience in 2011-2012. The first experience with depression came from something “inside” me – I felt I “lost” myself for a year and had to work to find myself again. I came to see during this time that if I could love others, I had worth. If others could love me, there was hope. (I recount my “Year of Insanity” in The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Middle Book.)

My second experience with depression was extrinsic, rather than intrinsic – this one was caused by external stress that, I thought, I had no control over and that, I thought, I was powerless to change. I felt trapped and couldn’t see any way to make things better for myself.

Unlike my first experience with mental illness, this time I did see a professional for help. When I called my health insurance hotline to get help, the woman on the other end of the line asked me a series of questions. One of the last questions she asked me was also one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to answer in my life: “Have you contemplated suicide in the last week?” I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I told her I had. She asked me if I’d contemplated a method. I told her I had.

She asked me why I hadn’t gone through with it, and I told her I hadn’t gone through with it because “I am a chicken shit, and I thought it might hurt.” She started laughing then – which is the best thing she could have done for me – and told me I’d given her a really healthy answer.

The woman on the other end of the phone found a counselor for me, but when I called the counselor’s office I learned this woman was a psychologist – and I told her office that I didn’t really need a psychologist – my problem wasn’t that serious – I just needed a counselor. The receptionist said she’d have the psychologist call me back. When the psychologist called me back, she assured me that she was, basically, just a counselor with a doctor’s degree and encouraged me to come in and see her. So I did.

My first session with her I just sat there and blubbered. My second session with her I blubbered some more and told her all the things I was expected to change in my current teaching position – things I had no control over – and I didn’t see how I could change “…and…and…”

The psychologist asked me, “Do you plan to go back to that position?” I told her I didn’t see how I could. And then she asked me a question that completely changed the course of my life: “Then why do you need to fix these things?”

Whoah. It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders in that moment. I saw that these things weren’t my problem anymore. I didn’t need to worry about them!

From that moment on our sessions together became all about creating a new life for myself. She helped me recognize the things in my life that were making me, literally, crazy, and that I needed to throw out; and she helped me recognize the things I needed to bring more into my life – creative things, artsy things, Soul-things. She helped me see there WERE options and I wasn’t trapped.

I ended up being led to apply for a new teaching position – working with students who were dealing with challenges and obstacles in their young lives that most of us have never had to experience. I found a healthy purpose in my professional life again, and a renewed love for teaching.

From this experience, I learned that we’re never trapped, and there’s always an answer – even if we can’t see it right away. As my wonderful friend, Laura Lavigne, says: “There are things we know we know. There are things we know we don’t know. And there are a whole lot of things we don’t know we don’t know – and THAT is where the magic is!”

This experience happened more than a decade ago. I’m retired now. I’m so glad I was able to retire from my career feeling good about teaching, and about myself. I got to give the keynote speech and sing a song at the graduation that year, and celebrate the beauty of education. And all of that happened because I found the courage to make that phone call, and find help for myself. Talking with a professional helped me unlock the mental bars and see the possibilities for my life.

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Unthinkably good things can happen even late in the game. It’s such a surprise.”
Under the Tuscan Sun

I Float in the Current of Love

I float in the current of Love
carried and buoyed above
all doubts and fears
and pain and tears.
God loves me! – and I feel
the presence and power
of Love unfolding healing
in me. Joy abounds!
I arrive and walk
on holy ground.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Racial Reliance on Truth

(I thought it was time to bring this one up again. This was originally published on March 22, 2014.)

“The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Recently a fellow Christian Scientist  made a comment on one of my blog posts that got me to thinking (which is always a good thing, right?) 

Don wrote: “Mrs. Eddy pushes us to have ‘radical reliance’ on God–an impossible order if one wishes to be ‘fat and happy’ in matter, too. Consequently, some individuals find ourselves taking a ‘halting and halfway position’ in our religion and at that point begin accepting all sorts of logic that veers away from true Christian Science. Loving our fellowman who has opposing views doesn’t mean ‘getting in bed with him.’ …Medicine is a mind-science. Christian Science is Mind (God) Science. There is a dramatic and opposite difference between the two, and we must be careful to keep both feet solidly grounded in that ‘Science’ which does bless us and the world–in spite of how illogical it seems to the materialist or to those of us who want to ‘play nice’ with the world. It all boils down to our responsibility, and it can’t be shirked forever by any one of us. We must take a stand for Truth (God) if we wish to grow out of mortality using the same conviction as is recorded in Psalms ‘Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Ps 20:7)’ “

Don’s post got me to thinking about just what “radical reliance on Truth” actually means. Is  “radical reliance on Truth”  simply a euphemism for “avoiding the use of traditional medical science”? Or does “radical reliance on Truth” mean something else entirely – something bigger, something more?

***

Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized.
– Mary Baker Eddy

“If we would open their prison doors for the sick, we must first learn to bind up the broken-hearted. If we would heal by the Spirit, we must not hide the talent of spiritual healing under the napkin of its form, nor bury the morale of Christian Science in the grave-clothes of its letter.
– Mary Baker Eddy

I’m thinking that we need to be careful not to bury the talent of spiritual healing under the “napkin of its form.” Whatever means a person chooses to use for healing – whether it’s naturopathy, traditional medical science, Christian Science treatment, or something else – that’s the form, the means, the method. The morale, or essence, of spiritual healing is Love – Love is the power that heals and transforms us. The God I follow – Love, Truth, Life, Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit (synonyms Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, gave for “God”) – isn’t concerned with what kind of treatment we choose to use – Love is going to remain unchanging Love, and Truth is going to remain unchanging Truth, no matter what form or method we use for physical healing. Truth doesn’t have an opinion on which form of treatment is best for treating disease – because Truth doesn’t know anything about disease, to begin with. Truth knows only perfection. And Truth and Love are synonyms, so doesn’t “radical reliance on Truth” also mean “radical reliance on Love”?

***

“Material methods are temporary, and  are not adapted to elevate mankind.
– Mary Baker Eddy

If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists, – their brethren upon whom they may call, – God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means. Step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’”  – Mary Baker Eddy

Christ, Truth, gives mortals temporary food and clothing until the material, transformed with the ideal, disappears, and man  is clothed and fed spiritually.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Emerge gently from matter into Spirit. Think not to thwart the spiritual ultimate of all things, but come naturally into Spirit through better health and morals and as the result of spiritual growth.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

When I choose to use Christian Science for healing I know my thought is going to be “elevated” by the experience, I know I’m going to gain a greater understanding of God and of who I am as her child, and I know I will be transformed – not merely healed physically – but transformed.

I choose to turn to Christian Science for healing because it’s simple, natural, uncomplicated – it’s always available to me no matter where I am, or who I’m with, or what scrape I’ve gotten myself into “this time”. I choose to use my understanding of Christian Science to bring me healing because it has been proven to work for me.

My motives for choosing Christian Science treatment for healing have nothing to do with a fear of what other Christian Scientists are going to think of me, or because I’m concerned God’s going to be angry at me, or because I’m worried about being ex-communicated, or because I’m opposed to something else, or because I’m scared of medical science, or feeling angry, self-righteous, or smug. My motive for turning to Christian Science for healing isn’t because I feel the need to take a “stand for Truth” – Truth doesn’t need me to take a stand for it – it’s not in some battle it might lose – Truth was Truth yesterday, and will remain Truth tomorrow – and nothing I do is going to change that. Truth doesn’t need me to side with it to continue to be Truth. 

I use Christian Science because it’s natural for me to do so – it’s natural for me to draw my thoughts close to Love, to wrap myself up in the power of Truth, to free my thoughts to dance in the celebration of LIfe. And it’s natural for me to experience healing by doing so.

And THAT is radical. man! 

***

Students are advised by the author to be charitable and kind, not only towards differing forms of religion  and medicine, but to those who hold these differing opinions. Let us be faithful in pointing the way through Christ, as we understand it, but let us also be careful always to “judge righteous judgment,” and never to condemn rashly.
– Mary Baker Eddy

I Remember You

I was working in the yard when our neighbor walked by with his daughter and his little five-year-old grandson.

Karen: Dmitri, you’ve grown so big! It’s so good to see you again! (I wave.)
Dmitri waves back and then runs across the lawn to give me a big hug. I feel my eyes tear up a little bit.
Karen: Dmitri, it’s been a long time and you might not remember me, but…
Dmitri: (looking up at me) I remember you. I remember you like hugs.
Karen: And that’s why you gave me a hug?
Dmitri: (nodding) Yes.

May the little children of the world save us, one heart at a time. ❤

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

At the Age of 51 I Went Insane

“Sometimes you have to lose your mind to come to your senses.”
– from The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

At the age of 51 I went insane. I did not like it so much. But I learned a lot from it.

Eckhart Tolle tells us: “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” He asks, “How do you know this is the experience you need? Because,” he says, “this is the experience you are having at this moment.” I really like how he puts that. My thought is that something is only a challenge to us when there’s a lesson to learn from it. Two people, in other words, might find themselves in identical situations – and one of those people might coast through the situation, and the other might stumble through it – depending on where each individual is in her spiritual progress.

I did a lot of stumbling during The Year of Insanity, and I learned a whole lot of lessons. It was, in essence, my last hurrah – my final experience with the lessons of “callow youth” and ego, before I could move on to the next stage in my development.

During The Year of Insanity it seemed I was confronted with temptation at every turn. I had to come face-to-face with ego, vanity, pride, insecurity, and addiction to praise. It was a really difficult time for me. It felt like I was at the bottom of a deep, dark pit, and I didn’t know how I was going to get out of there. I lost weight, couldn’t sleep, had a constant dialogue going on inside my head about the past and the future, had to keep moving – trying to get away from myself, I guess – and had an actual physical heartache from the sadness I felt. There were times when I just wanted to hide myself away from the world, and not have to deal with this stuff anymore. There were times when I was so full of guilt about the feelings I was having that I just wanted to kill myself, and be done with it. There was a constant battle going on inside me, and it was really wearing.

If somebody had tried to talk to me about mental illness before I’d had this experience, I wouldn’t have had a clue what they were going on about. Mental illness was something that happened to “other” people. Mental illness was not something a madcap Christian Scientist would ever know anything about, right?

Yeesh.

I might have chosen, with good reason, to seek professional help during this time. I might have chosen, again with good reason, to take anti-depressant medications. And after having been through this experience, I can tell you – without any hesitation – that I do not fault anyone, at all, for seeking professional help and using medication if they think it’ll help them get through the kind of thing I went through during that year. And I can also understand why it might be hard for people to cogitate why I didn’t do those things in an effort to help myself.

All I can tell you, really, is that there was some part of me that felt I needed this experience – that I needed to feel the full depth and breadth of it – and there was a part of me that believed if I could survive this, I would come out of it much wiser and stronger than before I went into it. I guess I calculated the costs and rewards and decided the rewards would be worth it. If I could survive.

I give credit to Christian Science, and to my Father-Mother God, for getting me through this time. I absolutely know I wouldn’t have been able to make it without the understanding of God, Good, I’d gained through my study of Christian Science.

I also need to give thanks to three authors whose writings meant a great deal to me while I was working my way through that year. I’ve already quoted one of them – Eckhart Tolle – a contemporary thinker who’s had his own experience with depression, and has generously shared his wisdom and insights about that in several recent best-sellers. The second of the three authors was a liberal Christian minister of the late 1800’s named Henry Drummond. His book, The Greatest Thing in the World, was chock full of wise and wonderful thoughts on love – “the greatest thing in the world.” The third author was a man named Edward A. Kimball, an inspiring and mentally-rousing Christian Science lecturer and teacher during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Regarding my desire to hide myself away from temptation, Henry Drummond had this to say to me: “Above all, do not resent temptation; do not be perplexed because it seems to thicken round you more and more, and ceases neither for effort nor for agony nor prayer. That is your practice. That is the practice which God appoints you, and it is having its work in making you patient, and humble, and generous, and unselfish, and kind, and courteous.” Drummond goes on to say: “Therefore keep in the midst of life. Do not isolate yourself. Be among men and among things, and among troubles, and difficulties, and obstacles… Talent develops itself in solitude – the talent of prayer, of faith, of meditation, of seeing the unseen; character grows in the stream of the world’s life. That chiefly is where men are to learn love.”

Drummond’s admonition to “keep in the midst of life” was really helpful to me. His words helped me look at the challenges I was facing as blessings and needed lessons in my path towards progress, rather than as proof of my weakness, or a reason to feel guilty.

Edward A. Kimball, too, was helpful to me in dealing with the feelings of guilt that seemed to be a symptom of the depression. In his book, Lectures and Articles on Christian Science, Kimball writes, “It won’t do you a particle of good to enter upon a career of self-condemnation. Remorse never got anybody into heaven. A sense of regret and all that sort of thing is not the process. The process is reform; it is change; it is correction…”

Kimball writes, “…a purely human giving up endeavor does not give up, but does involve the scientist in a sense of greater fear. Evil is never disposed of as though it were something. It cannot be given up as though it were something…Try to realize that through Christian Science, you are constantly gaining that which will do everything for you, and that you will succeed according to the gaining process.”

This thought helped bring me peace – the insight that trying to fight an addiction by turning it into A Big Obstacle and using human will to force myself to “give it up” wasn’t the way for me to be healed – but that I needed to fill up the holes and emptiness I felt in my life by gaining an understanding of what constitutes true happiness and filling my life up with that. As my friend, Sabra, pointed out to me, we don’t remember the last time we laid down our dollies and moved on to other joys – giving up my toys was not a Major Event or something I had to force upon myself – it was a natural step in my forward way. And it can be that way with every forward step we take – we aren’t so much “giving up” something, as we are gaining something.

Here’s some of what I gained during this time: a new understanding and appreciation of love; a greater sense of gratitude for the power of a moment, and of a good, deep breath; a greater appreciation for choice; renewed gratitude for all the beauty in Nature and mankind; greater humility, empathy and compassion; and a greater commitment to my own spiritual journey. I’d entered The Year of Insanity an untested “youth” – gliding through life’s challenges on a kind of cavalier, simple joy, without really having to put much work or effort into my mental frame of mind. By the time I exited that year I had a much deeper understanding of God, and who I am, as God’s expression.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell, from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Middle Book

Dear Lord and Father of us all,|
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

Breathe through the pulses of desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from us now the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
– John Greenleaf Whittier

Lake Padden Forest (Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

One of the Two Best Days of My Life

I thought this Mother’s Day weekend might be a good time to share, again, one of the two best days of my life (the other best day being the birth of my eldest son) :

“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 tonight.”
From the Christian Science Hymnal, words by Mary Baker Eddy

I’d hoped that with the birth of my second child I would have a full night’s sleep before going into labor (having experienced a sleepless night in the birth of my first son) and that, unlike my first birthing experience, this time the process would be quick and easy. Having taken no pain medication in the birth of my first son, I’d also decided that I would ask for an epidural with this one, reasoning that even Christian Scientists usually get Novocain before letting dentists drill their teeth.

It all began as I’d hoped it would. I got my full night’s sleep, started feeling labor pains at nine in the morning, and, according to the midwife who met my husband and I at the hospital, was proceeding very smoothly and quickly through the birth. I asked for the epidural and was given one. Life was looking pretty good. Even the nurse attending me commented on how great it was to have a nice, normal couple to work with and to have a nice, normal birth to witness.

But not long after I was given the epidural, something started to go wrong. Apparently the baby’s cord was wrapped around his neck and he was in distress. It was decided to give me a caesarean section to get the baby out quickly.

As they wheeled me down to the operating room (my rear sticking up in the air in a very undignified position), I called back to my mom, who was following behind the gurney, to phone the Christian Science practitioner at the Christian Science Reading Room and ask her to pray for us.

Once they got me down to the O.R. I was attached to machines to monitor the baby’s heart rate and blood pressure, the staff took Scott away to don him in surgical garb, and the surgical team prepared to slice me open. Everything was happening very quickly, and there was a lot of bustling activity surrounding me, but, strangely, I felt very calm. I knew that no matter what happened, God was in control and the baby was moving at Her direction and guidance.

Now I was surrounded by a team of medical staffers whom, aside from my midwife, I’d never before met. Their eyes flicked from the monitor to my belly and back to the monitor again. I saw they were all puzzled by something. There was a moment of quiet. Then suddenly they all began yelling, “Push! Push!” – like they were spectators at a sporting event. I felt surrounded in Love – love from the medical staff who only wanted the best for my baby, love from my husband, and love from God. In a matter of moments our son entered the world in the old-fashioned way and the medical staff whooped like their favorite team had just won the championship. One of the nurses was crying. When I asked her why, she said that as an operating room nurse she’d never before been able to witness a baby being born naturally, and she felt she’d just witnessed a rare and special thing.

When I asked my midwife what had happened that had enabled my son to be born without a caesarean section, she said, “We don’t know.”

Later my mom shared what the Christian Science practitioner had told her when she reached her on the phone: “Life loves that baby!”

***

For a few hours we called our son Pieter Dee. Then we tried out the name Nicholas Piet. Finally, after a day in his company, we realized that this baby had big presence – his body was small, but something of his irrepressible identity was communicating itself to us – and we knew he needed a big name to match that identity. So we named him Alexander Raymond Dee Terrell. His name had more syllables than he had poundage, but it fit him just right all the same.

-Karen Molenaar Terrell (from Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist.)

(Below, my mom with her grandson Xander.)