T’was Two Weeks Afore Christmas

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via T’was Two Weeks Afore Christmas

T’was Two Weeks Afore Christmas

T’was two weeks afore Christmas and all through Eff Bee
not a creature was stirring – not a she, he, or me
We were prostrate and spent from the holiday bustle
not a twitch could be seen from the teeniest muscle.

We lay all unblinking in our respective beds
while visions of gift-wrapping swirled through our heads
And clad in our jammies and our way cool madcaps
we had the vague hopeful hope our bodies would take naps.

Holiday jangles and jingles pinged through our brains –
Presley, Crosby, and Mathis taking us down memory lanes –
and would we remember every member to be gifted?
We mentally went through our lists, hoping none were omitted

There were homes to be decorated and cards to be sent
parties, caroling, and cookie-making, and we hadn’t made a dent.
But with a collective sigh we remembered there and then
that it’s really about good will to all creatures, women, and men.

And so our thoughts finally settled and our bodies relaxed
as we thought of those we love and a world festooned in pax.
With our hearts wrapped in kindness and the world as our ‘hood
We’re all brethren and sistren – and verily, It’s all good!
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book

green shoes Christmas

Christmas Peace

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“I was a stranger, and ye took me in…”

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
– Mark 25: 35-40

***

Have I ever mentioned that I am the descendant of illegal immigrants? Yup. When my grandfather and his brother immigrated here from The Netherlands they were supposed to each have $20 in their pockets to get into the country. They only had one $20 bill between them – so when they passed through the line at Ellis Island the first one held up the $20 bill and then under-passed it to the one behind him who, in turn, held up the same bill. Those two hooligans should never have been allowed in this country. And, I shouldn’t really be here, either, I guess. Or half of me shouldn’t. Half of me should probably be shipped back to Amsterdam, home of my hooligan grampa.

That might be kind of messy, though. And I’m not sure how, exactly, they’d decide which half of me to send back.

My other half is descended from people who immigrated from a German colony along the Volga River in Russia. And also Basque reptile aliens. I’m pretty sure. (My mom has rh negative blood which – according to highly scientific research I googled :) – seems to indicate she has a Basque reptile alien somewhere in her background. Yeah. As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about this.)

We are all immigrants in the United States, aren’t we?  I mean, human life did not start here – everyone immigrated from somewhere else.  It’s believed the first immigrants crossed the Bering land bridge from Asia to Alaska and then worked their way down through North and South America. Then came the Vikings, Columbus, the Mayflower, the Dutch, Spanish, and French, Swedes, Norwegians, Germans, slaves from Africa, the Irish and Chinese, the Japanese, immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, refugees from southeast Asia, immigrants from India and the Middle East… and all of these immigrants – with the exception of those who were forced here on slave ships from Africa – have one very important thing in common: They came here in search of a better life.

Are the newest immigrants to our country really so much different than the first immigrants? The newest immigrants, too, are looking for a better life for themselves and their families – looking for work, education, religious and political freedom.

Why would any of us – descendants of immigrants ourselves – want to deny others the same opportunities we and our ancestors had?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
– Emma Lazarus

Suggestions for talking with…

I wonder if I might make a few suggestions for conversing with others about religion on a discussion board? I have had some experience with this, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve observed and learned.

The most important thing to know, I think, is that if you ever encounter me on a discussion forum I am always, always right. And if you disagree with me about this you are wrong.

Once we have established that basic and most fundamental of all facts, we can move on to other stuff:

Might I suggest that we never, ever, ever presume to know what other people think, feel, and believe just because they identify themselves as atheist, theist, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, pagan, Christian Scientist, or as a member of any other ideology.
Generalizations, stereotypes, and lumping whole groups of people together as one “type” are not helpful when trying to understand someone else’s perspective.
Don’t tell other people what they think. Let them tell you.
Although pomposity cracks me up, not everyone shares the same reaction as me to puffed-up know-it-allness. Humility is a beautiful thing. Let’s be willing to laugh at our own nonsense before we laugh at someone else’s.
Remember that we’re all human – we all have our own flaws and foibles – none of us is perfect here. Might I suggest that we correct our own flaws before we start trying to correct someone else’s?
Give each other grace.
Listen.
More specifically…

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

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…
– Mary Baker Eddy (Miscellaneous Writings)

I wonder if I might make a few suggestions for conversing with others about religion on a discussion board?   I have had some experience with this, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve observed and learned.

The…

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My Dear Humoristian Hooligans –

My dear Humoristian hooligans – as the sun dawns over another day, may you rise with hearts full of benificent (I’m pretty sure that’s a word, right?) good will to all – armed with jocularity – ready to bring humor to the humorless, to transform the stodgy and stingy wherever you may find them, and to lighten the burdens of the scared and lonely. May your good-natured love of life bring a smile to all who you pass on your journey today. May the barbs and slings of envy, impatience, anger, and fear clink harmlessly off your armor of joy and kindness. And may you see all the beauty and feel all the love surrounding you. Go out there and make them smile! Amen.

Bow Sunrise

Sunrise over Bow (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

 

He Does Dentistry on the Side

Had my yearly visit with Hansrolf today. I mostly go there for the laughs, but Hansrolf also performs dentistry on the side. I’ve been visiting Hansrolf for about 30 years, I guess. He is just two months older than me. We married at the same ages, and our sons were born the same years – our oldest sons were sometime-rivals at the local recreational basketball tournaments and it was always fun to run into him at those games. He and I used to share our latest mountain climbing and hiking adventures, and sometimes he’d ask me to tell him about the latest “trashy” (I used this word first, but he seemed to have great fun using it once I had) romance I was writing (ahem… I went through a short period in my life – a VERY short period – like, a year or two… okay, maybe three at the most – when I wrote historical romances involving British soldiers on the Iberian Peninsula and feisty English governesses… I know… stop laughing). But nowadays we mostly just crack up about the adventures of middle age together.

Today I asked his newest assistant if Hansrolf keeps her laughing at work, and just the question made her start cracking-up. Then she shared his latest shenanigans with me –  apparently Hansrolf has taken to jumping out from closets and hallways and scaring the living daylights out of his technicians and assistants.

I glanced over at the room across from mine and saw that Hansrolf had made it to my husband. I couldn’t hear what Hansrolf was saying to him  – but Scott was laughing so hard it looked like tears had started to leak out of his eyes. Hansrolf was working his magic there.

When he came into my room I told Hansrolf I’d been talking with his new dental hygienist and she’d mentioned that he had made it a part of the daily routine to jump out at his assistants from closets and hallways. He nodded his head and said in a matter-of-fact way that he does this to help maintain good health at the office – it keeps his assistants’ hearts pumping, and keeps him agile. This, of course, all made perfect sense to me.

As Hansrolf’s crackerjack team of dental professionals took turns flossing and polishing and x-raying my teeth, there was music being funneled into the room through speakers. But as I listened to the music, it occurred to me that this wasn’t your typical dental office music. This was not Winchester Cathedral I was listening to here. Fleetwood Mac came on singing “Wouldn’t you love to love her?” This was followed by Led Zeppelin. And then it occurred to me that Hansrolf probably had something to do with this.

“Did you pick this music?” I asked around a mouthful of dental instruments. He said it was from a station out of Bellingham. I thought about this for awhile, and then asked,”You know how music is usually geared for the older clients…? So… dang… WE are the older clients now, aren’t we?”

He nodded his head in affirmation. “The other day I was in Safeway and Highway to Hell came on,” he told me. “Safeway!! Highway to Hell!!” he repeated, the shock of the experience still obviously with him. “On the one hand it was good to not have to listen to Dean Martin crooning something, but on the other hand… it says something about how old you are when your music is now considered mainstream and fit for Safeway.”

At the end of our visit, Hansrolf pronounced my teeth “perfect” and sent me off to check out with his receptionist and get my little bag of free stuff – floss, toothpaste, toothbrush. (Hansrolf’s office once donated 100 free toothbrushes to a charity I was involved in through my school.)

And now as I sit here typing this it occurs to me that – seeing as how Hansrolf is my age and everything – and seeing as how we’re both rapidly approaching retirement age – there will probably come a time when I will have to look around for another dentist. It would be nice if I could find another dentist with a sense of humor – but I’m not banking on find another dentist who can keep me laughing in the same way Hansrolf does. Hansrolf is irreplaceable.

 

 

 

Visit with the Comedic Optometrist

I had a visit with my optometrist today, and, as usual, I left feeling like I’d just participated in a stand-up comedy act. My optometrist and my dentist are two of the funniest folks I know. If I wasn’t paying for their health care services, I think I might pay them just to make me laugh.

Today’s fun started when the assistant asked me if I’d be willing to have my eyes dilated. I do not like having my eyes dilated, but if it’d help the doctor see in my eyes… “Okay,” I said. As she was putting the drops in I asked, “So why don’t they dilate the eyes of pregnant women?” The assistant said she wasn’t sure, but they didn’t put the eye drops in the eyes of pregnant women, nursing women, or people with one kidney.

That last bit sort of caught me up short. The assistant left to find out more, and came back a few moments later to say that apparently the chemicals in the eye drops could interact with the medicines that a person with kidney problems might be taking, and cause kidney failure. But otherwise the eye drops were alright.

This was reassuring.

Enter the doctor. He asks me how I’m doing, and I say something like, “Well, other than possible kidney failure, I’m doing alright, I guess.” He starts laughing and brings me back into his examination room. He puts on this helmet thing with weird tubes and gizmos sticking out of it. “You look very dapper in that,” I observe. He grins and wonders aloud if he should take it out of the clinic and strut down the street in it.

I tell him that I didn’t bring my sunglasses with me, and that – since my eyes have been dilated – I’m really looking forward to getting a pair of their special dorky sunglasses for my drive home – I always look so good in those things. He smiles and promises that a pair of dorky sunglasses will be mine.

He has grown a rather substantial beard since I last saw him – it’s about a foot long and nicely rounded at the bottom. I tell him he looks sort of like Santa Claus. He says being Santa Claus would be alright as long as random strangers didn’t try to sit on his lap or ask him for candy. I tell him about my friend who grew a beard down to his waist. “He said food would get stuck in there – he sometimes found whole sandwiches in that thing.” My optometrist notes you wouldn’t need a lunchbox with a beard like that.

All this time he’s examining my eyes, looking into them with his little flashlight dealie. He says they look pretty good in there. No signs of macular degeneration or anything. I mention that in a recent photo it looked like one of my eyes was sort of looking off to the side while my other eye was looking straight ahead, and he asks me to look at him while he shines his light on my eyes. “No,” he says, “everything looks good. Ah… yes, I see.” I ask him what he sees. He tells me that one of my eyelids is more saggy than the other, which makes it look like I have one eye that’s looking off to the side.

“Oh! Is that all?! Heck… I lost my vanity long ago. A saggy eyelid is no big deal.” He laughs and says that at our age we have more important things to worry about… like, say, breathing.

I remind him of the time when he saw a melanoma on my eyelid. I tell him that totally freaked me out. Of course, the more freaked out I get, the more I start cracking jokes. I reminded him that I went out to his receptionist and started making her laugh and then when they called the eye surgeon’s office for me, I started making THAT receptionist laugh – and then he had walked in, heard me joking about my impending death and had said, “Don’t start ordering caskets just yet” – and that had totally had me in stitches.

“That broke the fear for me, ” I tell him. “And then I went home and prayed and two weeks later when I went to the eye surgeon the melanoma was gone!” He checks his records and sees that my story rings true, and he likes that.

We talk about prayer then. I’ve been going to him for more than twenty years, but for the first time I confide to him that I am a Christian Scientist, and – to his credit – he doesn’t freak out or anything. He nods his head and waits to hear more. I tell him that when I pray I’m not, like, pleading with some guy who looks like him – with a long beard – sitting in the clouds. But that I’m just trying to bring myself close to the power of Love. And he nods and says he believes there’s a Higher Power, too, and he believes that there’s more beyond the life that we’re experiencing here.

We start talking about other religious beliefs then – and those who try to bring their religious beliefs into politics and government – not just in America, but elsewhere. The conversation about religious extremism ends with him saying, “I don’t want 70 virgins if I have to feed them and buy them bling and stuff. Can I pass on the virgins, and killing other people, and just be a kind and humane person instead?”

He walks me out to the receptionist’s desk, and tells her that I’ll need some of the special sunglasses they give out to patients. Then he turns to me, and tells me my eyes are looking really good – very nice and healthy. I tell him that’s probably the best compliment I’ll get all day. He smiles, and says, “Not with those sunglasses!”

He shakes my hand and tells me how much he always enjoys my visits. And I tell him how much I enjoy my visits with him.

And in another couple weeks I’ll be going to the dentist! I’m so looking forward to that… 🙂

It is not everyone can look as cool as me. :)

Karen in her special sunglasses.