Getting Out of Bed Was a Good Idea

I did not want to get out of bed today. It was dark and cold “out there.” I figured I could just stay in bed all day. Who was going to stop me, right?

But here’s what happened instead: I remembered I wanted to reach out to someone who’d just lost a loved one. So I got out of bed and printed out a photo to make a card. Went to the post office to mail it. Got back in the car and decided to go exploring. Drove towards Padilla Bay. Came upon a humongous branch across the road. Another car pulled off the road and young Elijah got out of the car. Together, Elijah and I moved the branch off the road. I drove on to the Padilla Bay dike parking lot. There was only one other car parked in the lot. When I got on the dike I realized WHY there was only one other car parked in the lot. IT WAS CRAZY WINDY OUT THERE!!! Huge gusts of wind pushed against me and almost knocked me off the path. IT WAS GREAT!!! Now I was awake, for sure.

Drove home. Made myself some avocado toast and cocoa. Put “Mary Poppins” on the television and surrounded myself in cozy memories of Moz and Dad and watching “Mary Poppins” with them as a young girl.

Getting out of bed was a good idea.

“To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

Branch Across Road
Elijah

Windy day on the Padilla Bay Dike.

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.

Joyful Without Reason

My joy is not dependent on matter –
not dependent on flattering chatter –
my clothes can be in tatters,
my ego-dreams all shattered,
and possessions scattered –
but I’m alive! I can love! I can learn!
Joy is not something I have to earn –
not something I need a reason
or a special season
to feel.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
– Habbakuk 3:17,18

“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.”
– Mary Baker Eddy




You Are Making a Difference

My dear Humoristian hooligans –
I apologize that I haven’t sent you any messages lately. I’m afraid I haven’t been feeling very humoristic. It is a sad truth that sometimes the world needs more than Groucho glasses and whoopee cushions to make everything better.

But when I think of you – my Humoristian friends – out there on the planet, working your magic – it brings me hope. May your indefatigable good will touch the lost and frightened and alone. May your irrepressible joy bring hope to the discouraged and desolate. May your unflappable kindness transform the stingy, stodgy and stuffy. May the bigots and bullies be overcome by your steadfast, unshakable love for your fellow creatures. May you bring courage to the ascared.

You are making a difference.

Karen

Rainbow flower doodle by Karen Molenaar Terrell. Because I figured we could all use a rainbow flower doodle right now, right?

Ten Perfect Minutes

I found ten perfect minutes today – sitting in the shade outside the coffee shop – all alone in the space set aside for patrons, sipping my blueberry-spinach-coconut milk smoothie. I watched the sailboats and paddle boarders and kayakers gliding by on the bay – and, with my mask securely fastened about my face – asked a pair of friends who’ve known each other for 40 years if I could take their photo for them – they said yes and thank you.  Another pair of friends – a black woman and a white woman – walked by and stopped on the walk in front of me to look out at the water – and I had to comment on the beautiful sweater one of the friends was wearing – she smiled and thanked me and told me she ordered her sweater online. Just as I was contemplating leaving and continuing on with my walk a family came out of the coffee shop and joined me in the space for patrons – my table was the only one in the shade, and I told them that I was leaving and they could sit where I was. They smiled and – making sure to keep the proper social distance – we moved around each other and they took over the table out of the sun.

Ten perfect minutes is a pretty wonderful thing.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

A Message from my Younger Self

Found an old journal from probably 40 years ago as I was sorting through old boxes and bins.

I word-doodled (this was a free write ramble – there was no organization to it): “Even if ten years from now you’re not the same person, this person that you were really existed and lived. Love and trust and beauty aren’t magical – they’re real – and you can take them with you wherever you go. Be happy that you’re alive for this one moment of peace and contentment when you have everything you need.”

I think I needed the voice of my younger self speaking to me today from the before-times.

 

Lessons from the Year of Insanity

Twelve years ago I went through a massive depression. I’d never gone through anything like that before. It was life-changing for me. At the time it felt like it was the most challenging thing I’d ever experienced. I didn’t like it so much. But now, looking back, I’m so grateful for that time in the “wilderness” – I learned so much from it!

Here are some of the lessons I learned during the Year of Insanity (excerpted from The Middle Book):
“I still have moments of loneliness, and I still have moments when I’m scared. But now I know enough to know these moments will eventually pass. I don’t give much thought to them. I’ve discovered it’s possible to be happy even during these times.”

“…I have found that there’s no way I can predict what form help and ‘salvation’ will take for me. I have found that, if I just keep my thought open to all the good…every moment, I’ll find everything I need to get me off my mental ‘island.”

“Right here, where I might see fear and anger and hate – in this exact same place and space, there’s another universe filled with incredible good – and I have a choice of which one I want to live in, and which one I want to see as ‘real.'”

“I think if all of mankind were able to recognize the good in themselves and in each other – I think this, alone, would transform our world.”

“Think back on the last four years of your life, my friend – become aware of all the things you would have missed if you’d given up on life four years ago: the new friends you would never have known; the sunsets and sunrises you wouldn’t have seen; the lessons you wouldn’t have learned; the changes you wouldn’t have been able to make; the pictures never painted; the photos never taken; the songs never sung; all the love and laughter that you would have denied yourself.”

middle book cover

Today Let’s Accept the Joy

There will always be things
to worry about
But right now I feel joy
Every chapter has new  challenges –
something to fear and some fear
to overcome
But today I feel joy
Worries will always be with us
if we pay them the time
But in this moment I feel joy.

We did good, you and I – we did good
We worked and met the challenges,
made a home and raised a fine family
and, though there are still worries
waiting for us down the road,
let’s take a moment and rejoice in
what we have and where we are
and what we’ve done with our lives.
Today let’s accept the joy.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

JOY

 

Waiting for the Christmas Spirit

Quote

Waiting for the Christmas Spirit

The kitsch and spangles
and baubles and bangles,
And department store Santa,
just really can’ta
Seem to bring me
the spirit of Christmas.

And I’ve been waiting to feel it –
the real Christmas spirit
Hoping it’d come by now.
The stockings are stuffed,
the tree is all buffed,
The cookies are baked
and frosted and fluffed
But there’s still something missing –
a feeling, a tingling
that’s supposed to come every Christmas.

Except…
Maybe that Christmas feeling,
that energy and tingling
Is something I can have every day –
It doesn’t depend on spangles,
or jingly-bell jangles
Or jolly men dressed all in red.
It comes in the sharing
of laughter and caring
And the comfort in words with love said:
To all – Peace! Joy! Hope!
Every moment of every day.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book

via Waiting for the Christmas Spirit 

Christmas doodle 3

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