“Humans can be very cool sometimes.”

Two lanes full of traffic coming down from school to College Way. An ambulance approaches from the other direction. And somehow our two lanes manage to merge with each other into the farthest lane on the right – everyone accommodating each other and making room for each other to help the ambulance get past us. And there was something in that brief moment that really inspired me. Humans can be very cool sometimes.


The Man in the Fine Suit

I saw him standing in the waiting area of the airport
He was in a fine suit, silver-haired, fit, nicely-groomed
He looked successful
A man came up to him – a colleague, perhaps – and they
chatted and laughed together for a while
I filed the silver-haired man away in my mental
bank of characters

On the plane I discovered him again – seated on
the opposite side of the aisle, one row up –
in economy class – I hadn’t expected that

In the same row as the one in which I sat –
on the opposite side of the aisle – was a young
family – father, a daughter of two or three years
with pink ribbons in her hair, her mother
The trip would not be an easy one for the family
The little girl was cranky – tired, screaming,
crying, unhappy with this turn of events
The woman sitting in front of me covered
her ears and glared at the little family
I turned off my hearing aid and settled in

I am a mother
I could relate

Our plane landed, rolled down the tarmac,
parked in front of the gate
I leaned over and asked the little girl if she’d
just had her first flight on an airplane
She looked back at me with big eyes, quiet now
Her mother said no, she’d been on other flights,
and she’s usually such a good traveler…
“You did a good job,” I assured the mother
“You did what you could. Your daughter
is precious…”

The mother laughed in relief – I think she’d been
expecting me to speak different words to her
“We’ve both been sweating,” she said, glancing
over at her young husband, who smiled back
at me and nodded his head in confirmation
of his wife’s words – I think I saw steam rising
from their armpits – it had been a rough ride

And then the silver-haired man stood to grab
his suitcase from the overhead bin
He turned back to the mother and quietly spoke
to her – I saw her smile up at him and heard her
thank him – and he nodded and returned the smile

And that moment told me everything I needed
to know about the man in the fine suit
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Robin’s Egg

He comes towards me on the trail
– a big, brawny man with a bald head 
and tattoos on his arms. I turn away 
to take photos of the ferns on the forest
floor and when I turn back he’s passed me.
I glance back at the same moment he glances
back at me. He uses his walking stick
to point to a place on the path near me.
I turn in the direction he’s pointing –
not sure what he wants me to see –
and find myself looking at the remnants
of a tiny, fragile blue egg. A new nestling
has pecked open her shell. “Robin’s egg,”
the big man rumbles in his deep bass voice,
a sweet smile on his face. I smile back at him.
“It’s beautiful,” I say. “Yes, it is,” he agrees.
And he turns and continues down the trail.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Leaving a Wake of Kindness

My dear Humoristian hooligans –

I’ve been thinking about you, and feeling filled with gratitude, knowing you’re out there in the world, leaving a wake of kindness and love wherever you go. Wherever you are right now – whatever continent you’re on, or whatever ocean or sea – I know you will be working your magic today. You are transforming the universe. May your irrepressible joy bring hope to the hopeless. May the stodgy, stingy, and stuffy un-stodge and un-stuff themselves in the presence of your unstoppable silliness. May the bullies and bigots, bossybritches and busybodies, bellicose and benighted lose their fear and find their better selves in the power of your honesty and integrity. May you bring a good laugh to those desperately in need of a good laugh.

When the Traffic Lights Don’t Work (and we don’t have a leader)

The power was out yesterday and some of the traffic lights weren’t working. But something really cool happened: At each traffic light I witnessed people being courteous to each other, taking turns, allowing those cars stuck on side streets to come into the flow. At one point the driver of the car to the left of me stopped to allow a car on a side street to enter traffic. In order for the car on the side street to enter, I had to stop, too, though – we all had to work together to help the car on the side street get into the flow.  There was no one directing traffic – no one standing in the intersection telling us when to go. But somehow we managed to take care of each other. 

And that’s what America looks like to me right now, too. We don’t have anyone directing traffic. We don’t have a leader who’s trying to help the people on the side streets get into the flow. We don’t have a leader who’s telling us when to stop, and showing us how to take turns and behave ourselves. We’re having to do that for ourselves.

What an incredible opportunity to find out who we are as human beings.

I Feel Her With Me

I feel her with me –
whenever I think of her,
she’s here. I feel her
when I’m kind and doing
something nice
for someone else.
I don’t feel her as eyes
watching me. Or as a ghost.
I don’t feel her as a physical
being at all. But I feel
the essence of her.
And I think she’s helping
me understand more
about who we are, really.
Not limited beings trapped
in these bodies, you know?
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Power to Transform the World

My dear Humoristian hooligans,

I’ve found that just when I’m feeling the most discouraged, the most battle-weary, the most ready to slip into morosity (I’m pretty sure that’s a word, right?) something or someone will suddenly appear to remind me that the world is still full of magic and beauty. Yesterday it was snow geese, trumpeter swans, a reflection in a flooded field, and a son appearing unexpectedly at the door with a grin on his face and a caring heart. Today it was a drive I hadn’t been planning to take with Dad. And some days it’s YOU. Yes, YOU. I wonder if you realize all the times a kind word or a moment of shared laughter has brought me back from the brink. There is such power in kindness. There is such power in a loving gesture. You have the power to transform the world.

May your kindness reach the desolate and lonely; May your sense of humor light on those in desperate need of a good laugh; May your good-natured love of life transform the stodgy, stingy, and stuffy.


Mount Baker, a Red Barn, and a Reflection

Mount Baker reflected in a flooded field in Bow, Washington. (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)