Life Is Bigger Than These Forms We See

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
– I Corinthians 15

There was some police action on the beach the day we arrived. We walked by the crime tape, the team of investigators, the canopy over the scene. I stopped to ask another woman walking on the beach if she knew what was going on. Valerie said she’d seen a couple in the parking lot earlier who’d looked shaken and she wondered if they’d found something. She was pretty sure there was a body under the canopy. She noted that the crime tape had already been up a few hours so it had to be something pretty serious. The winds had been high the night before and she wondered if maybe a body had come in on the surf. A man named Billy stopped to chat with Valerie and my husband and me. He wondered what was going on, too.

My husband and I continued on our walk, looking for agates, watching the antics of the seagulls as they chased each other around for food, enjoying the sunshine and the salty air. Every now and then, though, I’d look back at the crime canopy and wonder.

Billy rejoined me a while later to tell me that a friend had confirmed a body had been found in the sand. Billy said that the night before he’d passed a man on the beach who looked distressed and lost – the man seemed a little “off” to him – but he’d shrugged it off and continued on his walk. He wondered now if this body belonged to the man he’d seen the night before, and if it had been a suicide. For a moment neither of us spoke, each thinking our own thoughts. Then we wished each other well – told each other to stay safe – and parted ways.

Later the local news confirmed that the body of a man in his thirties had been found partially buried in the sand. I went into my mother-of-sons place then. I grieved for the man and his family. I prayed and tried to reach my thoughts out to the man – letting him know he was loved, whoever he was – that he wasn’t alone. I wished him peace. And, eventually, with the help of the ocean and the seagulls and the kites and the ever-tumbling waves, I found my own peace.

A few days later, as we got ready to leave, a rainbow arched across the sky. There’d been a rainbow after my mom’s passing, and a rainbow after my dad’s passing, too. I idly wondered who might be manifesting THIS rainbow. And then I thought of the man whose body had been found the day we arrived. And I knew he was alright.

Life is so much bigger than these forms we see –
so much bigger than body-hieroglyphs of “you” and “me.”
Death has no power to end our Life – Life fills all space –
exists beyond form and time and place.
I feel my loved ones ever-near –
both those who have “passed” and those who are still “here.”
Death can’t destroy the love we feel,
and nothing can stop the healing of what needs to be healed.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Photo of rainbow by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Rainbow in Lincoln City, Oregon

Be a Tree

The son and I talked about the tree
on the drive home.
850 years it had lived on this planet!
It had been seeded in the late 1100’s –
around the time of Genghis Khan
and England’s King John,
before Mansua Musa or Marco Polo,
da Vinci or Michelangelo.
Before Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare,
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mooji.
It rooted into the soil as a tender seedling
and grew during the Black Plague; grew
while the ash from Krakatoa blocked the sun;
and while factories sprouted up across
the northern hemisphere. It grew while
soldiers fought to end slavery; while
World War I and World War II raged
across Europe; while our planet warmed;
and while division and despair
made humans sometimes wonder
if our planet was beyond repair.
It grew.
Quietly, without fanfare or medals
or approval or star ratings –
it lived, created oxygen, and grew –
because that is what trees do.
And maybe when it was older and sturdy,
indigenous children played in its bends
and called it “friend.”
I like to think that’s true.

Yesterday I visited my wise friend, Charles.
He could tell I was scared about our world.
“Just be present,” he said. “Be a tree.”
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Five Years Ago…

Five years ago today we brought Moz into our home. The nurturers from hospice came in and showed us how to care for Mom. Moz and I spent the afternoon telling each other how much we loved each other. At the end of the day it became hard for Moz to speak, but I was greedy. I needed to hear it one more time. “You love me, don’t you?” And I’ll never forget the expression in Moz’s eyes as they locked onto mine and poured her love into me. I knew exactly what she was saying to me with her eyes: “You KNOW I love you!”

No one loved me like Moz loved me.

Early the next morning, as I lay sleeping on the couch next to her bed, she passed on. I could feel her brush by me in my sleep – it was this beautiful, joyful dream – full of peace and joy and love.

Since Then

It’s been almost five years since then,
but it feels like yesterday that you left,
brushed by me as I slept, on your way
to the other side of infinity.
There are still days when I think I should
pick up the phone and give you a call.
But I know I don’t really need a phone
to talk with you. I feel you with me –
here and now.
The sons are both married now; and Dad
has gone – joined you on the other side
of infinity; I’m retired, sort of; and we have
a new president. Everything has changed
and nothing has changed since then.
I feel your love. You must feel mine.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell, from Since Then

The Brush of Angel Wings

The end was like the beginning –
the oxygen machine breathing,
making the sound of the womb,
a soothing rhythm in the room
as she slept on the bed next to me.
All is quiet, but for the pumping
of O through her mask. In my dreams
I feel the light brush of angel wings
and fear is replaced by freedom
and limitless joy that comes
through an opened heavenly portal.
I open my eyes to see the battle
over and done. She has won.
I rise and stand on holy ground.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell, from The Brush of Angel Wings

Moz

“…individual good derived from God, the infinite All-in-all, may flow from the departed to mortals…”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

Messages from Jill

My beautiful friend and former teaching colleague, Jill Bailey, passed yesterday. This morning I’ve been going through our FB messages to each other, soaking up her wisdom and kindness, and I found messages she’d sent me just after my mom passed – messages about the process of grieving. But… it felt like these messages were fresh and brand new – like she’d just sent them to me – like she was sending me inspiration and wisdom to help me through mourning HER passing.

Today is also the second anniversary of my dad’s death. Finding Jill’s messages this morning couldn’t have come at a better time.

I want to share Jill’s wisdom with everyone who is mourning her today.

Jill wrote:
“…Karen, my dad told me shortly after my mom died that he believed that the most important word from Psalm 23 was THROUGH. This scripture can be recited by many…The Lord make me lie down in green pastures, etc. The word THROUGH is only in the chapter once. People picture lying down in green pastures and God walking alongside them through the valley of death, etc..They see themselves THERE. But my dad said go THROUGH it. It is the only way to truly process and heal (get through it) the death of someone you love dearly. He was correct. We can’t shut it out, forget or not deal. The waves of grief crash and we have to dive through…”

And in another message, Jill wrote:
“…this grief we go through tends to be solo and honestly no one can truly feel or understand its intensity (at times)…I am sorry that you are going through all the tough stuff that death leaves for the living. I know, I know people say, ‘everyone goes through it.’ It doesn’t help to hear those words. It just truly amazes me that so many people deal with this grief day to day without acknowledgement. And I guess I want to do that – acknowledge you and what is happening!…This is a very hard time. (As I state the obvious.) Please know you are hugged and understood. Jill”

New Collection of Poems

Hi everyone!
I just published another collection of poems. This one is titled “Since Then” and is a collection of poems I’ve written since my mom’s passing in 2017. The book contains poems about home and our kinship with others; poems from the pandemic; poems praising our connection to earth; and poems that celebrate the joy of being alive.Here’s a quick sample:

Can I Take Your Picture?

“Can I take your picture?” I ask the folks who sit
in a line of rocking chairs in front of a Cracker Barrel
store in Indiana. And they grin for me and I click.
“Can I take your picture?” I ask Joanna and Mitch
in the Anoka Independent Grain and Feed and they
give me broad midwestern smiles and I click.
“Can I take your picture?” I ask the international students
in front of Mount Rushmore and they quickly
line up in rows for me and beam and give me hope
for the world – maybe we’ll survive after all – and I click.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

All We Can Be

all we can be is
what Life-Truth-Love made us for
and wants us to be
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of  God, including all right ideas; the generic term for  all that reflects God’s image and likeness; the conscious identity of being as found in Science, in which man is  the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his  own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

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


Since Then

It’s been almost five years since then,
but it feels like yesterday that you left,
brushed by me as I slept, on your way
to the other side of infinity.
There are still days when I think I should
pick up the phone and give you a call.
But I know I don’t really need a phone
to talk with you. I feel you with me –
here and now.
The sons are both married now; and Dad
has gone – joined you on the other side
of infinity; I’m retired sort of; and we have
a new president. Everything has changed
and nothing has changed since then.
I feel your love. You must feel mine.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Moz and Einstein.

I Sit in Sam’s Chair

Sam the Wonder Dog died last summer.
On her last drive to the vet’s her umber
eyes were still bright and alert
as she looked out one last time
on the scene passing by –
still engaged with this world.

And now I sit in the chair
that we had accepted was her chair
while she was with us.
For the first time I no longer smell
her fur in the fabric I nestle in.
For months we tried to get rid of Sam’s smell –
we vacuumed; we steam cleaned;
we scrubbed with soapy rags –
but the Sam-smell never seemed to leave us.
And now, it seems, it has.
And I think I might miss it.

I rub the fabric of the chair, and for a moment
I feel like I am petting Sam’s sleek coat,
and I feel her with me – warm and dear,
an expression of Love.

Her body is gone, and her smell.
But Sam’s still with us in her love.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell




I Hear You

Sometimes there just aren’t words.
But I’ll try.

I hear you.
I feel the pain you’re feeling
and want to fold you into a fierce hug
and absorb the pain into my own body
and relieve you of it.

I hear you.
I feel the joy you’re feeling
and want to dance and spin with you
under the stars until we drop together
from happy exhaustion.

I hear you.
I hear your weeping.
I hear your laughter.
I hear the music of your heart.
And I want you to know
you’re not alone in any of it.

We’re all in this symphony of life
together.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Karen in her twirly dress.