What a Miracle to Be

What a miracle to wake and discover the planet’s still here
we’re still alive
and there’s still opportunity to do some good in the world
to make a difference
to change course
to sing
to write
to create
to be kind
to find beauty
to laugh
to learn
to love
to be.

To reflect the beauty of Love…
Karen Molenaar Terrell

Flipped Tulip Reflection

Flipped tulip reflection. Skagit County, Washington. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

“…Love is reflected in love.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

 

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Driving to the Daffodils with Dad

Dad was resting in his bed when we got there.

Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: Yes. Am I allowed to leave here?
Karen: (laughing) Of course! Are you ready to go?
Dad: Yes!

(Scotty and I situate Dad in the front passenger seat and I sit behind Dad in the back seat. I reach forward and pat Dad’s shoulder and he reaches for my hand and holds it.)
Scott: Where should we go first?
Karen: Sisters Espresso.
(Scotty heads for the Sisters Espresso. As we pull into the parking lot…)
Dad: Good! (smiling) Karen takes me here all the time when we go on our drives…
(I order the usual ice cream float for Dad, and a couple coffees for Scott and myself. I hand Dad his float through the car window…)
Dad: Thank you!
Karen: Is it good?
Dad: (gives the thumbs up)

We head out to the daffodil fields.
Dad: This is beautiful country. (Thinking) I used to be stationed out here – in the Coast Guard… Have you ever been to the Big Four Inn? They turned it into a Coast Guard place during the war. (Note: Dad had also been stationed in the South Pacific during The War – but today he wanted to talk about the Big Four Inn.)
Karen: (to Scott from the back seat) We went up there with Dad, remember? The Inn burnt down – there was just a foundation there.
Scott: (remembering) Yeah. (turns to Dad) We hiked up there together, remember? We went hiking with Pete Schoening to the Ice Caves.
Dad: (nods, remembering)
Scott: (talking to me) That was one of the last hikes Pete Schoening went on, wasn’t it? Do we still have the picture of Pete with the boys?
Karen: Yes. I think I have it on Facebook.
(The daffodil fields appear on the right.)
Karen: (pointing) Look at the daffodils!
Dad: The field is glowing.
(Scotty pulls over so I can snap some quick photos.)

Dad: What are we doing for New Year’s tonight?
Karen: It’s April. We’re looking at the April daffodils.
Dad: Oh. (Pause) When did I think it was?
Karen: I don’t know.
Dad: (to Scott) I used to live at the Big Four Inn. Have you ever been to the Big Four Inn? The Coast Guard took it over during the war. Where did you live during the war?
Scott:(smiling) I didn’t live anywhere. I wasn’t born, yet.
Dad: (starts laughing) Oh. Yeah.

(We pass Tulip Town…)
Dad: There’s going to be a lot of traffic here when the tulips bloom. You’ll want to avoid this area when it’s tulip time. When do the tulips get ripe?
Scott: Another couple weeks, probably.
Dad: (making an observation) It’s easier to see things when it’s raining. There’s not as much shadow.
(As we reach our turn-around point on our drive…)
Karen: Wayne said he was going to visit you. Did he stop by?
Dad: Yeah. We had a nice visit.
Karen: Did his wife visit you, too?
Dad: Yeah, she was there, too. It was nice.
Karen: Some more of your friends are going to visit in a couple weeks – Tom Hornbein, Bill Sumner, and Jim Wickwire.
Dad: (smiling) Good! That gives me something to look forward to!

(We head for Dad’s home, and pass a retirement community where one of his friends used to live…)
Karen: Norma used to live there, remember?
Dad: Oh… yeah. We visited her there once, didn’t we?
Karen: Yes.
Dad: I think she lived in the house right there – right next to the fence.
Karen: Yes, I think so.
Dad: This was the best time to go for a drive. I wouldn’t want to be driving around on a weekend when the tulips are blooming.
Karen: This was a nice drive, wasn’t it?
Dad: Yes, it was. A nice drive.
(We turn into the driveway of Dad’s home.)
Dad: I recognize this place. There’s that long bedroom…
(We help Dad out of the car, up the stairs, and into Moz’s old recliner in the living room.)
Karen: Thank you for going on a drive with us, Daddy.
Dad: Thank you for the drive!
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you!

“A Union of Hearts”

wedding photo

Happiness is spiritual,born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it. – from the chapter titled “Marriage” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

 

You know those shows you see on television where the bride spends HUGE amounts of time, thought, and bucks choosing just the right ring, dress, caterer, flowers, music, photographer, and reception venue  for her “big day” – those shows where every minute detail  of the wedding production is analyzed, critiqued, and judged for its merits on visual perfection? Where the ceremony is somber and refined and the highlight of the whole shebang is the dress the bride wears?

Yeah. That wasn’t us.

My engagement ring was a little garnet ring I picked out from a small jewelry shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the man who sold it to us was cheerfully, flamboyantly, hilariously gay – he had us cracking up the minute we walked into his shop. My wedding dress was the first dress I tried on from the sales rack at our local Bon Marche. Cost me $120. Our minister was a hoot – we’d met with him for a required counseling session, and when he told us that anything he had to say to us would be pretty much useless at this point – because it’s really only AFTER the wedding that the bride and groom realize what they’ve gotten themselves into (we later learned that he’d just recently been divorced), we immediately recognized the man had a sense of humor, and he was, for sure, the minister we wanted officiating our nuptials.

The wedding was a joyful, light-hearted affair in a small Methodist church in Gig Harbor – I remember the minister asking us if we really wanted to hold the service in his church – it was very small – could maybe hold 100 people – and very old (it’s since been torn down and a larger church built in a different location) – but, for our purposes, that little church was perfect – I liked the cozy smallness of it and the stained glass windows – and from the church’s steps we could look out across the water and see Mount Rainier rising above the hills in the distance.  The wedding itself was simple, joyful, and natural. We weren’t too concerned with “perfection” – we just wanted our guests to feel comfortable and loved.

The reception was held in my parents’ backyard – with the sound of laughter, and the smell of daffodils and plum blossoms, filling the air. And we played volleyball in the pasture – the groom’s team won, but it was a close game.  The minister came to the reception, and fit right in with our hooligan families and friends. Before he left he told us that sometimes he’s really worried about the future of the newlyweds he marries – they often seem more concerned about the wedding than the actual marriage – but, after watching us yukking it up with our families and friends, he felt good about being a part of our ceremony.  He knew we were going to be alright. We knew how to laugh.

When I think about that day, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to deny other people the right to a wedding, and to a life-long commitment in marriage with the partner they love.  I can’t understand why any heterosexual couple would feel their own marriage is threatened by giving homosexuals the same rights that they have.  I feel a real yearning for other folks who love one another, and are brave enough to make a commitment to each other, to be allowed to have what my husband and I were allowed to have.

I believe that every citizen – regardless of race, ethnicity, social and economic status, religion, non-religion, gender, or sexual orientation – should have the exact same rights as every other citizen – including the right for consenting adults to marry whom they love.

(originally published in 2013)

***

“Matrimony should never be entered into without a full recognition of its enduring obligations on both sides. There should be the most tender solicitude for each other’s happiness, and mutual attention and approbation should wait on all the years of married life…  Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship…   Marriage should improve the human species, becoming… a centre for the affections. This, however, in a majority of cases, is not its present tendency, and why? Because the education of the higher nature is neglected, and other considerations, – passion, frivolous amusements, personal adornment, display, and pride, – occupy thought… The scientific morale of marriage is spiritual unity… Marriage should signify a union of hearts… Beholding the world’s lack of Christianity and the powerlessness of vows to make home happy, the human mind will at length demand a higher affection. There will ensue a fermentation over this as over many other reforms, until we get at last the clear straining of truth… Matrimony, which was once a fixed fact among us, must lose its present slippery footing, and man must find permanence and peace in a more spiritual adherence.”
– excerpts from the chapter titled “Marriage” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy

 

Jeweled Sky and Winging Things

This.
This moment stands alone on the edge of time’s shore
– worth an entire lifetime of whatever came before.
Clouds of ruby, zircon, amethyst – a sky of jewels
reflected in a flooded field’s mirroring pools.
And winging things take to the sunsetting sky –
snow geese sounding a holy cacophony as they fly.
A moment shared with loved ones, unplanned,
unfettered, spontaneous, an unscheduled landing.
A jeweled sky and winging things.
This.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health

videoclip of snow geese here

(photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

 

Lunchtime Walks

The sunshine called to me this week during lunch: “Karen… Karen… come out and play…” Here in western Washington we’ve had sparkly days of azure skies and fresh spring breezes; the daffodils are smiling at us; and blossoms are starting to pop open on the early-blooming fruit trees. How could I possibly resist a lunch-time walk downtown?

On Wednesday my feet led me to the walk along the Skagit River, down a side street, and then – as if propelled by their own power – my feet brought me to the Forte Artisan Chocolate store  in Mount Vernon. Yes. That’s right. It was my feet, I tell ya. My feet took me into the chocolate shop. And, of course, once I found myself in the chocolate shop I HAD to buy something, right? I chose two truffles and a chocolate-covered caramel and as the young man was bagging my chocolates up for me, he smiled and asked me if I was “Mrs. Terrell.”  And then he told me his name – and I realized that he was one of my former middle school students! Ohmygosh! It was so fun to see him again! Ryan had just come back from all kinds of amazing adventures in southeast Asia – and as he shared a little about his adventures with me I found myself grinning from ear-to-ear. I cannot tell you the pleasure it gives me to run into my old students and see the amazing lives they’re making for themselves. As I was ready to leave, Ryan said, “Come here!” and he came from behind the counter and gave me a big hug. I left the store with a smile on my face and a heart full of happiness. Also a bag of award-winning chocolate. For later. (It lasted two whole hours.)

It was another sunny day today, and I ventured back into downtown Mount Vernon during my lunch break. This time I bought myself a green-topped St. Patrick’s cupcake from the Shambala Bakery and Bistro. As I was leaving the bakery and heading back to school I ran into John the Peace Man. I’d met John a couple years ago when I’d joined up with the little group of weekly demonstrators in front of the Skagit County Courthouse to wave my “LOVE RULES” sign for an hour. The demonstrators have been standing out there every Friday at noon for years now – maybe decades. When I saw John I realized that he was probably walking to the noon-time demonstration, and fell into step beside him. When I got to the Courthouse I found my dear peacenik friends there, waving their signs. I love these folks.
peace people.JPG

I brought sunshine and love back with me to school after my lunch-time walks this week. I’m thinking lunch-time walks on sunny days should be, like, a requirement for all teachers. Right?

Cast Thy Burden…

Earlier in the school year, at a workshop for teachers, this twenty-something man conducting the workshop said something like, “You know, we all have parents we can turn to when we need help…” and I felt myself suddenly and overwhelmingly filled with a huge sense of loss and grief. My nose and eyes started filling with snot and tears.  I had to get up and leave the room.

No, I was thinking, we don’t all have parents we can turn to when we need help. My mom is dead, and my 99 year-old dad needs me to be there for him now – not the other way around. I’m responsible for his health and safety and finances and well-being.  No, I thought, don’t assume that everybody in that room has parents they can turn to for support. As I sobbed, and blew my nose into a wad of toilet paper in the bathroom – feeling all sorts of sorry for myself – I was thinking the days when I had a mother and father to turn to for help were gone for me.

But the other day, as I was contemplating the nature of God, Love, this thought came to me: God is responsible for me. It was a really simple thought, but I found it wonderfully comforting.  “God is responsible for me,” I said out loud to myself, and turned the idea of it over in my thoughts, examining it. God made me, maintains me, governs, and guides me, I reasoned. I am here because of God, and for God. I am God’s, and God is mine – my Mother and Father. I can nestle safe and secure in Love’s arms and trust She will take care of me.  God, Love, is where I can always turn when I need help.

A sense of burden was lifted from me in that moment, and a sense of peace filled me. The false sense of responsibility I’d been feeling for everyone I come in contact with dissolved. I realized God, Love, is responsible for ALL Her children – Dad, my sons, husband, friends, students, colleagues, strangers on the street, and, yes, me, too.  In that moment it was clear to me that I’m not alone, on my own, here. We really DO all have a Father-Mother we can turn to when we need help.

It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
– Psalms 18:32

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
– Psalms 100:3

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee…
– Psalms 55:22

As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings…
– Deuteronomy 32:11

Two eagles in a nest in Bow, WA. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Two eagles in a nest in Skagit County, Washington. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

A Prayer for the World

Feel the gentle presence of Love
enfolding all of creation.
Feel the peace of Love
settling on the world.
Feel the power of Love
renewing everything good
and healthy in us.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

flower peace 2

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 to-night.
– Mary Baker Eddy