Waiting to See What Will Appear

I sit at my laptop at 5:00 in the morning
waiting to see what will appear
and my poet-son (“Stealthman”) quietly joins
me with his notebook and pen and sits near.
Poet-son and his love looked at apartments
yesterday and I know they’ll be moving out soon –
I know wherever they are they will bloom.
The cats are fed and one puts his paw on me
and meows for me to stroke his hair
while the other watches us from the top of a chair –
watching the poet-son and me
as we wake and write and type.
I feel it. The day is just starting, and ripe
with possibilities of what might be.
I enjoy this perfect moment, with the cats
and the son close by me.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

Meet My New Friend, Bridger

(Originally published on bellinghambayblog.)

So a cool thing happened this morning: I was up in Bellingham, doing my walk, and when I got to Boulevard Park I saw a man using one of those ball launchers to fling a tennis ball to his dog. I was smiling at the dog as I came around on the path. And then – to my surprise and delight – the dog nabbed the tennis ball his human flung to him and brought it to ME! He laid it down at my feet and looked up at me, hopefully. I’m pretty sure the dog was smiling. I picked up the ball and threw it back towards the dog’s human – but the ball only got about half-way there. The dog picked it up and brought it back to me again! I was so tickled that the dog chose to include me in his game. I threw it again and the dog went chasing after it.

Birch, the dog’s human, told me his dog’s name is Bridger – like Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. (One of my mountain-climbing dad’s favorite places.)

Bridger made my day.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here’s a picture of Bridger smiling at me…

Two Years Ago Today: The Last Time I Saw Him Alive

Two years ago today: The last time I saw Dad alive. He died the next day, before I could get to him.

January 18, 2020

Dad is in bed. His eyes are closed. He’s very still, but I see his chest moving. He’s still with us. I lean over and kiss his forehead and say into his ear, “Hi Daddy. It’s Karen.” (There’s no response at first. Then his eyes open and he looks at me.)
Dad: (Weakly.) Karen.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.Dad: (I can feel the effort he’s making to mumble the words.) Ah uv you.Karen: (Smiling at Dad – my heart filled with tenderness.) You old mountain goat. (That’s what Mom had always called Dad – and it comes to me – out of the blue – to call him that. Dad smiles at me. And now I find myself singing to him – that old Jeannette McDonald-Nelson Eddy song that he and Mom used to sing to each other…) When I’m calling you-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh… (I see Dad perk up a little. I get this sense that Mom is calling to him.)

We don’t say much after this. I stay for a while, stroking Dad’s forehead, and watching “Maverick” on Dad’s television. Every now and then Dad opens his eyes and checks to see if I’m still there. Eventually he falls back to sleep. I leave to go home and fetch my husband and son for a return visit. When I arrive home and describe Dad’s condition, the husband and son immediately let me know they’re with me and we go back to Dad’s house.

We enter Dad’s room and approach the bed. He’s sleeping. We pull up three chairs and watch him for a while. His foot is moving back and forth. I approach Dad’s bed.
Karen: Hi, Daddy. It’s Karen. And Andrew is here. And Scotty.
(Dad opens his eyes and looks at me.)
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
(Dad’s eyes are locked on mine and he nods his head at me once, twice. An affirmation. I nod back at him. He reaches up and holds my arm and squeezes it gently. I hold his hand and squeeze. He squeezes my hand back.)
Karen: Here’s Andrew, Daddy.
(Andrew sits close to his grampa. This is his time with Grampa. Love is exchanged. This time belongs to them and it’s not mine to share in words.)
Karen: And here’s Scotty.(Scott grips Dad’s hand and receives a strong grip in return. They both grin at each other. Male bonding.)

We all feel when it’s time to leave and let Dad get back to the business of sleeping. I get up and kiss Dad’s forehead and tell him I love him. Scott says his good byes. Andrew is the last to leave – he gets a strong good bye handshake from his grandfather before he leaves him to sleep.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad

Facing Wild Pigs in the Black Forest and Assembling a Side Table

Two years ago the son
landed in Vienna and called to ask me to pray –
he’d picked up some weird virus along the way.
Two years minus a month ago he wrote to say
he’d just faced wild pigs in the Black Forest,
on a most epic day.
Two years minus two months ago
borders were closing behind him
as he traveled from where they spoke German
to where they spoke Dutch,
and I wished I could touch
him again and worried a mama’s worries.
And now he sits on the floor of our family home,
quietly assembling a side table for the family room.

It’s amazing how much joy I get from watching
my son assemble a side table for the family room.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

A Prayer

(Click here for audio.)

Feel God as infinite Love, infinite Truth – all-power, all-presence, filling all space; protecting, guiding, guarding. There’s nowhere and no one living outside of Love’s embrace. No one is ever separated from Love’s power and presence and protection. No one is ever outside of Love’s realm.

Know yourself as God’s child. You are God’s reflection, expression, manifestation, image and likeness. All you can be is what Love made you to be. All you can know is Love’s presence and power. You are strong and brave and whole and beautiful and healthy and confident. You are what God made you to be.

Love is all-in-all.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
– Isaiah 41: 10

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
-Luke 1:37

May: Sunrise over Skagit County, WA

The Christmas Dog

It is time, once again, for the telling of “The Christmas Dog” story:

“This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death.”
From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

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 a Madcap Christian Scientist and The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book

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.


Everyone Is a Part of My Humanity

Everyone is a part of my humanity –
him and her and them and you.
We are connected in our beauty
and flaws; what we feel and what we do;
our mourning and joy; our hopes and fears;
our struggles; our victories;
our laughter and tears.
That’s why we can forgive others
and rejoice with others, too.
We are all one – sisters, brothers,
sons, daughters, fathers, mothers –
family.
-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