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

Resting in Love

I went to bed fretting and frightened
imagining all kinds of doom
I read a little to settle my thoughts
and finally closed my eyes and slept

I awoke in the dark quiet early hours
surrounded by an all-knowing, loving
presence bigger than the sky – assuring
me of endless, eternal, infinite good

I started to get up – wanting to share this
moment with my FB friends – but then I
stopped, holding on to that moment for
myself, resting in Love a little longer
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

unchanging Love

No One “Deserves” to be Sick

No one “deserves” to be sick.

When I took my first trip to Europe in 1980 I was fascinated by the old buildings. Some of them were, like, 700 years old! (Where I live the oldest buildings are maybe 150 years old.) I remember wanting to get up next to them and touch them – feel the vibes of all the people who touched them before me in history.

While he was giving me a tour of historic old buildings, my Dutch friend told me that during The Black Plague the entries to villages were actually designed to keep the sick people out – the sick were left to wander without food or shelter or succor in-between the towns. They were left on their own, alone and shunned.

I remember thinking how grateful I was that our world had become more civilized since then.

Right after I got back from Europe the AIDS epidemic hit, and I saw that we maybe hadn’t become all that more civilized. I saw people being shunned again. Some preachers told their congregations that these people deserved to be sick, and deserved to die.

It was a terrible time.

And now we have this. I’m seeing a lot that is giving me hope for our world – I’m seeing people coming together in a way I’ve never witnessed to help each other. And I’m seeing some things, too, that make me realize we still have a ways to go.

NObody “deserves” to be sick. NObody “deserves” to die. No matter your politics or religion, your age or medical history, or errors in judgment – no one “deserves” sickness and death.

In reality, we are all God’s innocent children. There is no guilt attached to us – to any of us. Every moment we are fresh and new and uncontaminated. There is no disease that is more powerful than God’s love and grace.

You are Love’s precious child.

“O Life Divine, That Owns Each Waiting Hour”

I went for a drive – Scott had the news on and I felt the need to go into my mental “closet” and bring my thoughts close to the presence of Love. I pulled over to watch Mount Baker turn pink in the setting sun and a song from the Christian Science Hymnal came to me – “O Gentle Presence” (with words by Mary Baker Eddy). Here’s a link to my off-the-cuff rendition. Acapella here. No accompaniment. No back-up singers who can do the actual singing for me. 🙂 Just me. Probably off-key. No embellishment or anything. Thank you ahead of time for your kindness.

This line from “O Gentle Presence” especially resonates with me right now – “O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour” – I mean…think about that! God – Life, Truth, and Love – owns, manages, and governs EVERY hour – even the “waiting” ones. There is never a moment outside of Love’s control – never a moment not created by God. Those moments when we’re waiting to learn our loved ones are safe, when we’re waiting to hear the prognosis, when we’re waiting for the plane to land, or the tests to come back, or the quarantine to be lifted – God owns even THOSE moments. Whoah.
– Karen

 

Here are the lyrics to “O Gentle Presence”:

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.
Love is our refuge; only with mine eye
Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall:
His habitation high is here, and nigh,
His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.
O make me glad for every scalding tear,
For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain!
Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear
No ill, — since God is good, and loss is gain.
Beneath the shadow of His mighty wing;
In that sweet secret of the narrow way,
Seeking and finding, with the angels sing:
“Lo, I am with you alway,” — watch and pray.
No snare, no fowler, pestilence or pain;
No night drops down upon the troubled breast,
When heaven’s aftersmile earth’s tear-drops gain,
And mother finds her home and heavenly rest.
– by Mary Baker Eddy

 

 

Fear and Living in the Moment

Here’s a Dad-lesson for the times: I once asked Dad (Dee Molenaar) what he was feeling as he careened down that slope on K2, headed for the drop over the cliff and certain death. Was he scared?

No, he said, it was exhilarating! He was totally in the moment. Enjoying the ride. He knew everything was going to go black for him soon – and knew there was nothing he could do about that – so he just settled into the moment and enjoyed it.

And when I’ve thought about his answer, I’ve realized I can relate to it. The times I’ve been most scared – most filled with unspeakable dread – are the times when I’ve focused on the future – on all the many scary things that MIGHT happen – rather than what was actually happening with me right now – in this moment.

When I’ve found myself – in the moment – facing a challenge – it’s not been scary, really. I’ve focused on the problem at hand and dealt with it.

Rock-climbing is all about the moment – I remember a piton clinking down a rock cliff when I was mid-way up a climb once – I remember looking up to the man belaying me and I remember him looking down at me – I remember the exchange of looks – I remember how quickly I faced the moment and hauled myself up that rock face. There was no time for fear. It was very cool, actually.

I remember feeling that same in-the-momentness when I gave birth to my youngest son. I’d been told, suddenly, that there were complications in the delivery and I was going to need a caesarean section. I remember being wheeled down to the operating room and Mom’s face looking at me from the foot of the gurney. I asked her to call a friend (a Christian Science practitioner) to pray and she hurried off to do that.

And, in that moment, as things were happening, I didn’t feel any fear at all. I felt this amazing since of peace envelope me. I was totally focused on the moment. I could feel the love from all the doctors and nurses – wanting only the best for me and my child – I could feel the love from Scotty and my parents, and my midwife. Everything was happening very quickly, but I felt strangely calm – I wasn’t afraid about what MIGHT happen, IF… I was living in that moment.

When I got down to the OR, they hooked me up to all these machines. I remember the eyes of the medical staff looking at the machines, then back to me, and I could see they were puzzled – and then suddenly they were all telling me to push! – like they were fans at a football game, rooting me on! And they were celebrating with me!

My baby was born the old-fashioned way that day. (But it wouldn’t have mattered, really, if he’d entered the world in another manner – the form of the the birth wasn’t important to me.) One of the surgical nurses was actually crying! She said she’d never been able to witness a vaginal birth before – and it was really beautiful.

Later I learned what the CS practitioner had told my mom that morning: “Life loves that baby!”

And I know this, for sure, Life loves ALL of us – each and every one of Her children – it doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing or what the time – it doesn’t matter if we’re on a rock cliff or on an operating table, or in quarantine or on the Moon – Love is there with us, loving us, eternally and always.

Let’s do what we need to do for each other right now, humanly. Physical distance, but not isolation – knowing that we are the very expressions of Love, loved by Love, never separated or isolated from Love. Living in this moment.
– Karen

I found this quote about fear from Eckhart Tolle really helpful to me:
“The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now. You are in the here and now, while your mind is in the future. This creates an anxiety gap…You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection – you cannot cope with the future.”
– Eckhart Tolle, from Live Real

More quotes about fear:

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”
– Marie Curie

“…knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
– Rosa Parks

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
– Louisa May Alcott

“Become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.”
– Lady Bird Johnson

“Fear never stopped being and its action.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.”
– Eckhart Tolle

 

Seeing the Best

Last week we cancelled the flight to Pittsburgh that we were going to take today to see Scott’s family because – duh! – right? We thought it might be cool to make our annual trek to Lincoln City, Oregon, instead. So we booked a couple nights at a pet-friendly place there for tonight and tomorrow night. Then we woke up this morning and realized that this was probably not such a good idea, either. I’d been told earlier that we needed to cancel our reservations by Sunday, though, or we’d lose the money. Soooo…

The thought occurred to me that maybe I could call homeless shelters in Lincoln City – maybe they knew someone who could use a warm room for two nights. So I called a couple places – one wasn’t open, yet, another one told me that because of the virus they’d already found a hotel to put their homeless people in. She thanked me, though, for wanting to do this, and seemed really grateful for my gesture.

When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to use this room to help homeless folks, I called Sailor Jack’s to cancel our reservation. And Angie at the desk said we hadn’t been charged, yet, and we wouldn’t be! She cancelled our reservations without charge! AND told us to stay safe up here. I told her we’d be coming down again later and we’d be seeing her.

I’m just… I’m kind of teary-eyed here. People are so kind. I’m seeing the best in folks right now.
– Karenlove

Sunset over flooded fields in Skagit County, Washington State. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.