The Balcony Where You Used to Wave

I pick up your mail at the retirement inn –
it still comes there nearly two years after
your passing – almost entirely requests
from charities – veterans, environmental
groups, help for homeless people and
animals – and I see your name on the
envelopes and remember your generous
heart and I smile. As I get in the car I glance
back to the balcony where you used to wave
good bye to me and I feel a tug on my heart.
You’re still there. I can see you clearly, smiling
your love at me from the second floor.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

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They Were Beautiful!

“When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

On Friday during my break I walked from my work to the county offices/courthouse to get new tabs for my car. The area around the court building is a little sketchy – bail offices, and etc. As I walked towards the entrance to the county offices a pair of men walked towards me down the sidewalk. I’m just going to say it – and I’m hoping you’ll understand and not make judgments on me for saying it – but these men looked scary. They were both thin (my immediate thought was “meth”) and kind of wild-eyed and nervous-looking, and they each were members of different racial minorities. Now I don’t know, exactly, what led me to do this – but I know I made an instant conscious choice – I smiled at each of them and said a friendly hello as they approached me down the sidewalk. They each looked a little surprised, and gave me a hello in return. And it was like – in that moment I saw who they really were, you know? They were beautiful! It was very humbling.

And yesterday, as I was waiting with Scotty in a long line at the local dollar store, I experienced another connection with my fellow humans that brought me a lot of joy. The wait was long, but no one was complaining, no one was cranky – everyone was just patiently waiting, sort of chatting with each other. We were behind a little family – a man – maybe a grampa? – and a little boy and girl, conversing with each other in rapid Spanish. While they waited, the boy and girl were checking things out on the racks across from the checkout counter – they’d pick things up – bracelets and toys – and look them over and then put them back. I told the grampa that he had a nice family – that I liked the way the children were behaving themselves. He smiled and thanked me.

Right after that the little girl found a jumbo-sized pen with Cinderella on it and she held the pen up to her grampa and began talking to him in Spanish. I knew she wanted that pen. I told the grampa that I would buy that pen for her. He hesitated, and then saw that the idea of that made me happy, and agreed to let me do that. The little boy found a jumbo pen with Spiderman on it – and I told the grampa I’d buy that one, too.

After I’d paid for the pens I handed them to the children and they both looked up at me with their big brown eyes and thanked me. I smiled and said, “De nada.” The little girl smiled a big smile and asked me, in English, if I speak Spanish. I told her not very well, but I was trying to learn it. I praised her for speaking both languages so beautifully, and she gave me another big smile.

Meanwhile, the cashier was managing to keep a straight face while I tried to practice my Spanish on the children. I thanked him for not laughing at my horrible Spanish. He grinned and said he has a hard time, too, sometimes, and he wished Scotty and me a good day.

There was just something so… these connections bring me such joy, you know? – like a little taste of heaven.

love-is-with-you

 

Grandmozzy’s Blue Sweater

Warmth and peace, gentle
laughter and playful exchanges
father mother son daughter
niece nephew brother sister
friend grandpa nestled around
the dining room table in
a cozy glow of love and
grandmozzy’s blue sweater
on the back of a chair adding
to the sweetness of this
Thanksgiving.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

moz blue sweater

We Forgive

“…old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
II Corinthians 5: 17

We forgive because
we no longer need the pain.
We forgive because
good is all that we gained.
We forgive because
love is all that remains.

Struggling to forgive old sleights and slingshotting
words sent to us, and sent by us, too, guilt
and hurt having a heyday in our hearts.
But how do we let go of the memories of mean
-ness and the bullying of those years when
we were the targets, the receivers (or givers?)
of hate? How do we let go, move on, forgive?

“…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…”
Can we really start new? How…?
Accepting all the good that comes from being
the target of envy, bigotry, hate – the strength
and confidence and empathy that comes
from surviving the bitter times – accepting
the healing, means an acknowledgement
that the rest is done and over. It served its
purpose. Judas to Jesus: It brought our
ascension. Led us to better times. Hate’s job
is done now – a cheap plastic toy from our
childhood – we put it down and move on –
no longer interested.

“…old things are passed away; behold,
all things are become new.”

We forgive because
we no longer need the pain.
We forgive because
good is all that we gained.
We forgive because
love is all that remains.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Love Hath Made

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

 

 

“What are we doing for New Year’s?”

Dad was in his room when I peeked in – sitting on his bed, not fully-dressed. He looked up and saw me start to turn away (I was going to get help for him) and he said, “No. Come on in. Don’t go away!” I told him I’d wait out at the kitchen table for him, but I’m not sure he heard me.

Gwen went in to help him and I sat at the table. When he came out he headed with Gwen towards the bathroom – and he told me, again, to wait for him. I assured him I would.

Five minutes later he joined me at the kitchen table.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I never get tired of hearing that.(Thinking.) Today is December 31st. What are we going to do today? What are your plans for tonight?
Karen: Today is November 7th.
Dad: Oh. (Processing.) I was two months off.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I wouldn’t mind.

In the car, heading towards Sisters Espresso…
Dad: What a beautiful day!
Karen: It really is!
Dad: What are we doing for New Year’s?
Karen: It’s November.
Dad: Oh. Yeah. That’s right. It’s a month away.

I stop at Sisters Espresso and buy Dad his root beer float. He takes his float from me and thanks me for it.

As we’re driving down Chuckanut Dad twists his head to the right and I know he’s looking for Mount Baker. I glance to the right just as Baker comes into view. I nod that direction and say, “There it is!” Dad looks and nods his head and keeps his eyes on the mountain.

I stop at the post office and run into my neighbor, Bond, there. He was at the book-signing last weekend and bought one of my books and one of Dad’s, too. I tell him Dad is in the car and he asks if he can come out to see him. Bond follows me out to the car and I open Dad’s door so he can meet Bond. I introduce Bond to Dad and tell Dad that he signed Bond’s book last weekend. Dad smiles at Bond and reaches out his hand to shake hands with him.

As we’re heading back to Dad’s home…
Dad: (Looking at Mount Baker.) I bet it’s cold up there right now.
Karen: Yeah. It looks like there’s fresh snow up there.
Dad: Do you enjoy these drives with me?
Karen: I do!
Dad: Mutual. (Thinking.) I like seeing your face.

I bring Dad back to his home. He doesn’t ask where he is this time. He unfastens his seat belt and I offer my arm as support as he goes up the stairs and makes his way to a chair at the kitchen table.
Dad: What are we doing for New Year’s tonight?
Karen: It’s November 7th. The elections were yesterday.
Dad: How’d it turn out?
Karen: The Democrats got the House. The Republicans got the Senate.
Dad: (Nods.) Oh. (Dad flips open the newspaper on the table and starts reading about what’s going on in the world.)
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you.

(Similar stories can be found in Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad. )

More than Hope

What I’m feeling is more than hope –
I’m feeling a presence of Truth so
formidable there’s not a question,
or room for doubt. Truth majestic,
omnipresent, omnipotent, joy-filled – 
unassailable, unstoppable, unflappable.
Truth that gives no acknowledgement
or recognition to lies, and fears no false-
hood; Love so pure that hate quakes
and disappears as It arrives – like
the sun rising over the hill and effortlessly
displacing the darkness with its light;
Unrelenting Good that won’t be obstructed
and won’t be denied and always wins.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

A glorious day is dawning,
And o’er the waking earth
The heralds of the morning
Are springing into birth.
In dark and hidden places
There shines the blessèd light;
The beam of truth displaces
The darkness of the night.

The advocates of error
Foresee the glorious morn,
And hear in shrinking terror,
The watchword of reform:
It rings from hill and valley,
It breaks oppression’s chain.
A thousand freemen rally,
And swell the mighty strain.

The watchword has been spoken,
The light has broken forth,
Far shines the blessèd token
Upon the startled earth,
To hearts and homes benighted,
The blessèd Truth is given,
And peace and love, united,
Point upward unto Heav’n.
– N.T. Munroe

 

Bow Sunrise

Sunrise on the way to work. October 2, 2017. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.