Present Magic

Driving to work this morning –
lost in my thoughts
anticipating traffic, trials, and trouble
chewing on my worries and fears
enclosed in my own gray bubble –
when suddenly a cosmic moment –
the music in my CD soared up
and brought me with it
in the exact instant when a flock
of trumpeter swans winged
over me, their wings beating in time
to the music – and the clouds
diffused pink light, bursting through
my ruminations and waking me
from my trance to the present magic
going on all around me, always.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“One moment of divine consciousness, or the spiritual understanding of Life and Love, is a foretaste of eternity.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Bow Sunrise

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

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A Simple and Unremarkable Perfection

It is a miracle of perfection.
I am warm and fed and I can hear
my loved one tapping the keys on his laptop
and clearing his throat
near me
I have chamomile tea with cream and a chunk of
sourdough bread and the wind is moving
the rain-splattered screen on the window
and making the lights behind it look like they’re dancing
I feel no pain or fear
I know I’m completely safe
and I imagine coming through some terrible danger
and finding myself in this room
and what a miracle that would seem to be
and how much I’d appreciate the simple unremarkable
perfection of it
and I am filled with gratitude

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

No Endings

Sitting here with the calico cat on my lap – watching her ears twitch, feeling the breath going in and out of her warm body. She is 16. I’ve had her since she was a four-week old feral kitty – hissing and scratching and scared. I’ve shared almost all her life with her – from the beginning to today. She trusts me now – trusts me enough to jump into my lap and curl up there, and let herself be petted.

Now that she’s older I sometimes find myself thinking about that moment when my calico cat will no longer be with me. I think about death.

This year a lot of people I’ve known and cared for have died. November was especially challenging – a former student, a man who became my friend after he and his wife read one of my books, and a friend of mine from my walks in Bellingham all passed on. ¬†Last week a dear woman in her 90’s with a kind heart, a stalwart faith, and a twinkle in her eyes – a woman who had been a member of our church most of her life – passed on. It’s all gotten me to thinking about the nature of death – what it is and what it isn’t.

The thought came to me the other day that death isn’t really an “event” – that there really aren’t any seams or borders or divisions separating one part of life from another – but that it’s forever flowing in an endless stream.¬†¬†It’s true that I can’t see the friends that have passed on, but I can tell you there are times when I feel their love. Death can’t end the love we have for one another.

It probably seems weird to connect the insights I’ve had¬†about death to the Superbowl – but that’s where my pointy little noggin went when I contemplated the end of the Seahawks season this morning. If only the game could have gone on a little longer, I thought, the Seahawks might still have been able to pull it off. “But it’s done. Over. Ended. It is what it is. And the magnificent catch by Kearse, the receptions by Matthews, the runs that Lynch made,¬†the colossal efforts of Russell Wilson and his teammates – none of that matters now because they lost.” ¬†Those were my initial thoughts. But when I stopped thinking about the Superbowl as an “Event” – when I started thinking of¬†the game as just a step in an endless progression – a step towards progress – a character-builder – another life-lesson – my feeling about it changed.

I would like to think that all the lessons we’re learning here – the lessons about honesty, compassion, integrity, friendship, courage, perseverance, honor, selflessness, generosity, love – are lessons we can build on and carry with us¬†as we ride the current down the stream. It doesn’t make sense to me that all of that learning can abruptly come to an end at the close of a Superbowl, or a life.

My calico cat is with me in this moment Рalive and breathing Рand this moment is forever.

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Karen’s calico cat

The continual contemplation of existence as material and corporeal Рas beginning and ending, and with birth, decay, and dissolution as its component  stages Рhides the true and spiritual Life, and causes our standard to trail in the dust.
– Mary Baker Eddy