To Those Who Serve –

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

Originally posted in 2013 –

On this Veteran’s Day I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to all the men and woman who are faithfully and bravely serving around the world in the armed services, the Peace Corps, the Red Cross, and the Foreign Service. I want you to know that we remember you and appreciate you. You have made a difference. Every word spoken with love, every thought of kindness and compassion, and every gesture of good will, brings mankind that much closer to “peace on earth.” Your work is not in vain, and you are not standing alone.

In the chapter titled Peace and War in Prose Works, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations.”  A little later she writes: “Right thoughts and deeds are the sovereign remedies for all earth’s woe. ” As we…

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Peace.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below…
– John McRae
(Originally published on this blog on October 18, 2014)

Saw the movie Fury last night. Really powerful film. Great acting. Beyond gritty. If ever a war movie was an anti-war movie, this one is it.

I woke up this morning with scenes from the movie playing through my head – scenes of death and destruction, blood and cruelty, courage and war-honor. And, as I processed it all, two trains of thought emerged from the smoke.

One of the trains took me to a place of compassion and empathy for the soldiers in every time and every nation who have felt voluntarily compelled, or been drafted, to take up weapons and march to war. It occurred to me that if I had been a soldier watching that movie I might feel a kind of relief in the knowledge that I wasn’t alone – that the “reality” of war is a shared burden of responsibility, memories, and pain by all who’ve lived it.

The other train of thought took me to this place:War has become antiquated. There are no more lessons to be learned from it. It is time for civilization to move on.

Some may say that the cycle of War is never-ending and unstoppable, but I do not agree. Cycles DO stop. I believe there is a natural law – a law of God (Love, Truth, Life) – that pushes mankind towards progress. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (the textbook for Christian Science) Mary Baker Eddy writes: “…progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil.”

We’re surrounded by signs of progress, aren’t we? For all that we are bombarded with news of bigotry, sexism, racism, carelessness, greed, thievery, and murder – there is good going on all around us, too – signs of a mental stirring, or what Mary Baker Eddy would call a “chemicalization of thought” that is moving mankind towards decency. When we hear about slavery, racism, sexism, and bigotry – most of us in the United States no longer find these things acceptable – huge progress from just 150 years ago when slavery was still a part of our nation’s culture, or just 96 years ago (in my dad’s lifetime!) when women didn’t have the right to vote or run for public office. .

And I believe that progress will bring an end to the cycle of War, too. I believe that our world will find peace. I hope it will be soon.

“…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
– Isaiah 2:4

peace 10

A Humongo Super Snowball of Kindness

‎”Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank

I’d like to talk for a moment about kind people.

A week ago on my way to work I found I had a little extra time so I decided to stop at the local Starbucks to get a mocha for myself. As I was walking into the coffee shop a gentleman with a pack on his back approached me and started to make small talk. It came to me to ask him if he’d like a mocha and he said that would be fine. So I went into the Starbucks and ordered mochas for the both of us. And then I thought he might appreciate a scone, also. So I told the young woman behind the counter that I wanted to buy a scone for the man in the parking lot, to go along with the mocha I was buying him. The barista smiled and told me she wasn’t going to charge me for the scone – that would be on her. Her generosity – and the happy smile that accompanied her gesture – really touched me. I brought the man his scone and mocha – he was appreciative – and I drove on to work with a big grin in my heart.

A couple days later I found myself in another very similar situation. This time I was walking down the boardwalk to Boulevard Park in Bellingham when I spotted a young man leaning against the rail, holding a big duffel bag, and looking out towards the water. He appeared to have tears in his eyes. “Are you okay?” I asked him, and he nodded his head yes. I asked him if he’d like a warm drink from the Woods coffee shop in Boulevard Park, and he smiled and said, “No, but thanks!” I went on into the Woods any way to get myself something to drink, and when I came out the young man had moved down towards the park. He looked totally dejected. I don’t know what was going on with him, and didn’t ask. But I took one look at him, and said, “I really think you could use this more than me,” and handed him the warm drink. This time he didn’t refuse it – he smiled a genuine smile – his whole face lit up – and took the proffered cup into his hands and thanked me. I left him and went back into Woods to get myself another drink. The barista recognized me, and I explained what had just happened. She smiled and said, “This one’s on us!” and made me another drink for free!

Another day – this one cold, dark, dreary, and pouring down rain – and another espresso – this time The Sisters Espresso, an espresso run by two of my favorite people – Brooke, who used to be one of my eighth graders (and is now in her thirties – which… how the heck did THAT happen?!), and her sister, Courtney. They have these really awesome locally-made marionberry cobbler squares at The Sisters and I was waxing all poetic about these little pieces of heaven to the young man standing in front of me at the counter getting himself a drip coffee. He said he’d have to try one next time. He looked to be wearing outdoors working duds, and I asked him about that. He said he was going to be doing work in an apple orchard that day. “In the pouring rain?!” I asked, and he smiled and said yes. My heart went out to him, but he just smiled at my concern. When it came time for him to pay for his coffee, he told Brooke to put a marionberry square for me on his bill!  I think my mouth fell open a little. “Really?! Are you sure?!” I asked him. And he smiled and said he wanted to do that for me. And I ask you: How cool is that?!

Yesterday, I made a stop at our little Bow post office to pick up my mail and mail some packages. It was busy. Mary the Post Office lady (and I feel so blest we have her taking care of us – she is a treasure) probably didn’t get a break yesterday. I was at the end of the line with no one behind me – and I was glad about that because I was mailing something off to Canada, and that always involves a boatload of customs forms and stuff. By the time I reached the counter, though, people started trickling in behind me and the line started growing and growing and growing – and I was feeling responsible for this. But the guy behind me told me not to worry – he said he was retired and had all the time he needed – and the people behind him were all smiling at me, too – and then someone said something about singing carols – so there we were, singing carols, gabbing and laughing. Mary handed me some papers I could work on at the side while she helped other people – so I went off to the side and started filling out these forms. And now I was talking to myself – “Okay, Karen, so now you write down your address… good… and the weight of the items… they need to add up to 2 lbs 11 oz… 8 plus 8 equals a pound, and then add another pound, and this one is 11 ounces…” and I told the other customers that I’d heard talking to yourself is actually a sign that you trust yourself. One of the other customers piped up, “I’d always heard it was a sign of insanity!” And I said, “That, too!” and we shared a laugh.

I know there may seem to be reasons to be discouraged with our world – if we turn on the news we hear about murder and thievery and war and pestilence and greed. But I think if we all take a moment to really look around us – to connect and banter and laugh with our fellow man – we’ll find there’s also a lot of reason to be encouraged by our world. There’s so much goodness here. There’s generosity, and good humor, and kindness all around us – quiet, unobtrusive, often unnoticed – but, I believe, growing in power – like a little snowball that’s quietly rolling down the hill, picking up more snow as it goes until it’s a humongo Super Snowball of Good. Yeah. Like that. 🙂

Brooke and Courtney

Brooke and Courtney at the Sisters Espresso

 

“Learn to Talk to People You Disagree With”

“It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.” – Pete Seeger

I remember on Election Day when I was a little girl my mom and dad would go off in a car together to vote. My Dad supported one political party, and my mom supported another – but they cheerfully got in the car together and went to the polls to cancel out each others’ votes. They weren’t angry with each other because they disagreed about politics. They didn’t yell at each other, call each other names, cuss each other out, or think the other person was somehow an inferior human being – lacking in intelligence, reason, logic, and good sense. Nope. They loved each other. They respected each other. Although they’ve since then become members of the same party, at that time, they totally disagreed with each other about American politics – and it was alright.

They were a wonderful example to me.

Although one of my parents was, then, a Republican, and the other was a Democrat, although one was religious, and the other not – they shared the same values. Both my parents valued honesty, integrity, kindness, generosity, fair play, compassion, the beauties of Nature, and having a good sense of humor about oneself. They brought their children up to value those things, also.

Here are some useful things I learned about the exchange of ideas and opinions from watching my parents interact with each other:

  • Be kind.
  • Play fair.
  •  Laugh at your own nonsense, before you laugh at someone else’s.
  • Sometimes saying you’re sorry is the most important thing you can contribute to a conversation.
  • Avoid hearsay.
  • Don’t assume that a person is lacking in intelligence or reason just because he or she disagrees with you.
  • Listen.

I’m really grateful I grew up with the parents I did. I think it would be a marvelous thing if everyone treated each other with the same respect my parents gave to each other as they drove off to the polls on election day.

Rules of Engagement

No More Lessons to Learn from War

world peace duh right

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Saw the movie Fury last night. Really powerful film. Great acting. Beyond gritty. If ever a war movie was an anti-war movie, this one is it.

I woke up this morning with scenes from the movie playing through my head – scenes of death and destruction, blood and cruelty, courage and war-honor. And, as I processed it all, two trains of thought emerged from the smoke.

One of the trains took me to a place of compassion and empathy for the soldiers in every time and every nation who have felt voluntarily compelled, or been drafted, to take up weapons and kill their fellow human beings. It occurred to me that if I had been a soldier watching that movie I might feel a kind of relief in the knowledge that I wasn’t alone – that the “reality” of war is a shared burden of responsibility, memories, and pain by all who’ve lived it.

The other train of thought took me to this place: There are no more lessons to be learned from war. Mankind has been fighting wars for thousands of years, and I’m thinking we’ve learned everything we needed to learn from that course, and it’s time for us to be done with it now. It is time, my friends, to graduate and move on to more productive and constructive Life-courses.

Some may say that the cycle of War is never-ending and unstoppable, but I do not agree. Cycles DO stop. There’s no law that says cycles have to go on for eternity. I believe there IS a natural law, though – a law of God (Love, Truth, Life) – that pushes mankind towards progress. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (the textbook for Christian Science) Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power. These proofs consist solely in the destruction of sin, sickness, and death by the power of Spirit, as Jesus destroyed them. This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil.”

We’re surrounded by signs of progress, aren’t we? For all that we are bombarded with news of bigotry, sexism, racism, carelessness, greed, thievery, and murder – there is good going on all around us, signs of a mental stirring, or what Mary Baker Eddy would call a “chemicalization of thought” that is moving mankind towards decency. When we hear about slavery, racism, sexism, and bigotry – most of us in the United States no longer find these things acceptable – huge progress from just 150 years ago when slavery was still a part of our world, or just 94 years ago (in my dad’s lifetime!) when women didn’t have the right to vote or run for public office. This is progress, my friends, progress!

And I believe that progress will bring an end to the cycle of War, too. I believe that our world will find peace.

“What I term chemicalization is the upheaval produced when immortal Truth is destroying erroneous mortal belief. Mental chemicalization brings sin and sickness to the surface, forcing impurities to pass away, as is the case with a fermenting fluid… The muddy river-bed must be stirred in order to purify the stream. In moral chemicalization, when the symptoms of evil, illusion, are aggravated, we may think in our ignorance that the Lord hath wrought an evil; but we ought to know that God’s law uncovers so-called sin and its effects, only that Truth may annihilate all sense of evil and all power to sin.” – Mary Baker Eddy