Going Home

Rainier Myrtle Creek this one (2)

Really, I wouldn’t exist at all if not for Mount Rainier. That’s where my parents met. My mom was working as a cashier in the gift shop (around 1947) and my dad was working as a climbing guide when they met.

As a youngster a lot of my life was spent on the slopes of Mount Rainier – camping, hiking, scrambling around in the rocks – like my parents, I, too, ended up working there in the summers between my university years.  And, like my parents, I, too climbed to the summit (led by my dad, of course.)

My dad, Dee Molenaar, is well-known for his connection to Mount Rainier – he made a map of it, wrote a book about it (The Challenge of Rainier), painted it, and worked as a guide and park ranger on its slopes.

During the first half of my life, Mount Rainier was always there. When I married and moved to the northern part of Washington, she moved to the background – still a part of my life – but not the focus anymore.

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My mom passed on six months ago. Last weekend my brothers, sons, husband, and I met at Mount Rainier to spend time together remembering Moz.

It was amazing to see The Mountain again – up close and personal. I started taking photos from the car as we were driving to the mountain – box store outlets and traffic signs in the lower part of the pictures – The Mountain massive above them.

Our friends, Rick and Jana, had offered us the use of their weekend rental home, The Jimmy Beech House,  for our time there.  Jimmy Beech had been a mountain pilot who flew tourists around Mount Rainier – and he and my parents had been good friends. Jimmy flew me in my first-ever airplane flight when I was a little girl. It was very cool to know I was staying on the spot of land where he’d lived.

On Saturday my husband, Scott, and my son, Xander, were the only ones there. We drove through the Paradise parking lot (which was hugely full) and down to Reflection Lakes for a hike up Mount Plummer. I felt like I’d come home. It was so good to be tromping around on the slopes of Rainier again. It was cloudy when we started out – we weren’t sure we were going to be able to see Rainier at all – but when we got near the top of Plummer I heard my son and husband both let out an exclamation. I turned around. A bank of clouds had parted and there was Rainier – right there in our faces. Huge and majestic -playing peek-a-boo with us.

Pictures from the Plummer Hike –

The next day my brothers and older son, Andrew, and our friend, Rick, joined Scott and Xander and me, and we made a Moz Memorial hike up to Alta Vista, above Paradise. Even as she got into her eighties Moz would hike this nob of rock – it was one of her favorite places. When I’d worked at Rainier I’d often hiked around these very hills before and after work. And there was the Paradise Inn – where both Moz and, later, I had sung to the guests on Saturday nights when we’d worked at Paradise.

Photos from Paradise and the Alta Vista hike –

Our last day at Rainier happened to coincide with the eclipse. My husband had prepared for this event by buying a special filter for his camera lens. We hiked a little ways down a trail from Paradise and just past Myrtle Falls, where Scott stationed himself and set up his camera for the eclipse.

At some point I felt Panorama Point calling to me. I told the men-folk I was going to hike a little ways down the trail – just to the top of that ridge there. But when I got to that ridge, I thought I needed to hike to that spot right down there, and once I got to that spot I figured – well, I should do the switchbacks up to the top of Mazama Ridge. This was the first hike I’d done solo on this trip – and there was something kind of freeing and luxurious about being by myself on “my” mountain for a little while.

When I got to the top of Mazama I started heading towards Panorama Point, but I’d only gone maybe a tenth of a mile when I realized – by looking through my eclipse glasses – that the eclipse was going to reach its fullest point soon – and I wanted to get back to the family before they started packing up and wondering where I was.

I felt the eclipse reach its zenith as I was coming down the switchbacks. The light dimmed and there was a kind of eerie quiet for a few minutes. It was very cool. I took out my eclipse glasses and saw that there was just a sliver of sun left. I started skipping down the trail – I felt light-footed and free – like I was a youngster again – while I was coming down. Maybe it was the eclipse. 🙂 Or maybe it was that I’d put on my sandals instead of my hiking shoes that day and my toes weren’t jamming into the fronts of my shoes.

I passed a couple hiking the other direction, Yonsin and Kathy, and asked them if they’d seen the eclipse. They said they didn’t have eclipse glasses – so I loaned them mine. I loved watching the looks on their faces as they were able to see what was going on up there. They thanked me and we shook hands, and they let me take their picture before we parted ways.

As I went past a Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. climbing party I had to stop and turn and ask, “Does anyone here know Dee Molenaar?”

The guide in the front stopped and turned around and asked, “Who did you say?”

“Dee Molenaar.”

“Dee Molenaar is my hero. He’s a legend up here.”

That made me grin. I love this connection I have via Dad to the mountaineers on Rainier. “I’m his daughter,” I said. “He’s 99 now. We were hoping we could bring him down here this trip, but it just didn’t work out this time.”

The guide told me to tell my father hello, and said he hoped to see Dad up here again before too long.

The trip felt complete to me then.

Here are some photos of the trail to Panorama Point –

“Spiritually interpreted, rocks and mountains stand for solid and grand ideas.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
– Psalms 121

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I really needed that hug…

“At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Stopped by the Mall this evening to spend some time at the memorial for the shooting victims. Went into the Macy’s afterwards. To my surprise, I was a little scared to go in there, but once I went through the doors it was alright. A sales lady approached me and asked me if she could help me. I asked her if I could give her a hug, and she graciously reached out to me and let me hug her…

I really needed that hug this evening…

memorial for Mall.jpg

“…after the fire a still small voice.”

“…I did not feel God as most people see Him. I did feel something larger than myself, something in the mountains and the glaciers and the glowing sky that, in rare moments, reassured me, and made me feel that the world was orderly and loving and good… It was simply a silence, a wholeness, an awe-inspiring simplicity. It seemed to reach me through my own feelings of love, and I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence… It wasn’t cleverness or courage or any kind of competence or savvy that saved us, it was nothing more than love, our love for each other, for our families, for the lives we wanted so desperately to live.”
– Nando Parrado, Miracle in the Andes

sun through the fog in Bellingham

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

It would be an understatement to say that we seem to be having a dry spell here in Washington State. I cannot remember the last real rain we had here. I really miss the rain – I miss the sloshy sound of cars rolling along soggy, sopping roads and the feel of rain on my face and the smell of wet earth and asphalt and green growing things.

The drought has brought some real challenges to my state – the biggest one being the wildfires that are roaring through our forests. The fire in the Okanagan is the biggest fire ever recorded here – having consumed more than 256,000 acres – or what would be about a fifth of Delaware (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/24/washington-wildfires-okanogan-complex).

I’ve sometimes heard people refer to disasters – like the forest fires we’re experiencing – as the “wrath of God” – as punishment sent down by God for our sins. But the concept of a god that would punish her children – made, according to the Bible, in her “image and likeness” – is not a concept of “God” that ever made sense to me. I mean, why would a god punish its own creation for being what she made it to be? I really like what Mary Baker Eddy says about this in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “It would be contrary to our highest ideas of God to suppose Him capable of first arranging law and causation so as to bring about certain evil results, and then punishing the helpless victims of His volition for doing what they could not avoid doing. Good is not, cannot be, the author of experimental sins.”

No, for me, God is Love, as John says in I John 4: “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him… There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” And we see this love expressed in neighbors reaching out to help each other during catastrophes, and in the courage of firefighters and rescuers putting their own lives on the line to save the lives and property of others.

In I Kings we read: “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

That “still small voice” – that quiet comforting presence – THAT, for me, is God. My God isn’t responsible for earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, or wildfires. My God is found in the love and courage that overcomes the fear and destruction. My God isn’t found in destructive material forces, but in the things of the “spirit” – in “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” and “against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) There is no law, no material force, that can over-power love and steal it from us. Love goes on. Love heals. Love brings us comfort and solace. Even after the physical forms of the ones we love are gone, the love we have one for another continues on. Not earthquake, wind, or fire can destroy the presence and power of Love – of what I call “God.”

My God is the still small voice – that quiet presence that guides, rescues, and protects us. And I don’t think this presence and power is just for a select number of us – I believe all of creation has access to this power. As Eddy writes: “In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as ‘a very present help in trouble.’ Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals.”

At the beginning of this post I presented a quote from Nando Parrado – one of the survivors of the plane crash in the Andes in 1972. Parrado’s description of “God” is the closest I’ve ever found to my own concept of God. Parrado writes: “I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence.” Right on! And I’m thinking that “awesome presence” is the “still small voice” – that quiet reassurance – that overcomes fear and hopelessness and discouragement in the face of disaster, and leads us to safety.

Cosmic Co-op

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  – H. Jackson Browne, Jr.

For three years I’ve had a view of the Mount Vernon Co-op from my office window. Every now and then I’d gaze out the window and across the freeway at the friendly-looking brick building – watch the customers going in and out of it – and wonder how long it might take me to “get there from here.”  I’d always thought it would be too long – that I wouldn’t be able to get there and back before a student showed up for a session with me at the alternative high school where I work.

But last week I went for it. A couple of students had shown up early for their appointments with me and I found myself with an hour in the middle of the day to do some adventuring. So I donned my backpack and headed down the hill and over the overpass on a reconnaissance. When I got to the bottom of the hill I turned around and headed back to the school, and when I got to my office I realized that it had only taken 10 minutes to get to the bottom of the hill and back!

The next day – knowing now that it didn’t take that long to get to the bottom of the hill and back – I ventured a little further. This time I actually went into the Co-op. I ordered a peach smoothy and brought it back to my office with me. The clock showed that I had only been gone from my desk for 20 minutes!

Since that day I have managed to find time every day to hike down to the Co-op for my peach smoothy, a little exercise, some fresh air, and a quick hobnob with the co-op community..Yesterday I ran into a former teaching colleague and a woman who lived down the street from us 30 years ago – that was way fun. And today I ran into a former student from ten years ago who’d just returned from a trip to Thailand. And this was kind of cool – as I was walking down the hill to go to the co-op this morning, I saw a man approaching me carrying a sign that said “Peace” on it. As we got 30 or 40 yards from each other we both smiled simultaneously at each other, and I held up my fingers in the “peace sign.” He returned the “peace sign” to me, and then veered off the sidewalk to go to the co-op – me following behind him.

I am really enjoying my daily Co-op break.

I wonder who I’ll run into next time?