Hope is Not Now – an essay by Jane Tawel

Hot-Milk-and-Honey-Drink-3-e1534191191487

 

Hope is Not for Now

By Jane Tawel

March 23, 2019

We mistake all kinds of things for things they are not, because the only gods we have left are ourselves. We mistake religion for humanism; we mistake God for personal best buddy; and we mistake faith for self-empowerment.  And then there is our mistaken idea that somehow we should and can “choose” hope in order to be happy. We mistake hope for happiness.

 

I started out this morning, thinking about the world, thinking about myself, thinking about God, just like I do most mornings.  And I thought about things I’ve been thinking and writing and reading lately and I said to myself, “Self, you need to write a happy, hopeful little story that will cheer people up.”  And I drank my first cup of coffee with that determination until I read the headlines, read some Facebook posts, read a couple blogs I follow, re-read part of my own blog, and read the Bible.  The headlines assured me that there was hope the bad guys would be caught and punished, but I’ve been alive long enough and know enough history to know that won’t really happen until Christ comes again. Dashed hopes for justice are a part of being human if you live long enough.  A Facebook post by a friend of a friend asked for prayer about his suicidal thoughts. In the past year, I have personally known three young people who committed suicide because they just couldn’t believe there was hope for them. A blogger I follow talked about her childhood and sad memories of a father she never knew. I have my own sad memories of my childhood which no matter how old I am, can be rubbed raw by the hopelessness of ever changing the past.  My own most recent blog is about the decay of morality, truth, and gospel in people who claim to know God. I love, love, love people who claim to know God and yet in my current place and time, I feel a sense of terror at what so many of them are basing their future hope on. And the Bible passage I read this morning, from what we erroneously call the “Old” Testament assured me that I am nothing more than dust, a passing breeze on the winds of Time. And I realize how often I have let ego and desire lead me into a false and unbiblical sense of hopefulness that I am someone whom God might want to hang out with forever.  So I let our old dogs out into the yard and made my second cup of coffee. I take light milk and honey in my coffee, please.

 

I sat down feeling helpless and hopeless. Helpless to help fellow travelers across the world who suffer for belief, suffer for their faith, or who just plain suffer because they feel too much of the dark deep things that humans feel.  I sat down hopeless that I can be part of any real change, see any real change, not just in others, but in myself.  I look back over a life that has included so many, many whole days of pointlessness, and so many days I was filled with and following sin. Sin – hurting others, selfish talk and action, greed and coveting and lying – those sins God hates most; stealing, murder in my heart, lust – all of it.  And I am at a loss to tell stories of hope, because in the light of the reality of who I am, who we are; in the light of Now is the darkness of the real state of being of Forever and Never.

 

So I just put down all my reading and I looked up. And out. The vestiges of last night’s dew clung to the morning cheery grass and the dew pounced in on my doggies’ paws and I laughed with them instead of scolding them.  A floor is easily mopped.  The sun trickled through the filmy clouds’ filter in the same rhythm as my coffee trickled into my carafe and both waited to warm me, body and soul. The pan was still soaking in the sink, with a few strings of cabbage and cheese clinging to the sides of the now still soapy sea of dish water. The strings of leftovers played like strings of violins on my heart, reminding me that last night my son was home to join us for dinner and I made one of his favorite dishes. Because I could. Because I have enough money, enough strength, my hands still function despite early arthritic throbs, and I have time.  And there it is. Time. And if you have time to look around, then you have time for hope.

 

Time is what we have had, have now (if we’re lucky) but biblically it is what we will no longer have in The Kingdom of God.  And Hope? Well, how does hope fit into a future with no future, so to speak? Hope is one of The Big Three, that the entire Word of God assures us will last outside of Time, will last forever, and is part of God’s True World. Hope is one of the things we were created to Be, not have.  As it says, “So now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  The Psalmist says “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.”  And in Hebrews, it says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Isn’t it interesting that every single one of these verses uses the world “now”.  The reason hope is so tricky, so ephemeral, so fleeting, so ultimately unsatisfying is because of our imprisonment in Time, because hope can not exist, except fleetingly, in our constant “now-ness”. The proverb says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” and it is so easy for others to impact our hopefulness and defer our quest for it.

 

Hope is not happiness, but rather hope is unhappiness with the ways things are now completely infused with the faith that the “Now” was never what God intended for us. Hope is the current tossed and turning belief that the “Then” will be something even more beautiful, lovely, true, and wholly wonderful than we can know or even imagine.  Hope is, as Dickinson writes, “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the song without the words and never stops at all.”  And though we can’t always hear Hope’s tune and we can’t always sing hope’s song to those in need of it; we can take our Time and as Isaiah said, “wait for the Lord; who shall renew our little birds of hope and give them wings like eagles”.

 

Sometimes in the noisy outskirts of Los Angeles, I have a difficult time hearing the birds.  But it is usually, frankly, because I am too busy, too preoccupied, too stressed, or thinking behind me or ahead of me, to listen. It is also because I am primarily a visual learner, I find my strength and major happinesses in what I see, whether around me or on the page of a book.   The thing about hope though is that, as Paul wrote to the Romans, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

 

The three things that remain are faith, hope and love. Love needs me to see others as I see myself and use my hands to care for them.  Faith needs me to speak to my Heavenly Father and honor Him with my words, speaking of faith to others who need it.  And Hope? Hope needs me to listen.  Hope is the thing that listens – to the birds of the air, the children in the next room, the music of the spheres, and the ticking of the clocks.  Most of all, Hope needs me to listen for the still, small voice of the Creator Parent Who has hope for me yet; to listen to The One Who has hope for the world, and Who Is The Hope of the Universe.

 

And now I confess I will go make myself my third cup of dark coffee with milk and honey.  There was once a man named Moses who felt hopeless to change his sinful past in light of a Holy God.  Moses felt hopeless about his present life since he had few skills and no real community of friends and family.  And Moses’ hope for the future, well, what is the future for a nomad with no place, no people, no plan? And then old Moses started listening to God. And listening to the cries of God’s people.  And what Moses heard God say is, “I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey”.  Milk and honey. Flowing. When Moses asked God, “Who shall I tell people you are.” God said, tell them that I AM. I AM outside Time and therefore, outside hopelessness. I Am Hope. Hope flowing backwards through your past, today in your present, and hope flowing like a river of milk and honey toward your future.

 

And so I get up. And hear the little chirps outside my back door. And hear my husband breathing in the next room. And listen to the tap, tap, tap of my fingers on the keys. And listen to the scratching of ears by my old dogs. And hear the sound of my next deep breath. And I stand up in the Now of Uncertainty with the hope of one more delicious cup of coffee with milk and honey. And I pray with faith and love of The Lord, that my hope will be not in anything – not in me, not in them, not any other gods – but only in He Who is Hope. And I listen for the still small sound of I AM. And I accept my calling, not to seek hope, not to require hope, not to expect nor see hope, but to Be Hope. Because Hope is one of the things I am which will never die. Hope is not Now. Hope is Forever.

 

Eat Me — a long poem — by Jane Tawel

A “Warning” I guess:  The following long poem uses an extended metaphor of God eating those who desire to be truly consumed by something other than the current fast food philosophies and religions of our time. As poetry  often attempts, I am attempting to come at Truth from a plethora of various angles and side streets. In this way, some may relate  to readers and “catch” and some may not. Some may now, some may later. In addition, the length of this poem reflects the fact that eating, drinking, thirsting, and food are not only  important, perhaps the most important elements in any culture or human life but are  also used frequently and strongly as metaphor. Various Biblical writers and The Christ himself, use these metaphors, symbols, and even actually use food, wine, water, fasting and feasting as spiritual and religious disciplines and ways of living a truly and completely “Good” human life. God Himself uses food and drink in His own love offerings to us and as symbol and metaphor for our souls.  However, this poem is mostly about the facts that we have forgotten; that God also demands actual food and drink to others less fortunate, and the metaphoric subsistence of our souls in our required sacrifices to Him.

 

Eaten

By Jane Tawel

February 1 – March 15, 2019

 

The incremental decay of our belief

Festering by now

Bacteria-laden and rotten

At the bottom of the maggoty worship mount;

With all the slaves that Abraham left behind below;

While Abe and Isaac took the food and water with them;

Becoming themselves, holy Food

To be eaten by God.

 

As we offer the unholy, unwholesome sacrifices

Of our unearned bucks and gamey games, poached and rotting

On the idol-strewn pews, while we,

Rancid, perfumed meat praying next to our hunting guns,

gorge on pilfered blessings.

And while we bless our own bought bounty in the

 bistros of our imagined coziness with God —

–Judah and Ishmael wander in the wilderness,

Famished for meaning and manna.

As our corpses engorge themselves on the

More-ness of our filched American Idols,

The “ingodwetrust” religion of corporation-run focus groups

Feels angry and afraid that those hungry for righteousness

Stand outside our alarm-strewn kitchen windows looking in;

Making the bile of our chosen status rise up at the

Less-ness of their browned and stewing children.

When all we really ingodwetrust in, is the unbiblical belief

That pagans should not abort.

It is so easy to digest the unborn,

Never having to see their open maw-ed mouths,

Hungry for the least little lint lining our pockets.

The unborn are untested and untasting of

the confections of our capitalistic constitutions.

But we, pampered and as eyeless as new taters, deliver

 far too many chemically modified tots.

 

 

Our humanistic individually wrapped soul-food

worships the laden self-shelfs packed full and breaking under the burden of

too many, too much, too useless – our – us—

–Healthy-wealthy leftovers.

We have no other cause than

Refusing the aborted ones to follow

The Pie-ed Piper to Nirvana,

While the planet sags

Like a bag of rotting bananas

No-longer fit for consumption by even us devolving apes.

 

We now seek exile from a world we fumigated

One indulgence at a time,

While we stood by and witnessed to our own weight gain.

So empty are the containers of our hearts, that

 truly hungry exiled nations have to bomb us to get our attention;

Or be served up as appetizers teasing us in our slobbering anticipation

of an imagined heavenly meal, they aren’t invited to share.

Oh, the finger foods of Jesus’ hors d’oeuvres are now

Outside the work of our idle idolized own tastes.

 

And The World says daily, “Bite me”.

And so, we do;

Taking bites from the rotten core of that same apple.

It is so easy to deny the 6 million and more and more, and more

Of That Good Man’s Relatives;

Killed by a Church that claims a Jew’s death paid it all.

He didn’t. He couldn’t.

Your check is still outstanding.

And you don’t get to keep the Server’s tips

Without serving it up as the Server did.

 

As I ratchet up my worldly consumer debts,

How can I claim that somehow, Someone paid for my final funeral feast

before I actually die?

That kind of fast food will kill you, one heart attacked at a time.

You can’t pay for the funerals of people who just won’t die.

 

God has to kill you before He can consume you. Ask Isaac.

God won’t eat meat with blood still in it,

Ask Moses and the Levites.

I must spill my blood, as The Son did;

Before I can be eaten;

Making myself a tender, “well-done, good and faithful” meat

worthy to meet my Maker.

 

Like Elisha’s widow, uncircumcised, unknown,

I ask with understandable fear of the fire, nonetheless, I ask:

 “Can You? Will You?

Test me? Taste me?

Multiply the oil that simmers me?

Ah!  My God and my Chef–Use the meager ingredients of my soul

And add Your anointed oil,

So that You might eat me.”

 

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord, my soul to eat

If I should wake before I die

I pray to be God’s apple pie.

 

God, forgive my poor table manners,

Thinking that I don’t even need to bother to take Isaac up the hill

Since Jesus #lovesmethisIknow.

I won’t clean my unholy mouth with the serviettes of serving the Savior,

Oh no!

Oh, no we have stopped wolfing down The Word;

Stopped marinating our souls in righteousness; we have long stopped longing; and

Stopped killing the fatted lambs of our lives;

Ever since we started starving ourselves to death

With our bulimic anorexic Faith

that throws up the good with the bad,

we have stopped partaking in Your daily gluten heavy bread.

We have made the world so hungry,

Ever since we started convincing the masses that

 one Lamb-chop is enough

For a ravenous, consuming God!

 

 

What holy feasts are these?

 When Santa grows fatter and Uncle Sam is obese

 while God looks anorexic!

And the disciples don’t even bother passing out

The fish and loaves to the multitudes;

Instead the apostles are in spin class,

flying first class with their Disneyland pass.

Instead the wannabes sit as food critics, hiding behind the apron strings of Jesus,

Watching chefs on TV rather than buying the street food of the homeless;

Trusting that there will be enough of just one Peace of Piece of Christ to go around.

We mini-me-messiahs gnaw on the edges of Gnosticism

Ignoring the need to nosh on Tanakh;

Ignoring the requirement to fatten up ourselves enough for

God to see and consume us.

We keep skipping ahead to the dessert

Created on a dare by the Nouveau Roman Cuisine Cook  Saint Paul.

Hey all you diners,

Those final additions to the Menu

are meant to be the whipped cream on top, folks,

Not the entree.

The Inheritor of the Real Cookbook, the Son of Chef,

Offers up the A La King special:

“Fatted Calf of Covenant Served with a sliced side of

Hot Crossed Messianic Passover Lamb.”

But our mouths are full of bargain bought plasticized oleo

And the precious oil bestowed

On the bridesmaids,

Is considered oh-so-yesterday’s testament to good fuel.

 

We honor the ones who make money selling Christ’s cross,

 claiming the titles but remaining nice fat babies

sucking on the teats of Mother Church,

never working at the hard task of fishing like grown men

never throwing out the heavy nets of faith

never growing the incisor-ed teeth of Truth

but sitting on altered perches

raking in the dough

with no desire to feed the hungry with real bread, real perch.

Well, you’ve eaten in the halls of the gourmands

but one day that Son of man

will demand to see the recipes we all made in secret.

“Lord, when did we see you hungry?

Lord, when did we hear you thirst?”

God cries: “I Thirst!”

Christ shakes His blood-marinated head,

“Oh, I have food in those unsung, unknown, starved morsels of men,

those wee women, and crumbs of children

that you well -known hoarders and self-serve busy-busies

know nothing of.”

And God cries, “Feed Me!”

 

 

 

And so the feast of fools, once

Stomped into wine by the nail-scarred feet of Christ;

Topped off with the risen bread-body of Christ;

Goes untasted, untested, undrunk by us,

While the sugary cheap-grace bread-pudding and

watered- down wine

Fail to keep us alive.

 

And while the calorie-free dessert is served up in the pews,

Promising it will taste almost heavenly;

 the hellish desert of arid wasted-ness within and without grows larger and hotter.

Spiritual food creating thirst not living water.

And the mirages of our salvation

Keep leading us ahead to a false heaven

While the Earth boils and toils.

And God dines elsewhere.

We have stopped maintaining our weightiness

On the required kosher-ed ketogenics of

The Lamb as Protein  IAM Diet.

We prefer to let us eat cake

Instead of swallowing whole

 the Ezekiel Scroll-based smorgasbord.

We think we are safer eating from

our FDA-approved, second amendment earned trophy-letters of that

latter day Saint Paul

no red letter signage to create hunger

but the dulcet tones of brown and green, rot and mold concealed.

We are encouraged to sit on our fat rears

keeping a food journal  about our own decaying feelings and worries,

Instead of following The Jew’s Recipe for True Life.

Out there serving it up as He did

On the food lines of Heaven on earth.

 

You know,

The one about following The One

And dying to our own self-inflicted wounds;

The one about giving it all away;

The one about no other gods and no personal effects

Except the effects of Love?

You know that one? That is no joke, no fortune cookie faith.

 

True Love proposed to me

 and like an engagement ring in a champagne glass,

Surprised me with His offer, to marry my starved heart to His.

But only if I offer the burnt sacrifice of self,

So that I might Rise like a sweet scent —

Like a cinnamon yeast roll baking in the

Furnace of my serving platelets

Rising to fill forever, the nostrils of Abraham’s God.

 

Oh, ever since we got on that kick about that Diet of Worms that

Martin Luther customized and almost died from;

We have forgotten about our sure future treat of being the snack of worms.

We prefer the cheap-date Jesus with his cheap-grace Savor-y fastfoodmeal ticket and

A home without any chores  or clean up on our part.

Oh those fun Yuletide eggnogs, buried to be found later,

Hatched in an easy-bake Easter ham and oh so ready to bless the food cuz

Jesus will cook it, serve it, wash up after

While we celebrate winning the lottery ticket to eternity.

And we can take our doggie bags of faith to our new home in the sky,

Like all those good Gentile but not gentle dogs who begged at

Jesus’ table.

 

Our theology, reduced to “to-go” sack lunches

While I-saac munches

Next to Rehab, Gomer, and Zipporah.

We zip-lock bag up our plastic menorahs

and reduce our beliefs to the guile of Jacob

and the greed of Esau

with a little salt of Lot’s’wife thrown in for flavor.

Are we too far comfortable in hell

To live homeless in Bethel?

Will we ever fast

For that which lasts?

And not for the 30 -day diet

Where-by it

Starves the body

But feeds not the soul?

 

Bread cannot rise without the sacred yeast of death

And grapes will not ferment without being crushed.

Justice will not flow if we don’t give a dam,

About unclean water for a thirsty dirty world.

And Christos is outside the wall trying to knock it down

To immigrate and dine with us.

And Religion marches on and on and on and on

While the Sheep run out of pasture and the grain rots and the grapes dry up

And The Water that heals all thirst

Is plasticized on Sunday

And on Monday the oil will not mix with it

As it sticks to the wings of the sea-sparrows

Instead of lighting the empty lamps we carry.

And Eden has nothing good left in her to be eaten.

 

So we keep eating Saccharine -sweet blood and fiber-less bread on Sunday

And our Soul-food is Weak, tepid, spice-less stuff,

That would never make any one think we were drunk on God.

We pay up big time to the sermonizing sous-chefs who preach about

what’s good on the menu like making laws against  people not like us

And what to avoid like the Beatitudes;

Cutting and pasting a nutrition free diet plan from

The Bible’s hard to swallow manna, in order

 to fit into the American dream-siccles we buy from

The nice-cream trucks imprisoned by their lack of faith.

 

And while highly paid motivational coaches of calorie free theology

 still expect to get a King’s ransomed big tip someday

we are overcharged on our credit lines with He who holds the Scales.

And still the Church’s 9 x 13 inch casseroles of catechism

are bought with bitter bonds.

 A long while back I got that party invitation

 From A Jesus that just wants to Party with us in the pews and Dance like David,

While wine gushes, flooding from the baptismal fount

And fresh baked baguettes and caviar fill the offering plates.

I accepted the invitation at the time

But since then, I have struggled to fit into new clothes like

old wine in new wineskins,

While Continuing to gorge my soul on His Feast of Famine.

That first taste of Christ whetted my appetite

And now friends and family point out that my mouth is dirty

Smeared with bits of Christ’s blood.

But I point out that my hands are still far too clean.

The professionals all agree though:

“Come instead for a quick Sunday tasteless, wineless Brunch at our food-free service.

Let’s quickly eat some gluten-free consumer friendly atom-sized wafers of Jesus

 So we can all head home for the real Communion

of booze and nachos and wings to watch the real-fun and buff gods in the Big Game–

Go Team, Our Idols!”

 

While the world starves for a God who ain’t playing around with His Food.

 

We just need to keep adding on gods to the menu, I guess.

The number is up to at least Four now: Trinity of Three plus their Mom.

Gobble, gobble, gobble, since we’ve added a turkey and bald eagle as well.

And even those are not ever enough to convince us we truly crave the pollution-freed and

The Tree to Table Meal

Of Yahweh’s Kingdom Come.

 

Ah, Creator-Chef,

Take me from Eden

To Eaten.

 

I am Hagar-ed by my flight

From Your Truth.

While the flights of wine keep flowing

Keeping us high,

My flight to you is grounded.

The proverbial wine of violence

Is headier than the Baptizer’s head

Lopped and served up on a garnished garish platter;

While Your water turned to outrageously expensive wine was

Offered me.

 

Messiah took his time making a cross-hatch next to the names

Of those with

reservations at the 12-Star Kingdom Wedding Feast.

But we are all too busy to come and dine

 except for a short time.

 Peter the maître d’

stands at the gate wondering

Why so many don’t bother to show up on time for

Their reserved Eternity-pool Jewish-mikveh-ized seats,

The whole Kingdom Hall, bought out at great price

By The Bridegroom.

 

That old joke about Jewish food being bland

Wasn’t a joke for the Jew from Nazareth

As He served up God.

Fish and bread for the multitudes were just the Costco-sized samples

Enticing us to pay the price for sharing in the meal-Life of

The spitted Lamb, marinated in tears and blood,

Swallowed whole by the Sin-a -men he bore,

Brought out of the stone-fired oven,

Smelling of sweet sacrifice,

Ascending to become Sous-chef

Forever at the right hand of The Chef,

Creating masterpieces

In the serving staff.

Ah, Abraham and Sarah –

If you can still bear to look down on us, your children, now,

Please help me crawl back onto the wilderness altar, a sacrificial daughter,

Subsisting only on Your Substance,

My substance only for Your Children’s subsistence.

Make me willing, as Your Son Isaac was,

To die thirsty,

To cry as your Son and God’s Son did,

“I Thirst!”

I fast!

For Love

Of The Lord.

Create in me a new heart, Oh,Yahweh, a heart that

Wants You to eat it completely,

A heart inhaled by Your Spirit,

A private sacrifice attended by Only You.

God, eat me.

 

Ah, Father Abraham and Mother Sarah,

My limbs have become so weak with ego

I can barely lift The Cup of Christ to my lips.

My psyche is

Fueled by the Saul-isms of The Chosen Ones Part Two.

I need Holy Fire to consume me,

Instead of the lie of a one-time for all sacrifice by that other Son of Ruth,

She the one who lived because she gleamed the kernels of God’s truth.

Yes, That Son did what Isaac did not have to do

Then.

But later, oh later, Isaac, Ruth and

All sons and daughters must be eaten up

By The Fiery Mouth of God.

Consummation is the only Communion with You.

Your  Holy Maw is the only orifice into

Your Eternal Promised Land of Feasting.

 

Just as You ate Your Son,

God, eat me.

 

May I starve myself

To gain the fasted weightiness of Your Son.

Let me char the

The choicest morsels of my life,

Sacrificed, shaken and stirred in terrified worship of You.

 

Cannibalize me, Oh God,

As You did your only Son.

That by Your devouring me

I may devour Your Son’s own body and blood – His True Life-force;

Cannibalized into Your Bounty now, this moment,

As it will be forever.

 

The Psalmist’ hymn: “Oh, Elohim! “You alone are my portion”.

I add to and cry, “Adonai!  Make of me Your portion.

.

Oh, Great Creative Genius,  IAM

Today I am sending you back the ram

caught in the thicket of my sinful days on earth.

Thank you so much

But I need You to imbibe me such

 that I may truly gobble up

Messiah’s bread and cup.

 

As I ingest You, today

I pray;

Eat me,

Completely,

Oh, God.

61ac1-abraham

 

 

Lent – a poem— by Jane Tawel

Lent

The First Day

By Jane Tawel

March 6, 2019

 

Lent, surprising season,

And for good reason,

One’s never sure when it draws near.

Each year its start

To ream our hearts,

Will suddenly appear.

 

 

This first of Lent,

Our souls should rent

With sobering contrition.

But like Succoth,

Lent fills our cups,

With God’s Chosen’s commission.

 

 

The change of date

Just like our fate

May throw us a curve ball.

For loving chaos

We suffer pathos

Ever since The Fall.

 

 

Today’s descent in

This season Lenten,

Requires of me a price.

But that is little

If only it’ll

Bring me closer to The Christ.

 

 

The Only Son of Only God,

When on this earth, Christ trod,

Took up our lent

When God’s will bent

To die upon a cross.

 

 

And so today

In some small way

I suffer by election,

To become like the only Man

Who sinless, Resurrected.

 

 

Each Lent’s first day surprises me

Like did Christ’s death upon that tree.

But suffering for our human doom,

In this dark season of Lent’s gloom,

Is the only way to be surprised,

In the same way at long past sunrise,

Those women who loved The Christ who died,

Saw Him Arise.

Surprise!

 

 

 

Zombies in Your Head

Zombies In Your Head

By Jane Tawel

March 2, 2019

 

Thanks to my son, Gordon, I was introduced to a profoundly spiritually wrenching song called “Zombie”.  I try to listen to this song weekly at least. This song was written and originally performed  about twenty-five years ago by Dolores O’Riordan of “The Cranberries”. Dolores was raised a Catholic in Ireland and was a great admirer of Pope John Paul II.  O’Riordan bases her song’s haunting lyrics  largely on the religious violent catastrophes that have on and off engulfed Ireland since 1917.  The second version of this same song that  I listen to as often as possible is by “Bad Wolves”. It was supposed to have included Dolores’ vocals, but she left the world before it could be recorded. The version by Bad Wolves, opens up the specific context; the singer, Tommy Vext remarks, “(Dolores’) lyrics in that song still reflect social unrest, political turmoil and humanity’s persistence in modern struggles,” Vext told Rolling Stone. “The reasons might change, but there’s still collateral damage with people’s struggle for power and freedom.” Tommy Vext  is an American heavy metal singer who had to testify against his twin brother who, while high on drugs,  tried to murder Tommy.  Tommy speaks at 12-step groups and for relapse programs across the country.

 

The refrain of “Zombies” repeats, “in your head, in your head” followed by phrases like “they are fighting” or “they are dying”.  I try to listen to this song at least once a week as an important prophetic message.  It reminds me of what humans can become if they allow violence and the worship of money or power into their heads, hearts, religions, and politics. Humans all too easily become zombies.  Today when I listened to “Zombies”, I was suddenly struck by the irony that earlier today I had been listening to Selah’s version of “O, Sacred Head Now Wounded”.  The historical attribute of the words of this song, go to Bernard of Clairvoux, a medieval lyricist and poet. Bernard grew up in Burgundy and as a young nobleman, he was stinking rich and powerful.  He gave up all his wealth and power to follow The Christ and remains one of the most revered historical followers of God; revered by people across the spectrum from John Calvin to Martin Luther and is considered to be Dante’s last guide in The Divine Comedy.  The actual lyrics and music of this hymn were composed by a man named Paul Gerhardt, a Lutheran in Germany who lived in the mid-1600’s.  He spent a lifetime composing hymns and trying to convince his church going brethren to stop attacking and fighting with other over doctrinal issues within the church. He died  primarily of a broken heart and his last words are reputed to have been “us –no death has power to kill”.

 

I guess what I am thinking with a heavy heart and spirit today, is that perhaps, as that profoundly heady writer, C.S. Lewis (an agnostic when young who later became a leading voice in Christianity) wrote, we might make it “further in and further up” into Christ’s Kingdom on earth, if at the start of every church service, we listened first and prayerfully to the lyrics and music of the world’s prophets like the Doloreses and Tommys of this world. The prophets of the ages who sing the songs of change were and are all very flawed humans, but the words of their prophetic messages survive the ages because they are true Truth, whether we call them hymns or alternative music.

All of God’s Truth in fact presents to us an alternative music of sorts.  But singing the hard words of songs that demand change; singing boldly and feelingly on the shores of Israel or Babylon or Ireland or America as the ancient souls and prophets of all times must, can be dangerous; sometimes dangerous to others and sometimes dangerous to themselves. Bernard believed in the persecution of Muslims and Dolores most probably died of a drug induced suicide. Alternative music doesn’t make us perfect; truth doesn’t keep us from sin and brokenness; and prophets are human like every one else; but at least they are trying not to be zombies.

There’s a movie I have never seen, called “The Zombie Apocalypse”.  The title is enough for me because I think this is what the end of the world will look like to the angels: a bunch of zombies who still honestly think they are human, killing each other. The human race has, since the first murder by Cain of Abel, been stupidly and fearfully at war with ourselves. We are all at war with God. We long for peace but defeat ourselves with our mutually exclusive longing for power. Maybe if we began each day by personally accepting our vulnerability as humans, we could reverse the zombie process. Maybe if  before church or synagogue or mosque members try to  perform super-human Godlike, spiritual acts, they would face their own inner zombies, then just maybe we could truly begin to create a kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven — a kingdom of peace and love and joy and hope and real boys and girls created in the image of God. Perhaps if we realized that most days we are behaving like Zombies rather than the human beings created in a God’s image that we are called to be, maybe then we would really begin to understand how to worship the Savior who is the Protagonist of Paul’s lyrics in “O, Sacred Head” but who is also the Protagonist who dies in Dolores’ wars.   Maybe to be fully in Christ’s image,  we need to hold within our own heads and hearts the contrast and paradox between these two sets of lyrics.

 

“Zombie”
(originally by The Cranberries)

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence causes silence
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it’s not me
It’s not my family
In your head, in your head, they are fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their drones
In your head, in your head, they are crying

What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh

Another mother’s breaking
Heart is taking over
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken

It’s the same old theme
In two thousand eighteen
In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their guns, and their drones
In your head, in your head, they are dying

What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh

It’s the same old theme
In two thousand eighteen
In your head, in your head, they are dying

What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh yeah

 

 

“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”
by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676

  1. O sacred Head, now wounded,
    With grief and shame weighed down,
    Now scornfully surrounded
    With thorns, Thine only crown.
    O sacred Head, what glory,
    What bliss, till now was Thine!
    Yet, though despised and gory,
    I joy to call Thee mine.
  2. Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee,
    Thou noble countenance,
    Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee
    And flee before Thy glance.
    How art thou pale with anguish,
    With sore abuse and scorn!
    How doth Thy visage languish
    That once was bright as morn!
  3. Now from Thy cheeks has vanished
    Their color, once so fair;
    From Thy red lips is banished
    The splendor that was there.
    Grim Death, with cruel rigor,
    Hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
    Thus Thou has lost Thy vigor,
    Thy strength, in this sad strife.
  4. My burden in Thy Passion,
    Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
    For it was my transgression
    Which brought this woe on thee.
    I cast me down before Thee,
    Wrath were my rightful lot;
    Have mercy, I implore Thee;
    Redeemer, spurn me not!
  5. My Shepherd, now receive me;
    My Guardian, own me Thine.
    Great blessings Thou didst give me,
    O Source of gifts divine!
    Thy lips have often fed me
    With words of truth and love,
    Thy Spirit oft hath led me
    To heavenly joys above.
  6. Here I will stand beside Thee,
    From Thee I will not part;
    O Savior, do not chide me!
    When breaks Thy loving heart,
    When soul and body languish
    In death’s cold, cruel grasp,
    Then, in Thy deepest anguish,
    Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.
  7. The joy can ne’er be spoken,
    Above all joys beside,
    When in Thy body broken
    I thus with safety hide.
    O Lord of life, desiring
    Thy glory now to see,
    Beside Thy cross expiring,
    I’d breathe my soul to Thee.
  8. What language shall I borrow
    To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
    For this, Thy dying sorrow,
    Thy pity without end?
    Oh, make me thine forever!
    And should I fainting be,
    Lord, let me never, never,
    Outlive my love for Thee.
  9. My Savior, be Thou near me
    When death is at my door;
    Then let Thy presence cheer me,
    Forsake me nevermore!
    When soul and body languish,
    Oh, leave me not alone,
    But take away mine anguish
    By virtue of Thine own!
  10. Be Thou my Consolation,
    My Shield when I must die;
    Remind me of Thy Passion
    When my last hour draws nigh.
    Mine eyes shall then behold Thee,
    Upon Thy cross shall dwell,
    My heart by faith enfold Thee.
    Who dieth thus dies well!

 

In Lewis’ end to the Narnia books, it is the unicorn, that almost angelic and mystical creature of lore and myth, who says on reaching the Promised Land, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that is sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!” I like to imagine that today while I listened to their music, Dolores and Paul and Clive were all singing together, “I Belong Here”. Someday we will all wake up to a new world the prophets of the ages have passed through to, and we will suddenly realize that either we spent our lives on earth as zombies and didn’t know it; or we thought we spent our lives as  mere humans, but were really fantastic and myth-like creatures of angelic stature.

All of us humans, just like Dolores, Tommy, Bernard, Paul, and yes, even Clive, spend our whole lifetimes looking for the answers to “that same old theme”, even in 2019. We long to see what this world is really like, could really be like and there are moments when the planet, the soldiers, the immigrants, the mothers, the fields all look a little bit like what we imagine they all could be — should be –but never fully are.  Some of us spend lifetimes singing against and fighting against the zombies of hatred, racism, prejudice, greed, lies,  violence, and self-idolization that surround us. Some of us spend lifetimes fighting those zombies who sidetrack us into theological quagmires and even try to convince us they are not zombies but Godly.  Some, like Dolores and Paul, just keep crying out truth in the streets until they die of broken hearts.  Some of us like Tommy and Bernard and Clive spend  lifetimes trying to fight the zombies of false idolatry masquerading as religion, and fighting the demons of greed and self-pride masquerading as guardian angels. Some of us may only have enough alternative music within us to give someone a jug of water at the border or our extra coat in the winter or a hug across the aisle, just trying to help other humans not become zombies. Some of us only have enough strength to try for just one more hour, to fight the zombies within our own heads.

Some of us look to The Christ; who layed down His sovereign God-head, and took us his creatures, “in to his head, in his head”. And took us into His heart. In His heart.  And then He layed down that Sacred Head,  despised, wounded and killed, so that we might never again be alone; so that we might have the ability to fight the zombie within; so that we might have the ability to destroy the zombies without. So that we might know how to survive the temptations and powers of the zombies, both without us and within us.  So that we might live as the humans Christ’s God created us to be.

Unless daily, His Sacred Head wounded and bleeding, bleeds from my own thoughts; unless daily His Sacred Heart beats within my own chest; until and unless His God-like humanity is revived and reborn in me, a zombie in need of a human Savior; unless all this and daily this, then I will be just another zombie pretending that I know what it means to be human and pretending that I know and am known by a God who loves all humanity. Pretending, not being; zombie, not human.  “For that Being who is neither human nor anything humans can truly understand, loves His creaturely humans so much, that He begot a human son and gave Him a life on our planet; and whosoever turns from his or her sinful and broken zombie-ways and follows the human life and death Way of God’s Son, shall not die a zombie, but live forever, more human, and more God-ly than we could ever imagine.” (John 3:16 paraphrased)

For safety and hope today, and for worship of a God who made me in Imago Dei, I pray these words  and sing with the saints of alternative music:

“My Savior be Thou near me. My Guardian,  own me thine. Another head hangs lowly. Heart is taking over. We must be mistaken. Zombie, zombie, zombie. Oh, Sacred Head, now wound me.  Remind me of Thine Passion. My Savior be Thou near me. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah…. Further up and Further in. Amen.”

 

 

The Cranberries: Zombie

https://youtu.be/6Ejga4kJUts

Bad Wolves:  Zombie

 

 

Selah:  O, Sacred Head Now Wounded

Sheep Gotta’ Seep An essay by Jane Tawel

Sheep Gotta’ Seep

By Jane Tawel

February 24, 2019

IMG_5331

 

In the past few years, more than ever before perhaps, I have been seeping. And conversely, more than ever,  I have been being seeped into. The short definition of to seep is (of a liquid) “to flow or leak slowly through porous material or small holes.” I have always been a seeper; or would I be a seepie?  My spirit and character are such that whatever is in the human environment near me or being made known to me, seeps into me as if I am porous. This is often and in some ways good; and often and in some ways bad.  If you are a seepie, you will know what I mean. If you are not a seepie or seeper, then you will meet people like me and find us emotional, passionate, questioning, empathetic, insecure, philosophical, needy, bossy, uncertain/certain, and someone to be taken in small doses. Think about the small amount of tea leaves that you need to seep in hot water to get the right brew and that’s about the amount of a seeper a non-seeping person wants. We seepers are not the thick- skinned ones of whom the world relies on. We are those with the angst of prophets. Seepers are those who mirror the clogged pores in a thousand unwashed faces. We are the ones with a thousand Quixotic holes; those who don’t just point out the windmills of the times, but actually feel the winds of the times as if we are the windmills.

 

And yet, frankly, lately, don’t we all feel a bit as if we have a lot more small punctures in our being for the outside fluidity of the world’s mud and tears; holes pierced in our survival armor that allow the world’s raging and rising emotions to seep in? Isn’t there at least for most of us, some days a sense that the tide of Time is rising to dangerous, climate-changed proportions; filling our solid mass with what feels like a daily shifting ebb and flow, shifting the very sand beneath our metaphoric feet and flooding our hearts and minds with the wreckage we can’t imagine being able to clean up after the hurricane-proportioned current events? This is not just true for some of us on national and community levels, but on the very  small planes of existence within our own small families.  More and more people that we know, in the news, but also in our homes and churches and synagogues feel this ebb and flow in tsunami wave proportions and can not continue riding those waves to the end of their appointed time.  The tragedy is that the very people who should have answers for despair or hopelessness, find themselves standing in the large waves of sorrow and mourning over lost lives and lost purposeful lives.

 

I have long claimed to believe in a God who seeps. Yes, what makes the God of my Judeo-Christian worldview so fascinating is that He is a completely other being Who yet allows the feelings of His /Her (for God is not gendered in our way of being gendered)—allows Her creatures to make Him feel. God allows us to put into His Holy and All-powerful Being, the small holes of our need; to puncture His omnipotence and pierce His omniscience; in order that His love may flow freely to us; providing all we need. The pierced hands, feet and side of The Christ create the perfect metaphor for what God allows us to do to Him.  The God of Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Leah, David, Mary and Jesus, begins the tale of our history in Genesis, with His Being “hovering over the earth” and from that moment of creation, God continues to flow into and amongst His Creation. But Adonai, The Lord, is nothing if not clear that the flow of God’s spirit can be as forceful as a hurricane or can dry up like a desert. We forget to our current and future peril that throughout recorded history, we human beings must also create in ourselves and allow the world’s needs to pierce the small porous holes of  love in our souls. We must remain porous in order to be a part of the God-flow.  When people harden their hearts, stiffen their necks, break the covenant formed by the bloody  flow of sacrifice; when we like sheep go astray, relying on our wooly thinking and herd mentalities to keep us safe and “on top of the heap”; then God can no longer seep into our lives. Our lives are now become as hard and impenetrable as the stone or golden idols we have chosen to worship. And our drying up has been so incrementally orchestrated by Evil and brokenness; that we  will often call our empty, hard shells of belief things like “hard work”; “getting ahead”; “supporting our programs”; “evangelism”;  “increasing our donor base”; “being non-judgmental”; or “taking care of number one”; “being patriotic”; “supporting authority”; “seeking peace”; and even sometimes calling it “grace”. The list is endless of the purloined armor of worldview choices that we surround ourselves with to protect us from the Seeping Flow of God’s good commands and loving desires for our very beings.  Our spirits are more armadillos than sheep.

 

Listening to Bob Dylan and attending different churches and a synagogue or two and a Kingdom Hall or two and a volunteer event or two and a school or two, and reading a newspaper or two and talking to young and old friends, and so forth and so on – well, I lately revisited some quotes that have had me thinking about the particulars of the time and place in which I find myself. 1. “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” (G. K. Chesterton) and 2. “Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?” (John Wesley) 3. “America was not founded on Christian principles.” (John Adams, founding father) 4. “We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” (Dave Platt, Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream) and of course I could quote the prophetic C.S. Lewis until the end of time but this one is apt: “ If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” (Lewis)

 

And what has all this to do with listening to Bob Dylan. Well, we like to listen to the prophets like Dylan that proclaim, “The Times They Are A’Changin’”, do we not?? We listen to them with a sense of self-satisfaction (“I was right”) or with false hope and dismissal (“So I just need to wait until God makes things better for me.”). And then we like to turn off those prophets and go about our lives as if truth did not matter to little old us.  We choose different truths to get through our days and nights, rather than trusting that God’s Truth is not only more relevant but more timely. I would be remiss if I did not share the lyrics of Dylan with you because although written in 1963 (imagine!) they are as prophetically prescient and currently critical as ever.

 

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Songwriters: Bob Dylan

The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Witmark Demo – 1963) lyrics © Audiam,

 

 

 

As Dylan says, if we are non-porous stones, we will sink. We must be as hole-y and wholly open, like sponges, to God’s truth and love; and we must seep ourselves in both truth and love in equal parts.  As we in our own times a’changin’ feel the waters of the world rising, we must learn to swim.  In that great archetypal story, sung today not just by Dylan but by Jews the world over; (and sadly almost unknown and unsung by many of those of us grafted onto the Tree of Jesse), God is always willing to save His people from the floods of their time. In the great history of God’s people, they approached  the Red Sea of the Enemy and although they were horribly out of practice and had grown hard skins and stiff necks in their relationship to God and others; God’s people had to be ready to “swim” or drown; knowing that the God who creates the seas, also controls the seas. And yet the God who created humans, chooses not to control them. In this way, He invites us to model His behavior with our own out- flowing love and care for our planet and for our fellow humans.

 

The point is, some of us look at the past, history, to find our meaning. We choose the past in order to count on our accomplishments or on ideas like being chosen or like believing our salvation comes from someone long ago in the past doing something that makes me safe and saved.  Some of us look to the future and decide none of this past stuff – even my own past bad or good stuff – matters. We decide that what matters is the future; having a ticket to some future world or “heaven”; trusting if we vote for or worship with the right folks that the future will be different; trusting that the earth doesn’t matter but only a place where we never have to deal with any of this bad, painful, uncertain, feeling stuff again.  And some of us look to the present only, trying to be “mindful”; taking care of what I need; caring for only those I love; trying to change the world in which I live; eating, drinking and being merry for tomorrow I die.  And all of this is so very, very partly right and so very, very astoundingly wrong.  Because we humans are blessed with free will and consciousness and we are cursed with the free will of God allowing us to be in control and yet we do not – can not– understand so many things, even lacking true understanding of our own human hearts. We are given the God-like qualities of being emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, conscientiously porous creatures while being cursed with the pain of sure and definite death, the burden of the solidity of sin, and the broken useless shards of the knowledge of good and evil. And perhaps worst of all, we are moment by moment aware of the linear, unchangeable, and  non-porous factor of the hard march of Time.

The thing about Time being linear is that none of us can disagree on that reality (at least not for long); and the non-porous nature of Time makes it very hard for us to understand or even believe in a god.  Because True God is not linear. Though we often want Him to be linear (God knows my future or God knew me before I began sort of stuff); these are merely poetic attitudes of praise to God, not a reality that God shares with us. While God does enter place and time on our planet, squeezing His vastness into our smallness; God does this for reasons and in ways we can not truly comprehend. Like the burning bush of Moses or the wrestler of Jacob, God becoming small does not make Him different than what He Is. It should however, make us different. The Judeo-Christian God is the exact opposite of Her creatures in terms of Time and Character.  And that is why we stumble in our understanding and commitment to God. Because God is completely un-porous in His Character and in His very Being while being completely Porous as Adonai, the Cradle and Arbitrator of All Place and All Time.  God allows Goodness and Love to seep from Him but never allows Evil, Hatred, Despair, or Death to seep into Himself.  God being outside any linear idea of Time, and outside any solid sense of place, has Her own view of the Universe to which someday, we may be privy as beings finally taken out of time and place.  Jesus came to show us how this could be done – exiting Time– and He was resurrected from His actual linear time and place to God’s timeless and place-less; death-less and evil-less; brokeness-less and sin-less, existence in Eternity.

About 2000 years before the Prophet Bob Dylan, there was another prophet who sang the songs of change to His people and proclaimed that in His life, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.  His name was Jesus and many believe him to be the Promised Messiah. Jesus said several things about the porousness of time in our lives with His Father.  He said, that “God loves the planet earth so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes and lives as He did, will have eternal life.”  Jesus also cautioned those who would believe, that we should remain alert and keep working through the days since the night of the end would come at a time no man can predict. The prophecy is not for future prediction but for present affirmation and commitment. Christ told us to focus in this very moment, on that which is eternal even in the linear confines of our own selves; since we do not know when that day will come in which the world as we know it will end forever and be remade as it was meant to be – perfect, timeless, and holy whole, being finally, completely porous for God’s light to shine through and yet more solid than we have ever been.

 

Jesus showed us a whole bunch of stuff and it is worth reading and re-reading his life story as committed to paper by some people who are now considered the authors of The New Testament.  But one thing Jesus did very well.  Jesus seeped. The most memorized verse in the Bible and also (and because it is) the shortest is about the Seeping Jesus.  In John 11:35 we find, “Jesus weep-ed”. Jesus did a whole lot of seeping. You will find him seeping in other people’s problems and sorrows, both those foisted on humans by the world and those resulting from their own choices. Jesus saw the seeping sores of lepers and seeping sores of hardened hearts and healed both. Jesus seeped in our prayers and needs with his ears by listening; he served us with his hands by the powerful flowing of his healing. He seeped in our journey with his feet by walking our dusty byways and by washing our own dirty feet, showing us the way we should serve others. The Lord who could see God in Heaven, saw mankind with human eyes; seeping by being One with The God of Hagar; the God who sees.

 

The Christ mirrored His God by providing miraculous flowing water to seep into the lives of the thirsty and undeserving. And Jesus could do this because He daily, obediently, joyfully, carefully, and wholly and hole-y whole- heartedly,  seeped in the life of His Father. He did this through conversation with God; obedience to God; and worship of God. Jesus was sent by God to seep in humanity in all its beauty and ugliness. He was also sent to remind us that we were created to seep in the knowledge, love, and covenantal relationship to the One True God.  Jesus spent his time on earth seeping in His Father– His Father’s commands, His Father’s sorrows, His Father’s joys and love, His Father’s grace, mercy and stern judgment; His Father’s commitment and His Father’s holy Otherness. And this why Jesus was able to proclaim that in Him, the times truly were a-changin’; because in Jesus was God’s Kingdom, alive and well on planet earth and available to all who choose to “seep” as The Christ did.  In Christ was Jubilee; a way of living that was completely free from greed, lies, hopelessness, loneliness, despair, one-upmanship, or uncertainty. In Christ was God-life seeped in and seeping out to all who would listen, trust and obey. In Christ was not only Times a-changin’, but hearts a-changin’, and even death a-changin’.

Jesus left us to follow The Father into Abundant Life, into life in a radically different kingdom, the Kingdom of God as created first for us in Eden. Jesus did not leave us behind to gamble on what He did yesterday, nor to bank on what we hope to gain from Him tomorrow, not even  to worry or count on what we have and are this very day.   He left us to see and live out a different Kingdom; to seep in a different Kingdom; to open ourselves to the Kingdom of God that is porous between our world and God’s world. That Kingdom is right beyond our reach, seeping from Heaven into Earth by God’s great love. To know God is to know that although it looks as if the waves will drown us sometimes, God can be the Ark of our salvation, the Walker on Water, the Savior from the floods. And though the ebb and flow of Time, while everything to us now, is nothing to God.  Eternity means that when my porous body returns to dust, my soul will rise impermeable.

 

The Christ teaches us to pray the Kingdom’s seepage into the whole world, “on earth as it is in heaven”. And this is the belief that the world is in fact a very porous place.  Jesus left us many metaphors – profound and deep keys to understanding. Christ often used the metaphor of the leaking through liquid of God’s not-yet Kingdom:  in the flowing of the water he use to wash dirty feet and to stave the thirsts of the multitudes; in the gushing of wine he gave to combat the raging thirst of longing for God; and in the sinless outpouring of his blood that seeped from His hands and feet and side as He died to show us how we might live.  But one of the most profound metaphors He left for us is in that of the hard stones of the Jerusalem Temple and the heavy, blinding curtain symbolizing our separation from God. What makes this metaphor profound is that Christ makes porous, something that was in fact impermeable. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ punched holes in the heavy curtain of separation between God’s dwelling place on earth and Her chosen people.

 

The heavy, unassailable veil between God’s World and our world was torn apart at the successful completion of mission of The Second Adam, The Christ. Jesus was the very imago Dei that we each were created to be. Messiah’s life, death and resurrection revealed the truth of our histories, the hope of our futures, and the true meaning of our present lives.  The impermeableness of relationship between God and human was overwhelmed by God’s begotten Messiah, Jesus. Jesus was the porous incarnation of and between God and humans and He has made the impenetrable veil separating God and us, porous again.

 

The Judeo-Christian worldview, especially as revealed in the Bible, is full of irony, paradox, incomprehensibility, poetry, metaphor, and failed attempts.  We would do well not to fight them or explain them away or cut and paste them to suit our current world’s needs.  But rather, we should allow the flood of truth, love, and light provided by a God who cares for us, to ooze and percolate through and within us. We should perhaps see ourselves, not like a human mega-coffee-shop chain, but rather more  like little varied, multi-colored, multi-flavored, fragile tea bags who must seep ourselves in the often Hot Water of a God who wants to take our bitter, useless little tea bag lives and turn them into something wonderful – perfectly seeped and nourishing, healthful, living overflowing cups of living watered lives. By this will the steam of our praise rise to fill the nostrils of A God who has seeped into our very souls.

 

This is our worship — remaining porous and malleable to the movement of Adonai in the world within and through us. For while the times may change and the waves at moments overwhelm us, we can know a Savior who commands the stormy waves to be still. By allowing the character of The Christ to seep into our souls, we can trust in that same Savior who allows our prayers even now to seep into His heart.  Jehovah promises that “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”(Isaiah 43:2)  The Messiah promises that “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14).

Today I ask myself: Am I willing to be thirsty? Am I willing to be porous? Am I willing to accept my need for God’s Hot Water to turn me into something new? Am I willing to humble myself to my need for The Christ’s living water? Am I willing to pass through the waters? Am I willing to be seeped into the character of Christ? Am I willing to seep out love and living water for others?  Am I porous enough for God?

Will I, today, be an acclimatized aging and armor-hardened armadillo or a ceaselessly serving and served-up saved seeping sheep?  Will the wooliness of my thinking and my thick fleece prevent me from trusting that God is really real and really Good?  Will I like Gideon, allow the Lord’s dewy hand, so porously overflowing with His salvation, to permeate my fleece and guide me in His ways of righteousness?  Will I become pierced with the hole-y-ness of a God and the holiness of The Christ?

 

I would love to have the mature writing ability of a Bob Dylan or the Psalmist David, or a Dickinson or Donne.  But even childish writers like I are committed to casting our small little pebbles into the flow of Ideas.  I love stories ostensibly written for children but which have eternal teaching moments for all ages.  There are also just some wonderfully silly  and plain fun children’s books, not just by the famed Dr. Seuss, but others. I am often so filled with the seriousness of my own time that I forget to be open and porous to the lightness and joy and humor of being alive. One children’s book that came to mind while writing this was one my own kids liked. It had a wonderful bunch of illustrations by Margot Apple and was written by Nancy Shaw. The book is titled Sheep in a Jeep. It’s a silly one because sheep are silly.  We, God’s sheep are rather silly when all is said and done.  But somehow, still, He chooses to love us. Here is my re-write (I wouldn’t dream of trying to draw any thing until I reach heaven) of “Sheep in a Jeep”

 

 

Sheep in a Heap (of Trouble)

By Jane Tawel

February 24, 2019

Beep! Beep!

Sheep in a heap,

On The Way that’s very steep.

If the sheep don’t fall asleep,

God’s True Way will in them seep.

 

Uh! Oh!  The sheep won’t go.

But the Shepherd loves His own sheep so.

God wants us humbled,

But we sheep still grumble.

Uh! Oh! Sheep in a heap of trouble!

Headed again for hell’s shiny rubble.

God sends a Savior in a flash.

Christ’s sinless blood on the cross is splashed,

To Raise the sheep from eternal ash.

 

 

Caught in Time’s briars,

We sheep, helplessly mired,

Ignore all  the signs

That point to the Divine.

 

Sheep always yelp,

God always helps.

Oh, dear, sheep still fear

But still refuse to let God steer.

Sheep in a heap.

 Sheep weep.

Oh, the Shepherd’s love—deep, deep,

That He would choose the sheep to keep.

 

Postscript: If you have kindly read this far, I highly recommend you read the prophets – those found in the Tanakh of the Hebrews, those found in the Gospels of the Gentiles, and even those written on the subway walls. As Mr. Dooley said about the “news”, and Mr. Niebuhr said about the “olds”, we who would look to truth in love should seek to be “comforted in our afflictions but to afflict those who would be merely comfortable”.  The prophets of all ages and times have tried to do this through word and action, song and poetry; and with anger, sorrow, angst, humility and love.  Prophets and poets allow themselves to be porous, so that perhaps others won’t be so afraid to do likewise.  Allow yourself to be seeped in the words that, as the dictionary defines a true prophet, “is an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God”.  You may emerge full of holes but some of us think it is the only way to be holy and whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Small Pebble – A poem

One Small Pebble

By Jane Tawel

February 17, 2019

DGt6DmoWsAIaOep

 

 

From Dorothy Day: “What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do.… We can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend.”

 

One Small Pebble

By Jane Tawel

Today I threw a pebble in the pond

The pond I’ve been assigned to;

I’d rather walk as Jesus walked,

Than grow moss upon a cold pew.

 

The first pebble that I threw

Was singing songs beside some Jews.

I sat in synagogue with them

And praised the God of Bethlehem.

I looked at faces, like my Lord’s

And ghostly hordes from holocausts,

And felt quite humbled by my tossed,

Small pebble of such little cost.

 

The second pebble that I threw

Was picking up the trash from you.

I didn’t use my gloves or sack

But just my hands to show the lack

Of love we feel for this mocked world.

The planet is My Father’s Pearl,

He treasures it as would a girl.

God loves the earth, the sky and sea

And that is why He planted me.

And by my awkward kneeling down

And worship, as I clean the ground,

And suffer for those able rebels,

I hope that others might throw pebbles;

By picking trash I missed today,

And following Jesus in His Way.

 

 

Another thing I had to do

Was cast some cash to the small crew,

That sleeps outside in my town’s park,

And oft reminds me of the stark,

Injustice that our world has spawned,

Increasing darkly since the Dawn

When Eden was first given us–

As something Good that God could trust

To us, His loved Imago Dei.

God fashioned us from common clay,

And gave us powers to rule the earth,

But ever since our sin was birthed,

We look upon this life as right

And choose not nourishment but fight.

 

And that reminded me that I

Should pray for enemies that lie

And tell the world they are in power

And do not fear the coming hour

When all the nations’ high built towers,

Will before Justice kneel and cower.

 

Ah, do we not regard the One,

Who claimed to be God’s only Son

And told us if we did not cry,

“Hosanna to the God on high”;

that all our faith would be just talk,

and God could get the praise from rocks!

 

It is not wealth nor earthly might

That can restore the world, once bright;

No, only we can make things right,

By seeking Justice, Goodness, Light.

Just one small act, but not one random,

But one that’s tethered to the Ransom

Of God, that Fisher of our shoals,

Who loves each lost and broken soul.

 

Oh God, who hurled out our small Mass,

May Thou, now seen through smoggy glass,

One day restore each stream and tree–

And let Your work begin in me.

 

So I pitch puny pebbles few

And hope that maybe when I do,

Against the tide of moral drought,

Those pebbles small will circle out

And like the pebble David hurled,

Will slay the Evils of this World.

I do not wear protective gloves,

Because there is no fear in Love.

And just because I claim each time

That some such problem is not mine;

I must confess that Good not done

Is just as bad as sins that are.

Because I’m guilty of this mess

And find the only way to bless,

The name of Yahweh is to walk

The walk and not to merely talk

About the change I wish to see.

The changes must begin with me.

 

If only all we foolish rebels,

Will keep on throwing our small pebbles,

Then ripples will in time expand,

To heal our hearts, and heal our land.

“A tiny human pebble”, you say,

“Will never Evil’s Giants slay”.

And yet, it was a pebble trivial,

That made small David, king of Israel.

And there was just a tomb’s small stone,

Preventing Jesus from His throne.

And when Christ rolled that stone away,

He rose from Death’s final decay.

 

We too can see the World’s perfection

By joining Christ in resurrection.

But first we must get dirty hands;

Tear down our towers built on sand.

We need to wash each other’s feet

And watch converging circles meet;

In streams of Love, my Rock, I fling

to truly imitate my King.

My circle that conjoins with yours

Can truly change the whole wide world.

Because by now it’s widely known

That Jesus is the Cornerstone.

He chose to heal and not throw stones,

And sent us out to be atoned.

And by His love He does persuade us,

to heal the world that He has made us.

And that’s best done avoiding trouble,

By merely picking up the rubble

And humbly, small-ly getting rid of,

Any thing that is not True Love.

For Truth and Love survive all clocks.

 

And so I fill my life with rocks,

To throw in God’s provided pools,

And join the cast of many fools,

Who think small actions can change Spheres;

As Christ’s return draws ever near.

For only if our nets we cast,

In Pools of Love, will this Life last.

 

The God-man who upon the cross,

Began new life with one small toss,

Will one day call us to His docket;

And count what’s hoarded in our pockets.

The Christ hurled all His power aside

And gave His life for His soiled Bride.

If I want to by God be known,

Then I must rid my heart of stones,

And empty out my life and heart

By throwing pebbles for my part;

And whether that seems worldly smart,

By foolish love of Earth I’ll chart

My course –as just one tiny stone–

Tossing it all before God’s throne.

 

God’s Kingdom Come

His Will be Done,

On this Blue Stone

As in His  Home.

 

And while the preachers would coerce;

I thrust my hands inside my purse,

And hope by serving from my case,

The pebbles, with a joyful face;

I’ll show the Love, that for someone,

Will show the Love of God’s own Son.

Because this planet given to us,

Has now become so treasonous;

That by our fallen-ness and sin,

We will have brought World’s bitter end;

But only then God will be able,

To bring His Kingdom Ever Stable.

And then the King will on His throne,

Reward the ripples of small stones.

For one day all the world will tremble

Before The Christ, God’s One Small Pebble.

As Dorothy Day much more eloquently does in her writing, my hope and prayer, if you have chosen to read this far, is that you will discover that you have been given much and that your pockets are filled with the Good pebbles that God has given you. I hope you will begin to see as I am beginning to see that as The Christ said, “it is only by throwing out one’s life, that one truly gains Life.” I hope that what will be revealed are the small pebbles that the Beatitudes call the blessings of the poor in spirit; and that we will have courage to throw the pebbles out; tossing them one by one in the pools of our own particular lives, and in that way, change the world, one ripple of love at a time. The Ecclesiast in wisdom, advises to “throw your bread upon the waters; for you will find it after many days.” I hope if you are reading this and lack any good thing, that you will find the ripples of Goodness, Truth, and the Love of God cast upon the waters that are rippling toward you where you live today. If you have been given much, as I have, and realize that because of that, one day much will be required of us; I hope you might find joy in picking up someone else’s trash today, or give some of your money to make life a little simpler for someone else. Ultimately, as Ms. Day said,  and as God says in His Word, even better –there is absolutely nothing worth doing but loving.

“Now these three things only will remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is Love” (Paul of Tarsus, a lover and servant of Adonai, The One True God)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verses 2-4 of A Mother’s Poems

***Verse 1 of these poems was published separately on February 10 under the title: “This Small Heartbeat”. These poems are for my thriving adult children.

 

A Mother’s Poems

By Jane Tawel

 

Verse 2- A Haiku

by Jane Tawel

February 11, 2019

 

Metaphors slide skew

When I try to write of you.

Only love will do.

 

 

Verse 3 – an Ode

 

Beyond and Above Aphrodite

by Jane Tawel

February 12, 2019

 

Now I, the geek,

Will mimic the Greek.

But Odes to love of children

Are false gilden, not real gold.

Or so I’m told.

 

I strive like Psyche

To see you, hidden from me.

And in the process, burn you

Then angst ‘bout why you flew.

 

Wondering why

And wandering nigh’

I hold coins in my mouth

To keep the devils out.

Yet before long,

My righteous strength is gone;

Opening forbidden boxes that you might see

A mother’s lasting love in me.

 

 

Ah, Aphrodite’s  love of child can not compare

To the cupidity of my every prayer

That you, my dear divines,

My treasures, as long as sun does shine,

Will find more Love, than all I’d give

And find True Love within you lives.

 

 

Verse 4

This is a poem I wrote several years ago that I thought I’d end these with for Verse 4.

Whoa

March 11, 2015

By Jane Tawel

To Justine, Clarissa, Verity, and Gordon

 

Whoa, slow down, where you galloping off to?

A second ago, you were a useless collage of limbs.

I had to raise your hands to clean.

I had to raise your head to drink.

I had to ask you questions then answer them for you,

You, without a word, or sound that anybody knew.

But I.

 

Whoa! Take care! You’re running much too fast.

You’re going to slip and fall — I know.

I’ve seen it happen in my mind

A thousand times a day.

Did you hear me? Can you hear?

Have fun! Be safe! Too fast!

Rely on me and all my knowledge present, future, past.

Love you.

 

Whoa…slow down… I missed what you just said.

I see the buttons, levers, gears.

My fingers fail where yours speed on.

I hear the words that used to mean

A different thing. A different thing.

Did I already say that?

You tumble forward, catch yourself.

I used to catch you when you fell.

I’m still here watching, waiting– holding out my helpless hands.

Too much.

 

 

You’re gone and I can’t hold you here.

My whoa’s are just my own.

Remember—no, you don’t, I guess.

I clutch the memories, now — no more.

I once held you, my baby, child–

And now you’ve flown,

A Pegasus with wings of dreams

Not flaming myths,

Not lullabies from me.

I’ll sing your story old and new

Not mine, not ours. All you.

I’ll never seek to slow you down again.

My joy in you and your bright flight

Is how I can explain these blinding tears.

Blurring my sight

Of your fast ascent.

Forever.