Rising from the Ruts

by Jane Tawel

brown sand near body of water during sunset
https://unsplash.com/photos/3RD-pU0ICgQ

*

Rising from the Ruts

By Jane Tawel

July 28, 2021

*

As we grow older,

We slow down, glitch, molder.

And everything sticks

or contracts–

like our bones, and our memories,

we contract and dig grooves.

And all our muscles,

figuratively and literally,

we tighten into cords;

cords that bind us to negativity,

or the quiet despair of meaninglessness.

We can’t escape.

Or rather, if we thought truthfully,

we choose not to escape.

*

We fall down and down

into our self-created ruts;

those our lives—minds, hearts, souls—

have created.

We wear ruts,

not just in our neural folds,

but in the very soil of our being.

*

Some of our neural paths

begin as paths forward,

but become hard rocky ditches,

Some, make us feel so alive,

until we let them become fallow and festering.

And some ruts we wear

become deep pits of despair,

sorrow, hatred, anger, or boredom.

We wear and wear and wear it all down,

with our thoughts and words and actions,

and the soul gets stuck.

*

We have used our brains so much,

thinking that our minds are strong enough,

that they can over-come our souls;

thinking that our minds, will always tell us what to do.

But now that we have worn the ruts into depths,

we cannot think how to get out of them.

We can not seem to climb out.

*

Maybe all we may need is to stop thinking.

Maybe all we may need is to listen, for what, we don’t know.

Maybe all we may need is someone

to encourage us to start the climb.

*

If you cannot find the will to climb,

Look for a rope thrown down into your rut.

Look for a rope to reach for.

Don’t ask where the rope began,

Look at where it ends,

You are at the end of your rope,

and all you need is just enough strength to

Grasp it.

Grasp the meaning of the ropes thrown down to you

and do not question the source.

*

And if someone tries to throw you a rope,

if someone hollers down into your pit and says:

“Here I am. Can I help you?”–

Don’t be afraid they may let you fall,

or that tomorrow you will have to look for another rope

or another way to start your climb.

The rope itself is strong enough to hold you.

*

Grab on to the ropes provided for you,

Grab on to that which binds all together,

with that which none of us understands,

that none of keeps or owns or even does all that well–

Grasp the Love that keeps the World in motion,

Hang on with all your might,

and climb.

*

Your soul has stayed hidden in the ruts and grooves and pits,

and by now, it may fear the light at the top

or distrust the hand that reaches out and down.

But only in finding your great need to trust and hope

can you hold on to your salvation.

Grasp the help offered to you,

Grasp it without needing to understand it,

Or where it comes from.

Hold tight and don’t let go,

and let your soul rise.

*

While it is true that only you can free yourself,

From the prisons and ruts you create in your life,

It is also true that none of us has ever used our wings,

Without needing the wind.

None of us knows where the wind begins,

or where it ends.

And who can control the wind?

*

Find that which is outside yourself,

In the world, in nature, in another, in The Other,

and let it be that which helps you rise.

Let your mind rest, and let your soul seek joyfully,

that which helps you rise from the ruts,

 that which gives you hope,

that you may indeed, not only rise up from the ditch,

you may walk forward,

you may run,

you may even fly.

© Jane Tawel, July 28, 2021

For One I Loved and Lost

My Mom, Jane Gordon Cook, March 31, 1934 – July 7, 2021

*

On July 7, 2021, my greatest cheerleader, most enduring audience, loving critic, incomparable supporter, and most beloved mother, Jane Cook, passed away from this life.  Life will never be the same. Writing will never be the same.  The following are some pathetic attempts at thoughts on her passing, in the knowledge that words can never express what we feel with great loss and great love.  As I wrote the following, I thought of others I loved who have passed and those I love now and foolishly hope will never die. Friends –Seize the Day and let those you love, know it – right now.  Jane

*

#1 Your Love Is Still Here

*

A lot of people died today,

but only one was mine.

A lot of people passed away.

I wonder, which were Thine?

*

I know not what is at Life’s End.

A lot of people can pretend,

that Death is simply Heaven’s Bend;

but no one truly comprehends.

All that I know?– You were my friend.

*

And I shall strive to live the part,

Your love created in my heart.

And I will trust, through all my tears,

that your Love still is here.

*

#2 I Only Know Now

*

And do not say to me, “It will…”

I only know what is no longer now.

And do not tell me “It will get better…”

Today I can only live in this moment,

 that this bleak Finality “is”.

*

My eschatology veered sharply from yours,

the moment that my Some\body died.

The End Times are upon me

and I will live with ashes on my soul

in a world that cannot bear the sight of

the ashes I long to wear on my head.

If only the world could see the black armband

constricting the muscles around my heart.

*

Some\body died today; Some\body who cared for

and was cared for by me;

that first and ultimate person,

who made the “I”, in “me”, a “We”;

that “We” is now forever and ever lost.

And like a limb lopped off of my being,

the ghost of remembrance of what used to be,

gives me no joy.

Encouragements of what I might be able to do someday

without my lost limb,

give me no comfort.

Loss is all. Loss is now.

*

You long to leap straight and with daring ease,

back to the past of memories,

or to the future, which you believe,

is free of sorrow and heavenly.

Be free in knowing,

I do not begrudge you, your need or your worldview.

But please do not offer it to me.

It is a poor substitution for my grief.

*

Death for me, has brought endless ending,

and Now, is only dross.

And in my loss,

the emptiness and lack of meaning,

is all I can hold on to.

I cannot see the shore, until I have drowned,

and all I can cling to

is what made me feel safe,

and gave Love its meaning

for me, for us.

*

I have lost the one voice that’s been inside,

my head, my heart, for all these years.

Please keep your platitudes and thoughts you mean to cheer me.

I will, however, grateful be, if you would silently,

endure with me my tears.

*

Time has finally condensed the story,

constricting like a deadly boa,

to Only Now.

The Now is the ache of the battering ram of emotions,

the unbidden memories that spell “no more”,

the gaping holes in my heart,

the “what ifs” and “shoulds” and “could haves, should haves, would haves”

… if only.

*

Oh yes, with time, wounds stop seeping,

and may, in time, become scars.

Yes, duties and needs will stop my weeping,

but for now, my strength is bleeding out.

And in these lost and mournful hours,

 I can only know Now, in my heart.

For the You that was mine, and the life that was “ours”,

for me, in life-left, left me ever alone,

from the moment for me, we were finally apart.

*

Going forward tomorrow I do not know how,

and your memories are slicing me through.

For today, it is true I may only know Now,

Yet one thing I do know — you loved me,

and Oh! How I loved you.

*

I will always miss you Mom, and I wish I could tell you that again. I will always love you, Mom and I wish that I had told you that more. 

Jane,  July 18, 2021

Dreams On the Journey

by Jane Tawel

empty road surrounded with trees with fog
https://unsplash.com/photos/5FHv5nS7yGg

Dreams on the Journey

By Jane Tawel

July 6, 2021

*

Dreams often start skidding a bit,

when reality appears in the road.

And if we are carrying a load,

of a vision that won’t clear up,

smooth and pristine,

but rather gleans from us,

the weight of our meaning,

this gleaning,

is to be

and to see

what lies inert in the road –

well, that is the load we bear.

And yet, we compare

ourselves to the myth of ourselves

not sitting on shelves

but growing and changing,

ever rearranging into someone

that is the myth of our true wholeness.

So now, we can go with boldness,

into the might and right

and the true light from True Light,

ever loving and being loved.

Hither and yon,

to the hopeful beyond,

and all the parts of you and I

Become whole.

The goals of every holy scroll

keep rolling us on and on

Because that is who and what and

Why.

Our dreams become the answer

to the real Why.

And the road is never clearer

but only dearer.

And the task is never fearless,

but only nearer.

And we walk on,

dreaming despite the bumps in the road,

or the mist.

Because though we may miss the gist

We will bear witness.

And in the midst

We will resist the need to just exist.

But instead we will yearn to grow,

Becoming One with the journey’s flow.

© Jane Tawel 2021

Before the Dawn

by Jane Tawel

black and white tree branch with moon
https://unsplash.com/photos/ZB2S8hO2xFw

Before the Dawn

By Jane Tawel

July 1, 2021

*

Can you see in the dark?

Even just a small spark?

Do you look? Do you listen?

For through the dark glistens

a hint of the Light

that will conquer the Night

and will make all things right.

For the lost and the blind,

at Dawn’s dawning will find

that in every night time

our dreams of The Sublime

were realities waiting to shine.

*

Wake up early and hear;

and before the Dawn peer

into what seems from us hidden,

but to which we are bidden

to be still and to know–

God is here.

© Jane Tawel 2021

Creeds Need Evolution (Because Humans Do)

https://unsplash.com/photos/QaTb9P_bi6M

By Jane Tawel

June 26, 2021

Creeds Need Evolution (Because Humans Do)

By Jane Tawel

The idea of a creed tends to bring up religious connotations and perhaps because of that, the idea of having a creed tends to imply a status quo, a static belief system, and a do-or-die pact between like-minded people who join together over ideas that determine an “in-status” and “out-status” for anyone who does not adhere to the CREED (in capital letters).

*

A creed is defined as “a set of beliefs or aims that guide someone’s actions”.  Sadly, to look at many of the religious or national creeds today you would have to assume that the last part of the definition has been irrevocably deleted, so that a creed is merely a “set of beliefs or aims”.  No action required.  On the other hand, many groups, communities, and religious or political entities, have creeds that imply definite action without the members of said group having any idea what those actions really and truly say about what they must believe to act in said ways.  For instance, patriots who storm the capital are, to those who do not claim to be following the same creed, foolishly and blindly or willfully and grievously, acting on a belief system that is in fact quite the opposite of patriotic beliefs in a true democracy.  Or take the example of someone who joins what is recognizably a religious cult.  While all religions have cult-like attributes, the victim of a person or personages who create creeds around themselves in order to control and manipulate the actions of others for personal or group gain reveals the “clear and present danger” of man-made creeds. Because while we may belong to a church, mosque, or rotary or mason’s club, full of a membership that sincerely believes that our creeds are inspired, divine, good for the common good of the group, beneficent, helpful, unifying, heave-bound, or even “God-breathed”– the plain truth is, every creed is simply a human-made attempt  to put into words their “beliefs and aims”. The supposed God-inspired or patriotically-sound attributes are by default, then, at risk of misuse, misinterpretation, and mistakes as all humanly-created ideas can be.  It is good when looking at religious or national creeds to keep in mind that if there is a God,  no one has ever completely understood or known the “mind” of said God. And secondly, no one, and this means No One, can take an historical creed, nationalistic or religious, or otherwise, and apply it perfectly, or even realistically and practically, throughout time and place.

*

So, what is my point, you ask? What is my “aim” in this focus on the idea of creeds?  I have grown up in a world of specific groups of people, each of which group believes that we memorize and recite our creed or pledge in order to prove what we believe forever, and forever, in God we trust, America the Beautiful,  and blah,blah,blah grace, liberty, and justice for all, amen. Hands on heart, or folded before us in prayer, we worship the idea of the words, without having to follow through with the actions required by saying we believe those words are guides to our “purposes, actions, and aims”.

*

Let me give you a simple reflection on two popular creeds in groups of people that I have belonged to. They come from creeds I have memorized and recited in front of groups of other people, solemnly and faithfully pronouncing the words and by doing so, implying with the rest of the people with me that I plan on living a life that adheres to the principles in that creed.  The first example, for me, would be the “Pledge of Allegiance”, which I have memorized and which I used to recite (often under the duress of group-think begun in elementary school). (Disclaimer here: I no longer choose to recite the pledge of allegiance, finding its meaning opaque and faulty. You can read elsewhere in this blog, why long ago, for religious and spiritual reasons, I began to choose to stand respectfully during the Pledge of Allegiance, but not mouth these words of allegiance to what for me, had become an icon or an idol.)

*

America has some really excellent creeds, like our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, but our pledge to a flag, which is tragically for most people, the only American creed they have any real knowledge of, is not-creed worthy. And if you look closely, it more resembles a “bait and switch” than an important set of beliefs.  To simplify this thought for now, if I am pledging my loyalty to a symbol, then I should understand what that symbol stands for, because of course a symbol is a GIANT container for BIG IDEAS. Tragically, I know more than many, as someone who has tried to teach symbols, metaphors, and other mind-expanding literary devices for years, the average person, whether a high-school drop-out or a Harvard grad, have little clue about the immense importance of and very real truths inherent in symbols, word-symbols and image symbols alike. Let me put it another way, when the American Revolutionaries were fighting for what they believed to be their freedom, the symbol of a flag and a pledge to support this flag were profoundly meaningful to give credence to their actions. For soldiers in any country who are fighting for their country’s ideals, a pledge said around the symbolic icon of said country can be an incredibly important and unifying way to more deeply and subconsciously understand the meaning of the actions of war. But that brings us to a different problem – when a flag represents merely a nation’s rights at any cost to other nations or people-groups, then we have put the horse before the cart, and we are acting first, and re-forming the intentions of the creed to justify the actions. This is the opposite of what a creed is meant to do. A creed is meant to provide borders around as well as guidance for actions

*

Of course, even sillier than thinking that a creed only needs to be about a piece of cloth we fly for national identification purposes, are those who have come to believe that singing a song before a sports event is creed material. And to make matters worse, most people don’t know the words to this “creed song”. And if they do in fact know the words, as I do, can they hit the high notes that are meant to soar our belief system into a heavenly realm?  As a matter of fact, what has become known as the American national anthem, is merely an historical story-song, a hind-sight perspective, of how and when and who won our independence; an event that happened way, way back when. (Although in terms of keeping an historical perspective,  compared to other nations and countries, America’s young hold on life should have given us a little more humility, but alas that has never seemed to be first and foremost among our brash, young nation’s traits.) The creed-song of our country in fact, holds no creed-worthy tenets and again, if one were led to believe that one should act on the belief system of said anthem, then once more we are reduced to believing that all Americans should care about is a piece of red, white and blue cloth and a song that we sing to worship sporting events.

*

From a true perspective of belief systems, if a person really knew what they were pledging allegiance to when pledging to the flag of America or singing the song of American freedoms, they would applaud those who take a knee rather than mouth some words, and join them on their knees in a fight for the “justice for all”. After all, that is what Americans say that we have pledged to uphold. And furthermore, rather than punish protestors, if we believed our national creeds, we would prosecute anyone – ANYONE—who incited people to storm the building that is the epicenter of those flag-creed beliefs; and we would remove from office those people who pledged allegiance to grant “liberty for all”. Because creeds can only take so much self-centered, ego-driven, or greed-tainted abuse and still have any rational meaning at all. Funny, how two people can claim to believe in and uphold the very same creed, and have such different aims and actions as a result of said belief. To see this even more clearly, one must look at religious creeds, which have become so written in stone over the centuries as to become the worshipped, rather than the worshipful. One only has to look at the recent abuse of creeds in both Catholic and evangelical institutions to see that our creeds can all too easily take the place of our God. After all a dead creed is so much easier to live by and with than a living God.

*

Just like everything ever written or orally transmitted to people and people groups, all communication has two important elements: Audience and Purpose. In creed-creating, one can see that one problem that is to be addressed is that an audience never remains the same. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist or linguist, a founding father or theologian to understand, that if one accepts the changing hue, temperament, needs, and make-up of the audience, then a creed needs to be either flexible, or changeable. It needs to evolve, just like people and nations and religions need to evolve. If a creed is written for one audience, like a fledgling nation made up of other nation-groups, or a young religion made of up Jews and Gentiles, or for metaphoric purposes,  let’s just say, if the audience was once a bunch of five-year olds, but now are a vast throng of twenty-somethings, or sixty-somethings, well, the creed you are asking everyone to base their beliefs and actions on, either needs to morph and transform and evolve, or you need to throw it out and start over.

*

The second example of creed-following for me comes from not my national identity but my religious upbringing.  Now, take care here, because in my own beloved country of America, far, far too many people seem to have confused the nationalistic with the religious, making both the creedal tenants of a separate church and state ideologies, both tragically abused and ridiculously meaningless. But, as another example of creed-use and abuse, one  particular religious creed that I have recited in unison quite a few times in a long, long life of church going, is called The Nicene Creed. This is a religious set of beliefs that was written (and rewritten) in around the mid 300’s A.D. by the religious leaders of the Christian Church; and it has ever since been accepted by all forms of Christianity, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. This creed helps not only with understanding the interplay of intended Audience with belief systems, but the dangerous power behind Purpose in writing out a set belief system intended to inform actions.

*

The Nicene Creed is an excellent example of why, in order to understand the meaning of any creed or written set of beliefs, one must understand its purpose. In other words, to understand the WHAT, one must understand the WHO, but most important of all, one must understand and keep grappling with the WHY. 

*

The Nicene Creed was written with the express purpose of “weeding out” and “gathering in”.  It was written 300 years after the death of the supposed leader of Christianity, Jesus Christ, in order that the now powerful arms of the ruling class of bishops and “theologians” and paid professionals of the Church, could have a yardstick by which to measure if a congregant had a correct belief system or not. While the American documents of nation formation were written as a reaction to what had come before, they were also written with a great hope in what would and would not come after. The Nicene Creed, conversely, was written, not with a “hope and a dream” for a better world, like the American Declaration of Independence was, but the Nicene Creed was written expressly as a reaction AGAINST those who were questioning what had already become the status quo of a new religion. The Nicene Creed was written, as sadly, especially religious creeds often are, to protect the people who were in powerful positions and who “liked things the way they were”, in order that nothing would change what those in power had already determined the set-in-stone tenets of this new religion would follow. The Nicene Creed was written with the aim of ammunition against the threats that had arisen to the religion that had morphed out of the life, teachings, and hope of Jesus Christ, who never wrote a single document for us to use in the future, let alone a creed.  One only has to look to the current year of 2021 to see how often we use creeds of national and religious institutions not to bring about meaningful and hopeful, productive change for all, but rather to prevent change and keep  the status quo for those who benefit from the past, not those who need a foundation in the present, or a dream for the future.

*

It came as a shock for me to revisit the so-called standard bearer of creeds of the Christian religion and realize, that just like the American national anthem, The Nicene Creed, is not at all a creed – it is a written account of a group of beliefs about the history of the planet, the history of a man called Jesus, and the history of God. And like a crack over the head, I realized that all these centuries of reciting this creed and taking it as “gospel” has in fact, only led to one discernible aim and one obvious purpose – to believe this creed is to be “in”, “chosen”, part of “the correct group”;  and to veer in any part of this creed, is to be “out” , a heretic, not one of the chosen group.  And it doesn’t matter one bit, how those who recite this creed as a founding and important and even “Godly” document—it doesn’t matter at all how we act or live. We have reduced belief to intellectual assent and nothing more. We have reduced creeds to the level of secret handshakes or long-lasting party games (“party” has two meanings here). We have taken the meaning of what we call “faith” and reduced it not to a relationship with a living God or a relationship with the people we live with, but to a stagnant set of tenents, that barely effect our knowledge base, let alone affect our hearts, souls, or actions.

*

A creed can imply, for some brave and intrepid souls, an aim or an action. So, let’s say I still want to cling to my religious creed as something that should influence my actions. Let’s take some of the words of The Nicene Creed for example.  If I actually believe for instance that “God is the maker of heaven and earth”, as my creed proclaims; then consequently, I should treat the earth as if it is God’s. If the whole earth, planet, people, trees, plants, animals, air, water – if all were made by a Supernatural Being that exists somewhere beyond the Earth but also within our World, and Who loves the whole planet as something She/He/They created, then how should I and my fellow creed-followers ACT? How should we, based on our creed, treat the Whole World, the created essence of Our God?  Well, if actions speak louder than words, one would have to conclude as the inspired words found in James 2:14-26 does, that “faith without works is dead”.

*

To take a simplistic approach to deducing what I might mean when I say I believe in the ideas that have been written down in the Nicene Creed, let’s pretend I really did believe that when my group of fellow Nicene Creed believers recited this, we were joining together to commit to actions implied by the “beliefs or aims” presented in the words, and that by committing to the beliefs that would lead to actions we were also saying that we would hold ourselves and each other RESPONSIBLE for following through on how best to act on those beliefs and to LIVE OUT those beliefs in our community and in the world at large.  If that were the case, what would it mean for me to say with others: “I look for the life of the world to come” and how would I act in order to live into a world that I prefer to the one we are making now?

*

A creed, to be any use or any good at all must be open to change, and in constant evolution, just like any group, or church, or nation, or club, or human being, should be. The ironic thing is that for a creed to be consistent, it must be open to new interpretations and new ways of living into the truths supposedly inherent in the written words.  To be not only deeply true, but critically useful, a belief system must be a kind of oxymoronic foundation, that is both bedrock and solidly based in eternal truths, and also completely and eternally changing with the deeper understanding amidst the new realities and new responsibilities of the place and time in which humans live. A creed should be as evolutionary as every living thing in the created world actually is. What a person believes should be as grounded in what a person should be as nature is grounded to the Earth. To Be-lieve is to let my Be-ing, Live.

*

I have begun to look more intensely and intentionally, at the many sources of my own belief system and I have been humbled by the great writers, teachers, radicals, and most of all the “Do-ers” who have created the creeds that aim to guide us, both as citizens of the world and for some us, perhaps and hopefully, as “citizens of heaven”. And as I look and read, and reread, meditate, and grapple and struggle with these creeds, and find new creeds from other places, times, nations, and religions to wrestle with, I am trying to turn my telescope around the other way. I am trying to observe my actions, both current and past, and ask myself this:

*

 What is my Purpose? What do my actions tell me and others about what I really believe?

*

What do I actually do to support the nation and community I live in, to the best of my ability in my understanding of what it means to be a good citizen with care and caring, and “freedom and justice” for all?

*

What do I honestly believe about my spiritual identity and the spiritual identity of my “audience”? What parts of my faith are “dead” and inactive? And how strong and true is the faith of my works? How much of what I say I believe is Alive, in connection with A Living God? Is the “Why” of who I am, leading me “further up and further in”, to bring Life and Be Life?

*

So I am, in effect, as all of us are, whether we know it or not, daily writing our own creed. We are either consciously or subconsciously, allowing new creeds to help us change for something that can simply be described as “better”; or we are allowing our fears and stubborn foolishness to keep us moored to the shoals of dead creeds, useful only for self-importance or a false sense of security and power. I began a little exercise, which I may write about later, but now is just a rambling musing and jotting down of ideas that I think I could look at as “My Current (but maybe not Forever, depending on revelations to come) Life Creed”.

 I encourage you to try writing out what you think you believe to be foundational to your worldview, your creed. Then write out as many of your life’s actions that you can match-up to prove you have lived according to these beliefs.  It is not for the faint of heart, but it is for those who desire a little humility with their hope today. I am finding as I meditate on this exercise more of the who of myself, more of the who and who not of my audience, and more of the Who of The One Who Is. I am also finding more of what the true connection is between my imagined purpose and my true purpose. I am finding that I really have never had much of an idea of what it all means in light of eternity, but that it is enough for me not to know some great purpose, as creeds would lead us to believe.  It is enough for my purpose to Be me and to act in a way that I would like all humans to act towards each other.  My faith can still be “the essence of things unseen but hoped for”; and my life creed can be the “peace that passes understanding”, the wholeness that means simply that I want to be active in whatever Goodness and Love are doing in the world, no matter whose creed is behind it.

*

 I don’t know much, but I do seek for much more, and in that is, with a lot of grace, I believe, my salvation; for as that brilliant creed-buster, St. Paul wrote:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13).

And any creed without Love at the center is no creed worth following. And Love is always the Ultimate Creed.

© Jane Tawel June 2021

The Rainbow Connection

green grass field under white clouds and rainbow
https://unsplash.com/photos/JzCf5Y3XmFU

from Jane Tawel, June 2021

Please do listen to Kermit do it much better, but this June, I wanted to add my old, longing voice to voices for hope and for all the “lovers and the dreamers” of the world, and in support of the many hues that connect some of us who will not stop believing in the power of our Rainbow Connection. 🌈

(c) Jane Tawel June 2021

“Rainbow Connection” composed by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher, 1979

Will We Rise?

by Jane Tawel

What does phoenix rising from the ashes mean – Embrace yourself, embrace  the world

Laura – pixels.com

Will We Rise?

By Jane Tawel

June 18, 2021

*

Will we find enough band-aides today,

to staunch flows of our enemies’ blood?

Will we march enough steps today,

to dam prejudicial floods?

And when tomorrow our children ask

if we raised our hands to the holy task

of reviving the World’s needy honor,

and repairing our own little corner

of broken parts and hurting hearts,

will we lie in the ashes

of our own set fires?

Or rise like a phoenix from grace-infused pyres?

*

Will my mind today shut-down from its reeling

at the Earth’s burning? I’m fearfully feeling

we’ll all die from our greed

and the unanswered need

of a world that craves desperate healing.

*

Create in me a new heart.

One that beats to the Earth’s Special Song.

Today I will do my own part

to be Love, to be One, to Belong.

Amen and amen, let us say once again,

We did once, and we will!

We did once, and we will!

We did then;

we will do it again!

*

Will we make enough headway tomorrow

to end Our World’s war-weary sorrow?

Will we have had enough

of the proud and the tough?

And instead choose the meek

and all follow, like sheep,

The Good Shepherd, Who loves us so much?

*

Time ticks and it tocks

and even the rocks

now cry out — “Hosanna!

Please, Save us!” Each man and

each woman and child;

every beast, tame or wild,

are looking ahead,

to the “Anti-Love Dread”

of the end of All Life as we know it.

(We certainly seem to have blown it.)

But we’ll fight! — Some will fight!

Young and old, we just might,

win the day over night

and a New World Reborn —  we will grow it.

*

We vow today to stand together.

We take today this solemn pledge:

We will fight war with Peace.

We will fight lies with Truth.

We will kill greed with sharing,

and meet needs by our caring.

We will change hate with love.

We will rise, young and old

One day our tale will be told,

How the World almost died,

But Love made it Arise!

We shall rise!

We shall rise!

*

Earth will rise,

like a Phoenix, She’ll Rise!

We shall rise like a Savior,

we’ll rise!

And Our God will arise.

Like a Cooled Sun, He’ll Rise!

Like a Bright Star, She’ll Rise!

And All Goodness shall Rise,

They shall rise!

They shall rise!

They shall rise!

*

Like a New Day that Dawns,

Love Shall Rise!

With sacrificial protection,

We shall become Resurrection.

Will we start today?

Will we find The Way?

Will we Rise Up?

Will we Rise Up?

Will we Rise?

God! I pray, we will rise…

(c) Jane Tawel 2021

Jesus Wasn’t a Very Nice Christian

by Jane Tawel

A friend posted the above meme today, and of course, since it was 4:30 a.m. in the morning, my usual time to study my spiritually inclined tomes and meditate on my spiritually inclined thoughts, and pray my pathetically needy inclined prayers, I, of course instead, chose to respond at length to this post. Here are my hastily but life-time-so -far thoughts on the above post. 

What I didn’t say in the post, but do now, is that this is the sort of post, I think Jesus would have responded to with the same harsh words he said to his disciple, Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”. I used to want to make t-shirts that read on one side, “Jesus was NOT nice.” and on the back said, “but he was God”. 

Imagine me shaking my head and sort of smile-muttering here: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… (smile, shake head)… what in the world are we going to do about You?” 

Yep — that is the question. What in the world are we MEANT to do about that raggedy figure on the edge of the crowd, the man named Jesus, the figure named Messiah, the archetype for humanity, named The Christ?

Following are my expanded thoughts from my response today on my friend’s well-intentioned post (you have guessed by now I don’t have many friends):

(WARNING: Thoughts of mine may appear larger in the mirror than they do on a written page.)

Well, my friend, thank you for the thought-provoking post/ meme above. Of course, it gets me going…. hmmmm, where to begin? 

Jesus was, as was Buddha, as was Moses, as was Gandhi, an actual historical figure and people actually wrote about him and what he taught, so we don’t need to guess at it, but it sure wasn’t at all as simplistic as this post implies, and wasn’t at all simple to understand, and as Jesus said himself, it was an almost impossible thing to practice and live, without the almighty help of the very Hebrew God which is the One that Jesus believed in. 

Jesus was Jewish, teaching Judaism to Jews and hoping they and his ragtag bunch of misfit disciples, and eventually the world would catch on to what it was meant to be in and from The Beginning with humans’ relationship to YHWH and humans’ relationships with each other, first to the Hebrews but meant for all peoples and nations. And while this post is full of good ideas which are nice and good sentiments, and certainly have some truth about what Jesus taught, they aren’t very inclusive and are simplistically, if not dangerously, misleading. For instance, if we are to take the words as true that are recorded in the testaments, Jesus said in fact that he came “not to bring peace but a sword”. Metaphor?- definitely. Peaceful life?- definitely not. 

If Jesus is to be taken seriously as The Christ, and as our meta-type in how to live, he was not at all an easy “pill to swallow” or a particularly Rodney King sort of “why can’t we all just get along” kinda Messiah. He was a radical worldview shaker-upper. The worldview of the Jews had gone far off its intended course in Jesus’ day, much as Christianity has often veered off course, and continues to do so in ways that must indeed, make Jesus weep, and God turn away Her Face. 

The fact that Jesus taught and more importantly lived and died, what were meant to be God’s universal truths, inherent in any of the good parts of any religion (Christianity) or belief system (Buddhism) simply points to the other ancient Hebrew belief that “all humans have a conscience that is written in our hearts” — we also have a proclivity to be selfish, greedy, less than truthful, and hateful and to quiet our conscience if we would rather have it our own way. It’s a choice of will and a choice of faith in something more important than oneself to choose The Way, The Tao of Christ, no matter whether one believes in something religious, spiritual or not. 

This is the other fun thing that Jesus came to point out; he hung out with the least, the lost and the least likely to be named Pope, Dalia Lama, or Rabbi of The Year. Radical guy, that Jesus and a super hard act to follow. And yet so many of us claim we are trying to do just that. 

The important thing that this post reminds us is that for those who claim to “know Jesus” or “have him in our hearts”, we should be ever more loving, serving, giving, humble, and peace-making, even with our enemies. We should also seek to speak absolute truth with kindness, not niceness nor fear, but with the knowledge we are all meant to be “something more”. Because even when Jesus was judging others, (and he did, he sure did, don’t fall into the trap that we are not meant to judge wrong doing with the same measurement that Jesus would and did, but we are to make sure we live our own responsibility first and foremost and with humble judgement of our own personal and systemic wrongdoings); but even in judgement, Jesus was incredibly kind in his judgements comparatively. (Calling someone a viper is better than killing them with stones. Pointing out someone’s greed was more important to their eternal well-being than pointing out someone’s sexual brokenness. Jesus spoke to the evils of the tribe and the powers, much more than the broken sinfulness of the individual.)

 Jesus spoke, acted and healed in the most loving, but “searing into the very soul” truthful way. I daily have to throw myself on that Christ-like, truthful, kind, loving judgment, both in the judgement of Christ, and My God, and of those I love and live or work with, and especially on the mercy of those many unknown, unsung, uncared-for people who continue to suffer in a world gone astray.  

To allow myself to judge is to hope that the world, the planet, and the systems of this world have a hope and prayer of one day being better than they are today. To judge myself and to let myself be judged, is to let myself have hope of being better today than I was yesterday. 

And to hark back to what Jesus, who wasn’t a Christian, and wasn’t a Buddhist, and was a Jew, actually said about himself and us, I believe I will one day, in some way, and some kind of New Kingdom, New World, take a knee with the rest of the world, and I will throw myself on the Mystery of Universal Mercy and Love, throw myself at the feet of The Christ. 

I am incredibly grateful to have been raised to get to know about Jesus, in a place and time that has so much knowledge about him, and personally, in America where I have had so much freedom to study about that character and those who knew the man called Yeshua. But as it is also written, “to whom much is given, much will be required”. True for me as an individual, and if Jesus is to believed, true for nations and religions as well. God have mercy.

God have mercy.

©Jane Tawel

What in the Name of Christ Would We Know About That!?

by Jane Tawel

“Homeless Jesus” by Hyatt Moore

What in the Name of Christ Would We Know About That?!?!

By Jane Tawel

May 29, 2021

*

I see a lot of posts and hear,

a lot of folks who rage or fear,

about the suffering that they do,

and how they pray for me and you.

They don’t seem usually to reflect,

on how they’re getting what they get,

but think instead that God should bless,

them more than He should bless the rest.

*

And as we privileged ones complain,

I ask myself, (and them) again:

As we grow rich and we grow fat,

While others live their lives with scat;

We say our prayers like God’s spoiled brats,

Yet, claim to God, we’re working at,

Salvation like we’re in combat,

Republican or Democrat,

We choose a team and go to bat.

And when we pin them to the mat,

We prove again and again that,

We don’t know Christ worth diddly-squat.

*

What can we all be thinking of,

when we plead with some God above,

for healing, when we have a Doc,

while others don’t — oh, what a crock!

What makes us think that God is listening

to all our nationalist dissenting,

political — religious too — 

muck up our prayer life’s point of view.

*

We don’t look at the systems which,

keep most folks poor, while few get rich.

Nor do we end the world’s sad squalor;

Our gods are Euros, Yen, and Dollars.

When Bibles are turned red, white blue,

we’ve really lost God’s Point of View.

I don’t know when to cry or laugh,

as we dance round the Golden Calf.

*

It wouldn’t otherwise be funny,

to see our gods have become money,

except we think we are more smart,

than Man and Woman at The Start.

The Tree of Knowledge has been gotten,

but at its roots, it still is rotten.

If only we could try to fathom,

the calling of The Second Adam.

*

For hoarding and for wanting more,

We bang on Heaven’s Silent Door.

And while the ones who have no voice,

take crumbs we give — (they have no choice);

we still think God can hear our prayers,

though we neglect to serve and care.

And as we grow more proud and fat,

and treat His grace like our doormat,

God turns His face and asks and asks:

“What in God’s Name would you know about that?”

*

I know lots of religious folks,

(who’ve sort of made God’s Love a joke).

And yet when I look at our life,

I don’t see too much lack or strife.

We pretty much have every thing

and so I keep on wondering,

“What kind of God do we believe in,

when we don’t see our own deep sin,

of only taking and not sharing,

of only praying and not caring?”

We use God as if He’s our Tool,

and use His Word like prideful fools.

*

Oh, please forgive me, God above,

for thinking that You only love,

the ones that look or speak like I,

or that my goal is in the Sky.

Forgive my treatment of the Earth.

Create in me a true Re-birth

that sees all others as Your Own,

and nurtures this world as Our Home.

I pray, Yahweh, O God on High:

Restore my faith, but crucify,

my selfish, foolish, sinful pride.

I’ll never know the Depths or Why’s,

of how You seek the weak and lost.

Help those who love, take up our cross,

and follow in the footsteps of,

the Son of Man, the Man of Love;

Who showed us how to live like Him,

if we will only just begin,

to give up what we think need,

and Love’s True Word, to trust and heed.

*

There once upon a space and time,

lived a Great One, who was divine.

Part prophet, rabbi, brother, friend,

He came to us to love and mend

the ways that we have lost our way.

He offers now to walk today,

beside us, and to live within,

and help us, over sin, to win.

He paid Love’s ultimate true price,

and we who follow in sacrifice,

will know what it means to Be Christ.

For in The Way, and only then,

will we be wholly born again,

into The Life, The Truth, The Way.

Now, let us pray,

“Give us today,

just what we need, and nothing more.”

Christ stands and knocks upon the door,

of every heart, and every soul,

and offers Love to make us whole.

*

The Truth, The Word, The Way, The Tao,

is not in history, but in The Now.

The Path of Christ is deep and slim,

and we who claim to honor Him,

must listen to His words by fearing,

just how far we have been veering,

from what The Teacher actually said;

not only claiming, now He’s dead,

that we can have eternity,

without our soul’s fraternity,

with what The Christ came here to do,

which was to change both me and you;

and get the whole World realigned,

with God’s Plan to make All, Divine.

*

The Way is open to all, but narrow.

Christ imparts worth, “more than a sparrow”.

The Earth is ours to daily cherish.

The Lie of Death will one day, perish.

*

Oh, Our Great Spirit and Creator,

Help me to change my wrong behavior.

Forgive us as we seek to forgive.

Help me to die, so I might live.

And live as One, and live apart,

and ask Christ into mind, will, heart.

*

Oh, Parent, Mother, Father, One,

when Christ said, “God, Your will be done”;

he didn’t mean by only him.

So, in this moment, help me begin,

to not treat life as some grand game;

but from The God Who Has No Name;

as gift and grace, help my small aim,

to follow You in all I do.

*

Create in me, God, through and through,

the Love that Christ has called me to.

Amen.

©Jane Tawel 2021

Knowing-Jesus.com

A Prayer for Hole-ness

brown rock formation during daytime
https://unsplash.com/photos/AWoVDcSYgak

A Prayer for Hole-ness

By Jane Tawel

May 25, 2021

*

I often pray for whole-ness,

but just today I thought,

that I should pray for hole-ness,

to become what I ought.

Wholeness can often mean control,

but emptying should be my goal,

not only just to make me whole,

but to embrace the empty spaces,

and broken lives, and lonely faces,

of brothers, sisters, enemies–

through empathy come remedies.

For when I leave a legacy,

There won’t be much left of my soul,

Unless I leave a hole.

© Jane Tawel 2021