The Broken Circle — Thoughts after Fiddler on The Roof and Another Killing in America

The Broken Circle

By Jane Tawel

April 28, 2019



Yesterday afternoon, while Raoul and I were being metaphorically “blown away” by the eternally classic and in this production, at the Pantages Theatre, phenomenally performed “Fiddler on the Roof”, more people, in my country this “land of the free”, were being literally blown away because they are Jewish. The horrible “inhuman” who did this latest evil, said in his obvious and utterly hateful stupidity, that one of his inspirations was the greatest Jewish human who ever lived, Jesus, who some believe was the Jewish Messiah. I wish I could say, oh, how ironic, but this surpasses irony which I usually get at least some enjoyment out of noting.  This claiming Jesus the Jew as inspiration for violence against Jews, is instead a meta-example of what I have come to believe is the worst plague ever visited upon humans – the plague of ignorant hatred. It is the sickness that happens when people let their hatred make them stupid. It is the stupidity that we allow when we do not teach people the difference between right and wrong. It is the false sense of identity we get when we allow ourselves to choose traditions that are easy to keep and a religion unmoored from its historical basis. It is what people who call themselves “little Christs” do when they focus on something other than the traditions God has entrusted them with as followers of Yahweh.


If we as humans do not start trying to figure out and teach truthfully, intelligently, humbly about The God of Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Deborah, and David – and frankly, also the God of Ishmael, Jesus, and Paul– we will continue to live with the violence born from our godless fear of “the other”, whomever that “other” happens to be. If we do not see “the other” as we do the  men and women we like so much at a distance, those we choose to accept as Jews if they  entertain us on our televisions or that we like to claim as our own now, those Jewish heroes we like to quote from like Joshua or Jonah—if we do not change our hearts and do something about the continuing prejudices that lead to yet another tragedy– then we are not following a God that we claim to find in The Bible.  Oh, we all love Tevye, that iconic Jew in the musical – the one that makes us laugh and cry, that Jew that we “all just love!” as long as he stays on the stage and doesn’t talk back to us. But if we don’t teach our children more than a few musical song and dance routines about a God and the people He has chosen to carry-on the traditions of the type of faith and worship that God has given and required of all human beings, of all nations and tribes –then we will keep waking up to a world where our own personal Sabbaths are in vain and our traditions of faith are nothing more than the lies of entitlement we cling to.


We have to do something more than shake our heads and talk; especially those of us who want to be “grafted on” to Jesse’s tree,  but who seem to have tragically and perilously thrown out the tree and kept just our “Christian” lopped off branches. We have thrown out the traditions that all God’s Chosen People are encouraged – nay! required to follow. We have stopped telling the Passover Story. We have stopped meditating on the stories of redemption that God commands His people to humble themselves with in the telling. “Remember, I am the God who brought you out of Egypt”, God says with every single command He gives. We have used the current and modern nation of Israel as an un-criticised and misunderstood shield against truthfully figuring out who exactly does God choose as His. We have thrown out Shabbat and Sabbath rest and replaced it with some psychological feel-good pep talks by well-paid speakers, followed by brunch, shopping and football.  We have thrown out the study of Torah and the meditation on the Tanakh and refused to accept that the One we claim to be The Son of God had only those books of Torah to teach him and bring Him close to God’s Kingdom on Earth. We have stopped creating circles of peace and instead have formed lines of entitlement.


As I watched the character of Golde, the Jewish mama in the play, prepare the Shabbat Seder meal, unbeknownst to me at a Passover Shabbat meal preparation in San Diego, Jewish families were once again mourning the tragic persecution of loved ones due to the prejudice against Jews the world has long stoked and looked away from. I sat in my cushy, front and center chair—the tickets were a wonderful, special gift from my daughter for my husband’s birthday. My daughter, Verity, has a tradition of gifting us with extravagant tickets to plays, concerts, shows that we otherwise would not see. It is a tradition born out of her love and generous heart.


In the play, Tevye too, has a deep love and a generous heart, for his family, just like my daughter. Tevye also has a tradition of taking his problems off to one side and talking in asides to God. This has been a tradition for centuries of course, of the men and women who talk to God. Talking to God can be done as a group- event, but it really works best when done in humbled solitude and in private – just the human being talking with and listening to The God-Being. There are famous recorded asides to God even before God chose the Hebrews to talk with and listen to. What is considered possibly the earliest book of the Bible has a long and famous aside by a character called Job.  Abraham went in private off to one side  and gambled with God over Lot and the ten good men he hoped God could find in Sodom.  Moses spent forty days in that historically famous aside with God on the mountaintop, receiving the Torah and God’s commands for the people that God alone could lead to the Promised Land. Samuel, who became a great prophet of the Jews wouldn’t have existed without the private prayers that Hannah his mother, would pray alone to her God, begging Him to hear her cries. Later, Mary, the mother of Jesus would, as an aside, recite a Hebrew psalm of praise for her chosen status as a poor and persecuted Jewish woman, who was nevertheless to be highly exalted because she as a Jew, was  called to do God’s will. And then there is that Jewish man, that my own religious tradition holds to be our Savior.  That Jew named Jesus spent more time in asides  and in prayer to Yahweh, God of the Hebrews, than he did in talking with the characters in his own story.


But as I watched Tevye and Golde, Lazar Wolf, and Yente, and all those amazing characters brought to life by the actors on stage; and as Tevye walked to one side of the stage to say in an aside to his God: “God I know we are Your chosen people but every once in a while couldn’t You choose someone else?” –as I laughed with the ironic humor of Tevye’s words — a Jewish woman named Lori Kaye had been shot dead, and three people were injured —  Noya Dahan, an eight year old Jewish girl who is just a little younger than that  famous and in the hindsight of history beloved Jewish girl named Anne Frank; and the Jewish Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, and a Jew named Almog Peretz – those Jewish people were not walking off stage after gathering for the traditional prayers to their God.  Those Jewish people from the Chabad Synagogue in Poway – those Jewish people were joining the age-old tradition of people being targeted, persecuted, and killed because, and only because – they are Jewish.


This phenomenal production I saw, of “Fiddler” stays true to the historical time and place of the original: “The Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia around 1905”.  Of course, it must stay true to the setting in a play that is as historically specific as this one.  But there is one slight change the director made that for me made a world of difference.


At the top of the show at the gorgeous and glorious Pantages Theatre, the patriarch, the “Papa”, Tevye, walks onto a completely bare stage. He is not yet dressed in the garb of a poor 1905 Russian Jew. The actor comes out, minus the head covering that Jewish men wear to humble themselves and to show that God is over and above them in power and respect.  He is minus the tallit, whose four tasseled corners will hang down from Tevye’s waist throughout the performance.  The tallit is worn by Jewish men because they are commanded in the Torah, “to recall all the commandments of the Lord, Your God, and to observe them”.  Tevye, that iconic and beloved Jew of fiction, comes out instead as modern man in a maroon anorak, hatless, his brown, slightly greying hair curling up like a halo around his ears, wearing modern eyeglasses pushed up on his trim nose, looking like any one you might currently meet on any street in America. In the actor’s hands, he carries a small leather book that he is silently reading. He just stands there for a bit in silence, reading something in the pages of the book.  And then without speaking yet, he hands the book off to another villager  just then coming onto the stage, whisks off his red winter coat, to reveal underneath, his costume as Tevye, and the play begins with the introduction to the song, “Tradition”.


At the end of “Fiddler on the Roof”, Tevye’s entire village is forced to leave their homes and livelihoods and although they have no money and little means, they are forced to find somewhere else to live. Tevye, Golde and their two remaining young daughters are off to throw themselves on the kindness of a relative who lives in America.  One of Tevye’s daughters and son-in-law are going to Warsaw, Poland. It hit me for the first time yesterday, that the author of the musical’s book probably chose Warsaw as a foreshadowing of what would happen to the Jews there, just as it was happening to them in the musical’s setting of pogrom-ready Russia.  It hit me, as I sat in my plush theatre seat yesterday, when I heard the hopeful young couple tell their parents, Tevye and Golde that they would join them soon in America – I thought, they will never make it to America.  They will die in Poland. The little Jewish baby that Tevye’s daughter holds in her arms will be about thirty-four years old when Germany invades Poland.


Meanwhile, another Jewish woman – a descendant of a Jewish couple who surely had to flee somewhere in the world at some time in the world’s history– was dead in America and three others wounded, including a Rabbi. Six months earlier in Philadelphia, eleven other Jewish descendants of other Jews were targeted and slain. Tevye’s village leaves still holding on to a  strong hope for their futures, but of course we know in the audience, that soon the Jews will be slaughtered by the millions and the world will be witness to a holocaust that will only end when  metaphorically once more the Red Seas are parted and the hands and chariots of destruction of those who would eradicate God’s Chosen People are stayed again by the God who has promised to never break His covenant with His People.


As the play ends, and all the villagers carry their belongings away from the only home they have known, the character of the Rabbi carries only a large scroll. The Rabbi may have to leave his home with the others, but he will carry Torah with him wherever he goes. The characters, rather than leaving the stage one by one as in past productions, push carts of their belongings and walk single file, until they eventually are walking around and around the stage in a tight and closed circle. The circle of actors keeps going around and around, and in this show, the symbolic character of the fiddler on the roof, does not stay behind but rather joins Tevye and the others, to go fiddle precariously in a new and foreign land. The circling Jews are being expelled, being robbed of their goods and homes, having been beaten, separated from loved ones, imprisoned –but they are holding fast to their faith and wherever they go they will cling to their identities as God’s Chosen People and they will trust in The Lord Who Took Them Out of Egypt.


The Jews of “The Fiddler on The Roof” form a circle on the stage that keeps going round and round, and round – a circle of silent resignation; a circle of community that will stay strong no matter where they disperse to; a circle of hope for the future of God’s people born out of their suffering and yet intent on grasping at joy; a circle of identity they share, not in any nation—any nation—but only in God’s community of humble followers; a circle of tradition.


At the very last moment of “The Fiddler on the Roof”, when the audience expects to rise as one and applaud, suddenly, out of the circle of Russian 1905 Jewish characters, and without warning, steps the modern looking– maybe American? maybe European? maybe even Israeli or Palestinian– man?  He is dressed again, not in the peasant clothes of the character Tevye, but in the eyeglasses and the maroon anorak, minus the skull cap, minus the prayer shawl, with his greying hair uncovered before His God. And this modern-day Tevye comes silently out of the circle. It is Tevye, but it is not Tevye.  In his hands, the man holds that same leather-bound book and he is silently reading it. Then he looks up from the book, looks at the circling, circling, ever circling cast of Jewish men, women and children going around and around the stage, as if he is gazing at Jews on this spinning globe, going around and around the world. Then the man in the modern coat looks back at the book.  The circle of villagers begins to break apart and leave the stage until the man is left alone with the leather bound book. Finally, he looks up and out at us the audience, and then – did I see it or just imagine it? – he takes a quick look up at His God, the God of The Book, as if to ask in a private aside:

“God, when will this cycle of pain and persecution end? When will Your People live in safety and freedom and joy? When will the circle be unbroken, Lord?”


I Am Woman Hear Me Implore



I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore

By Jane Tawel

April 24, 2019


Sometimes I really have to respond, and I found this was true recently when a young friend I know was struggling with some ideas about what he termed, “feminism”.  I have learned to my chagrin that it is often pointless to engage with people and other times I hold out hope. This time I decided to hope and my responding briefly to this man, in turn, led to this poem and enlarged meditation.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore

A Poem By Jane Tawel

April 24, 2019

I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore!

Love stands ready at the door.

I am different, it is true.

But are we so disparate, I and you?

If I hurt you, will you not bleed?

Do we not suffer from the same needs?

Do men always have to throw in a spanner,

If I come at things in a unique manner?

And if I choose to use my heart,

Well, doesn’t that mean I’m just different-smart?


God doesn’t see me as mother or whore,

Oh, I am Woman! and I implore,

Please look at me, my friends and brothers,

Just as you would your beloved daughters.

And I promise you back, all you masculine ones,

I will love you as I would love my own son.


I Am Woman, and will not be labeled,

For I am strong and I am able.

But wouldn’t it be even more grand,

If we men and women would live life hand in hand?


I am Woman, a name Jesus could tell

To those like his own mother and the one at the well.

It’s a label befitting a daughter and queen

Who can rule with God in His World, yet unseen.


Oh, I am Woman, and I kindly implore,

Do not wait for heaven on some future shore.

We, brothers and sisters, can bring heaven to earth,

If we give no more labels but each other, true worth.


I Am Woman and I merely implore,

Love is ready and at the door.


We live in a world that makes me tired. And sad; one in which people seem to make up their minds based on either a herd mentality or a mistaken self-centered rationale. With these two attitudes, people justify pointing the finger at non-PLU’s. And rather than making a concerted effort to increase their intelligence or, God forbid, a desire to grow wiser, they argue their points to calm and address, not the world’s injustices, but their own “quiet lives of desperate fears”.  But I found I had to dredge it up within myself to get into the ring with this friend of mine, and by extension others, both male and female, and by using as much kindness but truth as I can muster.


The post was about “feminism”, a label that I guess is trending again and used by both women and men as if they all mean the same thing by it, which I am darn sure from reading and listening to what people say, that they do not. This recent post was about ideas the writer had on two kinds of people I have been at times identified with – Christians, and women. It intrigues me when someone purports to discuss something that I identify with, in this case, women. Especially when as in this case it is something this other person is not, since he is a man. The worst part of it for me was that he chose not to talk about women, but about “feminism”.  And I do get my dander up a bit and climb onto my high horse, whenever anyone has to choose a label for other human beings to express ideas or philosophies. I think using labels should be reserved for food that has an expiration date, not for human beings, and I dislike labels for people, whether that label is feminist, liberal, conservative, or vegetarian. I especially go into over -drive when the person using the label is not putting said label on him or herself as well as on others. But labeling is just as bad when used to identify myself with perhaps not enough actual proof that I am acting in ways, doing things that are implied by my label.  For instance, if I label myself a vegetarian because I am upset about the way animals are treated before becoming meat, but I am not doing anything else to protest the way animals are treated, well, then do I honestly think my labeling myself is going to do any good for any one? I just metaphorically want to take all the little label makers and devices in the world and run them until they are all out of paper or plastic or metal or whatever they use to make labels, and force people to try to talk without the use of sticky notes. Labels do imply sticky issues, though, don’t they? This sticky-wicket issue I have with labels is one reason I just can’t use the shorthand labels I used to use for myself, like “Christian”, or “Independent” or even sometimes the label, “American”. But I am still rather proud and content to be labeled “woman”.


When men decide to discuss “feminism”, I need to point out that the attitudes of men are usually very obvious to us women, no matter what men say or how they may spin it. The underlying male belief that somehow feminism is about them, would be hilarious if it were not part of the problem. Men are almost always in positions of power so that even if they talk about change, it is excruciatingly apparent, from the metaphors they choose and the language of their “pep talks” to women that they see little risk they themselves will need to change. For people who claim a worldview of “Christianity”, I can only suggest that they might want to meditate on the greatest person who was ever labeled a feminist– Jesus Christ.


It’s not such a bad idea for all people around the globe, whatever religion they might label themselves with, to frankly and humbly start looking at the radicalization of stereotypes that the religion of the Hebrews originally espoused and that Jesus Christ took to the next level. This is in fact what all those who have managed to change the world have done. It is what Gandhi did. It is what Martin Luther King, Jr. did. It is what Mother Teresa did. It is what Nelson Mandela did. It is what Jesus did. And it is what the women who became disciples of Jesus did, long before the word “feminism” arrived as fodder. Sadly, even those early Jewish female world changers have had to take a back seat, a Rosa Parks type seat, in the pantheon of world-changers.


And I’m sorry but much of this prejudiced injustice is actually done by the spreading of misinformation,  sleight of hand, and the rewriting of history – even to the point that books that are meant to be holy, like Christianity’s New Testament,  are rewritten to deny women the first places they deserve, not just the honorable mentions they sometimes get. When we put labels on strong women who want to change the world for the good of others, we are using the power of words to deny the righteousness of their cause. If these ideas about feminism that I am raising, make a man uncomfortable as even just the word “feminism” tends to do, then if he wants to grow and be wise, or especially if he wants to claim to think like God thinks, he should figure out why it makes him uncomfortable. Because the bottom line is that men have been making women “uncomfortable” for centuries.


Where I personally start on this is where I try to start on many things, especially in this day and age. I forbid myself the luxury of labels. When we label people, we are on a very, very slippery slope and eventually, labeling people lets those who have the power gain even more power over those people they stereotype as “lesser -thans”. Labeling has been the justification for a world of horrific things; from the American justification of slavery to the Nazis’ justification of The Holocaust. Does it not frighten you as much as it does me, that no matter where you are living today in the globe, the people in power –power in the halls of governments, in the temples and churches and mosques of religions; power in educational institutions, and the powers of color and monetary status– are once again justifying their shorthand labeling of those not like themselves, in order to gain more power to act unjustly, to deny people basic human needs, to destroy?


I have come to absolutely hate labels like “liberal”, “conservative”, “feminist”, “evangelical” etc., because frankly most people use those labels  — either for others or themselves—to merely choose a shorthand for their prejudices and / or their ignorance. They may be trying to hide their prejudices from others so as not to be judged, but often I think they are hiding their prejudiced minds and angry, frightened hearts from themselves. When we hide things about ourselves from ourselves it enables us not to have to work at being a better person and not to have to change. Changing ourselves could lead to changing the world, and that, especially for those already with any amount of power over others, is frightening.


For those of us who want somehow to follow a God who chooses women, people of color, and poor people to change the world, we must learn to identify ourselves  first, foremost, and only with The God  who labels us images of Him. We must study and choose to live in The Way of a man-god who spoke to women as equals. We should tremble to label ourselves “little-Christs”. For if we label ourselves as those who are like Jesus, then we will be judged on the way we are causing others to label The Christ. If men must be careful, we women need to be equally careful that we do not fall into the trap of setting ourselves apart, neither reveling in our  strength or in our weakness, neither choosing a feminist role lived in antagonism to men nor in an anachronistic feminine attempt to live in the past.


We all, men and women, must always be referred back to our lives in Christ and our need to understand what God tried to tell us in various ways through His Word and revelations. In terms of human gender and sexuality, we are called to such a different idea about what is important and what is not, what is meant to be different between us and what is not, and what most importantly of all, we will all be changed into when we are made like Jesus in His Kingdom. It is no amount of irony that some of the people who have lived on this earth have been most like Christ while not being at all “Christian”.  And I fear labeling anyone a  “Christian” today comes with more dangers and flat out lies than is worth any amount of identification short-hand. It is ironic that the term “Christian” was used originally as a demeaning label by those in power, and was not used by those who followed the Jewish religion of The Christ. This of course was at the same time that being labeled a “woman” was as destructive as any profiling has been in the history of the world.


There once was a man named Saul who was a really prejudiced guy; a racial profiler, a misogynist, an intelligent but completely wrong-headed, wrong-hearted evangelical –a guy who labeled others so he could use his power as a religious leader against them. Then this guy named Saul had a real encounter with a God who refused to pick people to serve Him based on their labels. That God chose Saul, despite all the labels I have just given him.  And that man spent the rest of his life trying to tear down the walls of prejudice that had been built around the city of God’s love. Saul, who became Paul, spent the rest of his life teaching and believing that a community of God-followers is meant to be a kingdom on earth where all peoples, tribes and genders are welcomed, and respected, and honored, and equal, and yes, even loved. Tragically, much of what is now attributed to Paul, maybe most especially those that some people quote about women and men, were added later as falsehoods or “tweaks” by the religious and government leaders who rose in the ranks of power. But Paul did write down some important words we should take to heart when we are labeling others. As Saint Paul learned after equal parts of suffering and joy, in the Kingdom of God, there is “neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, liberal nor conservative, misogynist nor feminist”.


If as Charis Kramarae has said “feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings”, then the radical notion of the Judeo-Christian worldview, is that human beings are gods and God’s. As a woman, I must strive to see others in the way that “The IAM Who Refuses All Labels” sees them. I must pray as we were taught to pray by “He Who Refused to See Others as Stereotypes”. And I must treat others in the here and now, so that it may be so in us, uniquely created, equally worthy, “on earth, as it is anywhere God is truly present.”





I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore

A Poem By Jane Tawel

April 24, 2019

I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore!

Love stands ready at the door.

I am different, it is true.

But are we so disparate, I and you?

If I hurt you, will you not bleed?

Do we not suffer from the same needs?

Do men always have to throw in a spanner,

If I come at things in a unique manner?

And if I choose to use my heart,

Well, doesn’t that mean I’m just different-smart?

God doesn’t see me as mother or whore,

Oh, I am Woman! and I implore,

Please look at me, my friends and brothers,

Just as you would your beloved daughters.

And I promise you back, all you masculine ones,

I will love you as I would love my own son.

I Am Woman, and will not be labeled,

For I am strong and I am able.

But wouldn’t it be even more grand,

If we men and women would live life hand in hand?


I am Woman, a name Jesus could tell

To those like his own mother and the one at the well.

It’s a label befitting a daughter and queen

Who can rule with God in His World, yet unseen.


Oh, I am Woman, and I kindly implore,

Do not wait for heaven on some future shore.

We, brothers and sisters, can bring heaven to earth,

If we give no more labels but each other, true worth.

I Am Woman and I merely implore,

Love is ready and at the door.

jesus and men and women

The Saturday Between A Poem by Jane Tawel

 The Saturday Between

By Jane Tawel

April 20, 2019

Today is the day that should set us apart.

Not yesterday– everyone dies.

And tomorrow remember –the ones whom He knew

Were still afraid or just surprised.



Today is the day we should soberly start

To ask ourselves Who He might be.

And what it might mean if we take up his name,

And die with Him on our own Tree.


This Saturday when we are rushing around

Just doing whatever we do in our town,

Well, that is the day Jesus lay in a tomb

So that I could be born again in Yahweh’s womb.


So this — this is the day that I should be changed

In anticipation of molecules rearranged.

For the Savior who on this day in the grave rested

Tomorrow He will rise and be resurrected.


If I want to be different

And call myself a small Christ,

I must stay dead on Saturday

And that is a small price,

Compared to the sacrifice God made today,

When He stood by in heaven while His Son in death lay.


In Saturday’s tomb we can find God ‘s own Son

And there we will know the true depth of God’s love.

We too will one day meet our own mortal decay

Just like Jesus Christ did on this Saturday.


And so that Tomorrow I may be resurrected,

I dare not  make Saturday  — this day – neglected.

Oh, yes Saturday’s holy, a day to be respected

For Sunday’s a-comin’! And Our Lord’s Resurrected!

Resurrection is a Threat, Not a Promise

Resurrection is a Threat, Not a Promise

Shared Thoughts of Julia Esquivel and  Parker Palmer

from Jane Tawel

April 13, 2019



It seems a “good” time to share once more excerpts from this poem by Guatemalan Poet, Julia Esquivel.  This poem, written as witness to the horrors inflicted on the people of Guatemala in the 1970’s and 1980’s, is now perhaps even more tragically relevant to us in this place at this time. Who are we in light of this current onslaught of naked need?  I include as well, a short meditation on this poem by Parker Palmer from The Active Life.

If we are not being threatened with resurrection today, and especially if we are the sort of people who are still planning on celebrating the upcoming Good Friday and Easter / “Resurrection Sunday”, perhaps we still don’t really “get” this whole Christ thing? Perhaps we don’t even get this whole Human thing? To paraphrase Palmer, “If we are to take seriously those who complete their own “marathon of hope”, The Christ’s calling, perhaps we too must undergo some form of dying.” I fear and feel deeply and spiritually that if we do not, join the “least of these”, the lost, the poor, the sojourners and needy, in, as Esquivel writes, this “marathon of hope”, we will never reach “the finish line which lies beyond death”.

I hope you will read Ms. Esquivel’s searing poem and I hope, as I am, you will be threatened by it.   Resurrection is not a promise for believing in Christ’s life, my friends, it is a threat for those willing to die with Him. The King of The World lived not in the safety and cushy-capitalistic “Christianity” of my lifetime, but in the threatening and threatened world of self-imposed poverty and outcast status of the Judeo-Roman last century B.C. Jesus has threatened us with these words:  “For as you have done it unto the least of the world’s humans, you have done it as unto God.” Those words are either terrifying or hopeful, depending on whether we hear them as promise or threat. Perhaps we need to hear them today as both threat and promise.  As Esquivel says, “then we will know how marvelous it is to live threatened with Resurrection”.

Hear the threat. Seek the threat. Embrace the threat. Be the threat.


“They Have Threatened Us with Resurrection”

by Julia Esquivel

It isn’t the noise in the streets

that keeps us from resting, my friend,

nor is it the shouts of the young people

coming out drunk from the “St. Pauli,”

nor is it the tumult of those who pass by excitedly

on their way to the mountains.


It is something within us that doesn’t let us sleep,

that doesn’t let us rest,

that won’t stop pounding

deep inside,

it is the silent, warm weeping

of Indian women without their husbands,

it is the sad gaze of the children

fixed somewhere beyond memory,

precious in our eyes

which during sleep,

though closed, keep watch,

with each contraction

of the heart

in every awakening.


Now six have left us,

and nine in Rabinal,

and two, plus two, plus two,

and ten, a hundred, a thousand,

a whole army

witness to our pain,

our fear,

our courage,

our hope!


What keeps us from sleeping

is that they have threatened us with Resurrection!

Because every evening

though weary of killings,

an endless inventory since 1954,

yet we go on loving life

and do not accept their death!

They have threatened us with Resurrection

Because we have felt their inert bodies,

and their souls penetrated ours

doubly fortified,

because in this marathon of Hope,

there are always others to relieve us

who carry the strength

to reach the finish line

which lies beyond death.


They have threatened us with Resurrection

because they will not be able to take away from us

their bodies,

their souls,

their strength,

their spirit,

nor even their death

and least of all their life.

Because they live

today, tomorrow, and always

in the streets baptized with their blood,

in the air that absorbed their cry,

in the jungle that hid their shadows,

in the river that gathered up their laughter,

in the ocean that holds their secrets,

in the craters of the volcanoes,

Pyramids of the New Day,

which swallowed up their ashes.


They have threatened us with Resurrection

because they are more alive than ever before,

because they transform our agonies

and fertilize our struggle,

because they pick us up when we fall,

because they loom like giants

before the crazed gorillas’ fear.

They have threatened us with Resurrection,

because they do not know life (poor things!).


That is the whirlwind

which does not let us sleep,

the reason why sleeping, we keep watch,

and awake, we dream.


No, it’s not the street noises,

nor the shouts from the drunks in the “St. Pauli,”

nor the noise from the fans at the ball park.

It is the internal cyclone of kaleidoscopic struggle

which will heal that wound of the quetzal

fallen in Ixcán,

it is the earthquake soon to come

that will shake the world

and put everything in its place.


No, brother,

it is not the noise in the streets

which does not let us sleep.


Join us in this vigil

and you will know what it is to dream!

Then you will know how marvelous it is

to live threatened with Resurrection!


To dream awake,

to keep watch asleep,

to live while dying,

and to know ourselves already




The longer that one dwells on the poem, the harder it is to say exactly who threatens us with resurrection. The poem itself is like the kaleidoscope whose image Esquivel uses; each time you turn it a new pattern appears. So the poem imitates life, in which the “threat of Resurrection” comes both from those who dispense death and from those who have died in the hope of new life… If it is true that both the killers and the killed threaten us with resurrection, then we, the living are caught between a rock and hard place.  On the one hand, we fear the killers, but not simply because they want to kill us.  We fear them because they test our convictions about resurrection, they test our willingness to be brought into a larger life than the one we now know. On the other hand, we fear the innocent victims of the killers, those who have died for love and justice and peace. Though they are our friends, we fear them because they call us to follow them in “this marathon of Hope.”  If we were to take their calling seriously, we ourselves would have to undergo some form of dying.  (Parker 147-8)



The Liebster Award for Jane Tawel and Thoughts on Blogging

On and To Bloggers (but maybe we need a prettier name?)

from  Jane Tawel

April 8, 2019


One of the very great things I have discovered about blogging, besides my own creating and thinking with words, is being made aware of how many other creative people there are in the whole wide world posting their creative words, art, and ideas in the medium of online personal “blogs”. This idea of blogging has changed greatly and I think for the best, as it is now a huge, flexible, and fluid medium for expression of all kinds. It is so huge that it is hard to know how to find those folks out there that might appeal to one’s aesthetic or personal needs and desires. Just by luck and through my own blog,  I have come to find out about people I would never know about otherwise — people in Germany, India, Canada, Atlanta — people who make pottery and write about it as if the pots were darling children much like I write about my own darling children; people who create pen and ink drawings and then write heart-searing essays, full of “the warp and woof” of human experience; and people like Tebatjo, someone I may never meet in this lifetime but hope to someday in Eternity — people who dig into their need for writing that most modern-age maligned of arts, poetry, digging much like Scarlet dug potatoes from her decaying plantation, promising “I will never go hungry again”. We who write poetry, feel the metaphoric hungers of the world, and share our own provisions to stave off the starvation of soul-less-ness.

This blogger award to bloggers was a very wonderful thing that the originators came up with, because it is named Liebster, which in German means, “kind”. And it is truly about kindness, isn’t it? It’s all about kindness, not niceness, but about being kind; kind to the planet, kind to others, kind to self, kind to God. I have found the world of fellow bloggers that I personally have heard from or have read to be a community of kind people, people from all walks of life, genders, colors, places, ages but people who share  the quality of kindness.They share kindness through comments, through encouragement, and through this award. I think any one who attempts to create art or who tries to teach other people something about how to live, no matter how bad, unjust, angry or frightening the world is — those people must have a core of kindness in order to create.  No matter how much one rants or provokes in one’s art, art itself will bring one back to a sense of a world of nature and other beings, who are just waiting — just longing — to be kind; if we open ourselves to it, it is there.  I have found the kindness of creativity in a “nation” of fellow bloggers. 

It helps my own wee soul tremendously to know there is an unsung “nation” of souls in the world who create because that is what humans should be doing. Whether you get fame or money is beside the point, the point is as beings created in the image of a Creator-Being, we must. That’s it, we must. Creating may not be our job, but we embrace it as necessary for our lives.  So it is with humility and joy that I accept this nomination (prizes awarded in January 2020), which may seem silly to some, but to me represents a whole world of people that I respect greatly and people that the word “blogger” does not do justice to.  The word “blog” rhymes with things like bog or fog or smog — not things that one wants to immerse oneself in or at least stay in for long.  The bloggers I am privileged to be a citizen with in The Nation of Bloggers,  are thinking, creative people who give a lot of time and energy, heart and soul, to making the world a better place, whether they have one follower, one reader, or thousands. They are the liebsters of the world, whose prizes wait for them, awarded in Eternity by that Great Creator and Lover of all those who with suffering and kindness, create in Her Image. Thank you all for rest, inspiration, provocation, and joy in the journey. You are “liebstered” — you are valued.

******You will find below the award details,  the intriguing questions I was asked to answer; the blogs I am nominating but also recommending for readers to check out; and my questions for the nominees.  As a reader, you might have some fun answering all or one of these questions and posting them in the comments.




A hearty and heart-felt thanks, to fellow blogger and poet, Tebatjo Malaka for nominating me and my blog for the Liebster Award. You can find Tebatjo’s profound blog at





What is the Liebster Prize?

The Liebster Prize is an award that exists only on the Internet and is awarded to bloggers by other bloggers. The first case of the award goes back to 2011. Liebester in German means sweet, kind, dear, charming, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. It really is an excellent way to meet other bloggers and gain more visibility in the community.

There are some simple rules to follow:
Add a link to the Official Liebester Award page in your blog post the Global aussie


  • Thank the blogger that nominated you.
  • Display your award.
  • Answer the questions you were asked.
  • Nominate at least 5 other followers to do the same post.
  • Ask 6 new questions to your chosen nominees.
  • Let each nominee know you’ve nominated them and give a link to your post.



  1. Literaa Poetry
  2. DaleGreenArts
  3. The Alchemist’s Studio
  4. The Mad Servant
  5. kumarshanu1212
  6. beautybeyondbones
  7. Deanne Davis at Tablespoonoflove


Questions I was asked to answer by Tebatjo:

  1. How do you define life?

Wow. Right out of the gate, a question that leaves me a bit stunned and silent and the point is to write about it, but I’m assuming I can’t write a 5,000 page tome, which is what it would take. So, for now —I define life, I guess, as something we are given on our birth date, a great and wondrous and often, ponderous,  gift, and then as we live, each human has the choice to accept life as gift or to see life as work. We can use our lives to construct something meaningful, or we can choose to deconstruct or destroy those essential and unique elements we are given as human beings. Now, some people are given more viable and good options in this lifetime than others, who get the short end of the stick or are exposed the evils of the world in ways that are completely unjust.  And whether you are born into a life of ease or a life of hardship is not at all fair, but if you believe, as I do, that we also have the choice to not let this short passage of time that we live out on Earth, be the only and finite life, the only definition of what a life means;  then the option of choosing a spiritually-led life is yours no matter your circumstances.  In fact ironically, Jesus makes an interesting comment that scares some of us fat cat first worlders — he said, it is harder to live a meaningful life if you are rich and powerful than if you are poor and unjustly persecuted.  But as all things are possible with God, even entering the life of God’s Kingdom, then seeing life as gift, no matter our options, will ensure that someday, somehow there will be a life of justice and truth, love and peace, and a wholistic life that for now we can only see and experience dimly or in pieces. However, the crux of the matter is, how I define my purpose in living, for just this morning, this day, this moment even – that is a reflection of how I truly define “life”; which should be paradoxically sobering and freeing.

  1. Based on answer in 1. above, how often do you think about death?

I think about death pretty much every night before bed and first thing in the morning, when I am pleasantly surprised not to be dead.  I wouldn’t say I think much about death in between those times, except to rather daily frantically pray for the people I love to not die that day. If you do read my blog, you will no doubt fairly soon discover that I have more questions and more thoughts about what comes after death than about death itself. I do find this question interesting because I think Americans and perhaps all First World-ers are in dangerous denial about the one certain fact of this life – we will all die.  You can use all the Botox, build all the safety nets (or walls) you like; but you cannot protect yourself from the certainty of death.  However, see the John Donne poem below in my answer to Question #6 for some hopeful philosophy on our deaths.  Or I might recommend a meditation on  The Christ’s view of life after death as found in the book of John, particularly John 5:24 and 11:25

  1. If you had a clone, would you be pleased in telling him/her your life secrets? And how would you accomplish the task of reassuring him/her that everything is going to pan out alright when he/she is about to give up on life?

So, I have to assume that my clone doesn’t know everything I know. (For a wonderful meditation on whether we would really like to have a clone or not, watch that old chestnut “Multiplicity” with Michael Keaton). And I have to assume that I know or have “life secrets”. And are these life secrets about my own life’s journey, or about the “secrets of life” or are both always connected? And then I have to assume I am dealing with someone who is suicidal – Yowza!  In terms of telling someone my life secrets, I would tell them to someone I trust and someone who could learn by them.  I have told my children some of my “life secrets”.  But the tough part of this question of course, is how to talk with someone who is “giving up on life”.  I come from a dynasty of “cheerleaders” who believe in the old “buck up” method of encouragement and that the best thing to say is always: “I’m proud of you and you are great and all is going to be fine for you”. But then your kids grow up or your spouse gets sick and you realize, “so what if I’M proud of them? And also, things do not by any stretch of the imagination always turn out fine.”  And isn’t pride actually, in the end, the problem, not the solution; either the lack of the right kind of pride or too much of the wrong kind of pride. 

So what to say to someone who has gotten  so far along the road in life undetected, or unswayed by the cheerleaders and encouragers, that he / she feels life is not worth living? The problem starts with thinking life is all about me; which in the end, even for those who are famous, wealthy, powerful etc. is never enough, as we find to our sorrow with the famous, powerful, wealthy, people who commit suicide.  The deeper issue is with making me, myself and I the trinity idols of my life. And this is such an insidious religion of humanism masquerading as Christianity, or Judaism or Islam now, at least in my country, it is.  What blindsides us in the end, is that people don’t realize that self-worship is what they actually believe.  They think they believe in God or have faith in Jesus or practice living like Buddha, or will die for king and country; but we have so long been afloat in the sea of materialism, humanistic idolization, greed and power masquerading as success and fulfillment; and self-pride, that with the first moderately strong waves of despair, depression, fear, or failure that eventually assault our sense of meaning, we are capsized into despair or we drug ourselves with religious feeling or pharmaceuticals or more stuff to make the bad feelings go away. But the waves keep rolling. So I guess if my poor clone wakes up one day, as truthfully, I do some days, and says, “Original Model Jane, I don’t feel like living.”  I hope I would simply give Clone my time, that most precious of treasures for now. I hope I would simply sit and hold her hand and make her some tea and maybe a scone or two.  I hope I would stop talking and advising and cheerleading, and just listen – even if it means just listening to the small, faint sound of her heartbeat and the miracle of her breath.

  1. If beauty was defined in terms of a moment, what/how will it be?

Looking at my baby’s face, breathing in the scent of the back of her neck, caressing the little limbs, chubby and soft and helpless, hearing his little bleating cries or his soft coos of contentment as he nurses nourishment from me, looking up from her soft downy head at the great big world, and feeling that sense of awe that this beauty has been given to me.

  1. Between cooking and eating, what’s best, on the assumption that none of the two is obligatory?

Cooking, because cooking means that I will have family and / or friends around my dinner table, enjoying something I have made just for them. The joke in my family is that I cook as if all the field hands on the ranch were coming in hungry to chow down.  I cook as if all four kids were still coming in to dinner each night, along with all their friends – hungry as only kids can be and wanting leftovers of their favorites for later.  I am not a gourmet chef but I cook as generously as I hope my heart is generous.

  1. Do you believe life is a function of fate or destiny (note: destiny is the direct antithesis of fate.)

Ah, the old Shakespearean conundrum:  “Is the fault in the stars or in ourselves?” As asked by Brutus, that most wretched philosopher /friend in the play “Julius Caesar”  or take Edward in Henry IV: “What fates impose, that men must needs abide; it boots not to resist both wind and tide.”  Or The Player King in “Hamlet” “Our wills and fates do so contrary run, That our devices still are overthrown; Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.” 

Alas, these are all quotes from plays in which people die and die and die some more. So what does Shakespeare or any one for that matter, do with the great Worldview Questions, especially the one about death and dying, when they answer it with, “well, that’s fate”.  I posit that the great poets and artists and philosophers of our times, know quite well, that “fate” or “destiny” is never actually an answer – it will always remain a question. It is one of the ultimately unanswerable questions because only God can look at us, our world, and the element of Time from outside those elements and determine the true meaning of anything. We are not even 20/20 in hindsight, as there is always our very personal interpretation of what we see in the rear view mirrors of our lives, compared to what any one else might see or assess.

I’m also not entirely sure I agree with Tebatjo that destiny is the “direct antithesis” of fate.  See my answer to question #1 on life, but if we have any kind of Judeo-Christian philosophy, then we believe that all human beings are created for the same destiny: to love and glorify The Lord God, Creator of All; to live a life of justice-seeking peace, kindness, truth, and fulfillment; and to work at loving others as we love ourselves.  This is everyone’s “destiny” but not of course the end result of every human being’s choices.  In fact, woe is me, it is the end result of very, very few of us.

Of course, Shakespeare is also wrestling with this conundrum of fate and choice; God and humans as little gods; and none of his characters have it completely right, only pieces of it, which is why Shakespeare keeps on asking his characters and his audiences this question.  Shakespeare’s questions on fate and human beings versus Providence or A God are much like you can find in the Biblical book of Job – a play with characters worthy of Shakespeare for sure.  As you can see, I find it necessary to turn to those great Questioners of the ages in terms of questions like this one.  If you check out Job, you will find that God Himself questions Job.  The gift of art is the gift of living in the questions. And this for me includes the question of  “fate or fault”, “fate or destiny”.

 In terms of fate, I refer readers to find some munching on material in, perhaps, the views of two  great poets –John Donne and Emily Dickinson. 

Superiority to Fate (1081)
Emily Dickinson

Superiority to Fate
Is difficult to gain
‘Tis not conferred of Any
But possible to earn

A pittance at a time
Until to Her surprise
The Soul with strict economy
Subsist till Paradise.


Death Be Not Proud

The Holy Sonnets by John Donne


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


  1. If you were to write a five-line poetry for that one person in your life, how would it look like?


I do write a lot of poetry for the people in my life, my husband and children.  Yesterday my husband and I had one of “those” fights.  So here is my poem for Raoul, my one person, for today.

For Raoul

Five Lines, by Jane Tawel

You and I, muddling through.

There are days you hate me and I abhor you.

But we keep living the gift of a long-term love,

which all but God fall badly short of.

We both mess up badly, but our love remains true — you know, I love you.



Jane’s Questions for the Nominees:

  1. If you could get out one all important message to the world, what would it be?
  2. You can build your house on either a mountainside, in a forest, or by a body of water. Which would you choose and why?
  3. What one book of fiction would you recommend everyone read at least once if not many times in his / her lifetime? Why?
  4. You must choose between lots of money and fame right now or being recognized after your death as a profound and meaningful artist. Which do you choose and why?
  5. Pick at least three different artistic mediums and name someone who has effected your life through their creations.
  6. Why do you keep doing what you do?


The Center Now Holds

The Center Now Holds

By Jane Tawel

April 1, 2019

I never had a center until now.

It took me many years to make

My center sometimes appear.

And now it often all a-sudden,

Shows up–

Solid, sure and unafraid.


It was sort of lurking long inside me,

Always a jiggly mess though;

Like a cake without a finished middle,

Still raw and sloshing left and right;

Unable to hold still enough for

Me to feel I even had

what other people easily used,

As nourishment or weaponry.

All my parts were always flying off in pieces.


Now sometimes I quietly sense in me

a firm center

Unbroken and unyielding.

But this annoys or terrifies you.

So many times, I  just sit quietly holding my center

While it holds me.

But while I hold myself in place,

And you stare blankly, wonderingly

At what you sense

 and is now un-hidden from even me,

I let you look at all the missing and shard-ed bits,

I once hurled your way.

And instead of pieces,

I often times feel peace.

My center now holds.