“Everywhere” – the third and final Poem in The Birthday Card Poems

Everywhere

Poem #3 in the Birthday Card Poems

By Jane Tawel

Everywhere, the Spirit rages

Through the world, and through the ages.

Blowing like the wind

Breath, like in and out,

Spirit of Imago-Dei,

Spirit of the heavenly way,

A whisper and a shout.

*

Spirit dressed in rags and riches,

In English halls, and Gaza ditches.

The Spirit loves the childless lady,

The wandering soul, the tiny baby,

the man of color, homeless girl,

and everyone throughout the world.

And everywhere, all humankind,

The Spirit of Love, can seek and find.

With just a spark of love and care,

the warmth of Love spreads everywhere.

*

Everywhere a soul is needy,

Everywhere a soul is greedy,

For the Spirit, not the prize,

Opening ears and using eyes,

To hear and see

To touch and be–

Why, that is where the Spirit of Love,

Can make a person worthy of,

A Christmas-sort-of-actuality,

Alive and well in you, and me.

*

The Spirit of true rhyme and reason,

Is not just for one single season.

For Truth and Love,

And Peace and Prayer,

Are ours for making,

Ours for taking,

Ours– always

And everywhere.

Wishing you and yours, and me and mine, a truer understanding of what the Spirit of the Christmas-type of love and joy can be for us each day in some small way, if  only we “make it” and “take it”.  Shalom, Jane

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“There” — Poem #2 of the Birthday Card Poems

There

A Birthday Card Poem #2

By Jane Tawel

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“Cold hands equal a warm heart,” Mama used to say.

I wonder if her hands feel as cold as mine do,

Nailed above my hanging head,

Bloodless.

I keep thinking about the beginning.

Oh! The stars!

The Star!

And I –almost human,

Barely just alive,

And all the people smiling, cooing, touching, weeping with joy.

Caught up in a contagion of hope and love, they were, back there

On that night.

*

 

Now, this day,

Now, only she weeps,

And not with joy.

And the rest of them laugh, or run away,

staying back as far as possible

From my almost corpse.

Afraid to be caught up in the contagion of death

As I hang here, barely still human.

*

 

The beginning was glorious.

They say babies can’t remember their birth,

But some of us can.

I do.

The wood of the stall where I began this life,

Felt nothing like this wood.

This wood, so unnaturally shaped (no tree could grow like this),

This wood, my arms and legs are splayed upon,

 is splintered, rotting, rough;

Worth nothing but the fire after I hang here on it today.

Contaminated by death, it will be

No longer of any use to anyone, after this day.

Just as I will be, no longer useful,

After this day.

*

 

People think a baby isn’t born to be useful,

But I was.

I was born to be of Good use;

Like a tree planted by streams of water,

Yielding fruit in season.

*

There, in Bethlehem,

Exhausted as they were from days of rough travel

Anxiety and fear making Joseph sweat and Mary weep

In pain, from journeying by kings’ decrees.

In pain, as Jews have always been.

Will always be.

In pain as I am, here, on this cross.

By the time they arrived there

Was no room.

*

 

Oh, I remember.

Though now, I am blinded with agony

and delirious, perhaps from loss of blood,

I can see perfectly, in my mind’s eye,

My birth-day.

My birth had spent my mother—body and soul,

She was weak from loss of blood there,

As I am here,

Our loss of blood like two parentheses enfolding my life.

She was so tired…

So very, very tired we were sometimes….

Until she could barely hold me to her breast.

Joseph, with strong hands, made feeble by my birth,

gently snuggled me down into the hay.

Some babies do remember;

We really do.

*

Like a baby bird made safe in my new nest,

I looked for the first time upon this world,

A world of trees, and stars, and faces;

And all seemed, back there,

Exactly as it seems to me today at the end:

The world is all so very new and as very, very old

as all Newborns know

The world to be.

*

 

The wooden trough where my parents nestled my infant form,

 was as soft as silk

From years of animal tongues, licking, honing, softening

Until not a splinter remained.

There, the wood was as lush and sweet-smelling and soft

As a king’s cradle.

My fledgling family baptized that wood

With my birth pangs.

That trough was anointed by shepherds and sheep

By kings and sages.

Who will anoint the cradle my body dies on today?

*

We had to flee that place,

Jews always do eventually.

But I like to imagine that wooden manger

 Is still there today,

A cradle where I was first loved,

Where I first loved.

 Wood, if properly cared for

Can be useful forever.

Trees, even in death, have long lives,

Eternal, one might say.

I know that as well

As any Master Carpenter should.

My earthly father, Joseph,

Taught me all about wood.

I think about that manger

 there

feeding the sheep again.

*

 

And suddenly, dying here now

 I feel I might join in

The laughter of the crowd below.

They would think me as more insane than they already do,

The crazy “King of the Jews”,

 but I Am

Secretly thinking about the irony,

Of the parentheses of my life;

The parenthesis of two wooden instruments,

One of life,

One of death,

Bracketing my life

Like wooden signposts

Leading forward.

*

 

Yes, perhaps I have just enough faith to think that—

Just enough words to tell them all, that–

both the wood of my cradle

And the wood of this cross

Are useful tools,

Are instruments of life,

Are places where human babies are safe,

Are symbols

Of birth.

*

 

The strange parentheses of my cradle and cross,

Will have no end.

The wooden brackets that surround my name,

Will lead people forward.

( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( (

When I was There,

I was already Here,

Going like a lamb from

Trough to slaughter.

The final bracket remains unknown

On the other side, Over There.

*

But I am not laughing, No,

Yes, I am crying instead;

Not so much from the pain,

Though it is almost more than I can bear;

Not so much from looking at my mother’s face,

Ravaged with sorrow,

Or from gazing weakly

At the few unlikely friends weeping there,

Those few who risk their lives to

Watch me die.

*

 

I weep

for the wood

   this earthly rood.

This tree I die on here,

Will never be useful again,

This tree too, dies with me today;

And it seems the whole world of creation,

Weeps with sorrow for the tree, once a sapling,

that dies here today; and for the

Son of Man

 who dies

here on

the tree.

*

*

 

“My soul is consumed with sorrow, to the point of death!

Like a sheep before its shearers I am silent,

I cannot open my mouth.

My soul is offered up as guilt offering,

And I will never see my offspring,

I can no longer prolong my life,

It is finished.”

But almost as I end my life here,

the still small voice,

Of My Father,

who awaits me There,

Says,

“Oh, My Son, this tree, too

Will feed the sheep.

And You, My Child,

Will be with Me, Here,

forever,

Feeding Your offspring

At your own breast

As your mother once fed you.

You My Son,

Will live to have many babies,

Reborn because You

Cradled them here today.”

*

 

(So, because of my mother’s willingness to serve My Father

I, her child, was born.

And because of my willingness to serve My Father,

My own children will be re-born.)

*

I embrace this wooden cross,

In death,

As once that wooden cradle embraced me,

In life.

My first breath, began the struggle.

My final breath is a fight to give it all up.

 I can just make out the words—

So faint—

Like whispers hovering over the void

Of the world–

Is it memory, dream or present reality?

The words I hear now,

 as my mother and My Father coo me to sleep,

As my mother and My Father gently sing,

“There, there. There, there, my Child. There, there.”

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A Christmas Letter Replay from 2015

It seemed like a good time for me, and maybe you, if you are reading this, to re-post the very first Christmas season post I wrote for this blog.  Whatever you believe, this post is about being and being-ness and not doing and doing-ness.  I am personally practicing more, different, and various forms of centering and breathing, of embracing the Now, and accepting who I am and the paths I have taken, as well as trying to understand who other people “are”, not so much what they “do”.  I hope you might wrestle with me on some of the thoughts I posted in 2015 in light of all that has changed out there, and in me and maybe in you, in 2019.

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A Christmas Letter on Being-ness

by Jane Tawel

December 24, 2015

A Christmas Letter is about all the stuff one and one’s family has done in the past year. It’s an accounting of achievements and that is as it should be since that is what satisfies the recipients’ curiosity. There is a saying people toss around when they are telling one not to stress– “We’re not called human doings, we’re called human beings“. As I age, I am distilling into more and more myself, which is (I’m often told) — impassioned and weird.  So once again this season, I write my traditional odd and intense Christmas letter, not because that is what I do, but because that is what I am — odd and intense.

Sometimes you shouldn’t stake claim and insist on being what you naturally are — being is like writing– it is important to understand context and connotation. In writing as in life, know your context and if necessary dial down your weird and impassioned. I’m a bit spotty on successfully doing that, I admit.  But I am learning that it is often okay to accept one’s particular self. Each of us is created in a unique way to reflect the image of our Creator God.  I serve an odd and intense God — an impassioned God, a strange one-of-a-kind God, who unlike other gods did not tell us to worship Him for what He had done or would do, but told us to worship Him for what He is: “I Am”.

We “Beings” are the only created “Imago Dei” of that God — imago means “idealized concept” — which fittingly has nothing to do with “doing” but means “a better than in reality idea”. That’s what we will be again someday — our realized ideal self. Meantime, we work at it. This time of year we celebrate the fact that while we were formed from dust into God’s image, because we rejected that image, God chose to be created in our image–ad imaginem hominis. We were given the perfect Being to model — Jesus, the Christ. As the hymn goes: “Amazing love, how can it be that thou my God, should (be born) and die for me!”.

I get all my strange random thoughts out of my head in a blog where you can also find this letter (janetawel.wordpress.com).  I am reading a lot of C.S. Lewis. One cannot spend time with C.S. Lewis and not become at least a wee bit changed.  Lewis has such a high view of human beings –that is if humans choose to sacrifice completely the sense of self to the sense of imago dei– through relationship with the living God and in the manner of the Son of God. It is a fearful thing to ponder that one day we will become what we have always truly been judged to be, with no regard to what we have done. The bible calls it God’s view of the true heart of one’s soul.

We are easily confused and disoriented by the distorted mirrors reflecting what is truly “us”. There is none good but God and no goodness in us but our Godlikeness in Christ. One can live in a state of stunned awe reading a lot of the Bible and Lewis.

I learned more about reading and writing with my 15 Azusa Pacific University freshmen. One of the things you try to help students with is that when writing, stick to the same verb tense.  The other thing is that it is easier to write consistently in present tense than in past tense.  I think it is easier to LIVE consistently in present tense as well — easier than living in past achievements and problems or living in future dreams and worries. Occupare Momento!

With my “at least on paper grown-up”  kiddos, I am failing but trying to transition from “doing mom” to “being mom”.  This is the necessity if you want to be friends with your adult children — you will always “be” their mom, but you don’t “do” mom any more — at least I imagine you can’t until they become parents and then you can do “grand” mom. Being mom means you let them all be who they are becoming and you just be there for them.  Whatever you do, don’t let on that you are still doing stuff for them. Except doing the occasional bill paying for them. That’s ok. This morning the best part of still being mom, is being with all my chicks and my hubby under one roof — even if only for a short amount of time. They all keep asking me what I want for Christmas — isn’t it obvious? — just to BE– together. There is a great old Peter Seller’s movie called, “Being There”. Chauncey Gardiner keeps saying, “I like to watch.”  I “like to watch” my children and husband bloom and grow.  So, I am watching my family being: Hard workers. Risk takers. Creators. Friends. Students. Travelers. Dreamers.

Christmas is a time of traditions.  Traditions are not things one has merely done in the past but they become traditions because you keep doing them–in the present. We, as perhaps you, are in the midst of our many Christmas traditions, like fudge and cookie making, driving around to see the lights, singing carols, hiding gifts,  and snuggling  together watching Christmas movies. Our traditions are mostly about being present in the season.

Advent implores us to live fully in the present reality while anticipating the future reality. As Christians we lean our frail earthly weight into our calling to be “on earth as it is in heaven” – which will merely BE timeless present in God’s presence. Advent is about Christ with us, in us, and Christ to be. The church liturgy helps ground us in the present of Christ’s presence, not by having us think on what He did — “He was born”– but by celebrating what His Being continues to mean daily, in this very moment, in the present eternity of our souls –“He IS born.”  “He IS Risen”. “He IS coming again”. He Is I Am.

This Christmas perhaps we First World human beings, are more aware of our frailty and transitory state as the Evil One rears in his death throes of ugliness, unnaturalness, violence, and hatred. Today increasingly seems to gain better odds at being my last day. While Eternity becomes a more present longing, it is yet good to be thankful for another hour to be present here.

We spend a lot of time doing good things that care for the body and mind. But what of that which is our innermost being? How shall we live to be Souls rather than Bucket Lists? We are called to improve and to love this created world and God’s created people– as our skills and callings and dreams allow. But the soul can only be bettered by the One who created it, so that the true self can be made into that thing which is all that will eternally remain –Faith, Hope and Love.

The soul is our being-ness. It is only in being known by our Creator, by knowing our Creator, and by allowing that humbling, undeserved but delightful relationship to God to inform all our human BEING relationships, that we truly become who we are meant to BE–  Little Christs– poor imitations but striving imitators nonetheless, of Him of whom the angels sang, “Glory to Him in the Highest”. And by giving Christ glory, may peace on earth and good will be to all souls. Hoping that in the New Year that you and yours, may BE all that you are meant to be.

Jane — December 2015…. and……. Jane, December 2019.  Shalom.

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A Psalm for The Day

A Psalm for The Day

By Jane Tawel

December 9, 2019

 

God of mercy,

God of grace,

Help me God to seek Your Face.

 

God of judgement,

God of power,

Grant me hope in this dark hour.

 

God of Moses,

God of Christ,

Give us all

We need for Life.

 

Fill me, as I empty out,

All my pride, and all my doubt.

Empty me to do Thy Will,

Listening for Your Voice, so still.

 

God of Light,

And God of Love,

Thy Kingdom here as it is above.

God of Love,

And God of Light,

To be My God, I, You, invite.

Forgive me now,

And teach me how,

To walk, and do,

In worship of You.

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