Dr. Seussing It – Trying to Save the World and Everyone in It (one rhyme at a time)

Here is my latest poem about changing the world, helping the environment and finding your inner imago Dei,  or best spiritual (Loving!) self.  You can read it by clicking on my name below and following it to the medium link under the title Dr Seussing It. Intriguing? I hope so.  Thanks as always for reading.  Jane

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Seasons and Seeds

Seasons and Seeds

by Jane Tawel

February 17, 2020

soil-flora-food-plant-produce-turnip-vegetable-sprout-radish-fungus

 

Lent is fast upon us which for me, among other things, means a time of practicing the intentional spiritual discipline of silence, not to escape although that is healthful sometimes too, but to find more strength to translate faith into action. Faith does not grow without action and action can not sustain us without faith.

This quote from the poet Christian Wiman says it convinct-ingly and beautifully:

Silence is the language of faith. Action – be it church or charity, politics or poetry – is the translation. As with any translation, action is a mere echo of its original, inevitably faded and distorted, especially as it moves farther from its source. There the comparison ends, though, for while it is true that action degrades that original silence, and your moments of meditative communion with God can seem a world away from the chaotic human encounters to which those moments compel you, it is also true that without these constant translations into action, that original, sustaining silence begins to be less powerful, and then less accessible, and then finally impossible.” (Christian Wiman in My Bright Abyss)

 

I am as in so many things, I guess, rather a weird, strange loner sort of “lent-practitioner”.  Lent for me is not so much of a “church thing” as it is a life-thing.No one else in my family practices it and the people and friends I do have that may observe the season of Lent do so because it is their job to preach it or because they have done so all of their lives. I did not grow up practicing Lent, but I did grow up amongst the small farms intersected by straight rows of roads, farms that used to dot the Midwest of America like prayer books in pews. It was a place where people lived into Seasons. It was a place where people lived into the Seasons of their Protestant beliefs in the same way they lived into the seasons of the soil and the weather and their families.

 

The word “Lent”, means simply “Spring”. Spring, where I live today in SoCal, is not all that different than Fall or Winter.  It is a little different than our hot, dry summers, but still, not so much. But just as it is everywhere on this wonderful globe, humans will celebrate (or groan about) seasons. And just as it is everywhere, Spring is a time when we feel a sense of anticipation. We are beings meant to be in tune with seasons. They are after all perfect metaphors for our very lives. Yoko Ono says of Life’s  passing Seasons:

 

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

 

 

Spring is that wonderful time when we feel innocent again, because the Winter has passed. Whether you find yourself in Southern California or Siberia or Paris or Kenya, Spring means youth, growth, planting, change, hope.  Rainer Maria Rilke writes, “It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”

 

Spring is one of my favorite seasons because I love anticipation. I am one of those people who love the mysteries of the pregnant times. I am silently punishing of those who would reveal the ending before I have enjoyed all the chapters. I am “all in” during the preparation stages, and feel morosely depleted when it’s “all over”. Not everyone is like this, for instance my delightful mother never met a secret she wanted to keep or a gift she wanted to wait to open. We are, if embraced, a wonderful world of unique human beings. Remember when that thing went around where colors that you looked good in were assigned seasons? My age may say “Winter” but my heart is Spring.

 

Most of us lucky enough to live long enough miss the innocence of  our youth. However, most of us also would admit that we don’t really want to stay children forever. To be the best human one can be, is to be purposeful, and that means to “grow-up” and grow-out. Just as the span of a person’s life is metaphorically marked by seasons, so too, is each year, and beyond that, for spiritually maturing adults, seasons are something we must determine, something internal and intentional. If I truly want to grow as a person with both sustaining faith and purposeful action, I can (and must) determine the seasons my soul needs consistently, perhaps daily, in order to expand, enlarge, and care for not only itself, but for others.

 

Growth means that we must continually go through all the seasons. The small farms of my youth or perhaps the plants now perking up your kitchen window provide the similes for how we were created to exist. Winter means dying to things that are useless and unhealthy. Spring means to anticipate, to nurture, to hope, to plan ahead. Summer is the time of reaping the harvest of one’s hope and faith.  Autumn is the grateful sigh at the end of the hard work and when we share the bounty we have reaped.

 

We are growing some seeds in our kitchen right now. Today they lie in wait under faithfully wetted paper towels—little specks of dark brown that look like nothing more than useless dirt-freckles. But we know.  We know what is possible with a little patience and a little faith in those small brownish seeds. We know because we have lived through Spring before. We have done the difficult work of digging at hard earth before. We have planted before. We have weeded before. We have watched in anticipation of small green shoots before.  We have tasted the fruits of our work and waiting before. We have seen buds become bounty, before. Before it has been Spring and so we can, with hope, plant for what comes After.

 

Before, there is faith. After, there must be action. And then faith again. And then action again.  As the poet-philosopher says truly, “to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose on this great planet, under the heavens.”

 

My practice of Lent is based on my own journey towards meaning. I have a particular and peculiar worldview that believes there is meaning beyond what I can see and taste today. I am a nobody, a little brownish dirt-freckle sitting hopefully on Life’s Counter, a human-seed still growing, but with barely enough faith to believe that somehow my small little self will be worth anything at all ever. But that is where my own kind of faith in the future and a germinating hope in the passing and renewing of Seasons comes in. One of the greatest humans who lived and a profound teacher on living, was one who said this about how we should live like seeds in a different way of understanding our world: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” ( Jesus in Matthew 13)

 

A person does not have to practice a religiously orchestrated season such as Lent, but all humans need to find the cleared paths through the fields, the tools to scythe the weeds, the seeds to nurture along and hide in the dark, rich earth; and the difficult but fulfilling work that can only be done by one’s own hands.

 

We all need to have faith that tomorrow, the seeds will grow into food or flowers.  We all need to act on that faith. We may be the smallest of seeds, but as that great gardener of souls, Mother Teresa once said, “not all of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love.”

 

As Christian Wiman says, faith untranslated into action, are like seeds that stay forever dormant. But action without faith, which is really just another word for Love, will never feed our own souls nor nourish the needy of this world.

 

If we are the seeds, then faith is the compost, hope is the water, and Love is the Sunshine.

 

We must create often and intentionally seasons of dormancy, with the anticipation and hope that the rains and sunshine and rich loam will be provided.

 

We are all different kinds of seeds, unique in our needs and our growth patterns. Just like plants, we all have different requirements, different looks, different attributes, different gifts to the world, and different ways of finding nourishment to grow. But we all have seasonal needs and, hopefully, we all can still find within our small selves, a desire to resist remaining dormant and to seek growth and enlarge our souls and give something meaningful to others. I may grow from a religiously orchestrated Lenten observance.  You may grow from a hike up Mt. Kailesh or a sabbatical from your job. Some of us grow into flowers that, as love does, give beauty and solace to others; and some of us grow into broccoli or cabbage that can, as truth may do, purge some of the poop out of the world.  But all of us need the same basic things in order to grow to maturity, We all need a little faith, a little hope, a little usefulness, and a whole lot of love.

 

 

What we need to grow and to act and to keep believing, will come from what as seeds, we already have within ourselves, and as plants, from what we must partake of from without ourselves.  And just as the seasons turn round and round, all will come in due time. But to riff on that old idiom, if we are to bloom where we are planted, we must live with purpose and hope into all the seasons that this very day may take us.

 

For me, purposefully planting seasons of giving up and letting go within my soul, spiritual germination tactics, if you will, is like becoming a small mustard seed. Then, in hope, I wait for that which with a little sunshine and a little rain, a little faith and a little love, will grow into something large enough, something active enough, something as big as a tree enough, and something as nourishingly truthful and caringly loving enough, so that others may find room and love in which to nest.

 

Sun & rain

“Sun & rain” by sofimi is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

 

 

A Little Poem on Behalf of . . .

two coffee cups and hand

“two coffee cups and one hand” by micmol  is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

 

being . . .

alive….

is so good today.

 

*

i touch.

i listen.

i truly see

and seeing, see truly.

 

*

You….

being…

alive….

is so good for me.

*

i hold

 inside myself

all that is best in you.

i love

apart from myself

that which is truest

 in you.

*

And holding all…

that which is love,

becomes us.

and loving that which is best

in you. . .

keeps me true.

*

WE….

make this life

what it is.

and  because of You

i keep what is good

 in me

alive….

being. . . .

 

By Jane Tawel

February 10, 2020

Prayer is Not for the McDonald’s Take-Out Line

144990581_6dd78e2564_b

“day of prayer 010” by provokechange.org is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Prayer is Not for the McDonald’s Take-Out Line

By Jane Tawel

February 6, 2020

 

Today, in my country, is a day that is known for recognizing something called  “The Annual National Prayer Breakfast”. The irony, not least among all the current ironies of this day, is that if anyone who actually claims to follow either Jesus Christ, as a Christian, or who claims to be a believer in YHWH God, as a believing Jew or Christian – if that person actually understood the Bible, they would know how very wrong this whole idea of “National Prayer” is, at least as practiced here. And not only is it wrong, but we who believe in prayer, should tremble if we do in fact believe that God commands us not to take His name in vain.  Because prayer is only a type of self-vanity and more frighteningly, the abuse of God’s name if we pray for people who do not want to live into the truth, who do not love, who do not follow the commandments of God and the Golden Rule of Christ.

 

I read an article in the Washington Post today by Chris Coons, entitled “Why I pray for Donald Trump”.  Coons obviously has a good heart here, obviously, but he is sadly, just another person who has jumped on the bandwagon of a religion that has been skewing south, at least since the days of the Roman Empire and Constantine.  This article by Coons, is among a host of others trending by self-proclaimed followers of the God of Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus.  It reveals the current, rampant misunderstanding of prayer and tragically, does not follow the teachings of the person they claim to follow, in terms of what Christians’ chosen worldview illuminates prayer and faith to be.

 

If someone wants to claim to follow Christ, then one should understand the enormity of Jesus’ words when he says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt. 6)

 

Jesus goes on to teach his followers how to pray, and people have been memorizing this prayer for centuries now, and yet still do not seem able to follow through on the prayer’s requirements for how we should then live.  It begins with our unwillingness to accept that prayer is rarely, only very occasionally, meant to change the will of God. We, as a matter of fact, are meant to change the will of other human beings, not God.  Nor is prayer meant to get us out of the fixes and problems that are a result of our own actions, choices, and sins. The only thing we can pray for in those circumstances is grace. But we have with great gains in our own sense of power and entitlement, manufactured a false religion based on the cheap grace that Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Jesus both warn us against relying on.  Prayer is meant to humble us into asking God for our greatest needs, the true needs that all human beings have always had since the beginning of time.

 

Our two great needs are: Firstly, the willingness to share and love others as we love ourselves; and secondly, the need for repentance, and change of heart. Christ’s own prayer, that he used as a template, is full of humble thankfulness that God has provided all of us with the means, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, to have enough to live, and to live fully and completely. The prayer is also full of humility, humble mea-culpa, and an aching need for God’s forgiveness every day for what we have done wrong. Remember, this prayer was being prayed by the sinless Son of God. And that is perhaps why Jesus strongly commands us to pray alone. Because true prayer is not only asking for what we need most but confessing to our most egregious sins against God and man. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have a desire to confess my sins in public prayer. I sincerely doubt anyone will be doing that at National Prayer Breakfasts today.

 

God’s intentional involvement with his created humans’ need for a king and a nation began with the Hebrews. In I Samuel 2:25, God gives his people this sobering word of Truth. “If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death” (I Sam. 2:25). Prayer is meant to ask God to help us with our problems with each other, because we are all failed, flawed creatures. Prayer is not meant to put some of us on a pedestal so high, that we have convinced ourselves they do not need to address their sins and change their ways. God hasn’t “chosen” any of us to not need forgiveness and grace from Him.

 

I spent a lot of years working for businesses that wanted to claim to be “Christian” and decades of going to churches that wanted to claim to have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about Christianity.  And there were people in many of these institutions, who absolutely and truly loved God and tried to truly follow Jesus with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. I loved praying with them. I loved them and I felt loved by them. I would not be who I am today without the prayers and love and truth-telling of some people in my life who were as much like Jesus and as all-out for God as anyone could possibly be. I rely daily and deeply, on the prayers of even the most flawed of us, especially my own very flawed prayers and flawed self.

 

But today, when I read Mr. Coons call to pray for the president,  I was reminded of a time when I was asked to join in prayer for the health and well-being and decision making of the top leader at one of these Christian institutions I worked at. We were also asked to do this rather trending thing in Christian circles today, and to lay hands on this man so that God might heal him and give him “power from above”. After all, God “chose him” for this position. The problem was, I knew for a fact that this man was a liar and was lying to all those good, “just-gotta-pray-about-this” folks. While they were praying for him to be healed and strengthened to do “God’s work”, he was lying about his situation, taking the money, and secretly sending out applications for jobs elsewhere. And I knew a couple others in that room of hands eager to lay some blessing on this leader, knew this man was lying too.

 

And I didn’t make a big deal of it – it was my job, after all, and I was a peon, a nobody; but I wasn’t going to be a liar myself. I stood quietly in the corner, while they all gathered around, laying on hands, and verbalizing to God, and since I was a nobody, no one noticed. But I always think no matter where I am, or what I do that there is One who sees. So I was not going pray to a God who I had to believe, considers my every word and deed as something He cares about. I have to believe in the type of God who cares about my needs, and cares about my wrong-doings. Otherwise, He’s not God; He’s just a lazy, missing in action, government official.

 

If you want to know how people who truly believe in the Bible or in the God of Jesus, Messiah, are supposed to pray for despots, dictators, Herods, Pharoahs, and certain presidents and senators, and for nations who like Babylon, entice the people of God into giving up God’s Kingdom for the kingdoms of human rulers, then start reading the stories of Moses in Exodus and don’t stop until you finish with the prophetic words of Malachi.

 

Read what the people who want to be known as God’s Chosen People pray, when they aren’t willing to pick and choose how to follow God. Be sobered, as I have been, on how we are to pray to change how we live, and not pray with a desire that our 401K’s will keep growing. We have lived so long as overly entitled self-sanctified wannabes, in this latest Babylon called America, that our prayers for others, along with our easy path to salvation, are not questioned.  Read what the Bible actually says about those who walk the easy path, with flippant prayers. Don’t get mislead by the later teachings added to what we erroneously call a “New” Testament, and which were written as side-notes and today, are greatly misunderstood and misattributed to a man named Paul.  Read some of the Psalms, instead, such as this prayer from Psalm 137: “Babylon, you are doomed! I pray the Lord’s blessings on anyone who punishes you for what you did to us.  May the Lord bless everyone who beats your children against the rocks!”  Try that one on for size the next time you are asked to pray at the National Prayer Breakfast.

 

We would do well, on this day of prayer to begin to treat it like every day. We don’t need the freedom to pray in schools, we need the freedom to pray in our most hidden places; praying for our hearts to be changed, not our nation to be enriched.  We would do well to take a gander at the story of Jesus overturning the money lenders’ tables and his words on giving Caesar what is Caesar’s and God, what is God’s. And then we would do well to go into our most private space, and if we have humbled ourselves to the point of true repentance, humbly address the most holy, righteous Being, Who is nothing like me, but who allows me to say, “Dearest Parent, I need….”

 

People have confused their beliefs in a God with their beliefs in their own specialness, and their beliefs in a nation with their worship of an elected official.  We would do well to listen when other writers compare that to Germany and Hitler, and to the Hebrews and Babylon. We would do well to listen to Jesus’ response to the oh-so-God-chosen ruler, Pilate, when Pilate asks Jesus to “pray for him” in his decisions, “Aren’t you one of the top-dogs of the God’s Chosen People, Jesus?”, Pilate asks.

 

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

 

Many of us seem more willing to follow our current Pilates, than we are willing to follow The Christ. Christ’s voice is never found in lies or liars, as he says, only those who “are of the truth” listen to his voice, and prayer is ultimately about listening, not just talking at God. I have spent far too much of my own share of lying to others, lying to myself, and lying to God, and it is sobering to remember that the one thing God hates more than anything, are liars. (Proverbs 12:22, Revelations 21:8, etc. etc. etc.) When we read our newspapers, when we read our Bibles, when we pray, we must look truthfully at ourselves and not be misled by those who like Pilate, give up trying to live in God’s Kingdom, who instead think that truth is flexible,  and that we are the determiners of the world’s fate. Today far too many who would claim to pray to God in Christ, are in fact, sardonically or despairingly, asking, “What is truth?” And then choosing to have breakfast praying with liars, not bending a knee at Christ’s table.

 

The answer for those who claim to be praying in public today, should actually be rather easy:  Jesus said, “I AM, the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, to the Kingdom, to everlasting life – except by me”(John 14:6)

 

By all means, have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with sinners and saints alike, today and every day.  But when we pray, maybe it’s time to check-out of the fast food lines of public prayer consumption, and head into the private confines of our hearts, where we will rather than asking for more to consume, will be ourselves consumed by our need for repentance and forgiveness and more love..

 

Dallas Willard suggests that in order to re-learn how to pray, we should daily re-interpret in new words and new thoughts, and new heart-felt needs, the words that Jesus taught us as found in Matthew 6:9-13. Here are mine today.

 

Our Progenitor-Womb, and My Daddy/ Mommy,

You are truly “out there”, where I am not, somewhere, and You are real.

You have many names, and I seek You, the GreatI Am, in all of them.

Bring it on – Your Way of living on earth, in my life, and in the whole world.

May I do the things you want humans to do well, and stop doing the things that mess up my own life, the lives of others, and the planet. Because Earth, is not the only reality.

Help me stop being so greedy and wasteful, and share more with others, and trust I will always have enough.

I need Your forgiveness and I do not deserve it, so help me believe in Your grace and forgiveness by my own humbled forgiveness of others. Out our sins, so that we can change.

Please, don’t be so distant. There are too many temptations today, that without You, I will give-in to, if not being tempted to do complete evil, at least lazy gray areas of wrongdoing.

Save us! Help us! And when I say us, I mean everyone, not just me.

“For THINE, is the Kingdom (not this one), the Power (not America’s) and the Glory (not mine),

Forever. . . .

From my mouth, to Your ears, Amen.

 

Prayer flags in Ruvanvalisaya, Maha Thupa, at Anuradhapura

“Prayer flags in Ruvanvalisaya, Maha Thupa, at Anuradhapura” by Jonybraker is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

 

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changing to a Precise Center

Hi Friends, I hope you will take a bit of time to read my latest on Medium.com.  I have shared the friend link with you here, so you can access it without impacting how many other free stories you can read on Medium.  Just click on my name in the picture below.  This is a longer read about making small changes, including my change from wearing a cross to a Tree of Life necklace, and my changing-up my need to hang on to a hurtful past in order to have a more hopeful future.  Here’s to Hope that makes us hum and smile more.  Peace,  Jane

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