Homily #2: Small Favors

By Jane Tawel

Homily #2: Small Favors

By Jane Tawel

January 16, 2021

*

I thank Thee for small favors.

For damning turned to praise.

For even though the drink was spilled,

It did not break the cup.

*

I thank Life for this moment,

For Time to make amends.

For even though the past was spilt,

Today I can clean-up.

*

I pray, that All forgive me.

And let me try again.

To cleanse my cup and cleanse my heart,

And cleanse my life from sin.

*

Tomorrow I may wake up

Or maybe I will not.

I pray no matter what’s been spilt,

I will not break Your Cup.

Practice Saying This Out-loud: “I Was Wrong”.

A poem by Jane Tawel

https://unsplash.com/photos/_8gzs9HYYhM

Practice Saying This Out-loud: “I Was Wrong”

A poem

By Jane Tawel

January 15, 2021

*

It’s best to start by practicing.

It makes it much less challenging,

than when you find you’re scrambling,

to just admit you’re wrong.

So, spend a little bit of time

Indulging me in musing rhyme.

I’ll tell you just a thing or two,

‘bout what I’ve learned, and what to do.

Just think of this as my word-song,

‘bout how to just admit we’re wrong.

*

The sin that humans first found trying,

which led them to the art of lying,

was when the truth they tried to hide,

because they could not swallow pride.

Oh, yes, it’s happened since The Garden,

that people hunker down and harden,

their hearts from love and friends from pardon.

We often skew reality.

and won’t concede our vanity.

We cling like fools to fallacies

and won’t admit we’re wrong.

*

So, find a rock, a toad, a cup,

and then, like I, just pucker up,

and kiss your pride into tomorrow.

Believe me, you’ll have much less sorrow,

when harsh or sweet,

you just repeat:

“I was quite wrong.”

“Why, I was wrong!”

“Oh, dear, I’m wrong!”

“I’m wrong, wrong, wrong.”

Please don’t prolong,

your mad insistence

to the resistance

of error’s existence.

Not one of us is bullet-proof,

We all misstep, miscue, or goof.

Just let go all your sad pretense.

Admit that you have made offense.

Or just admit you’ve joined the throng,

’Cause all of us are often wrong.

*

I promise you,

You’ll make it through.

Don’t fret or sweat it,

’cause soon you’ll get it.

And while it never will be easy

and saying “sorry” still makes me queasy;

I’ve found the more I admit error,

I see the world as brighter, fairer,

and full of possibility.

There is a real nobility,

in owning up and changing course.

Humility can be the force

for conquering lies or selfishness.

In meekness lies contentedness.

One finds a true sense of real peace,

and harmony and joy increase.

When I admit a sin or blunder,

The World is once more full of wonder.

*

We always fear our pride will hurt more,

than owning up to faults we once swore,

were worth the price of any war

or hurting someone we adore.

But was it worth it? Was it really?

To hang on to such touchy-feely

Anxious, angry, set in stone,

Points of View we’ve now outgrown?

Are the attitudes that mar

really who we truly are?

Or are we more than attitudes?

Worth more than old cheap platitudes?

Could we not give up foolish feuds?

And seek whole souls of gratitude?

*

In mind, and heart, and soul

We often fib or troll

for scoring points and goals

not being kind or whole.

Wholeness and peace will come

only to few and some,

who willingly

admit to be,

(and here I hope you’ll say with me)

“I guess I’m wrong. I was so wrong.

Well, I was just plain wrong.”

*

Give up the fight,

to still be right;

and then despite,

how much it pains,

our small, weak brains,

to lose false gains;

You’ll find with me,

you’re much more free,

when easily and strong,

you just admit, “I’m wrong.”

*

So, before you court disgrace

ending up with egg on face;

or by sin, flub, or mistake,

time and loves become heartaches;

I highly find and recommend

that some good practice time you spend,

by looking at the sky or mirror,

and thinking of your wrongs and errors.

You’ll find yourself so much more strong,

by practicing these words: “I’m wrong.”

*

Be brave my fellow travelers.

Be truthful, pliant, cavalier.

By owning up and making right,

Forgive yourself for hurts and slights.

Find those you’ve hurt when you were vicious

and ask them too, for their forgiveness.

And as a bonus and a plus,

you’ll find there’s quite a few of us,

who want to grow, and learn, and see

that even when we don’t agree,

There’s more to life than being right;

And if we know that, we just might,

be able to have the real faith,

that we can actually heal this place.

The earth and beasts and foes and kin

need us to swallow our chagrin.

Admitting wrong’s where we begin.

Then we might chance to win this fight,

of making Eden once more right.

*

Oh, I have learned,

goodness is earned,

by owning up to errors,

and playing with others fairer.

I’m learning how to be,

a humbler, more “right” me.

So, I don’t plan on quitting,

My habit of admitting

That just like you, I might,

Not always be quite right.

*

By letting go of being mulish,

and fear of looking dumb or foolish,

I’ve freed myself from stubbornness,

and from rank ego, found egress.

“Bye-bye!” I cry

to stubborn pride.

I’ve said, “So long!

to fearing I was wrong.”

*

And while I still expect

I’ll suffer and afflict

my human need to be correct;

I know I’m not yet perfect.

But still, I’ve been effected

When my pride is subjected

To thoughts I have inspected

To judge they’re still respected.

If I can loose my hold

on lies I have been told

or on the way it used to be — 

Oh, I am much more free!

And as a plus? — I am a better “Me”.

*

I aim by this daft tome of mine,

To lure you in with endless rhyme.

And let you glimpse the ebb and flow,

Of how it feels to let pride go.

Perhaps you’ll find as I have done,

That one can actually have some fun,

with making poetry or pun

about the errors we cling to.

I hope you’ll have the same break-through,

as I keep trying still to do.

However you decide to try it,

I hope my patter helps you buy it,

that giving up on being proud,

and practicing these words out-loud,

will help you be a better you.

Whatever you decide to do,

I hope you’ll find your way to Truth.

And just like I,

You too might find

The Way is better,

when we aren’t fettered

by always feeling we’re correct;

Instead of trying to connect

to Life’s eternal mystery.

Oh, won’t you journey forth with me — 

(And maybe take a friend along)?

Just scream it out, or write a song,

But for God’s sake, please don’t prolong

admitting: “I was wrong”.

©Jane Tawel 2021

Homily #1: Knowledge vs. Wisdom

“candles” by rogerglenn is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Homily #1: Knowledge vs. Wisdom

By Jane Tawel

January 13, 2021

There is reasoning, and then there is reason.

Short-shrift of knowledge is a special need.

But rejection of knowledge is rejection of treatment,

To cure what ails the sufferer.

And when we speak of knowledge versus wisdom,

We put a puny light-weight in the ring with a Super Hero.

Oh, to be freed from the need to prove oneself correct!

And in the stead of thinking oneself knowledgeable,

To be imprisoned by a desire to be made wise and righteous

And make oneself simply, Known.

(c) Jane Tawel 2020

The Idols

by Jane Tawel

January 7, 2021

10 Weirdly Specific Gods Your Mythology Class Left Out - Listverse

I never understood how people could worship foolish looking, or stupid, or downright evil idols instead of the true God. I looked at history, both Biblical and not, and thought, well people are smarter now, people are better now, and surely people know about Jesus now, so idol-worship is over, right? I never understood how people could sacrifice their own children on the alter of nationalism or class- privilege or misguided entitlement in order to feel like they were going to be taken care of by the gods who merely laughed and ate their babies. I never really understood how people could do violence, not to get the bread they needed to survive or to fight for their rights or justice, but to placate a human-being they had made into a god — like a pharaoh, or a fuhrer or a president on his way out. I never really got how the Christ could say “people will claim they know me, but I sadly will have to say, ‘I never knew you'”. Then 2016 happened in this country, and then 2017, and 2018, and 2019, and 2020, and then yesterday happened, and that finally confirmed it; I think I understand. We may not be what we eat, but we are what we worship.

You Can’t Take It With You; But You Can Pass It On

by Jane Tawel

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

You Can’t Take “It” With You; But You Can Pass It On

By Jane Tawel

January 1, 2021

So, this is what the start of a new year looks like and frankly I am unimpressed. We woke up today, thinking somehow the worst year on record for most of us would be immediately left behind. We all had such high hopes for 2021, because let’s face it, anything had to be better than 2020. And yet is it? Is it really? And then it hit me that every year we go into the start of this new day as if suddenly we are going to make big changes, keep inspired resolutions, be all that we can be, and just do it — and yet, today is merely the start to a new year because we say it is. Many other cultures choose different days to reboot, to restart, to call it on the last year, and call out hopes for a new beginning. And while I felt a deep sense of both ennui and sorrow today when I realized that nothing much had changed — I was still living in a world of raging dictators and raging viruses and rushing humans and roaring need and of course, worst of all my own peccadilloes and broken pieces. But at the same time, by being a day like any other, it meant that I could choose to make it a new start for myself no matter what the date said. And I could also choose to accept that all the things in my life that were part of the “old” life, the past, the previous, and yesterday, were things I could choose to embrace or not.

I mean, I might not be able to change any of it, but I could look it all in the eye and say, “okay, take a seat at the table”. Whether you are a past part of my life like a stinky, yucky, rude guest, something like a mega-virus or bad relationship or the death of someone I so loved; or you are a sweet, clean, polite part of my life like that lovely meal I once had in Provence or the births of my babies, or that student I taught who thought I was a great teacher — no matter what –Today — I will accept you as a vital, living entity appearing in the crowd of that which surrounds who I am. Mr. or Ms. Part of my Life, whether good or bad, I accept that you may stay as that fork in my road, that stone in my path, that mountain I climbed, or river I easily floated down. You, no matter how good or bad, are a part of my journey here on earth and you may enter. So, this morning, I opened up the arms of my soul and said, “All that has been, I will welcome you”.

And that is the moment, when Grace appeared. Grace didn’t show up because I wished or prayed it into being. It wasn’t because I had a religious epiphany or made a conscious choice to believe it. Grace appeared despite everything then and now. Grace appeared because I felt it. I simply felt that Grace was also there at the table of my life. Grace was being offered as a Gift. I could choose to welcome it, or I could refuse it, as I so often have.

And Grace meant that all that had come before no matter how awful, painful, unjust, evil, boring, irritating, angering, hateful, or just plain bad; it could all be made good in my own life if I let myself welcome Grace. I didn’t need to know how or why, I just needed to hold the gift of grace close to myself. But I also, because I was supposed to be thinking about the future on this randomly chosen new start to a new year, had to anticipate the gift of Grace for the future. I had to accept that Grace would also be there waiting in the bend up ahead. Grace would be plentiful in the future, even if today felt just as fearful and overwhelming and boring and plain bad as yesterday was. Grace would appear and it would wait for me to pick it up and unwrap it and accept it. Grace would be there tomorrow, even if I didn’t see it, or feel it, or accept its offering. Grace would be the gift that keeps on giving.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1*TjwwJvoS43pzbHIa0ZPMMg.jpeg

Photo by Kate Hliznitsova on Unsplash

I am generally very bad at accepting gifts. I could go into all the psychology behind that but for now suffice it to say that I am as bad at accepting compliments, help or gifts from humans as I am at accepting gifts or grace from God. To accept Grace feels uncomfortable to me. Grace makes me feel my unworthiness and at the same time an anxiousness. In the same way that I don’t like even the people I love most in the world giving me a present or telling me I look nice, I don’t like Life cutting me slack or God giving me grace. Grace appears to me as an unreality; something I can not understand. It’s a problem. Of course, that is why, as I realized today, Grace can only be felt, be imagined, be dreamed while awake. Because Grace is not a part of the reality we create and live, it is a part of the reality that only the Divine and the divine inside us can create and gift to others. Grace is the gift of the gods, the gift of the Earth, the gift of god-ness in an individual, and the gift of the God Who Loves.

This year my children gave me a wonderful gift for Christmas. Today, on New Year’s First Day, their gift has helped me understand a bit better how truly my life has been filled with the gift of Grace even when — perhaps especially most when — I didn’t even know it. My darling adulting children gave me a beautiful little pottery jar with little bees pictured on it and the words, “Bee Happy” and inside they had each written on little slips of paper a host of their favorite memories of being with me. I was instructed to pull one out each time I needed to “Bee Happy”.

My naughty “little” children love to give me something that makes me cry with a joy I feel I don’t deserve but which overwhelms me, so you might imagine when I opened this gift surrounded by masked pandemic-protecting kids and kids faraway in presence but never in thoughts appearing on Zoom — I broke down in tears of — well, I realize as I am writing this — I broke down in tears of heart-felt, soul-felt, overwhelming acceptance of the feeling of Grace. Because I will tell you frankly — I was not a perfect mom, and still am not; but the gift of it all is that my children still love me and have enough good memories of me to fill a jar –and that, my friends — that is Grace. That indeed is grace for me and, oh, my mother’s heart! — that is also, grace for them.

Grace is like the bees — miraculous, common, un-holdable, free and absolutely vital. And the problem we have is because we can’t earn grace and can’t keep captive grace and know we don’t deserve grace, we often don’t acknowledge or accept grace.

It is Grace that has allowed me such joy as those four kids and their father have given me. It is grace that I have had some wonderful coworkers and nice neighbors, some good friends and generous bosses. It is grace that I survived childhood and had my own loving mother and got to go to school and Sunday School and learn and play and work and travel and snuggle and enjoy and grow — and well, all of it, right? ALL. OF. IT. And what has held “it” all up and held “it” all together and been there without my effort or ability or even mostly my acknowledgement — has been Grace.

The Gift of Grace has been there for my taking all along and even when I clenched my fists or refused to hold out my arms to accept it, it infused my whole life like a sweet-smelling incense. Grace has lighted my way through the tough times and the darkness, like a thousand candles appearing miraculously along the way. Grace has been there, as well, in all the positives; it has been the constant gifting throughout the whole arc of my life, un-thanked, ungraciously ignored, a gift in every good thing, and every good person that has ever happened to me. Grace gave me new beginnings even when I thought I was stuck in the ruts of yesterday. Grace gave me hope even when I thought there was none. Grace has no boundaries and no end because it comes from a God and from the God-ness in each of us that has no boundaries and will have no end. Grace, like Love, remains forever pulsing throughout the universe, as a divine, unknowable, but un-refusable gift.

So, although we are told we can’t take anything with us, we can pass things on. And that is the greatest grace of all. We may think we work hard to leave a legacy of some kind or other, but all that “stuff” will pass away. The Grace of Love and the Love of Grace are all that we leave and all that we have ever really had. Today, this first day of 2021, I resolve to myself and others, to believe, that tomorrow, and perhaps, even for an eternity, we will also have available for the accepting, the Gift of Grace. Today I will let myself simply feel the gift of grace.

Rather than make resolutions that I won’t keep or be able to keep; rather than try to outguess tomorrow or rectify yesterday; I will be here and now just for today and be open to the Gift of Grace. I will think about who I have been and who I am and be content that some of that has been good enough to pass on to my children and husband and friends and coworkers and neighbors and strangers. And I will accept that I have passed on many bad things and wrong ways to those others, (and we do pass on the bad as well, don’t we? Especially mostly to those we love most and would rather not pass on anything bad. But we do. Oh, yes, we do.). I will accept that passing on bad things are just part of being human and I can resolve not to pass on so many bad things in the future, but I know I will need a lot of grace to keep that resolution.

But I will also try to accept in my heart of hearts, that when I leave this life, even though I have passed on bad things, I won’t be able to take those bad things with me any more than I will be able to take the good things along. I will try to “feel” that even though I left those bad things behind for and in the people I love, they, too, will find the gift of grace when they need it. That is a gift of grace I want to welcome deep into my soul today — not to know, but to dream a dream that when I leave “my people” to wake on another shore, that I will find that grace lets us leave the bad things behind and go into the future with arms wide open to accept the unreal, unimaginable reality of Grace.

Today, I will let myself open up my hands a little more and make my arms a bit wider, so I can graciously accept the gifts of others, the gift of being alive, the gifts of my past, present and future; and the gifts of a Gracious God, Who Is, and Who offers each of us the Power of Grace-filled Love.

Today I resolve to leave behind that which I can’t take with me. Today I begin to feel and welcome the gift of grace alive in the world and in me. Today I pass on, the very real dream and hope of a New World filled with the gifts of Grace.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

© Jane Tawel 2020