The Bucket List I Never Made, Come True

Shackelford Island Ponies

The Bucket List I Never Made, Come True

By Jane Tawel

September 13, 2021

I have never made nor contemplated making a bucket list. I have absolutely nothing against making one, and I love to hear about other folks’ items on their bucket lists. I find them incredibly revelatory and hopeful. And of course, like everyone, I play the game of “someday, I would like to….”  or “before I die, I want to….”.  When a person’s dreams die, they aren’t just old, they are dead, no matter if a physical body indicates otherwise. As The Bard says, “we are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep” – all too soon that sleep comes, so have at it with those Bucket Lists while ye may!

So, when I kick it, you won’t find a hidden Bucket List among my many pieces of revelatory, self-incriminating written logs. Then yesterday, something happened; and though I never went in search of greatness from a list of To Do’s Before Doom’s Day, a Bucket List item was thrust upon me. Shakespeare once more, said it first: “Some are born with Bucket Lists, some achieve their Bucket Lists, and some have Bucket Lists thrust upon them.”

I am visiting the beautiful (there is just no other word for the topography here) State of North Carolina where one of my darling daughters works and lives with my grand-furbies, Artemis and Apollo.  Apollo is up and awake with me right now, being the young whippersnapper that he is, and he is bouncing all over the house waiting for his mistress to get up and feed him. I am forbidden to feed him, and if he bites my finger in hunger or starts chewing on the cord of my laptop, I am supposed to somehow catch him and shove him in his little time-out cage until said darling daughter arises to give him his breakfast. It’s hard being a Grand-meow who can’t spoil her dear grand-furby, but, the wrath of an adult child is nothing to mess around with I have found, being four adult-children down at the count. I love them more than my own life, but I miss them when they were little tykes and all I had to do was hold them tight when they were upset or kiss them when they were sad or laugh along with them at some silly thing that never made sense in hindsight but was just a way to joy in the moment. Now I am a helpless old thing against the tides and times that they have inherited from me personally and from my generation in general and from all the good and bad we try to control in the world and in ourselves with various degrees of success and failure. May the sins of my children’s mother not be carried on to the third and fourth generation*, but may I be forgiven the consequences of my mea culpas in their lovely, much-loved lives and futures.

My children all have Bucket Lists. They don’t share a lot of the items with me and that is as it should be. Bucket Lists should not be made into common currency or YouTubes, Tik-Toks or even movies with famous actors filling in for real people. Bucket lists should have a few sharable items: I would like to visit New Zealand. I would like to finish a Marathon. Stuff like that. But mostly Bucket Lists should be those hidden, cherished, held-close desires of the heart that let us dream of what might be in a perfect world, personal and public. They should be full of items that let us imagine being something other than what we are today, with a hope and prayer of doing at least some of those things.  Most importantly, Bucket List dreams should be about being all that we imagine the Human Being is capable of doing and being, whatever that might mean to me, or you, or my child, or your friend. And the lovely thing about a Bucket List is mine doesn’t have to be at all like yours to be valid and important.  Bucket Lists just might be the most uncompromised by cultural, national, or religious symbol of the most personal / communal Dream-Worlds of Endless Life Possibilities ideas in existence. I mean, isn’t Heaven really, just another word for Bucket List? Isn’t Heaven is also just another symbol for that endless eternal ability to be and do everything that the human divine soul was created to be and do? Isn’t the ultimate Bucket List really just another form of desiring a glorious, godly, divine, and endlessly available and possibility-enhanced Eternal Life?

A Bucket List is not just about creating an amazing future though, as I found yesterday. It is also about our deepest selves’ broken pieces being a little bit patched up; our short-circuits reconnected. The items on a list about things we want to do before we kick the bucket, reveal what got broken, or subverted, or short-circuited or stopped just that little bit short of realization. A Bucket List is not just about what may happen but what should have happened. We like to imagine a better future when we can’t deal with the bad stuff in the past or the present, (another reason so many religions got the underprivileged, non-wielding Bucket List folks, like slaves or minorities, living for Heaven, instead of focusing on what could be done about the present problems in their lives).  Thinking about the fact that we are still alive enough to have hopes, dreams and desires – big ones, like the ones on a Bucket List – return us to the possibilities we imagined when we were children; when we still had dreams, when as children we envisioned an eternal future without any limitations. Our Bucket Lists are about finally going skydiving, because we dreamt of flying like Peter Pan, when we were children; or  we want to check off a safari, and riding an elephant, because we imagined as children that we were wild animals roaming the jungles. When we were young, we romped together in our imagined worlds of play and  in our freedom from soul-sucking jobs, or relationships that were hard, or physical ailments that meant we were unable to walk or move without pain, let alone check off our list the desire to surf Maui. Bucket Lists return us to not just hope for the future, or a belief we can fix something in the past, but also to at least for one minute, a joy in the fact, that “where there is life now, there is hope”. Bucket Lists are really about suddenly being present to ourselves as valuable, worth-while, dreaming, hoping, believing beings.

Yesterday my daughter and husband and I took a ferry to an island in North Carolina with a lighthouse. Seeing lighthouses is literally on my husband’s Bucket List, and we were able to check that off his personal list, with the help of his beloved daughter, by seeing two of the beautiful lighthouses that still operate today. Lighthouses were created to keep sailors and ships safe from the world’s dangerous waters and unforeseen shoals.  Maybe Bucket Lists do the same for people. 

On our way to the island yesterday, we passed Shackelford Banks. And as our captain, slowly passed by the banks, there they were — my eyes are tearing up as I write this, and remember it now– just as yesterday without anticipation, I found myself silently crying as I saw something that I immediately knew had been on my Bucket List without my ever understanding it was there. There in front of me were three wild Shackelford ponies, one a foal still gangly and unsure in the shallows.

When I was about eight years old, and my parents were a mess and going through a divorce that they never told their four kids about, and at a time I didn’t realize how what another relative was doing to me wasn’t appropriate, and my childhood seemed to be getting snatched away from me but I didn’t know it, my father, gave me a book called “Misty of Chincoteague”. It’s a famous children’s book by Marguerite Henry. You should read it if you still have a bit of child in your heart, or at least get it for a child you know and love. Later, when my dad let me choose a pinto pony for my own, he let me call it “Misty”. After a few years of my broken family being in a strange existence that isn’t about Bucket Lists at all, my mom remarried and moved us away and I rarely saw my dad and never saw Misty again. I guess she must have died, along with my own childhood.

Yesterday I saw those wild ponies, not on the Chincoteague of my youthful book-inspired dreams, but on Shackelford Island, while I sat next to the dreams I never knew I had – a husband of thirty-three years and one of my own dear, beloved children, grown to adulthood with her own shared and private dreams and Bucket List items. And the little girl I was, Janie Karen, came rushing up to meet me in the sight of those horses, and I realized: “I made it. I made it here to see this – to see them – to see Misty—after all these years. I did it. I made the dreams I never knew I had come true.”

And I checked off an item from the Bucket List I have never made:

#1: I will keep my childlike faith. I will continue to imagine and dream and look for the wild ponies in life, where ever they may appear.

“And it shall come to pass, that your young ones shall be divinely inspired; and your old ones shall dream dreams; and all will have the ability to plan the future with imagination and wisdom.” **

© Jane Tawel, September 2021

*Deuteronomy 5:9

** Joel 2:28 (paraphrased by me)

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51zE3RSaUFL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

How Much We Must Unknow to Understand

green and yellow fish on water
https://unsplash.com/photos/SPTh4rzR6xQ

By Jane Tawel

September 6, 2021

*

To allude to a fact, is to release it to deeper understanding.

To allude to the past, is to increase its future expanding.

To cling to knowledge is a losing game,

as shallow as a puddle, as fleeting as fame.

Oh, to have faith in what is not known,

is the key to a wisdom that is not blown

by the winds of the time or the waves of the tides,

of humans’ small knowledge and man’s foolish pride.

*

If there is a God, then She must have a splendor

that surpasses religion or nation or gender.

Yes, there is a God, and He rises above,

even our greatest poets’ small odes to great love.

Yes, there is a Being, beyond all our facts,

known not through our creeds, but just by the acts

of the people who yearn for a soul free from self,

and the people who learn less from books on a shelf,

than by doing and proving that the self has to die,

for the Soul of Eternity to be truly alive.

*

How much, how much we must lose to gain.

What fields of faith, in one buried grain.

Embrace the story and the mysteries.

Let the present flow into past histories.

Release the need to understand,

and wholeness and holiness will expand.

Don’t limit today by confines of the mind,

and as all seekers, you may find,

that God is present and God is close,

and God is faith, and love, and hope.

*

How much there is we must un-know,

for the faith of Eternity to be planted, and grow.

For faith is the action that shores-up our belief,

and rescues our odysseys from the sirens’ reefs,

of limited knowledge, which ours always must be,

in a world in which there is just one guarantee –

that as small as I am in life misunderstood—

God is here. God is love. God is peace. God is Good.

**

© Jane Tawel September 6, 2021

Today begins Rosh Hashanah, and this poem was inspired albeit poorly done, in reverence and appreciation for the profound teachings of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Though he would point out that I have read merely his books, Rabbi Heschel, a man of faith for all religions, nations, and peoples, through his books of  profound thoughts and faith has taught me more than I can begin to express in my own small words of gratitude. Shalom to you and yours — Jane

Hidden God Hiding Love

Hide and Seek Game - Ultimate Guide to the Best Game EVER!
bighappybackyard

*

Hidden God Hiding Love

By Jane Tawel

August 29, 2021

*

God hides.

All truth speakers know this.

All truth seekers show this,

in The Way they treat others.

We don’t know why God hides,

but it must have something to do,

with us, not God.

After all, a God who hides must love us very much.

For who can see God and live?

*

Love is not particularly our human forté.

And the kind of loves we mistake for Love,

perhaps the one that hovers and smothers,

in a needy insecure desire;

or love in a parent’s or lover’s missional bait and switch;

or love that demands returns on love’s investments

until a better investment comes around;

or love that claims to sacrifice,

while in reality,

it only takes and takes love unto one’s self,

 in the name of charity for others;

these things we all accept as if we know their meaning.

But the still small voice within us, always cries: “Lack! Lack!”

These false loves we accept and make stories about,

and award and honor those we think did it selflessly,

and so, we spin and protect the tall tales of selfless Eros;

and miss the truth myths of Agape love.

And we die false sacrifices in the name of love,

never having lived in the sacrifice of God’s Love.

Or we love others, with only their false names on our lips

because for most of us we think that kind of love is the best we can do,

and because the names we have given them are the only names we know.

We have not yet repented of our love,

and confessed that our hearts are still mostly made of stone.

We have not stopped to listen to the hidden song within,

the others or ourselves,

and stopped-up the noise of love-songs,

and stripped away the names of our families or feudal tribes.

We fear without our names,

the only names we know,

we will not know who we are.

But that is only because we have not yet received our white stones.

But we put far too much faith in knowing who we are;

“Be still. Stop your stories. And Know God, I Am. you are.”

*

Oh, put aside your childish things, and fairy tales.

There is no white knight riding forth to save you.

You have salvation within yourself.

Arise from your deathbed and live.

*

Selfless love is a cancerous myth,

full of false gods and false loves,

spreading through our lives like locusts in fields of grain.

Make your story about loving yourself.

God loves Himself;

and love is of God and everyone who truly loves,

is born out of God.

Make your story about loving everyone.

God loves everyone;

and this hard love, like a hidden diamond,

 is hidden even from God Himself,

so that all may be loved.

*

God’s Love is hidden,

Like all treasure chests are.

God’s love lies hidden within my very chest walls.

And if I can not sense its Presence

in myself, I will never sense it

in my brother, mother, sister, friend, child and

Yes, even hidden, like a lost coin, in my enemy.

If my Truth is not seeking

The Hidden God in me, and

God’s Love hidden in you,

then all truth is a lie

and all loves are hates.

*

Just because the God in me

lies buried

under the eons of fallen, rotten fruit

from Eden’s deserted crop,

the pearl of great price is also buried there;

gifted, not earned; found, not banked on;

apart from all I have nurtured or harvested;

a part and piece of all that is

my solitary humanness, my island, myself,

 alive and a-love within the Divine Whole.

*

And just because the God in

you, or me, or them, or us

may be hidden under layers,

and layers of the dusts-bowls of fruitlessness,

of the arid wastelands of anger and fear,

of the decimating wars without and within

or the shackles placed on us by the concepts of slavery or sin;

just because we feel alone

or alone,

or sometimes we are so very all alone;

just because we can’t see clearly,

and all is muddled in minds gone rancid from the infections of information,

and our hearts hurt so bad from longing for love,

and our eyes sting from trying to see through,

the crusted over with dirty things

cracked mirrors of our souls;

and the world has been unformed and fomented

by our own lusts and dirtied hands;

none of that means anything

 if The God Who formed the Universe,

who formed us each in the World’s Womb,

is still playing peek-a-boo,

with us Her children,

and when we are afraid in this world of hide-and-seek,

that we will never find God,

She is reaching out Her Hands,

and God suddenly appears

to hold us in Her Love.

*

In the world of false loves,

We grope blindly and fall, and fall, and fall.

But that doesn’t mean that now and then,

if we keep our eyes open,

and keep stepping out with faith,

and keep our lamps filled with oil,

every now and then, and eventually with practice,

and giving up, and with, (I am afraid to say it) a lot of dying to that which is dead;

every now and then,

the Living Hidden will peek-out and peer

 through the most unremarkable people,

unremarkable people like myself;

and beauty will appear in the most undesirable things and places;

and Love will be like nothing we could ever imagine happening in ourselves.

And by finding the hidden and divine Love within ourselves,

we will find God.

*

This Way is the only Way.

And This Story is the only Story.

And This Love is the only True Love.

When I love only and completely

the God in you,

and when I love the God in me,

then we who still seek,

will see God.

And we will live.

© Jane Tawel,  August 2021