Happy Moment to You

Happy Moment To You

by Jane Tawel

11402818_925903090765567_2377456431059436781_n

January 1, 2017

I began the new year today at 3:00 am and soon hit the road to take my daughter to the airport to catch a return flight to Virginia.  Under the klieg lights of LAX — rubbing tears into my eyes, giving my daughter a sharp hard hug… or two… all right  maybe it was three… and then heading back into the dark, black but for the blinding headlights behind and oncoming, searing all colors from the landscape and impairing my vision. If I look at my life, bitten off whole, it can often seem like that – lots of dark, black  but for the blinding lights. Blinding lights can hurt.  Blinding lights can frighten.  Blinding lights can keep you awake.  Blinding lights can save. Christmas is a season full of different colored lights –and One Light that was Blinding and yet can save.

 

I began the new year today driving home, listening to what they call an alternative radio station and wishing there were an alternative.  Coldplay’s “Yellow” came on and I thought about how my favorite color used to be yellow and how Coldplay singer guy’s mother died with yellow skin. Things happen in life– to people– and I feel fake at my age liking the color yellow. I wish I could be one of those cheerfully accepting purple -hatted red- dressed old ladies or whatever that was then, but when people ask me I tell them I don’t have a favorite color.  Well, it depends, doesn’t it? Are you talking favorite color for a couch or favorite color for a sweater? Do I need a favorite color for a potato? Or a couch potato? Or  a favorite color for a cleaning rag? What is your favorite color? For a sunset? Or a rainbow? Or your favorite color for understanding? Or for a memory? Or for a hug? Or your favorite color for a moment?

 

I started the new year today driving silently on rain-teared freeways and wishing the stain-teared world a “Happy New Year”.  But what a silly thing to do.  Because there is no such thing as a happy new year. What color the year will be for you or for me or for any one remains to be seen and it might not be one of our happy favorite colors. And yellow can change its meaning from favorite to sad. Every year is guaranteed to be  full of lots of contrasting colors for each of us. In fact, there is no such thing as a new year at all.  There is only this new moment.  I acutely realized that this new morning as in the blink of an eye,  I laid on my horn to wake up some one’s father or sister or child going 90 miles an hour, and to prevent me and Polly Prius being hit and pushed into the semi-truck on my right side.  I just had that single solitary moment in which to live. No more. We all – the someone’s crazy -driving relative, the semi-driver, and I –just had that instantaneous moment. To live. To choose. To breathe. To think. To yell into the dark.  To pray. To thank the Lord. One more moment.  Not one more year.  Never a whole year. Not even a whole week. Not even a whole day. No one has that. We all just have One. More. Moment.

 

I began my new year with just one more moment to get home and text my daughter waiting in the airport for her one more moment. I texted, “I’m home. Praying for you. I love you.”

 

In this new moment, as I sit and type, my husband and other children are still asleep. In the next minute I plan on getting up and if I do, I’ll pour my second cup of coffee. I am thankful to have this moment to hear The Beloveds still breathing– Still alive in the rooms that contain our now stale Christmas decorations and half -eaten boxes of candy. The Christmas colors and lights surrounding me in this new dawn, remind me of all the happy minutes in the past week. I am so full of sweetly-remembered minutes I want to clutch them tightly to hold onto and never let them go. I want to hoard them like a new box of Crayola crayons and get them out just to look at from time to time. They are all such pretty colored memoried moments.

But some of life’s moments aren’t all that great. Some of life’s moments aren’t pretty colors at all.  In this same moment in this same city my friend sits in the hospital by her daughter. In this moment, while I pour my second cup of coffee, she has one more moment of  blindingly agonizing fear and pain. While my daughter crams her bag in an overhead compartment, my friend’s daughter is crammed full of tubes. The color yellow looks different under my dining room’s glowing lights; yellow seems different under the airplane’s muted lights; yellow feels different under the hospital’s blinding lights. Blinding lights can hurt. Blinding lights can frighten. Blinding lights can keep you awake. Blinding lights can save. I hope and pray in this. one. moment. that the One True Blinding Light will change the colors for my friend and her daughter.

 

I began my new year thinking about all the people in all the world who can’t remember their last happy moment, and all the people who won’t have one more happy minute, let alone a whole Happy New Year.  I began my new year thinking about the cascading waterfall of all the happy minutes of my life. So many moments dancing like rainbow-hued water drops reflecting The Light. Just like a favorite color, I don’t have a favorite moment.  And in this world, strangely, moments need contrasting colors to make sense, don’t they? Otherwise it’s like driving in the dark. Or into a blinding light.

It’s hard to say what color a moment truly is. Like a prism, a life lived out and held up to The Light, in the perspective of Eternity, changes every moment into something new. And each moment becomes its own Infinity Box of Crayola -colored Eternity fulfilled.

 

Right now, only Now, I have this gloriously joyful emerging-colored moment. It could be someone’s idea of a favorite colored moment.  But I am in fact, living in a completely new undiscovered –until- this- very- heartbeat, new moment’s hue.

I shall name my newly discovered color: Enough.

 

And this moment is henceforth called, Enough.  It is enough.  It is meant to be enough. It is Created Enoughness. It is a Universe of Enoughness.

 

I began the new year with just one guarantee– No guarantees. Not for a happy new year, at any rate. Not even a guarantee I’ll live another minute in this world. But right now I could guarantee myself that I can live this eternal moment and it can be deemed Enough. In this moment, I can accept and embrace Enoughness. One whole moment of Enoughness. One moment to breathe deeply. One moment to smile. One moment for a tear drop. For a belly laugh. One moment for a song. For a thought. One moment to see. One moment to listen. One moment to reach out to someone.  One moment to be home. One moment to risk. One moment to explore. One moment to wait. One moment to pray. To ask. To praise. To thank.  One moment to say, “I love you.”

 

And that is more than enough.That is every thing. This moment is a many-hued kaleidoscope of Eternity’s Enoughness. I can guarantee  you — I think it is going to be one of my favorites.

 

Happy New Enoughness to you and yours – in this very moment. Period.

 

The Christmas Letter 2016

13174199_838060502964586_7623605570536008304_n

The Christmas Letter 2016    Justine, our eldest at (unbelievably!) 26 years, arrived home late last night from Virginia where she works for Enviva, a company that makes environmentally friendly fuel.  This morning she gave me a big hug and laughed, “Mom I think you are shrinking.”  I smiled, “Why of course I am! As children grow bigger, we parents grow smaller.  It is the way things are supposed to be.”  When our children are born, we look at their cherubic faces and say, “you complete us”.  As our children grow up, we say, “you deplete us”. But as nerve-wracking as all those food and college bills are, depletion is not bad. Shrinking for one’s children is only minorly painful. To deplete oneself for those not one’s own, however, is painful and technically unnecessary, but is in fact a calling to Christ’s upside-down kingdom life, especially when it has to do with the sowing of one’s resources. Isaiah, that great prophetic voice, tells us that “if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” I pour out my prayers that the angels that once manifested in my children’s cherubic faces, will stay perched on their right shoulders, protecting and speaking truth and light into their souls. I pray that my kiddos will humbly keep being seekers who will sow truth and light into a world that seems increasingly dark, as before a great storm. And I pray to feel personally burdened and responsible for all “little ones”, all those hungry for justice and afflicted by transgressions, those that have no one with spiritual or material resources to draw on. I pray to shrink myself for all the little ones, no matter their age, who watch as the giants are busy gorging and growing fatter, and the “little faiths” starve. As Isaiah foretold: May it be that our “Young men and women prophesy” as have always the great prophets from Abel to Jeremiah to The Baptizer to Saint Joan d’Arc to Martin Luther King, depleting themselves on the altar of justice, truth, and love.

 

I like Advent. I relish anticipation, unlike my 82 -year -old mom who gleefully never met a surprise she desired to keep. Perhaps because of my having spent so many years, waiting – for the curtain to open, for the baby to arrive, for the lightbulbs in the minds to turn on – I have always loved the anticipation elements of this season.  But among the many revelations of this year in the country in which I sojourn, I have had a paradigm shift in how I see Advent and the celebration of Christ’s birth.  We modern First Worlds have filled this season with hindsight’s happy, happy, happy– while in fact, for the actual person we say we celebrate, for the Messiah, “Christ – mass” was a dark, hopeless time filled with the utmost evil this world can offer. Wars, tax gouging, prejudice, “ignorance and want” as Charles Dickens might add, and a host of greedy power-mongers trying to rule the world—these are what brought Jesus’ family to Bethlehem. The anticipation of Mary and Joseph was perhaps mostly, “will we get out of this alive?” The Christ’s earthly parents were among the depleted people, with literally nothing to give their little one–symbolically wrapping Jesus in burial cloths, perhaps distressedly anticipating an early death for the poor baby.

 

So ironically as I have lately felt periodic senses of dread and depression and sadness and sorrow, I realize these feelings are truly perhaps the most “Christmasy” feelings I have ever had.  See, I am rich.  I am one of the rich wealthy ones.  Where we err as we celebrate Santa and all the free stuff he brings those who don’t need anything, is that we have turned Jesus into the Savior Santa that gives us free stuff – including salvation—gifts to people who don’t need them. We are the rich who mistakenly gamble that at the last minute, we will still be able to order and buy the God of Lazarus, no strings attached, full -warranty provided.  But Jesus never offered living water or the bread of life at a discount. At a time in history much like our own, Dietrich Bonhoeffer dubbed our Walmart attitude to salvation, “cheap grace” – the desire to believe God requires nothing of us in exchange for all of His Son’s riches, when in fact God requires every thing of us. To understand the Story of the Christ child, you must have a radically new way of seeing and being. You have to be starving to grasp it.  You have to give up everything to own it.

 

News Flash – there were no rich people at the first Christmas.   You can Snopes it. As the baby who became The Son of Man later told folks, “It is hard for you who find complete sufficiency surrounding you – you rich people –  you who believe you are saved because you are the elect and thereby you justify yourselves – it is difficult for you to need anything– and you do not understand nor do you choose to enter into God’s kingdom. It is harder for the rich to carry God’s anguish, God’s punishment, a desperate daily God-sized need – almost impossible to carry the cross – harder for you to willingly enter in– harder than it is for a private jet to fly through an oil pipeline, harder than it would be to import big screen televisions to Aleppo.”

 

Of course we Clausians (“Little Santa Clauses” instead of “Little Christs”) have gotten around that pesky problem by putting the frankincense and myrrh bearing kings snuggled next to the shepherds lurking around Christ’s cradle. What actually happened, though, is that the wise kings entered the scene much later, anywhere from weeks to years after. They had a lot further to travel, those rich folk.  It was a lot harder for the rich kings to enter the Christmas scene than it was for the poor shepherds who were waiting for jobs outside Home Depot – I mean tending their flocks by night.  And here is why our changing the rich folks’ entrance is so disastrous to our understanding of Christ and Christmas– because we use the Magi to justify our hyped- up lifestyle and gift giving and extravagance, and attitude towards the poor –not just at Christmas but in all seasons. Because we want to still stay rich and still stay kneeling at the manger. By erroneously placing the Magi at the birth, right next to the destitute and deplorable shepherds, we get to keep our worldly vision of what a “real” king is like. We tragically prefer serving the bling-laced authority of the Terminator Herod and all his cronies –the powerful, the glutted, the strictly religious First World authorities—finding it preferable to kneeling before the small helpless naked babe in the dungy swine trough. The wise men were wise because they rejected the false flashy authority of Herod and staged a non-violent political and religious resistance to Herod’s and Rome’s and Israel’s religious/ political empire, thereby helping to usher in a changed world kingdom- a revolutionary world that even angels marvel at.

 

But first, possibly for several long years, the wise Magi had to seek and seek and seek and seek and journey and journey and journey to find the real King of the World. When they saw Herod, they knew at a glance that he was not the one they were seeking. Not the real deal at all.  When the alien outsiders found the true King of kings they worshiped him. And because the wise ones depleted themselves in worship of a foreign King it ended up that– possibly unbeknownst to them– their kingly gifts  saved Messiah from the death at the hands of Herod and his ilk, death that awaited many of the other Hebrew babies. The Magi used their riches not to gain but to honor. The gifts were not extravagance but necessity for a displaced fleeing poor refugee family in danger for their lives. The gifts for the God-king helped delay the eventuality by thirty years for Jesus to be wrapped in swaddling clothes for his burial. The wise men who came from foreign lands, possibly even from enemy territories of Israel and Rome, worshiped with all they had a king who, with their gifts, would be able to immigrate to Egypt, enemy territory of Jesus’ religious and national homes.  And later this same Jesus would bring Hope to the hopeless by preaching and establishing a peculiar type of kingdom in which all His subjects and inhabitants must live out radical love to their enemies. And so as the great Magis shrunk into the distance of space and time, the Christ-child grew until He held the whole of space and time in His hands. The Christ grew big enough to flip upside down the whole world.

 

Today Justine and Verity, home for break from her third year at UCLA, worked out at our local YMCA.  I tagged along and yakked with my workout buddies, Bill the ex-postman, Sammy the ex- Russian gymnast, and David, the ex-military black guy (well, he’s still black but he’s no longer military). David told me about a metaphoric event happening at the Y today. The YMCA was hosting a doggie pool party. I was wishing we could take our old doggies, Jolie and Daisy, but they hate to get wet. The Y invited almost 100 dog owners to bring their dogs for a swim before the pool was drained for cleaning.  I love it because of course that is what the Babe of Bethlehem later did when He left His job (ex-carpenter) to go into ministry (Note to self: Ministry means you don’t make money off of it.)  Jesus invited all the dogs (the Gentiles the irreligious, the foreigners, the poor, the persecuted) to a pool party, because Jesus was getting ready to shut down the Pool for a cleaning out and a whole new kind of baptism. At the doggie pool party, anyone could come – with a dog — but the regular YMCA pass was no good. From the time of Jesus’ very first birthday, the party invitations have been sent to all. Star-sealed. But the traditional passes of wealth, and honor, and diplomas, and celebrity have never worked. So the rich usually don’t show up to the pool parties of Jesus. At His first birthday party, it was the poor, the needy, and the sinful who actually showed up, sitting right next to the sheep. And it has often been the same kind of folk who, without a pass, are out there swimming for their lives, doing the doggie paddle with all their “hearts, souls, and minds”.  The God-king baby who would become a carpenter, became a Life-Guard, and ultimately would became a Lamb. Someday the Lamb of God will be having a reunion party with all the shepherds. I think there will be a lot of dogs there too. I hope mine will invite me along.

 

We have had a lot of dream-building happening on our house – hard work for our two men.  Gordon at (unbelievably!) 18 years has contributed a lot of muscle and man power in between finishing up his high school senior year and concurrent community college classes.  As Gordon and our neighbor and contractor, Joe, scaffold and saw and nail, Raoul designs and oversees the classy new siding going up all around our home.  Raoul is the artist – and his dreams are large and lovely.  Raoul’s company Mosaix continues to help other companies realize their own particular dreams.  We have dubbed Raoul, “The Dream Weaver.” Several in our family had dreams come true this past summer. Clarissa, Verity and Raoul traveled together to Paris, France. Clare and Verity experienced for the first time visiting another country and Raoul revisited a place from his childhood. Although France has lately had its share of nightmares, it was still able to provide for our three, some dreams come true.

 

The prophet Isaiah said that in these end times of the second advent before Christ’s coming– not as Savior but as King– that “your young ones will prophesy but your old ones will dream dreams”. As Raoul and I hit those milestones of aging, perhaps our prayers should more and more resemble large and lovely dreams rather than merely wish lists. To shimmy two Shakespeare quotes together, “to dream things true–for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.” I have felt lately and intensely the pause in which anticipation lives, the pause awaiting hope. It is the feeling you have when you wake after a lovely dream and you just want to stay in the dream a bit longer, not waking up yet to the reality of the day ahead. We who own so very much must start dreaming for more than mere stuff for ourselves.  We must dream of a world for everyone, where, as in all of God’s intended worlds, there is no more sorrow, no more fear, no more pain, no more want, no more ignorance, no more hatred, and no more want. Then we need to stop dreaming about it, get started on our day and start creating it. Just like our house siding, it will take hard work, clear intelligence, team spirit, patience, and hope. But then, we have a Master Carpenter who laid the foundation and oversees the crew, so we are secure in the competent nail-scarred hands of the Dreamer of Worlds.

 

We who have been blessed with long life, need to keep strong “the stuff” of dreams. God often had to use dreams — especially to get ahold of adults, including some in the Christmas story. Perhaps God uses dreams because often we big people lose our childlike ability to shrink small enough for faith and joy to bring back Wonder and Awe. And we to readily let the strong pull of the world’s temporal reality deplete our hopes. We forget that God has a different reality ballasted in Eternity, on earth as it is in the heavens beyond heavens beyond heavens.  We must keep believing that though it is immensely hard for the rich to enter God’s kingdom, the Man-God Jesus also assures us that no matter who we are and what we have “with God, – all things – are possible”. The Magi entered God’s kingdom. So can we. IF.

 

We who seek truth and light must stoke the embers of dreams deferred (to quote another great poet/prophet).  We must hold in one hand, sorrow and angst and in the other hold faith and hope. We want the world’s young ones to have hope and with hope, to prophecy against all darkness, living as strong bright cities shining on the mountaintops.  We want the world’s old and tired ones to have hope, and with hope to still dream of a better world.  We want the world’s rich ones to have hope and with hope to deplete themselves for the love of God and all of God’s children. We want the world’s poor ones to have hope and with hope to say, “Blessed are we for ours is the kingdom of heaven”. We want every one of us to have hope and with hope know that we are so truly beloved that we can love others, even our enemies.

 

How does one hope against hope? This phrase from Romans 4:18, refers to a man named Abraham, an old man who is said to have “In hope against hope, believed.” Well, if the aged centenarians, Sarah and Abraham, can keep believing, keep hoping, keep dreaming, then so can we. As the old hymn proclaims, it is when “my hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” – when all we have is weighed on the scales and is so depleted that the scales tip in favor of God’s righteous cross-bearing upside down kingdom.

 

How do you hope? Well, you accept it as a gift, as “the thing with feathers” as Emily Dickinson reminds us.  And you study it as the prophets always have. Whenever you walk in darkness, you put on your armor and you fight the evil that seeks to destroy hope. You joyfully serve others who cannot get a purchase on hope. You laugh hard and long whenever possible to dispel the oh so serious fears. As Frodo and Sam do you keep living your own part of The Great Story– without hope– but with enduring faithfulness.  And you trust the Man-God who in the end had absolutely no hope at all, but who had faith in the Father-God – in Yahweh who needs no hope because HE IS– beyond need of hope – BEING All things Always for All.

 

Dear God, let me keep shrinking, and letting others grow. Let me become like a child, asking only for what I need and can hold lightly in my hands.

 

The Wise still seek and the weary still hope. There are many people throughout the world hopelessly wondering figuratively and literally if “we will get out of this alive”.  This Christmas I don’t want anything at all that Santa has to offer.  What I would like is Hope. Not just the hope I need.  But Hope overflowing.  Hope to share. Hope that changes the world. May we stoke the small embers of Hope and the Wind of God makes us a flame, until the world catches on fire with the hope of the Return of the One True Holy King. May our small acts usher in a kingdom where the small people rule and the meek shrinking ones reign.

 

This Christmas, may your family’s merriness be rooted in Hope. May we learn to pour ourselves out and may Christ’s light in us, like the star at Bethlehem, rise in the darkness so that all those who journey seeking God, may find Him.

 

Hoping against hope, from the hopefully “Incredibly Shrinking Woman” who hopes that Raoul and I might one day say, “Honey, We Shrunk the Kids!”

May it be a Hopeful New Year.

 

From –Jane—- and Raoul, Justine, Clarissa, Verity, and Gordon Tawel

Fishing For Food for Thought

Fishing for Food for Thought

“Catch and Release”

by Jane Tawel

October 1, 2016

1kpekwf4ts-18

So, the problem is I have long had this idea that you are supposed to analyze things and figure stuff out and think critically about things.  I believe as many others do that this makes one smarter and wiser. The PROBLEM is, that some times when you apply this thoughtful principle to thinking about other people, you end up becoming not a critical thinker but a critical human. The definition of “critical” when used for valuable thinking is thinking that uses careful reflection for analysis.  The definition of “critical” when applied to another person is to judge severely and often too readily.  Jesus advises us not to judge people but to wisely use our judgement to think critically and grow in wisdom.   But when thinking about “stuff” becomes an inability to let go of negative thoughts about others, then we are not critically thinking, we are thinking critical thoughts. We are criticizing, not analyzing. Our “thoughtfulness” becomes “thoughtlessness”.   The mind ever so sneakily shifts from analyzing in order to understand to condemning to bolster pride.  Suddenly one might realize that she has actually stopped thinking and without realizing it she is instead feeling. Feeling is always “suspect” in terms of navigational reliability, whether you are madly in love or so angry you can’t see straight. We use metaphors to imply that the Heart always needs the Mind and the Will to moor its reckless meanderings. The Bible and all great poets from Shakespeare to Eminem write about the tricky Heart and how it masquerades as a thinking organ.  Our current rich First World View seems to honor the heart i.e. feelings i.e. myself over the mind, the will, the seat of reason.  And when the mind is stimulated to thought by a negative emotion—large or small — then the analytical, rational, “need-to-understand” part of a human begins to deteriorate. Much like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, the obsession begins to take over the person, and “my Precious”, unseats the image of God in me. This is the judgement  that is sin not wisdom. Whenever we sin, our God-image created ability to do and will, and willfully be creative is replaced with an image that is sickly, obsessive, and less than human (or hobbit)-like. Our stature shrinks and we become fixated and obsessed with one thought – holding on to the precious “fishy”.

 

So lately, I’ve tried to apply a fishing metaphor to my problem because I’m weary of:

  1. Feeling negative, grumpy or irritable so much
  2. Feeling helpless to change another person or the situation
  3. Feeling guilty for doing the wrong thing (God calls it sin and we should feel guilty until forgiven — but it’s tiring)
  4. Feeling like I just don’t have time to waste obsessing about negative things or negative people. (Although I believe in eternity, my current lap around the track is more rapidly nearing the Finish Line  each day.)

 

But!!! (she says in her defense) –I still feel like I have to figure out what is going on – even if only so I can stop doing all of the above.  I still feel that if I can just understand, comprehend, assess, analyze, think it through — then I can either avoid the feeling, avoid thinking about the situation, or avoid the person. Maybe.

 

SO………

 

I have come up with a new fishing hole so to speak.  I have determined I will allow the thought, I’ll look at it, do some figuring over it and then as soon as I have analyzed it, I will not think about it anymore. My new brilliant, copyrighted program is called…..

 

The Catch and Release Program

Or

“Throw the Small Fish Back In”

 

I’m going to “Catch and Release” all my little criticizing negative thoughts.  I will still reel in the fishy – that’s unavoidable — but I won’t make it my “precious”.  I won’t bash the fishey’s head, scale it, (do you know how much wasted effort goes into scaling small fish?!)  and take it home with me; there’s just not enough flesh there.  AND –anything too small, too insignificant, too unnourishing to keep, to digest, to “ingest” to make me a more wholesome, nourished human being – any thing too petty, scrappy, silly, tiny, or obsessively consuming — I will THROW OUT.  I will release these small fry ideas back into the shallow waters where they belong. I will quickly reject the negative “guppies” and “minnows”.  I’ll make sure that what I keep –and keep thinking about –are important things—things meant for some growth, either on my part or for someone’s else benefit. And ultimately I will try my best to keep thoughts only fit for the Kingdom. The King of that Kingdom, Jesus, was a great one for guiding His disciples into where to cast our nets for fruitful fishing.

 

Catch… but Release.

 

BUT …here’s the “Catch”. I am one of those disciples that it seems more often than not  keeps fishing out of the wrong side of the boat.  Here are the catches that keep me from being a “fisher of lives”.

 

 

Catch #1:  I’m a keeper. A hoarder, perhaps. Small thoughts store themselves in the corner of my head and I fear letting even one go or I might miss something. I still keep blurry photographs because it hurts me to throw them away. This is like hanging on to memories of bad stuff.

I need to release these remembered unourishing fishies to The Past.

 

Catch #2:  I’m not completely sure I am truly seeing the right “size” of the fish. My mind’s eye is not 20/20. Maybe I could skin it, bone it and cook it.  Maybe it’s not as small as I’m making out. I’m a worrier that I’ll miss something.

I need to release worry fishies to The Future and “let tomorrow take care of its own problems”.

 

Catch #3:  I keep catching the same darn fish.  The little boogers keep grabbing my mind’s line every time I throw it back in the big lake of thoughts.  Same darn little fish.

I need to release obsessive “take up too much of the net” fishies to The Present and to anticipate with hope great things happening – Big Kingdom Fish in my net. I must practice sitting still and praying patiently– in the very moment in which I live– waiting in peaceful stillness for the Big Ones to bite the Hook of Hope.

 

One question I’m left with – how small can I make BIG things? Or rather what seemingly, apparently BIG things could actually be “small fry”? If I put on Kingdom glasses, how would the World’s BIG things look? I mean really, don’t I pretty much blow many things out of all proportion in terms of fretting, getting angry or irritable, or just obsessively thinking about them?  That is– if I believe that the bible’s worldview is true?  If I believe that as Christ tells us, the fish are really all on the other side of the boat?

 

There are indeed big things that we are commanded to either mourn for or fight against or both. There is evil still and monsters in the sea. But in Christ’s Upside Down Kingdom, even those big things in this world are a bit like the monster fish in the fairy tales or “tall tale” stories, where the fish  gets bigger and bigger in the fisherman’s imagination and finally all the fish, even the minnows, are shark size.  Even large problems – newspaper problems, political problems,  pain problems – in the Kingdom Life of Christ the King– truthfully — aren’t they really smaller than they appear?  Just like the ads warn us: “Items in this picture may seem larger than they are in real life.”  Items in this World’s picture definitely appear larger to us  than they appear to God and to us if we live within God’s Real Kingdom Life. Life fishing with Jesus, Life with The Fisher of Men, Life walking on the water out of the boat towards Jesus, make even the sharks not quite so very large. And without doubt, make it imperative to get the guppies out of our nets so there is room for the souls of our fellow humans.

 

So I hope that maybe today I will not worry that I am not smart enough, analytical enough, worldly enough, right enough to figure out all the fish in the sea.  I will also not obsess about the “ones that got away”.  I will focus on the fish God puts in my net. There are plenty there for me and if they are wholesome, good, nourishing thoughts, then there is plenty there to share. All the rest that I catch, I will quickly release.

God provides an abundance of good fish for His children. And God “loves to give His children good things”. We just have to keep our eyes on Jesus and follow his commands to know where to cast our nets.

And Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of souls”. Matt. 4:19

3d25b370b600c7b4d561557c01fc5ca7

On David Bowie and Neil Young: Starman vs. Southern Man

by Jane Tawel

Musings on David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken

January 16, 2016

First let me say that I believe I am correct that none of these people have died yet, except I’m pretty sure David Bowie died. Oh, and Alan Rickman died too.  If I am wrong please feel free to comment to that effect but you should know first that my definition of getting old is that “you don’t remember if someone is dead or not”. By next week I’ll probably not be sure if Bowie died or not. I’m pretty sure Paul Newman died. And that makes me sad.

Everyone has been “honoring” David Bowie and Alan Rickman with tears and Facebook RIP’s and sorrow to the extent of “I was privileged to live at the same time as Bowie” posts  and tee shirts.  I imagine women in labor this past week couldn’t wait to be the first to name their little ones Bowie or Starman or Snape.

I liked Alan Rickman as an actor and I grew up with a few David Bowie classics but I didn’t post anything about them because I haven’t posted anything about them in my entire life up until now, so I’m not sure why I would suddenly proclaim and declaim about them when they died.   Just not my style maybe — not my flavor of the week to do this, though next week if someone famous dies, I might. This morning I was watching the down- right adorable and cute James Corden and Adele “Karaoke Car Ride” Youtube — so if one of them dies this week, I might online mourn them.  That would make me sad. If I remembered that they died.

What I mourn is the sad passing of important careers and historic moments. That is– careers I consider amazingly important and historic moments of my life, of course. Mourning people means I miss them. I lost them. I’m sad because they aren’t here anymore. That’s a bit tricky with famous people since I didn’t know them and I can still listen to them or watch them any time I desire.  What we mourn with the passing of famous people is the passing of the time or event of our own lives they represent.  For instance, when my daughter Justine was still at home, she  and I liked Alan Rickman movies. My husband Raoul likes David Bowie songs and had Verity and Gordon put some of Bowie’s tunes on Raoul’s “Favorites”.  I messaged privately Justine this week about Alan Rickman’s passing.  He was a connector and I was sad he was gone because mostly I was sad Justine was gone and those years with her and Rickman as Snape were gone. I’m sad Bowie is gone because he represents a time to Raoul when my husband was young and could dance to weird 80’s music. This means of course I am also sad that Fred Rogers is gone, and The Teletubbies are gone and Little Joe is gone and Audrey Hepburn is gone and Gilbert is gone. Because all those good years with good people I love are — gone.  But back to Bowie and Rickman who are gone. (Right?)

I liked that fact that David Bowie was married to Iman. For 24 years! I have no doubt Iman is truly mourning the death of David Bowie.  I liked Alan Rickman in the weird indies — “Snow cake” and  “Bottle Shock”. I liked him as Snape until  J.K. Rowling cheated and wouldn’t decide in the end if he was evil or good.  Rickman played it so it could have gone either way — just like all our real lives– they could go either way.  It wasn’t Rickman’s  fault Rowling cheated us.

I was in fact shaped by the artistry and often profoundly meaningful lyrics of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.  Young is an amazing musician and if you haven’t heard his guitar riffs then you are indeed missing something. Don’t listen to him though if you prefer voices auto tuned.  His is not.

I feel like posting some Neil Young music for you on Facebook — right now– so you can see how great his music is. Unless he just died.  Then I’d feel hypocritical. After this blog and all that.

Joni Mitchell was concerned about the environment before anyone had heard the term “global warming” and she taught me in her songs that relationships are worth crying over if they don’t work out, not songs about giving the guy the finger and moving on to the next one.

When I saw Christopher Walken in Deerhunter  I thought I would  never get his performance out of my head. Checking…. Yep, it’s still there.  And in my youth, Meryl Streep did more for  strengthening the cause of strong, vibrant, talented women  than Mother Teresa and Hillary combined. Acting as an art form took on a whole new meaning with actors like Streep.

Young, Bowie, Mitchell, Streep, Rickman, Walken — all of them had in common two things that I guess spoke to me — at least in the beginning, they went for Art, not for Fame.  And they were all odd. Odd looking and odd acting. Like me. So I guess even though they were known artists, they felt like someone who could speak my language. The difference was –They just turned my language into art — and got paid for it.  Of course fame happens– just like sh–.  And once fame happens, well something usually — not always, mind, but usually — happens to art and oddity. Didn’t someone once say, “Fame corrupts and absolute fame corrupts absolutely”?  Yep — synonym implied.

Perhaps art will never be the same now that it moves through the world faster than Florence Griffith-Joyner as byte files and lives like “Rocketman” mostly in i-clouds.(Yes, I know that’s an Elton John song not a Bowie song — speaking of odd artists I used to love who became famous….)  (Is Elton John still alive?)

Perhaps art will never be the same now that we have twenty plus “producers” and we have marketing experts and we have focus groups and we have reality tv stars and we have more channels and musicians and actors than we could possibly ever know about. There is a lot to be liked about our brave new world and a lot to applaud. But that doesn’t mean I can’t facebook-mourn what “It” was and is no more.  No matter what we gain in the world of music and cinema and media, we have lost something I can only describe as something tactile and patient.

There was something different about sitting in a room holding the source of music in your hands.  There was something different about having a room filled with music that other people could (or had to!) hear. There was something different about fighting over who in the room had to get up to turn the channel. There was something different about having to wait until you got home to find out about it, having to wait until it came out  to watch it, having to wait until it came on the radio to hear it. It all used to be something you felt you could hold and somehow it would hold you back. It used to require a waiting period and then — It was– like a surprise — like a sudden rainbow — like a gift.

There is something different about artists not caring about fame — not caring about anything more important than changing the world.  There is something different about people being odd not because it got them noticed but because they couldn’t help it. I don’t know how to facebook the difference to make any difference in how people see things. I guess it doesn’t make any difference anyway. I have my memories and will mourn the passing of those moments spent in the company of family and friends and great people . And I’ll try to keep carving out new memories — with family and friends and new odd artists who maybe want to change the world as well.  Or maybe artists who just want to change the moment.  And that is a very nice gift to we commoners as well.

So here’s to all the odd artists still living (as far as I know).  I guess I can’t include Adele any more. As odd that is.  I think she’s still alive. Isn’t she?

Christopher-Walken-The-Deer-Hunter