Jury Duty in L.A.- Reflection #1: You and Me

Homeless Person Vaporized on the Subway” by ramsay stirling is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Jury Duty in L.A.

Reflection #1 “You and Me?”

By Jane Tawel

May 17, 2022

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There is no place for me to go.

No place.

No place.

No place.

And I look out at a world not mine,

and no one sees my face.

My face.

My face.

My face.

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What did I look like, years ago,

when I had some of that?

How did I lose it all so fast,

and end up here,

and end up lost,

and end up so miscast?

‘Cuz’ you don’t really see me, do you?

You think I am not like you.

Admit it, it’s true.

You don’t see the slippery slope

that’s been keepin’ you on your side of life’s river,

and I floating downstream on my frail mat,

and alla that, alla that, alla that,

you got, you think that you deserve it?

But one wrong glance, one bad romance, one missed chance,

one person screwing your finance, one look askance,

one little perchance,

one wrong step in The Big Dance,

and there you go, lucky you, not so lucky any more, are you?

No, you are just like me.

You ARE me,

but you don’t see.

There ain’t no you and me –

The Dance is always for Three.

Let them that have eyes, see.

Let them that have ears, hear.

And let them like me that have nothing any more,

Weep and mourn.

There ain’t no joy in the morning,

‘cuz alla you-all are blocking The Light.

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© Jane Tawel, May 2022

A Somewhat Incoherent and Rushed Amount of Thoughts on a Trip to a Stunningly Beautiful Part of the World

A Somewhat Incoherent and Rushed Amount of Thoughts on a Trip to a Stunningly Beautiful Part of the World

By Jane Tawel

May 3, 2022

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Here are some random thoughts on a recent trip I was privileged to take with my husband to Bryce and Zion National Parks in Utah, U.S.A. This was our second trip there and if you have never gotten to go, well, find a way. Go. Now if possible. Our trip was a celebration of my husband’s birthday, but it also turned out to be a retreat for our marriage and relationship, and a spiritual adventure for our souls.

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If you have never quite been able to believe in a Creator-Being, some call “God”, then you just might after visiting Bryce Canyon. And if you need to find solace, inspiration, and joy in putting one foot in front of the other, both literally and figuratively, then head to this area of amazing and incredible natural and glorious wonder. And if you want to learn about both the incredible creative Spirit that shapes towering red glowing rock formations and vast purple and yellow canyons, but that also shapes each human heart and lives within each human open to Spirit and Truth, a Quixotic and Incomprehensibly Wise Creative-Father that also shapes men and women into creative sources as well, then go to Bryce and Zion. You can just “be” there, which is the best, but you can also hear and read about the miracles of creation, both divine and human, that make this place a continual, evolving, and ancient as earth and native peoples – a story of glory and grace, determination and awesomeness, and practicality and natural magic.

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After a week of hikes and picnics, rest and play, Raoul and I drove the long day’s drive home and talked about our “take-aways”. Here are some of mine, in no particular order.

  • Sometimes you have to rest from trying to learn, in order to learn. Sometimes you have to play to let the hard work of relationship grow into something fruitful. And sometimes, you have to stop thinking, in order to understand – to understand others, to understand the Mystery many of us seek and call God, and to definitely, at times, understand oneself.
  • Forgiveness of others is hard, and forgiveness of oneself is even harder. The difficulty is why many of us never try to forgive and many of us never do it particularly well. True forgiveness means the annihilation of past judgments and the desire to avoid any future judgment.
  • Acceptance does not mean condoning, but it is better to remain silent about not condoning actions and let your voice speak loudly and lovingly of your acceptance of the person. It would be good to try each day to do this with myself. “Hello, dear Jane. I do not condone the fact you over-ate yesterday, nor do I condone the fact that you gossiped about that workmate or had that negative thought about that loved one. I do however, lovingly accept you – slightly chubbier, a little bit anxious and worried you – and I love that you are still seeking and going to try to do better today. I forgive you, Myself. I accept you myself. Jane ole Pal, Go out there and love!

  • There aren’t really any good words to describe Nature’s beauty. But I am so happy that people just have to keep trying to describe it anyway. There were a couple times I slightly embarrassed Raoul by bursting into the verses from the old hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth.”  I sing this to myself some nights when I feel anxious about my kids, or the world, or myself. I sing it sometimes when I can to stop myself from cursing other reckless and naughty drivers on side streets and freeways. I sing it to myself sometimes when I feel God moved off far-away too long ago, and I keep wondering when She will return to save the planet and the people in Ukraine and all the angry people in America. But…. There was something about singing it to Raoul and me and the red rocks, and the impossibly- surviving trees hanging on cliffs, and the chipmunks that find enough food each day to scamper along the dusty trails, and the American antelopes, that aren’t antelopes at all but a unique deer-like creature that has had its own completely unique DNA since God said, “Let there be!” – and it all came into being. Which brings me to this:
  • It is good to be “becoming”. If even rocks are still changing under the glory weight of a God Who Is, then so can we be “becoming”. So am I still becoming. It is good to be alive and as long as there are rocks standing in Bryce Canyon and waters flowing in Zion, there is not only hope for our planet, there is hope for you and me.
  • Surely the Psalmist was right, when she wrote, “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place.” But it is good to tell oneself when returning to the ugliness of a city street or the boredom of a 9-5 job or the angst of a world gone headline-mad, or the fears for a child or loved one, that God also lives in us:

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (I John 4:16-19) 

  • I couldn’t stop looking at what the world and nature– from the large towering impossibly colored rocks to the small, delicate flowering plants –what all reveal about a Mind, a Spirit that is beyond my comprehension and yet Who somehow created a planet that is not only perfect for life, but perfect for exploration and awe-inspiring and wonder. The Psalmist also wrote these lines that kept zinging through my head while in Utah:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. …

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Dear fellow travelers: Today may be a day when like I, you get up and do the same old thing and feel the same old way– if not even a little achier or crankier or scared-er. And beauty may seem long past or remembered as a dream that you can’t quite bring to mind any more. Some days, or many days or most days –hope may seem to have hit a years’ long drought in the living waters department and God, well, He might truly be hiding out in places like Bryce or Zion because He doesn’t always seem to be on our speed dial any more. I know if I were God, right about now, I’d be taking a centuries long retreat to Zion and waiting to see if old Jane or the rest of the folks on the planet decide to stop warring and waging war and causing mayhem or just creating irritation in people they say they love. 

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And so perhaps the best thing to do is to realize – if you are reading this – you still have the miracle of your eyes, along with the miracle of your hands and thinking brain – “Look, See, for the Lord is Good to have given you eyes that can see and hands that can work and a brain that can remember and envision something new to create today, even if it is just to create a perfect cup of tea.

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Breathe deeply and mindfully, some might say that is all prayer is, and then realize today is yours to live as you choose. Choose now. Choose joy. Choose love.

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Finally, no matter where you are, there is a dandelion growing in a sidewalk crack to remind you that the Earth is full of life and hope and beauty. And as long as you can see a wish-flower or hear a bird or taste a drop of honey or smell the morning air or touch your very own hand to your face, then you can trust that God is good and you are good to go.

And as long as people keep trying to create word-pictures that express the beauty of God’s creation and the beauty of God’s love, and the beauty of an hour more to live, and the beauty of our love for each other – well –then no matter where I am, or where my day will take me, or how simplistic and ineffectual my words may be, then I can have the teensiest taste of hope and glory and trust that “God is on Her throne and all will be well with Her World.” 

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For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

2. For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

3. For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

4. For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

By Folliot S. Pierpont, 1835-1917

© Jane Tawel, 2022

“Come Play With Me”, Said God

Mud Puddle Stompers” by clappstar is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

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“Come Play With Me”, Said God

By Jane Tawel

March 29, 2022

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There is always so much noise out there, and so much noise within. I let it play within my mind like an endless loop of commercial ads. Increasing the volume, I buy my way to shallows of meaning, hoping to find resurrection in more stuff. My fears are like puddles of mud that I have stepped in once accidentally, but keep on stepping in again and again, as if I could not walk around them. They seep into my soul like vinegar held on a sponge to anesthetize the feelings of the crosses we bear.  And we do all bear them, do we not? –what with the silence that roars with the absence of peace.

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They, (and you know who they are), keep telling me that God is just like me and I am just like God, and while they say that will fill me with hope for a better day and a better me and a better god, most of the time, it only makes me feel hollowed out and angry and afraid.

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Some of us find making words helps to clarify what we mean and the words can act like breadcrumbs dropped from our mouths as we try to find our way back. Back to God. Back to home. Back to ourselves. Crumbs of bread and this is My Bread, given for you. Take. Eat. Follow the crumbs from My Mouth.

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I said to God: “I am not like You, am I? I don’t want You to be like me.  A humanly-god, is too small for me. I want You to be Other.”

God Said to me: “I AM what I am, but you are not yet what you will be. Now you choose to be small, but a godly-human is as big as you should be. I want you to be you and yet not you. Just as you long for Me to be Other, I also desire for you to be Other.”

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I wept and cried to God: “I am sad. I am alone. I feel lost. I am lost. The whole world is sad, and lonely, and lost. It feels like it is always night. It is too much for me to bear.”

God wept and cried with me and said, “You only bear it alone because you choose to. I created day and night. I can bear all sorrows and turn mourning into Morning, and darkness into light. Your sorrow is the path towards Me. I am The God who weeps. Our tears will make a stream. Let us follow the stream of our tears towards Home and there we will live together in joy.”

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I said to God: “I don’t know how to love them without worrying about them and wanting to fix them.”

God Said to me: I love you without worrying about you or trying to fix you. Love as I do.”

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I raged at God: “I hate. I fear. I am so afraid that it makes me angry. I don’t want to die.”

God raged with me: “It is unjust, I know. It makes me angry, too, but not afraid. I am never afraid. Be One with me, and fear not. Know that in My Spirit, when you die, you are only then reborn. All is for The Good in Me. All is open and anticipating, like buds to rain and sunlight, ready to bloom into glory, ready to grow tall and strong under the canopy of My grace.”

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I searched for something more to say and something true to pray and the words were not in me but where of me and I could not frame the words because they were not of my frame, but I knew the words because they were of my spirit-soul.

God Said: “When you are able, stop looking outwards, you will not find Me there. Stop following your doubts, and trust The Way of faith. Stop your words and know My Word. Stop looking for your worth out there, and look within. And there you will find My Spirit within you. There you will know Our peace.”

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 I knew I was a human of unclean lips. And yet, I spoke to God the only word that is: “Love!”

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And then, without words, I was.

And when I had nothing left to say to God, I finally had found the vision of Who God Is and Who I am becoming.

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“Come play with Me”, said God.

And so I put on my big-girl boots, and began the Great Creation Dance; a dance with God in puddles, and messes, a rain-dance and a sun-dance, and an embracing of all the hurt and pain and laughter and happiness of growing. And all my words were childish joyful scribbles on the palette of World-Soul. And I began to see my muddiness as the fertilizer of Our Spirit.

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And with very few words, God and I began to Become.

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I am becoming a child who seeks the God Who Hides. And in my wordlessness, The Word finds space, and I find my becomingness and worth.

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God was silent and it was good. It was very Good.

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God was still.

And in the stillness, I found The Hidden One.

And The Hidden One found me.

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© Jane Tawel, 2022

The Drop is of The Flow

Ocean” by ouistitis is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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The Drop is of The Flow

By Jane Tawel

March 22, 2022

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Is a little drop of water, less important than a wave?

Is a single link less worthy as a small part of a chain?

Is a ray of sunshine, shining, not the reason we are warmed?

And do single clouds contribute to a needed good rain storm?

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We are small parts of the Cosmos.

We are solitary souls.

Yet we share the Heaven’s matter,

and we share Creation’s goals.

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Oh, to ride the Wave as just one drop,

to be within The Ocean;

to find within my own small self,

the reason for the motion—

The Motion of the rise and fall,

The Motion of the light,

The Motion of the great and small,

The Motion of the day and night.

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In God, all life is moving,

and moving ever more.

God is the motion of our being,

The Endless Flow from shore to shore.

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I know not where my speck began,

Nor where my wave will go.

I only trust that in God’s grace,

I’m One within The Flow.

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© Jane Tawel, March 2022

The Centered Life

dreamstime

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The Centered Life

By Jane Tawel

March 16, 2022

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There can be no circumference

without a center point.

And though all points surrounding,

wobble;

The Center can and does still–

and it holds

still.

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It is we who let the unsteady legs of our small compasses,

bend and rust,

and always feel we must,

create something apart

from that which holds our hearts,

and holds the world in Her turning,

And with our childish yearning,

we twist the method roughly;

unsteadying in our haste and waste,

 our whole circled meaning,

created self, created design.

And flawing the Flawless

in our attempts to move the Center of Our Being,

we search for a freedom to scribble crooked lines

apart from the true Trued.

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It is we who let the outside dividers

divide us.

Buckling, folding, veering,

we stretch our outer points too far.

Reaching away from the Center Point,

we find we are no longer whole.

And we have flatlined,

far from that point which Centers all.

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Oh, Great Law of Divine Geometry!

Create in me a new center, O God.

Bring to bear upon my childish patterned ways,

the loving kindness of the

never-ending multiplying Sum of Your Infinity.

Create me anew.

Make me as pi to your Eternal Focus;

that all the small points on my life’s line,

may point inward, always to You.

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We commit this day,

to start at just this point.

Not knowing where each circle

begins and ends,

but trusting that in God’s kingdom,

circles have no horizons, that the Center does not see.

We enclose as we are enclosed,

looping together our own small circles;

that in this great Circle of Life,

we may find the Path that

whirls and revolves

gyrates and wheels,

and orbits round and round eternally

together……All…..One……

Wholly and holy circling round and round,

in that Divine Spiral,

in and within,

the Center that does hold.

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© Jane Tawel, March 2022

With Their Death

by Jane Tawel

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With Their Death

By Jane Tawel

March 5, 2022

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With their death

comes understanding.

And suddenly–

like a magic trick of the mind,

a magician appears

with their meaning,

and the brightness is so blinding,

as blinding as a sun;

and the pain is deep,

it is a pain as deep as the earth.

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With their death,

comes the end of feeling—

Oh, to only–

— just once more!

touch and see and hear and

smell the rose in loamy soil

that they were.

To touch and be touched again

by the tangible love

of their hugs and crooked smiles.

And the feeling is so palpable at times,

that the heart beats hard

as it struggles to swim up,

fighting through the years of mud,

day and night

through past and present tears

not yet shed for them while they lived.

At least not enough.

Never enough.

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And one’s life goes on.

Because it must.

But something has died inside.

Is there enough hope in me

for them,

for me

to be reborn,

as a phoenix?

as eternal presence?

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And as I wake,

and in the hours of my nights,

 there is always now,

a real and tender presence,

whispering,

“I forgive you.”

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And as the tide of Time

rushes towards me,

I ask,

“Who will forgive me, when I am gone?”

“Who will take my own small meaning,

and live on?”

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© Jane Tawel, 2022

Space and Time and the Essence of Spirit and Truth

by Jane Tawel

Space and Time and the Essence of Spirit and Truth

By Jane Tawel

February 26, 2022

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At no other time in our lives, have our ideas about space and time been so challenged, so shifted, or so illuminated. Two years past the beginning of this time that will, as long as we humans are allowed to keep creating history on this planet, be called “The 2020 Corona Virus Pandemic”, on what we hope will be the tail end, we are all taking stock of our actions, the actions of the world’s leaders, and the past versus present versus future worldviews we held/hold/ will possibly keep on holding.

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Many of us who hold what we might call a spiritual worldview, have long meditated on and mostly wrestled with our ideas about the big two: Time and Space. Even if a person does not have a spiritual or religious point of view about life, there is simply no way to go through one’s life without some philosophy or other about time and space. From pithy proverbs to gigantic tomes to every religious work from the Bible to the Quran to the various Buddhist Canons, if one is mature enough, wise enough, open enough, and hungry enough, one will find that apart from the human questions of  “what is the meaning of life” and “how do I find and feel love”, the two great motivating quests and relational aspects to every person’s life is  the relationship he has to Time and Space. On a simple level, space for most of us peons, means “where do I call my Home”. Our idea of time, for the common folk, is “what am I going to do today that is really what am I doing with my life?”

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Over the past two years I have had a lot more time to read and so I can end this essay here and refer you to three teachers and writers who have opened my mind and stretched my world view in so many ways, but significantly in terms of the ideas of Time and Space. The first great teacher I happened upon, thank God, is the profound Jewish rabbi and theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and specifically his books Man is Not Alone and The Sabbath. Secondly, the many works of the brilliant and open-minded Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, whose views on both Buddhism and Christianity, can be not only worldview changing, but World-changing, if we let them. Finally, if you have not yet found a way to Richard Rohr’s many profound writings on Christianity as a “new and improved” religious lifestyle, please do.  However! But! Wait for it!  All of these teachers have brought me back around to the astounding, life-changing, True Truth Spiritual Worldview – words fail! – the words and ideas about Time and Space of Jeshua ben Joseph, Jesus, who some call The Christ. When read with not just an open-mind, but a childlike wonder, what Jesus believed, taught, and lived, is mind-morphing, world-shaking, mythically eternal, true Truth no matter what religion you call it, unsettling, and incredible. The problem as G.K Chesterton, among others, so sadly put it, is that the “ideals of Christ have not been tried and found wanting, but found to be difficult and so have not been tried”.

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So, in my small, still immature, seeking way, may I tell you a few of the practical ideas I am having about my desire to keep an ever growing, changing, worldview about living in The Way, seeking The Tao, and being a disciple?  I am going to stick to the practical ideas because first of all, the above teachers I mention, among others, have much better illuminated what I would call the spiritual or philosophical or Big Ideas than I ever could, especially in terms of those illusive and ethereal ideas of Time and Space. Secondly, I will stick to a few practical ideas because, I don’t know about you, but the past two years have made me reevaluate, what Francis Schaeffer so pithily coined as “How Shall We Then Live”.   A pandemic has made many of the world’s citizens look not only at their individual lives, but our collective lives on this planet as well, and the bottom line has been, for many of us, a hard look at how we have been rather blithely living on this planet with our fellow humans, and how we sure better start living in a practical, immediate, real way, if we want our species and this lovely globe to continue. And frankly, some of us feel this desire to somehow “continue” ourselves.  So, let me start with a couple of ideas that are based on my particular upbringing in the religion we call Christianity, but that I think can be applied to whatever your own religion was or is or to no “religion” at all.

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A Mediation on 2022 Steps Along The Way

By a Seeker

The Bible is a book about four relationships, with examples in biographies, poetry, essays, and history of humans trying to find the best way to live in those relationships. This collection of writings should be read with a desire to grow in one’s own relationships to: God, Self/others, Time, and Space. The man named Jesus was a believer in the Bible, the Jewish collection of writings of the Hebrew people and of a God that had many names and no name. Jesus taught what can be called The Way or The Truth, to people who believed in Torah/ The Bible and people who didn’t; to people who believed in God and people who believed in gods; to people who were Jewish and people who were enemies of the Jews; to people who followed him and to people who ended up killing him. But Jesus reminds me that the truth can be hard to hear, perhaps today, it is most especially hard to truly hear by the very people who have called the members of their religion “little-Christs”.  Jesus wept. What I have been finally able to listen to in the past couple of years, is that any religion or spiritual or philosophical pursuit, but perhaps especially the religion of Judeo-Christianity, is ultimately worthless if it is only about doctrines or ideas. The only true worth of a worldview, is in its practice. The ideas and teachings of Jesus were ultimately meant to be a practical way to live for every one. And any thing we read, whether it is found in the Bible, the Quran, a novel, a scientific text, a quote, or a bumper sticker, must be held up to the Light – and the Light is whether this is a true – a real—a practical way for all beings in all spaces and in all times—to live.

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This is where the words of Christ let us know that our relationship to God is not really something that can be taught, but which must be experienced as personal, mysterious, and the kind of relationship a small child has to her Parent, full of love, but very limited in terms of the limited mind’s ability for understanding who the Parent really is. “Our Daddy Who is “out there and everywhere”, doing stuff that I, a little human being/child don’t understand, I revere You, God-Daddy, and love you so much I worship you!” (a paraphrase of the beginning of Christ’s Lord’s Prayer)

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 Jesus also tried to teach us that Self/ and Other Humans are interbeings, we are One, and boy is this where the ego/ mind revolts. But to accept that who I am today is not who I was yesterday but is also who I was yesterday and is also part of who my parents, and grandparents and ancestors were, is to understand that our comprehension of self, is well, let’s just say – it’s complicated. Jesus had a hard time expressing this reality of “interbeing” but he tried to by teaching us that “I and the Parent of All are one” and that as Jesus and the Psalmist taught, “you are all gods” (Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34-36). When we look at ourselves and at others, we should see the image of God, and since God is One, so are we. Okay, that is Big Idea. Jesus dumbed it down for me so I could figure out how not to comprehend this great mystery but to live it in a practical way. The two big practical ways were: Live every moment and every relationship with complete empathetic caring love and complete forgiveness. Period. Fini.

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So, to forgive another is to forgive myself, to love my True Self, not my ego, but my soul, and that is how it is to love others, and therefore love myself, and even to empathize with and “become” my enemy in order to love him. Words fail when trying to grasp Ultimate Truth and Reality. But — Relationship to God, The Ultimate Alpha and Omega = Love and Awe and Trust. Relationship to Other Beings = forgive, let go, love self leads to love them = care as if your life depends on how you treat the least of life. Because it does. This loving and forgiving idea of Christ’s is not a suggestion, it is a revelation about what is actual Ultimate Reality. We just too often prefer our false reality which is limited by ego, greed, and our false views of time and space. 

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Jesus also does a great job of messing with our ideas about Space. Personally, the past two years of not being allowed to attend a building full of possibly virus-laden people on Sunday mornings, or Saturday Sabbaths, has been one of the greatest things to happen to my understanding of worship and space. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for a lifetime of pastors and churches where I have learned and grown in understanding and I have only a few (and I do have them, mea culpa) regrets about raising my four adult-now children by taking them to church every week. But I now see that what we call The Church has been reduced horrifically to a building of (sorry) a capitalistic business enterprise where a handful of people get paid to speak and the rest of us sit and listen and give money to keep the machine running and then we call it worship of a God Who says quite strongly over and over again through the Prophets, “I detest your ‘sacrifices’. Your assemblies and feasts are a stench to My nostrils”.  I require you to treat others with mercy and a daily, humble acknowledgment of a need for Me to create in my people a Holy Character, which is peace, love, mercy, and grace. I, God want you to accept that all that is given is nothing you have earned, but is My Gift.”   Jeshua ben Joseph says that simply all we have, symbolized in Hebrew by the word “bread” or “manna”, is a gift of God, and we can’t hold on to what we were given in the past or the future, or take it with us to any space but the space of our own beating heart, breathing space of our bodies. “Give us today our daily needs”.

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Jesus makes very clear over and over, that what we consider Space, even the Space of this earth is not an ultimate reality, all will “pass away” and as scientists have tried to tell us, matter, or “space” never dies, it merely changes its “reality” or form. This is true of the matter we call, our own body, or space, or matter. But whatever form our matter takes, Jesus says that we exist in relationship to God. Christ teaches, in his very succinct and clear way: “If you mature, if you allow the change to happen, which will happen whether you accept it or not, then there will come a day, when you do not worship God on this mountain or that one, or in this temple or that building, or in your current form or another form, but in Spirit and in Truth.”

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As Paul said, when we are little children, we think as little children and we need the kind of teaching that little children need. But if we truly seek to be what some of us believe A God has called us to be as human beings, then someday we stop “drinking milk” and we take up the strong brew of maturity.  This is not for the faint of heart. And here is where a gathering, whether it is in what you believe to be a “sanctified” space on Sundays or not, is important. A gathering should ultimately lead you from a need to listen, to a need to partake; from a desire to learn to a desire to experience worship; from a self-need to a communal-need. If you are able to gather with a small community of those who seek Truth and Spirit, as you do, those who challenge you, walk alongside you in life, question you and themselves, and support you and need you to support them– then you are right to gather and “worship” or learn or just fellowship with those people. I have my community, my “church”, my “sangha”, spread out across the world. My “people” include some of my relatives and best friends, and teachers and even some people I have never met in person. They include people who would probably say they believe the same basic religious tenets that I do, and those who would definitely not. And might I go back to a desire to assemble on a weekend day to worship? Yes, I actually hope so, but it won’t be for the same reasons and it won’t be until I can find a space where people gather not because they think they have to in order to find God or go to heaven, but because they share a life of mutual need and mutual support and a desire to raise our voices to A Being, a Mommy-Daddy-Parent, Who we do not understand the Mystery of, but Whom we know somewhere deep within our very souls, loves us, Her children, and desires us to love each other and this beautiful Garden that our Progenitor has graced us with and Who longs to, as Jesus did, “gather us little seekers to Him as a Mother Hen gathers her fledgling chicks.”

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As I write this, The Kingdom of Russia has invaded The Kingdom of Ukraine. I happen to live in The Kingdom of America (which no longer should hold the title to “United” States, in my opinion); and my Kingdom has invaded lots of other Kingdoms in its short history. A lot of Jesus’ contemporaries tried to make him an invader of other Kingdoms. The Israelites changed a lot about their God over the course of their history, and one of those things was that God was created in the image of man, rather than the other way around, with a human-projected desire for the people who loved him to force other people to love Him too by taking over their “space”.  This idea that space should belong to the most powerful among us, is one of the greatest misunderstandings of God’s intention for our “Garden”, this beautiful Earth. We change God’s original idea of caring as wise caretakers for all of Creation, into the idea that we can “rule” the earth. If you have ever planted seeds or tended a garden, you may realize that we humans can not ever “rule” what God has created as nature, “natural”. For anything to grow, it must be accepted not as the work of our human hands but as something dependent on the grace of sun and rain and good soil and all the grace that is needed for life.   So, when his closest friends asked Jesus to conquer the Space of his time, he kept trying to point them to the truth about Space: “God’s Kingdom is not “out there” or “here”. God’s Space is among YOU, within YOU, within Me, it is everywhere, and no-where, it is “on earth, as it is in the sky, the heavens, the cosmos. The space known as God’s Kingdom is a cosmos out there and also within your very little human self. I could no more conquer it than I could hold it in my hand. “My kingdom is not of this world, but of a completely different idea about Space.”  Oh, dear children, what does it profit you if you gain all of the kingdoms, all space, all time, all stuff, all money, all fame, all admiration, all knowledge, and you die, ceasing to have any of that, ceasing to exist outside the Ultimate Reality, and have lost the only thing you have ever really wanted and have ever really been – a cosmic soul?

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The radical views of Christ’s about Space have begun to change my idea about who or what I am. Because the older you get, the more you are aware of the space you actually live in – your body/mind, or what Jesus called “your temple”. Talk about a place to worship in – the body/mind changes every day and when you are young, it is easy to overlook the changes. When you are older, not so much! And as I am older, I am not only more aware of the space of my body, but more aware of the great question of what will happen to “me” when the space I call my “body” is dead.  And what does “death” mean to me?  The recorded life and words of Jesus at least implies that one’s “self” can be eternal. Can be.  There is a way, that early disciples of Jesus, called The Way, and it is an eternal life that begins now, which takes us from the rather secondary reality we have been meditating on and which we call “Space”, to what Heschel reminds us is the Ultimate Reality of relationship and humanity, which is what we call “Time”. After all, as it is said, Time is the only thing we can never earn more of and which we continually undervalue, to our eternal regret.

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And so, saving the “best” for last, we come to that thing that defines us as a species, our comprehension of the passing of Time, but which is also that very thing we cannot comprehend even as we chase after its meaning until the very last breath – the idea of Time.  And really what the teachers and writers I referred you to at the top of this essay have tried to, well, “drill into my thick skull” can be summed up in one word; and that word is:

NOW.

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That’s it. That is all that needs to be said about Time but also, truth be told, all that can be said about Time. It is one of the words, The Christ, uses over and over and over again, and which we relegate to an intro, rather than the very main idea Jesus wanted us to grasp – “The Time is NOW”.

 *

We humans waste so much life thinking we can change our past time, or create future time, and we live in the past and future in our heads, our relationships, our decisions, our dreams and regrets – and it is all a false reality – all The Big Lie, because somewhere deep inside when we face True Reality, we realize, whether we want to or not, that all that ever exists is This Moment, This Present, This Now.

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How shall we then live? As if this moment was exactly all I would ever live. This moment is Eternity, and how I live this moment, is what I will eternally be. “To have eternal Time, you must be born again.” In other words – Wow! Bam! Whooo hoooo! I was just born to this moment!  Yikes! I just became alive! Look and true-ly see. Smell and true-ly breathe in and out, in and out, in and out. Listen and true-ly hear.  As the Psalmist says, “Taste and see that The Lord is good, take shelter in The Ultimate Love of Presence”.

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Jesus to me NOW: “I go to a different dimension, and you can’t go there, yet because you are still in this body, this space, and in this time, not yet dead. But in the Ultimate Reality to which I, Jeshua ben Joseph, Jesus, who has become Christ, am going, you too can come, if you want. It will take a new attitude on your part, my dear little friend. It will be as if you have become a little child again, full of wonder and delight in wherever you are in this very moment. It will be painful, like being forced out of a womb, and you will suffer and cry and find your own cross of suffering and dying to your ego to bear. But you will be reborn to something and into someone that you can only envision yourself to be, as if through a fog, but it will happen in eternity and it will also happen right now. But you will be awakened, and in each moment, you will become more and more alive than you can now imagine. I have shown you The Way. Follow my lead. You have been created by and for Love and all the Love that you are, that you give, that you accept and that you create, will never, ever pass away, but will exist outside Space and Time, within what you call yourself and within who you call others, and within Us. Your Love will become Our Love, and All will Be, within Our Relationship, forever and ever. Amen.”

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© Jane Tawel, 2022

My Worry-Bed, My Garden-Bed, My Bed of Nails, My Ocean

by Jane Tawel

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My Worry-Bed, My Garden-Bed, My Bed of Nails, My Ocean

By Jane Tawel

February 23, 2022

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Here am I,

in my Worry-Bed,

my Bed of Nails,

my wanderings,

down trails and trails,

of past and future ruts well-worn.

I’ve come to make my nest of thorns.

I lay me down,

my soul to rend,

my fears to tend,

like blood-sucking friends,

I let them in, again and again.

Dreams aborted, bashed and torn,

I fill the spaces in my head,

with raging demons, dead — 

and not yet born.

*

Here I am,

in my Garden-bed.

I come to plant and tend and seed.

I lay me down,

my soul to keep,

and furrows clean and straight,

my seeds of fear are shorn,

right at the roots.

From weeds of worry,

stones of grief,

I plough the field of dreams towards truth.

I water drop by precious drop

the flowers of joy and plants of peace.

Without a need to grasp or climb,

but letting go of all but faith

in God’s protecting, mindful vines,

that reach and curl and hold and keep

Gardens of peace and love entwined.

*

I rise up from my bed of nails,

exhausted from the fight and flight.

Oh, to wake and die no more,

to know all blindness, is now sight.

Oh, to find my tossing, turning nights,

have reached at last that tranquil shore.

I rise up from The Ocean-Bed

A wave, unique and wholly me.

I, a wave, in God’s great Sea,

and I am I, and I am Thee.

And in Love’s cradle,

even night is Light.

*

© Jane Tawel, February 24, 2022

We Are Not the Flame

Candle in the wind
“Candle in the wind” by Ralf Appelt is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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We Are Not the Flame

By Jane Tawel

February 8, 2022

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We are not the flame.

We are but a flicker,

and a flicker, and a flicker, and a flicker after that.

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I am not one name,

but many I have worn,

like coats of many colors,

some beautiful, some torn.

And yet the garment is all One,

and I am just the tassels,

just one small voice amongst great passels,

and yet not passing-on– not all–

and yet not passing on.

*

Eternity, we deeply feel,

must be in us, must be real.

And yet, we know we die.

We pass away to live not yet another day.

But what I do, what these hands make,

not for myself, but someone else’s sake,

will last, will conquer even death,

and even with my dying breath,

I hope, I pray, that I can say:

“The Flame. The Flame! I see it now!”

And some way, some how,

beyond– yet still me–

my little flickers of The Flame,

will live on, eternally.

*

© Jane Tawel, 2022

When Books Were Clouds

Clouds of Glory
“Clouds of Glory” by Michael Taggart Photography is licensed under

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When Books Were Clouds

by Jane Tawel

January 28, 2022

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When books were read in clouds and trees,

and fame was in the stars,

then we did walk the Earth as guards

and lived in Time just as we are.

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When actions held our thinking firm,

and no one needed walls,

then Man and Woman, and terra firma

as one and One made All.

Why, then, as wise old children, we

lived wholly, on this lovely ball,

not split, not splintered, we lived True

and You were I, and I was you.

*

When books were clouds, and we were stars,

then eyes and ears could see and hear

the world and us just as we are.

*

Flow back, flow back, all living things,

and simpler world embrace.

Let truth and power return to grace

and Love will take its rightful place.

Flow forth, flow forth, dear human race,

the tale is in the telling,

and like great waves a-swelling,

only our hearts will leave a trace.

*

© Jane Tawel, January 28, 2022