Puzzling With Purpose

“puzzle time” by Sherri Lynn Wood is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Puzzling With Purpose

By Jane Tawel

November 14, 2020

These past months as I have been reading and circling through the deep treasures in books by Victor Frankel, Abraham Joshua Herschel, Shane Claiborne, Gary Wills, A.W. Tozer, and Chief Joseph Riverwind, I have been filled with the paradoxes of longing/knowing, seeking/ remembering, learning/ yearning, and wondering/wandering. I have also felt myself taking spiritual baby-steps, and as another favorite of mine, C.S. Lewis wrote, heading a bit “further up and further in”.

My readings led me to rough-draft through a slight meditative acrostic. As the old adage goes, “writing is never finished, it is only due”; and maybe if we thought more that way about each day, each life, each person, we’d be a bit more joyful, caring, kind, and hopeful in our life’s journeys toward meaning. Aren’t writing and communication always really just today’s rough draft in expressing who I think I am, what I think the Big Themes are? Isn’t each day of life, just a bit of a second draft on yesterday, and another rough draft today, with hopes for perfection, or at least a passing grade, for tomorrow?

I enjoy word puzzles, but then I think that everything we human beings say or do or write are chock- full of puzzles — puzzles of intent, puzzles of consequences, puzzles of meaning. We are after all the species who speaks, the critters who communicate; we are the beings who are perhaps, just a little lower than the angels, but constantly fighting our own worst demons.

In general, I adhere to the wisdom that in writing, function should always come first and come first from the heart and later the head. But sometimes it is useful to start with form, and then find function in the very strictures imposed. I thought perhaps that was an especially interesting philosophy to play around with when looking at some of what we call the issues and ideas I have about “Life’s Meaning”. So, I started with the form of an acrostic to see where it led me about the function of expressing thoughts on what “it all” means, this Life. I also liked this idea since a form of acrostic is a form of poetry that was used in some of the Psalms of Judaism and the ancient Hebrews; and those are poems I have long loved, because they express still the universal human longings for meaning that all people have.

When we look for meaning, as all humans do, we are unaware of how the puzzle pieces will all fit together. We see only the edge of today, the bent pieces we messed-up yesterday, the corner of the puzzle we have almost, not quite put together, perhaps because we fear we are missing a piece. Then there is the fact that the Table holds lots of people’s puzzles and some of us are working on our own deciphering as well as the ciphers of several others’. Sometimes we try to put together the puzzle with someone else, but each person isn’t necessarily working on the same part of the puzzle, or even the same type of puzzle that we are. While I am working on this part of the jigsaw, someone I love may be working on another part, and so our communication with each other may end up frustrating or confusing us both; like someone trying to communicate with Morse Code while the other one is using JavaScript. Perhaps the greatest life mystery is how we ever manage to communicate at all in a truly meaningful way with another human being.

We are constantly in the rough draft stage of writing our own life story. But we are never meant to go it alone. We may look inwards, outwards, upwards, and beyond for hints and clues. We will have good and bad “teachers”, fans of our story, critics and foes; helpful and harmful life-story editors, sacrificial helpers, guides and mentors, promoters and beneficiaries. It is, always, however, at the end of each page, my story to write. And it must be my decision about who and what I will keep in, and what I will edit out, in order to form the great themes in my own life-story.

Every life-story is looking for meaning and each is the same as all the others, and each is completely unique and separate from anyone else’s. This is the paradoxical puzzle of You and We and I.

So back to acrostics and writing one. In all writing, we may start with form and hope function follows. Or we might embrace function and trust the form will naturally evolve. I think it more likely, though, when all is said and done, that every story, like every life, is a patchwork of form and function, not seamless, but beautiful in its complexity. Maybe when we are most in touch with our search for meaning, we ebb and flow between form and function, perpetually and poetically in motion. Like a river. Like a breeze. Like a baby being rocked in the arms of a Loving Parent. Like the whole world circling towards Tomorrow and coming back around to Now. Like a Story that will have no End.

I think it is important however an individual chooses to do it, that he chooses intentionally, purposefully, with great wells of deep hope — to work on the puzzle of his own life’s meaning. By searching for and finding my own meaning, I find The Meaning of all human quest and all human concern. In this way, my part of The Puzzle, is connected to all the parts of The Puzzle, and I am connected to all others in time and space in this great experiment God has granted us. The earth experiment that we are part of, we participate as subjects of it. At the same time, it is the experiment we humans on Earth are researching and overseeing, supervising, hypothesizing about, and reaching conclusions by which to live. We are both the supervisors and the substance of The Grand Experiment of Creating a Meaningful Life.

Find your puzzle today, whether it is a book whose themes you wrestle with to decipher; a relationship with someone you try to understand better; or a task that makes your brain sting and sing. Formulate your questions, and don’t rush the answers. Enjoy each day as a rough draft, that will only get better in tomorrow’s version. But for today be content to sit awhile with the great mysteries in the heartbeats of your very own little puzzle of a life.

And whenever possible, as The Good Parents always advise their children to do: Whenever you are puzzling out meaning? Try to use your words.

© Jane Tawel 2020

Star Trail - 1
“Star Trail – 1” by cknara is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

An Acrostic

By Jane Tawel

L ove first — The Creator and the Created.

I can, I must, I Will myself to do it.

F ollow the Leaders of Light and Servants of Hope.

E mbrace Mystery. She is Wisdom’s Helpmeet.

Pause and Punctuate the Moments.

S eek Eternal Values found outside the temporary storehouses.

M ates and moments are more precious than money.

E njoy the journey. Take one step at a time; look around at everything; look ahead with imagination; look behind with forgiveness.

A gain and Again, Time is our Current. Time is the Tide flowing backwards and forwards, until it becomes The Circle, covering over, revealing; an endless ebb and flow of the Big Questions, and the Last Mysteries.

N ice-ness in narcissism is a fool’s paradise; but Truth in Love is heaven seeking earth.

I n the care of the soul, perfect calling meets greatest need.

N othing can separate us from The Love without our permission. Grant Love permission to have the last say and the ultimate power.

G od asks only for enough faith to do Good.

S halom; and in Wholeness is Beginning and Ending.

© Jane Tawel 2020

Once This Is Over

Horse Drawn Plow
“Horse Drawn Plow” by Tom Gill. is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Once This is Over

A Meditation

By Jane Tawel

November 7, 2020

Meditation 1

Once they, whoever “they” are, stop slapping our hands away, I hope they will see a hand reached out, straight and true, to show The Way.

Once they, whoever “they” are, find that fear can not lead, and hate can not win; I hope we will walk in peace.

Once “they”, whoever they were, embrace the love of “We”; we will find that as One, we live.

*

Once there, wherever “there” is, we must make all things beautiful.

Once there, wherever “there” leads, no one will feel alone.

Once there, wherever “there” may be, our joy will be full; and we will come Home to “The Here”.

*

Once this is over, whatever “this” is, I hope to plan again.

Once, this is over, whatever “this” is, I plan to Hope again.

*

Meditation 2

*

Once I believed that if I kept trying and working and winning, that I would get “There”.

Now, I know that if  let go, live well, and love true, that “Here” finds a home in my heart.

*

Once, I thought “They” should fix it, take care of it, change it, and do something.

Now, I know it has always been up to me to accept it, care for it, share in it, and Be Love.

*

Once I thought “This”, was all there was.

Now, I believe it is only the beginning,

and Goodness and Love have no end.

*

*

Once, I asked “why me?”.

Now, I ask, “why not We?”.

Let us put our joined hands together to the plow,

 and not look back, but gaze forward.

©Jane Tawel 2020

Cancelled: Festivity in The Time of Corona Virus

by Jane Tawel

party

“party” by sundaymay is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Cancelled: Festivity in the Time of Corona Virus

A Poem

By Jane Tawel

November 1, 2020

*

Is it a party, if nobody comes?

Is it a fete, with a guest list of one?

Festivals, shindigs, and things we’ve once done,

During pandemics don’t seem very fun!

*

Last eve wasn’t “hallowed”,

Candy dishes weren’t shallowed,

And what is the point when traditions aren’t followed?

*

And when we don’t cheer,

Together with beer,

To celebrate wins and our teams—

Well, I wonder, just what it all means?

*

And churches prodigious,

Well, are they really religious,

If they gather for Christmas,

only if they’re litigious?

*

Welcome, peoples and nations,

To 2020 Celebrations!

It’s a whole new shebang,

For friends, families, and gangs.

But I’ve found if I try,

There’s a party inside,

That I just can not hide,

if true love is my guide.

So let’s take some new pride,

In being clear-eyed,

‘bout the new love we bring,

To our current wingdings,

Cuz you know, here’s the thing,

This virus can sting!

So, we just can not cling,

to the Past’s everything.

And I’d rather not break bread,

With you, if you’ll be dead,

Or if I’ll be deceased,

If I host a great feast.

*

For the people who claim,

It must all stay the same,

For the playing of games

or the days we acclaim

To be fun’s only fame—

I guess I must note,

that it’s best to devote,

all your talents and smarts,

to the home found in our hearts.

*

If you want to show love,

Or praise Someone above,

Then you don’t need the past,

Just the true things that last.

And the families and teams?

Well, c’mon, what they mean,

Is that we can be strong,

Even with no great throng.

Cuz the things that remain,

Have not ever been gained,

Without big or small pain.

Let’s not whine or complain,

But seek things more humane.

And those things can be found,

Even when gone to ground,

Are the pamperings and hankerings,

Of having big gatherings.

*

There is joy to possess,

 Happiness to access,

If you give in to fun,

With your party of one.

*

Let’s prepare for tomorrow,

And not greet things with sorrow,

Like our changed celebrations.

We can find jubilation,

If we just are aware,

And our hearts, we prepare

To learn these new lessons,

And keep counting our blessings.

*

There will still be a Christmas, and Hanukkah, too,

And we all can still “Skype”, “Happy, Birthday, to you!”

We can worship or “yay, rah”,

At home in pajamas!

Yes, we miss fests and fairs,

But we have to take care,

And though groups are desirous,

They can’t be with this Virus.

*

So, the hullabaloos,

I miss having with you,

Will just have to wait,

‘til pandemics abate.

Until then, I’ll be glad,

For the good times we’ve had.

And I’ll do my part,

To keep hope in my heart,

That though, now we are distanced,

If we just stay persistent,

things are going to get better,

and we’ll soon be together.

*

And though we can’t gather,

I would really much rather,

Find my own joy in waiting,

And my love demonstrating,

by long distance relating,

from the sickness mutating.

Oh! when Covid stalemates,

we will all Celebrate!

*

With most fests at a sad and regrettable end,

And upcoming Winter’s feasts just ‘round the bend,

Dust your doldrums off the old memory shelf,

Celebrate your aliveness! And your dear, best own self!

*

And before we all know it,

There’ll be new ways to show it,

When we want to amass,

And throw parties and blasts.

*

Happy Good Day to We,

Who will sagely agree,

That today we’ll care less,

For the past. We will press

Onward, forward, and through,

So that both I and you,

Will one day have alliance,

Gathered in our great triumph.

For by being alone,

For awhile, we found Home.

And we’ll all be more hardy,

The next time we can Party!

*

As October now fades,

Without fetes or parades,

Find a new joy in knowing,

Your immune system’s growing.

In your own company stay,

For each coming holiday.

Bunker down in your room,

With some good friends on “zoom”.

Know you’re truly the best,

When you care for the rest.

By forgoing tradition,

You are on a great Mission!

*

So, don’t be sad this Thanksgiving,

Just be glad you’re still living!

And we’ll buck up our fears,

and wipe lonely tears,

with the hope we’ll all cheer,

When we greet The New Year!

*

© Jane Tawel 2020

Scaring the American Out of Me

by Jane Tawel

October 31, 2020

There seems to be a lot of confusion these days in and about certain religions, perhaps my own particularly at this juncture in the limitations of place and time. Just a few thoughts from those a million miles better than I; who are convicting and (I hope) instructing me. We of a certain faith don’t need to fear national changes as much as we should fear actually doing what Christ asks us to do if we want to follow Him. I know it scares the “American” right out of me!

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:21–25)

Bishop Dom Helder Camara: “When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked WHY people are hungry, they called me a communist.”

Dorothy Day: “Don’t call us saints; we don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”

Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

“The Lord has told you what is good. He has told you what he wants from you: Do what is right to other people. Love being kind to others. And live humbly, trusting your God.” (Micah 6:8)

This is a Team

Los Angeles Dodgers Win World Series — Los Angeles Times, October 28,2020

This is a Team

by Jane Tawel

This is a team and the players’ win is worthy of celebration. (Yay, Dodgers!) Political parties are not teams and politicians are not star players and we have to stop cheering for them as if all that matters is whether our team wins. We shouldn’t want a party to “win”, no matter what, no matter what rules they break, or how they play the game, just because they have been “our team” for a long time. What we should want is for our nation’s values to win, and for the world to be a better place for everyone, not just those who “wear” the same color. We should want our political leaders to serve those of us sitting in the stands (and if they serve-up L.A. Dodger dogs this year, even better). Citizens are not the fans in this political game, folks, we are the umpires. Don’t hope your political party “team” wins, hope the nation’s citizens win. Vote like a referee. Live like the commissioner of all the teams, because that is what American democracy is all about.

A Prayer of Sorts

A Prayer of Sorts

By Jane Tawel

October 25, 2020

Blown on a Breeze up the Sky............ Explored 26 July
“Blown on a Breeze up the Sky………… Explored 26 July” by -Reji is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Divine Power,

Choosing Divine Love instead,

You sort Yourself into the camp of

Gods Who Care.

*

Parent Progenitor,

Creating not fighting,

Wholeness, not chaos;

You sort your children out

 not with punishment but with the reward

of shalom eternal, fullness in peace, purpose as one with Yours.

*

Good and Holy,

Teacher and Magistrate,

Just and Truthful

Lover and Sage,

Wise and Gracious,

Cosmos and Heart-beat,

You Alone, You Within All.

*

You Are.

And when we ask, “Why You do not do?”

You ask, “Why do not you?”

When we cry, “Who are You?”

Your whispered caress is, “Who are you?”

When we plead, “Where are You?”

There is silence,

Because we have hidden too long and too well.

We are the hiders,

You are the Seeker.

To know where You are,

We only need to come out from our hiding places.

*

There is a sort of Spirit

That sorts the wheat from the chaff;

And all I must do

daily

 is decide

If I’ll allow

The Kind of God

 I think You are,

To sort my soul.

*

Oh, Great Conditioner,

This is a prayer of sorts.

Arrange the dust-motes

Of my soul

To be joined in Love

 with You

And All.

*

YHWH, I AM,

The door is open,

The path, narrow,

You ask us to Be as You Are,

And offer to Be With and In us.

*

That is all.

That is everything.

You Are.

Amen.

The Problem Is, It Isn’t True

A Poem about Lies, Liars, and Truth

Kernels of Truth
“Kernels of Truth” by Daveblog is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Problem Is, It Isn’t True

A Poem

By Jane Tawel

October 13, 2020

*

Remember when it was we two,

And we believed we could imbue,

A moral, high-road point of view,

in others and in me and you?

And when someone, a child or friend,

Would through a maze of untruths wend,

I used to say this thing to you:

“The problem is, it isn’t true”.

*

And we would laugh or roll our eyes,

And then to child or friend, advise

Them not the truth to compromise,

 By telling tales or telling lies.

*

Those days are gone and Time has passed,

And I thought we’d all changed at last,

But daily now I am aghast,

How easily Truth is miscast.

And I have found myself in mourning,

At all the lies that round are swarming,

And so, I offer up this warning:

By all means keep your point of view,

But when you think that lies serve you?

Or that from guile, good can accrue?

The problem is, it isn’t true.

*

Yes, lately I have déjà vu,

And my world-view has gone askew,

‘Cuz’ people that I thought I knew,

Support the liars through and through.

I fear they take the overview,

That in the long run lies accrue

The good they think to them is due.

The problem is?  That’s never true.

*

For lies and liars create strife

That have a lasting afterlife.

And nothing can make crooked, true

Unless all of us – me and you–

With humbleness and fortitude,

Change up complacent attitudes.

*

Reject the falsehood of rapacity,

And speak against evil mendacity.

We can not remain dumb and docile,

Nor shun the true Tao of the Gospel.

In Truth plus Love we find capacity,

To have both Goodness and Veracity.

*

We all are tempted to deceive,

And often tall-tales we will weave,

In our attempt to change or woo,

a “someone” that we’re hankering to,

Convince to our skewed point of view.

And I say, “skewed” because my eyes,

Are often blinded to the lies

That I can tell the whole day long,

To keep from saying that I’m wrong.

I like to think I’ve got the facts,

and those who disagree are lax

in proving things that I don’t take to;

And so, I swear ‘til I am blue,

That I am always right; Not you!

The problem is?  That isn’t true.

*

It is so easy to convince,

Myself that it’s okay to mince,

The accuracy of my quarrel.

The problem is? It isn’t moral!

*

We love to praise our own virtue,

Even when wrong, I’ll vanquish you.

And if we tell a lie or two?

So what? Aren’t we entitled to

Our own self-serving point of view?

My lies don’t hurt or effect you!

The problem is? That isn’t true.

For lies and lying hurt us all,

Which has been obvious since The Fall.

Today lies are in full free-fall,

We really must get on the ball,

To right the wrongs and testify

That Truth must live and lies must die.

*

To think we can crush someone’s dream,

To merely win for our own team;

Or that to save sculpture or fetus,

We’ll worship guys who lie and cheat us.

If we keep serving fame and gold,

We’ll find the center can not hold.

For whom we serve, we soon become.

For good or evil, we’ll succumb

To what we’ve hitched our wagon to;

We’ll be the lie, if we shun truth.

*

It’s time that we were all more honest.

Let’s not put up with all this nonsense,

Of fudging on the whole of content

or taking words out of their context.

We take one part and misconstrue.

The problem is, it isn’t true.

*

Our airwaves flow with fierce locution,

That fills weak minds with hate’s pollution,

And falsifies truth’s attribution,

With shallow lies as substitution.

We all must ask for absolution,

For making lies our contribution.

To fix our problems and confusion,

There are more ethical solutions.

Let’s all enhance our elocution

And stop this wreck of devolution.

By Holy Writ or Constitution —

Let TRUTH lead us in REVOLUTION!

*

So, as I look around me now

I’m truly shocked that we allow,

The people who are charged to lead,

Lie only to protect their greed.

We honor lies and even flatter

The liars and their fibbing patter;

As if the truth no longer mattered.

*

And when I’m super skeptical,

Is when they claim they’re ethical.

We all know Truth is black and white,

Hence, lying just is never right.

No matter when, what, where or who,

We all should have to tell the Truth.

*

When lies and liars are our leaders,

We’ve elevated bottom feeders

And said that somehow we forgive them,

Because we hope our cause outlives them.

But thinking this is so perverse,

That all throughout the universe,

There’s not a god or creed agreeing,

That can to falsehoods grant well-being.

So, all those prayers and thoughts we do

To Gods who see us through and through?

Those prayers are like cud that sheep chew.

God promises that He will spew

From out His mouth, all that’s untrue.

For in Love’s Eyes, it’s not our gains

That will forever long remain,

And hands that sleight,

Won’t see The Light;

For One Day, Love will make Truth, Right.

*

God is not mocked by lies and liars;

He expects us to go higher

Than thinking we can get away

By choosing evil for today,

In some vague hope, Good will ensue,

Despite the fact, it isn’t true.

*

It really is, in fact, medieval,

To think Good ever comes from evil.

Our lies make us much more primeval

And there’s no way for a retrieval,

Of goodness, once we are deceitful.

There has to be world-wide upheaval.

To make the playing fields more equal.

From palace steps to rich cathedrals,

Let Truth ring out from house to steeple!

*

We tell ourselves our cause is just,

And so lies do not matter much;

If later greater good is served,

Then all will get what they deserve;

And then we’ll bid the lies, “Adieu.”

The problem is?  That won’t be true.

(Lies feel so good when I crush you.)

*

For lies are catching, like disease.

When we have learned to, with great ease,

Accept the bullies who deceive;

We’ll never rise above the sleaze.

When we start down that slippery slope,

To gain back truth, we’ve not a hope.

We claim the fall out, we’ll undue.

The problem is, that won’t come true.

It’s not so easy to make right,

The wrongs we do for gain and might.

Once lies escape Pandora’s Box,

One never can turn back the clocks.

Once lying has become addiction,

It’s hard to tell what’s fact or fiction.

We think we will, but we can’t do it.

The line’s perverted; we can’t true it.

*

Let’s start today and take it slow.

Admit there’s things we do not know.

But if we don’t, we have to try

To keep from justifying lies.

If you help me, and I help you,

Together we’ll accept the truth.

And that means we won’t know a lot,

But still we can do what we ought.

*

If we say “Can”, instead of “Cannot”,

We’ll save our neighbors and the Planet.

Wholeness is plausibility,

But not by prideful falsity.

The problem isn’t clarity;

It’s just our fear of verity.

*

By letting liars have their say,

We’ve lost our souls and lost The Way.

We must stand up and must refuse,

To let the lies become our views.

*

It’s up to me and up to you,

and in our own hearts to undo,

this tendency to twist and skew

what simply isn’t really true.

I know it feels good, through and through,

To have our team fill up the pews,

And to believe that we’ll accrue,

Rewards no matter what we do.

The problem is?

It isn’t true.

*

We have to call out all the whoppers,

‘Bout how the rich are treating paupers.

We have to quit our foolish praising,

Of those adept at coarse evading.

We should be shocked at the audacity,

Of perilous and rank mendacity.

What has gone wrong in church and nation,

To cause wide-spread prevarication?

*

The Truth be told, a lie’s a lie.

No wiggle room to comprise.

Each one of us tends to pursue,

Just what we want to think and do.

We tell ourselves that we’ll get through,

And THEN we’ll find new points of view,

And uphold good for me and you.

But we forget the why or how to;

And just like Pilate asked The Good Jew:

“Why not let people crucify you?

Our problem is?

 So? What is Truth?”

*

Tomorrow never comes unless

Today we choose to do our best;

For yesterday is plenty proof,

That lies will never become Truth.

The Path is narrow, and The Way,

Is only clear for just this Day.

Choose Goodness, Love, Humility.

Choose Kindness and Veracity.

And if we tackle this World’s sorrows,

Together we can make tomorrow,

A Time that’s better through and through.

What once was crooked, will be trued.

*

I hope today when I’m enticed,

To make my lies seem like they’re nice,

Or when I try to win or score,

I’ll stop to realize that there’s more,

To being all I’m meant to be;

And I will pause and take a knee.

Not worshipping a flag or book,

But truly taking a hard look

At what is meant to be my role,

In seeking wholeness for my soul.

And that means doing the hard labor,

Of scorning lies, and loving neighbor.

*

And on my knees, I’ll look inside

And realize that I can not hide,

From Truth and Love and Light and You

And that whenever I try to,

I pray that Love will win and woo,

With Words that lovingly undo,

The falsehoods in my own worldview.

*

Today I draw lines in the sand,

For with True Truth, my soul must stand.

Let’s fight the fight, Friend; me and you?

And Right will Win,

For Love is True.

*

Let’s all to others, grace bestow.

Accept there’s much we do not know.

In Truth and Love we all should grow.

The low made high, the high brought low.

And to a Heaven on Earth we’ll go.

The answer is?

May it be so.

© Jane Tawel 2020

Struggling With My Chosen Belief System

by Jane Tawel

October 9, 2020

God's creativity
“God’s creativity” by Martin LaBar is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Struggling With My Chosen Belief System

by Jane Tawel

October 9, 2020

I am (sadly) curious about what the “Christian” lemmings’ take / excuse is on the latest news that Donald Trump, in order to treat his Covid 19 symptoms, took a drug that is made from aborted fetus cells. Anyone? Anyone ready to look at the definition of hypocrisy, now?

I speak here from what I hope is an evolving, growing Judeo-Christian Worldview and a belief system that reaches out to all forms and belief systems of truth, light, joy, love, and peace. However, every now and then, I simply cannot remain silent when I see so many, at least in my country, America, claiming a type of “Christianity” that I don’t recognize as either Biblical or God-loving. We used to do these things called “testimonies”, in the churches I grew up in. Here is a little one of mine for today.

If I claim a Judeo-Christian worldview, it is not about whom I support, but WHY I support them, for we believe God looks at the heart. And for the one who claims either Judaism or Christianity, there should be only one “WHO” that matters — our Parent/ Creator/ God. My choices about anything and everything are important because of what that says about my walk, my religion, my soul, my God. As Jesus makes tragically clear: “What does it profit me if I gain the world, but lose my soul”? The only WHO that matters is Whom I say Christ is. The only WHO that matters is the God of LOVE of the whole world, the whole planet, the whole of Us, from the least to the (temporarily) greatest.

I will once more recommend a deep dive into the actual words of The Christ that many of us have claimed to follow. Matthew 23 is shockingly bold and convicting for starters. Warning: there is absolutely nothing at all on abortion in Christ’s words or in fact any of God’s, but there is quite a lot on hypocrisy and lies.

As just one little sheep myself, I am trying to follow the right Shepherd, not the wolves in sheep’s clothing. I am trying to take these words to heart from Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Jesus is very clear that there will not be any politicians or even church leaders to stand beside me on judgement day. He does promise me judgement however, on how I treat others and how I follow “the Truth, the Life, and the Way.”

Sorry to be so preachy, but it just matters so very, very much to me. Not this man, or that man matters one whit in The End; and I matter not all; but it all and all certainly matters about The Son of Man and what some of us do in His name. #nocheapgrace #nocheapSavior

May you today find your own way to Truth, Life, Love, and Joy. May you know the value of your very own soul above all things temporal. May you be bold and brave enough to stand up and be counted among those who would change the world, even just your own little corner of it. May you have the assurance that Good will always win in the end if we truly believe that “faith, hope and love will reign eternally”. And above all, may you know that there is a Spirit-God Who loves you — just little old you.

One Clumsy but Trying Step at a Time, Jane

Hope is Waiting

Hope is Waiting

By Jane Tawel

October 5, 2020

I needed reminding today that Hope is a gift. All I need to do is hold out my hands and accept it. But I must risk holding out my hand. I must for one moment forget, how many times that hand has been slapped away by disappointment, fear, anger, or pride. Only by forgetting the past moment, can I welcome this new moment of hope. I must remember that I cannot hold onto hope if my fists are closed or my hands are full of selfishness, greed, or vanity. I must remember how lovely it is to hold things lightly enough in one’s hands so that they can be filled with hope. Hope is a gift, but I must open myself up to accept it.

Hope is a gift, but I must listen for it, tune my heart to its sweetness. I must watch patiently for Hope to alight. I must keep my hands open for hope to remain. The minute I try to imprison hope, it will flee from me. Above all, I have to remember that there is plenty of hope to go around. Hope is strongest when it is shared.

Today, I was reminded of the long arc of hope by these artists and writers. I am thankful to them and history, both mine and the world’s, for reminding me that Hope is “the thing that perches in the soul, singing the tune without the words, never stopping at all”. Hope patiently waits for us to remember that it is powerful but meek, self-contained but kind, and that every love ever loved needs hope to help it survive.

Hope is that which inspires me to join the dreamers, believe in the goodness of other people, know that love is stronger than death. And as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us, while finite disappointment is real and hard, we must never lose hope, for Hope is infinite.

Keep Hope Alive. In fact, “live right under it”. ~~Jane

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” 
 ― Shel Silverstein

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” 
 ― John Lennon

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

 — Anne Frank

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”

 — Barbara Kingsolver

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

 — Robert Fulghum

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

 — Anonymous

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

 — Pablo Neruda

When the night is dark, may you still see how bright are the stars, Jane

© Jane Tawel 2020

First Responder

First Responder

By Jane Tawel

September 10, 2020

Monrovia Weekly — The Bobcat Fire

Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the tragedy that befell America on September 11, 2001; forever more known as 9/11. Today, I look out on my little Southern California hamlet, after another night of worry about the fires on the hilltops so close I can see the flames from my upstairs window. Last night one “small” jet and a huge airplane — my neighbor knows the names of them but I don’t — swept back and forth, back and forth across the hills and across my town of 38,000 people, most of whom were out on the streets watching. It felt like the allies had arrived. The planes sprayed stuff to keep the fires from my home. These planes also carried the people who were among the first responders to the fires, and they joined the ranks of firefighters across the West Coast, bravely trying to save life, limb (both human and tree-based), and property.

We read a lot about how these fires are due to the disaster we have wreaked worldwide on our planet. Let’s call it what it is — call it climate catastrophe and human greediness run amok. Last week, one short hour from where I live, the temps topped the all-time record charts at 121 degrees, while I merely had to put up with 112 degrees. The skies in Northern California were orange yesterday and the ash on our cars and sidewalks down here was nothing compared to the blanket of ash covering San Francisco and other northern climes. How we wish someone would fix all this, but it’s down to us, isn’t? It’s down to me to get serious about fixing my patterns and habits and attitude and get on board to try to help make right what we have all helped to make wrong?

I cheered when the planes swooped up my hill — to save my life and my photo albums. Tomorrow most of us will give a small nod in remembrance of the horrible day that the Twin Towers caught fire, and so many lost their lives and we all lost a good chunk of our innocence. We will also briefly give tribute to the many people who lost their lives or health or ability to sleep at night, as first responders to that destruction they rushed into as heroes on 9/11. But today, as I keep praying against the imminent danger to me and mine, I realize how easily I forget the constant dangers, dangers exacerbated by our foolish ability to forget and move on.

I am thinking about the world’s brave men and women across this country — not just firefighters, but medical personnel and police and paramedics and EMTs; and I think, we all need to become more like those brave souls. I am thinking about first responders and the heroes who come when planes hit towers, or bombs fall, or pandemics flood hospitals with patients, or fires rage across the country, or bombs fall, or whatever the immediate calamity is, and I think, oh, thank God there are people who are willing to do that. And then I think, well, what about the dangers and looming calamities that don’t feel so imminent but are encroaching, encroaching like flames down a hill or may suddenly be fanned into flames by the embers we carelessly or foolishly ignore? If we want to solve the world’s problems, then we need to stop passing the buck and start doing whatever we can, one little “me” rising to the challenge of the day. And we need to do a better job of remembering those who have risked their lives as first responders, and stop taking them for granted. And most of all, we all need to start responding, and not keep thinking we can sit it out, while the professionals take care of it. We can’t all be fire fighters and we mustn’t try to do surgery on patients if we are not doctors, but we can all respond with everything we have got, to turn-around the fires of environmental destruction, human misery, and out-of-control rage, hate, and greed and to heal the land and each other. We need to all do much more — small or large acts of sacrifice and purposeful actions on behalf of making the world safer and saner for all. And it will help if we can retain focused remembrance of the times that brave heroes and even the lesser beings like ourselves have, in the past, risen to a challenge because we all responded to the need of the hour. That hour is now. Will we respond?

We need to dig deep and find the heroes inside of all of us, and become like the heroes of any current catastrophe that seemingly afflict us now on a regular, every-day basis. I need to see myself as someone who is willing to sign up daily to be a “first responder”; that is if I want to save this planet and save humanity from the catastrophes we so easily think are someone else’s problems to solve. They aren’t — they are mine to solve — one hopeful, kind, humble, brave, and personally necessary response at a time. Because if we are all trying to solve the problems and save the planet and help and protect and care for each other, why then, we can do anything. We know that, because we have done it again and again and again. So let’s respond — again.

I wrote a sort of pledge that I thought might help me commit to this idea. It’s a pledge easily broken and I am sure I will break it almost daily. But pledges are meant to be made, knowing that it is not failure to keep them we should fear, but we should fear never trying to keep them in the first place.

My Pledge to Respond

By Jane Tawel

*

I pledge to be a first responder,

To that which this day calls me to be aware of,

And to care for,

To take charge of,

And to help out with all that I can,

And to humbly address as my problem,

that which is before me

Because I choose it to be.

*

I pledge to serve my community

Which is everyone in the world;

And to react heroically to

The moment in Time in which I am called to live.

*

I pledge to bravely and sacrificially respond

to whatever imperils the planet;

to stand and be counted among those

willing to sacrifice to save the goodness of Creation,

and to delay more of my own gratification

in sight of the urgency and depth of other people’s needs.

*

I pledge to charge ahead

whether or not anyone is following behind me.

I promise to courageously accept my own responsibility

In taking on the job of being a good human being

and a good caretaker of all created things.

*

I promise I will keep training

to be a more fit and better person,

And to respond willingly, intelligently,

And charitably to the problems and people before me.

*

I pledge that I will look on everyone as my responsibility,

Stranger, friend, family, neighbor and even foe;

And I will treat their lives and their property as equally important

As if they were my own.

*

I will speak boldly to others about what the dangers are

out there and up ahead,

And I will tell the truth,

In order to encourage my fellow human beings,

to turn around, away, or against

That which endangers the very lives of us and our world.

*

I promise to think of my life’s work

As a vital part of the place in which I live — Earth,

And of the people with whom I live — Mankind;

*

I will not sit back and expect anyone else

to fix it or solve it or save it,

but I will be glad of anyone’s and everyone’s help.

I will stand shoulder to shoulder with hope

And go forth each day knowing that together,

We can turn ashes to beauty.

But no matter what anyone else does or does not do,

I pledge to be –

A First Responder.

© Jane Tawel

Change.org — 9/11 First Responders