A Poem —– Without End

“Without End”

Palm Sunday,    March 29, 2015

By Jane Tawel

For My Mother, Jane Cook whose birthday it is today March 31 and who hates blank verse but reads mine anyway.

I am an acolyte of Time.

Mastered by a ticking clock.

Doesn’t even touch me with her hands any more.

Incessant Screens like Greek Sirens

Beacons of corpse-like digits. Beeping bait–

Three goddesses I serve by sacrificial waste.

The Past–She plants a field of nettles, I crawl through;

I scab, unhealed,

Itchy and swollen with remembered hurt.

I clutch her, unable to let go

Of toxic weeds,

Fearing to lose the blossoms

Now rotted and decayed

That Time won’t let me keep.

The Future – She whose unformed quixotic days –

Fill imaginary pus-filled blisters between my fearful toes,

Anticipated pain, keeping me

From moving forward without wincing.

My dance card is filled

Before I learn to stand.

Time’s future soundless, sightless ghosts tango stoically

Stepping on the feet of my dreams.

The Now—Wieldy Wanton Witch waves a wand

That makes a many lane-ed highway,

Not a path diverging into two, but endless choices whizzing by

Too fast to choose, Which? Which? Which Witch?

The other worshipers seemingly knowing where they are going,

And I immobilize myself, worried and irritated,

Unable to walk.

So I gluttonize the Present by choosing everything

And gaining nothing.

Too obese to rise.

An anorexic—starved for a taste of




God, The Real One ……

Outside Time.

Outside the small numb blip of Me-ness,

I have lost Your Timeline

In the hanging garden.

I meander in a paradise of

Nettles, thorns, and burrs

To give glory to an idol from a dog’s age.


Free me from the holy moly of the Past,

Free me from the jaded janus of What Might Be,

Free me from the ever enticing loveless vishnu of the Now.

Set my body running, climbing, twirling

Free me to be an abject slave to the Centered Point.

A to O I Am, embolden my bondage

To be the image of Your Was and Is and Evermore Shall Be

Into Your Eternal ……

Starting here and now without any here and now assured.

Never dying, living wholly holy into your Timelessness,

On Earth as it is in The Havens.

If freedom once meant nothing left to lose,

Poor Prophetess, how right you could have been

If you had known The Way.

If only you had traded rock

For rocks that cry Hosanna.

Freedom in Yahweh in The Now,

The Endless Circle of His Moment…..

Being Your slave, what should I do but tend

Upon the hours and times of Your desire?”

You steal Time and replace it with Eternity,

Like a Thief.

Joshua! cries the clock.

Nothing left to lose

Means nothing left to choose.

Freed to renounce all my Time

And place a wager

On this moment

Choosing nothingness

But You.

And only You.

Forever You.

From Quark to Quark

My Dust implodes, resettles and reforms

Into Uncertain Certainty

Electrically charged

To worship: Hosanna! Timeless One.

You save a lot of Time.


About Cars: She’s Not That Into You

She’s Not That Into You

March 22, 2015

By Jane Tawel


I’m not that into cars.

People, men especially, my men especially, have these strange conversations around me sometimes. Dad: Hey, I saw an Aston Martin today. Son: What color was it? I saw a GT 5000, 1974. Black. Dad: Silver. Well, I saw the new Mercedes Benz S Series. Son: Cool. Do you think Rolls Royces are cool even if they aren’t chauffer driven? Dad: Hey, look it’s the new Tesla. Mom (trying to contribute): I see a car. Men: ignore the mom as they should. Son: (Hits Dad hard on shoulder) Smartie! Dad: (hits Son back) I saw a Smartie five minutes ago. Son: Hey, at Resnick I saw the…… Dad: That car costs $143,000!!! Son: I KNOW!!

Vehicle discussions between men go on, and on, and on, and on like this, day after day, after day, after day. Some women like cars too. My friend of the Sillies, Heather and my daughters Justine and Clarissa, like certain cars. All these people spend time thinking about cars and dreaming about cars and discussing what they want and like in cars and talking about cars. And sometimes trucks.

Here is what I think about cars. There are too many of them. Here is what I want in a car. Does it work? Can I sit down while driving it? Where do I put my purse? Here is what I dream about cars. Never having to drive one again. Here is what I think about the cool car you drive. 0000.00000 This is because I have absolutely no clue what car you drive.

Friends have gotten miffed at me for my ignoring them when they drive by me, waving wildly. It’s not that I don’t care about them, I just don’t pay any attention to what people drive. I do not care about their cars, hence I do not recognize said friend if said friend is in a vehicle. This is not personal. I often don’t recognize the car I am driving. Many a time I have left my older kids waiting in the car for me in a parking lot, (I said older kids because I don’t want you to think I leave small children unattended in hot cars. I only leave teenagers unattended in hot cars.) and while I push my little grocery cart out to my car, my kids watch in a mixture of horror, embarrassment and amusement as I try to unlock a similar looking car elsewhere in the lot. Sometimes its not even the right make – only a similar color and size. It’s a miracle I’ve never been arrested for trying to break into someone else’s car. That day may come if I am still alive. My children may kill me before I can be arrested because…

I have several strange habits that only occur when I’m driving. These habits have made my children who they are today. Evidently I do this odd irritating thing with my thumbs on the steering wheel every time I drive which makes my children go absolutely insane. I was completely unaware of this habit that makes people want to kill me until my children pointed it out. My daughter, Clarissa, says it’s not the rubbing motion so much as the sound it makes on the steering wheel that makes her want to kill me. According to Gordon he only stops himself from killing me when I do “THE THUMB THING”, because if he killed me then the car would crash and he might die before he could grab the wheel and take over driving. He believes of course that he is a much better driver than I am. Gordon has not yet driven a car. But he is still better at it than mom, especially because he does not do The Thumb Thing. But then, everyone knows that teenagers make the best drivers even while texting, watching a youtube video, chewing gum, rubbing their tummies and patting their heads, all at the same time. I think I do The Thumb Thing out of constant nervousness and it is a way for me to release nervous energy. This is an important skill in stress reduction while driving in Los Angeles. I am positive I would not do The Thumb Thing if I were raising my family in South Dakota or Ohio.

I wish I could say this little tic of mine, and it seems to be a tic since I have tried to stop myself but find myself completely unable to  – I wish I could say this little tic affectionately known as The Thumb Thing Mom Does, is the most irritating thing I do while driving, but it is not. I also talk to other drivers. I have been known to say things like: “There you go Love, you can do it.” Child: He’s not your Love, mom. Mom: You moron, watch out! Child: Mom, He can’t hear you. Stop talking to him. Mom (pretty glad the big hairy driver CAN’T hear her).: You’re right, Child. Whoa!That guy almost hit us! Child: Mom, it was a woman and she was like three inches away from you.

I also, according to the non-paid expert witnesses that I haul around everywhere as a non-paid driver, slurp my coffee from my to-go canister and when I close it, I spray the entire car and everyone else in it. My children believe the mini-van is literally covered in mom’s coffee graffiti. I can’t see it, but I guess that is because I am driving with one good eye. (See previous blog posting).

When I drive, I do not stop often enough for fast food before, after, and during school nor does any one in the universe like “MY” Music. I turn on my turn signal too early, and I dance to the music the kids play, embarrassing them in front of all their friends who constantly are lurking just outside our car in order to catch The Tawel Kids’ Mom doing embarrassing things to her cool children. I think several of my kids’ friends have been told I was adopted.

I will admit that I’m not always that focused when I’m driving. I did scar for life my children the time I was thinking of something else (Maybe because I was concentrating on trying not to do THE THUMB THING) and I almost killed someone in the cross walk. I can still see in my mind’s eye, this short, middle-aged, Latino handicapped man (yep, he was actually handicapped!) crossing where I was trying to turn left. The memory has been imbedded onto my family’s collective memory retinas. There was I evidently carelessly and wildly turning, and that poor little Mexican man with dark-framed thick glasses and one leg shorter than the other, hobbling madly, frantically, hop, hop, panic, hop, hop, panic across the intersection cross walk. Making a sort of background music were my children in bug-eyed, hand waving, slow- motion, screaming, “Mowowowowom, Mowowowowom, Mowowowowom!!!!”, And their oblivious mother, snapping, “Be qui-i-i-i-i-et, I can’t…” then, Mom FINALLY seeing her hobbling victim, and swerving just in the nick of time, missing him by inches, as he gull-upped, hop, hop, panic, hop, hop, panic, gallupping through the rest of the crosswalk. I thank God every day I did not kill that man. My four children often bring up this close call about the time when Mom almost killed a guy. It often used to be a praise during prayer time since if mom was in jail, who would drive them places. Any prayer praises? Yes, that mom didn’t kill that poor handicapped man. Any prayer requests? Yes, that God will help mom stop doing That Thumb Thing.

My friend, Stephanie, said something that stuck with me. She said about her new relationship with her teenage daughter, Katelyn, “Now I’m just the taxi driver who loves her.” And once you have teens of your own, you realize it is better to be the taxi driver who loves them than to be the “worrying- at- midnight -because -they’re –driving- themselves mom.

Now that my kiddos are all grown up, I really miss my kids all piled into the crumb –decorated mini-van, nagging me about my driving. I miss them imprisoned in their little car-seats, hitting each other and throwing up on the child next to them. I miss putting Raffi in the tape player AGAIN! I miss making U-turns to see cherry picker trucks or to go back for frozen yogurt. I miss not having enough room for all their friends and having to meet them there. I miss having to pull over because they dropped a crayon or turn around because we forgot something (or someone). I miss the laughter about silly things, the songs they made up, being the Unseen Listener, who only had to drive. (By the way, for my friends whose kids are still toddlers and babies: It becomes increasingly difficult to strap your kids into their car seats, especially once they pass the age of twelve and if you’ve already put their bubble wrap on. My advice is to start feeding them less around age ten and put the bubble wrap on after you have already strapped them into the car seats.)

Lately, it has been mostly just Gordie and I driving along. He picks good eclectic music to listen to. Sometimes when I am nervous about other drivers or stressed about something, I will jokingly start twanging, “Jesus Take the Wheel”.

Mom: (singing) Jesus take the wheel. Take it from my hands. Gordon: Mom! You don’t want Jesus to take the wheel. Jesus couldn’t drive. They didn’t have cars back then. Mom: Well, Jesus could drive if he wanted to. He was Jesus. Gordon: Mom! (Teens always say Mom with an exclamation point at the end!)  Mom! No, he couldn’t drive. You don’t want Jesus taking the wheel, cuz I don’t want to crash and die. Oh, cool, Mom look a Buggati!

But, secretly, between you and me — Now that I don’t have all my children trapped in my minivan, howling, screaming, crying, laughing, singing, coloring, arguing, nagging,– Now that they don’t need me to drive them places, I pray — for each of them –every day as they drive all alone in this great, big, rushing, World – Jesus, dear Jesus, please take the wheel.

And then I do The Thumb Thing.


My Children in My Dream Cars for Them

All Tied Up

All Tied Up

March 14, 2015

By Jane Tawel

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, one distant morning I was standing in the hallway of my high school by my locker. This was before any one – meaning I- knew anything about bullying or hazing, punking or pranking. To this day I do not think for one minute that my friends were being mean to me, though maybe on a different planet in a different time with different people what happened would be considered that way.

I was holding several large text books in my arms, the thick kind that weigh about twenty pounds each. I still had my fake fur surround hooded, midi brown plaid winter coat on. If you don’t know what a midi is, google it. If you do, you were alive in the seventies and had a midi or two yourself. Although I understand denim midi skirts are having a rivival; what goes around seems to come around in this generation. In the 70’s we had minis, maxis, and midis. We also had hot pants, baby doll peasant smocks, bell bottoms, and midriffs.

This is a midi from the seventies:


And this is a picture of women in minis protesting the midi.


Aren’t people hilarious!? We will protest the idea that someone is maybe thinking something repressive about us by inventing the midi, but we will not protest a country that represses it’s people because they are black.

Back at my high school locker — suddenly without quite knowing how it happened, several boys were taking a large silvery roll of duct tape and going around and around and around me – books still clutched in arms and warm plaid winter midi coat still on. I ended up with the whole middle section of my body duct taped with my books taped to my middle. Every one laughed, including all my girl friends on the sidelines (Denise and Lauren and Peggy you know who you are). I was laughing too. It was hilarious – It had never been done before to our knowledge – no youtube, no punked you shows, no facebook back then to check. We laughed and laughed and laughed.

And then the bell rang. And my classmates went to class. And I didn’t. Because I couldn’t move.

I began to hop. But I was strangely weighted in front with four huge textbooks taped to my chest under my tightly taped crossed arms. And remember I am in a midi – so I am pretty much in a duct tape iron maiden. This is a picture of an iron maiden:


I was not going anywhere. I was way off balance. I was really, really hot and sweating. I was on a slick linoleum floor. And I was alone.

Left in the lurch, I began to lurch.

Definition of lurch: “ to make an abrupt, unsteady, uncontrolled movement or series of movements; stagger.

If you don’t have children who are or have been teenagers or you don’t teach high school, you may have amnesia about what it is like to be a teenager. Note: There is no bad attention if you are a teenager. Attention is always good.   Getting attention for being beautiful or for crying about something is good. Getting attention for being funny or having drama in your life — good.   Getting attention for having a booger in your nose or for winning the Noble Peace Prize – good. Getting attention for being smart or being a serial killer –good. No bad attention for teenagers. It’s all good. (I have never liked that expression but in this case it is true– attention for teenagers = all good.) Getting wrapped up in duct tape and getting attention – good.

Being a teenager alone in a hallway duct taped so you can’t move, when every one else is in class – and did I mention alone? And you can’t move. And you are alone. Not good. No attention = No good.

Of course since my classmates were basically good and kind souls at a small Midwestern school where teachers knew all the students, not just in their AP classes (oh, that’s right AP classes hadn’t been invented yet)– teachers knew every one in our whole school, which meant I was not hopping alone for long. (You caught that spoonerism right? Hopping alone not hopping along for long. Cute right?)

Which all meant that I was soon de-ducted and back in my desk in my row with my books in the storage unit underneath my desk.

This is what desks and classrooms looked like in the seventies:


Here is a picture of women in fashions from the seventies. I put this in because my husband will find them cute and I want him to keep reading:


Have you ever been in a place in your life where you felt as if circumstances have wrapped you round and round in duct tape? And you can’t move? And you feel trapped? And you are alone? And you are lurching in the lurch?

As spiritual beings we like to quickly caution (did I say caution? was I supposed to say assure?) some one that they are never alone. We look our friend or stranger right in the sobbing eyes or the dry-eyed feeling-less eyes and say: “God is only a prayer away or God is always with you even through the darkest times or If God seems far, guess who moved? or God will never leave you nor forsake you.” And I’m sorry for saying this as I never say bad words if I can help it, but right now I can’t help it. When people say those things to you if you have read your bible at all or have had a relationship with God for more than fifteen minutes then you know when someone tells you that God will never leave you alone that that is:









. (period intentional, not typo)

Ok, I choked. I rated my blog PG after all.

God has left lots of people all alone. God left alone, just to name a few off the top of my head: Able, Jonah, Job (though at one point Job wishes God would leave him alone. By the way, Ask God enough times and He will leave you alone.) Noah, Moses, Naomi, Sarah, David, Paul, Dostoyevsky, Annie Dillard, Flannery O’Connor, Mother Teresa, – and oh, yea, HIS SON JESUS!!! Did you think Jesus was hallucinating when he cried out, “Father, why have you forsaken me!”?

Definition of forsaken: “abandoned, deserted”

Definition of Forsake: “to leave someone who counts on you, to leave in the lurch”.

God left Jesus in the lurch. As Jesus lurched around, all alone, on a Roman instrument of torture, getting all the unimaginable kinds of violent, angry, scornful, hateful, sorrowful, mocking, agonizing attention that there is; God jumped ship. God abandoned, deserted, left the planet. For the first time in His life with his Father, Jesus was in a crowd, all alone.

On the cross, Jesus quotes from Psalm 22, a Psalm of King David:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me,

so far from my cries of anguish?


My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

by night, but I find no rest.

In the rest of the Psalm, David lists some pretty awful things that people do to each other,some awful things that happen just because we are fallen humans, and some deep feelings of despair and anguish, but the writer of the psalm eventually finds his hope in his knowledge of who God is and the future he believes God has planned for him. David does not find pleasure in the circumstances but he does find reassurance that God is good and is listening. David, the writer of the psalm, finds shalom.

Psalm 22:22- 31

I will declare your name to my people;

in the assembly I will praise you.

You who fear the Lord, praise him!

All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!

Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

For he has not despised or scorned

the suffering of the afflicted one;

he has not hidden his face from him

but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;

before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.

The poor will eat and be satisfied;

those who seek the Lord will praise him—

may your hearts live forever! 

All the ends of the earth

will remember and turn to the Lord,

and all the families of the nations

will bow down before him, 

for dominion belongs to the Lord

and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;

all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—

those who cannot keep themselves alive.

Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord. 

They will proclaim his righteousness,

declaring to a people yet unborn:

He has done it!

We have truncated the meaning of shalom to “peace”, fair enough, but it means peace as in: “completeness, soundness, welfare”; it also means: “was intact, was complete, was in good health, was safe; and it means: “surrendered, submitted”.

In other words having utter peace is a two way street. It is God giving and my receiving, but it is also God willing and my submitting. I think those are the times we feel alone, when we can neither wait on God in order to receive from Him, or when we can not submit to God and allow Him to work.

Sarah laughed when God asked her at 99 years to stop scheming, stop acting, stop planning, stop grieving, and just submit. She laughed because she felt alone. Then her dark humor turned to submission. And then she got pregnant.

Mary must have felt very alone when she agreed to submit to getting pregnant out of wedlock.

Noah must have felt very alone building a huge dry-docked folly to save the world.

Able must have felt very alone when Cain attacked him.

Paul must have felt very alone when he submitted to being imprisoned for years.

Helen Keller must have felt very alone, blind, deaf and dumb — until Annie Sullivan unlocked the hidden world.

The disciples must have felt very alone, even though they had been with the Messiah, when their whole community kicked them out for following the radical troublemaker named Jesus.

Martin Luther King Jr. spent much time praying both privately and publicly that God would never leave him and his people alone. But he sure must have felt alone to be praying that way. Here is a picture of Martin Luther King:


Notice: he does not think the midi skirt is repressive.

Here is Marcia Brady from the Seventies:


She has nothing to do with this blog, but if you were alive in the seventies you will enjoy her picture here and the memories it induces in you.You will feel less alone right now. In The Brady Bunch, no one ever felt alone. Here is another group of people who never felt alone because everybody knew their name:


I think the “Cheers” gang gives you a good feel for how outsiders saw the Early Church — they thought the apostles and converts were drunk but really they were just so happy to be together.

What is duct taping your heart today? What is making you feel forsaken by God? Are you choosing to stay alone or are you crying out to God to listen to your pleas?

Things for me to try to learn from the Bible in general and Psalm 22 specifically:

  1. The World wants me to believe that life is a straight line and I am either ascending or descending. God’s Kingdom is always going to feel more like a lurch. It’s a narrow path and to walk it while duct taped means quite a bit of stumbling, zig-zagging, avoiding what might be poison ivy, and tripping over rocks. Am I willing to stagger along alone in what feels like uncontrolled movement, knowing that when life duct tapes the heck out of me, I can let go of my own controlling motions and let God control my steps?
  2. When I’m not getting attention for myself, is it time to be “still and know that He is God”? I don’t need to be all fake humble and give God glory by saying, “oh I didn’t do that– it was all God”. No, it was I who did it but I give God glory by using what gifts, talents, heart, strength, intelligence or work ethic I have to the best of my abilities for Good and not for Evil. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength and mind.”

Working together with God, will also help me recognize those very real times when I can not do something in my own strength and desperately need God to save me and rescue me and do it for me. Then true need is open to true miracle. God desires us all to grow up into a healthy, loving, mutual relationship with Him. Then we can truly give Him the honor and glory for all He does in the world. “I will declare your name to my people, In the assembly I will praise you.”

There comes a point when I have to stop asking God to tie my shoelace and then falsely give Him the praise because He helped me do it. I’m afraid this pseudo- humility while still going our own way, leads eventually to the ease many of us have in taking God’s name in vain. In other words we go through life doing what we want and how we want to do it because we are “Christians” or “good people” and then without really humbling ourselves and waiting on the Lord, we give Him credit for something He may not want His name on. We Christians use Christ’s name as our logo, and many times we are a poor Taiwanese knock -off of the real thing. God wants to create Gucci in us and we want to keep shopping at Costco and give Him credit for it.

There are times when I have to accept that I am all tied up in duct tape and unless I wait patiently, I will simply hop down Life’s Hallway in frustration and eventually despair. Even after the start bell has rung, I need to wait on the Great Teacher to untie me and set me free.

  1. It is already done. Whatever Time means to us in this crazy world, when we as God’s children ask Him to draw near and save us, Psalm 22 assures us, that God has already done it, even if we don’t know it yet. Jesus’ last words on the cross are the last words in Psalm 22. When Jesus says “It is finished”, he is no longer the man left alone to die but He is God claiming as God the Father does that He has accomplished it. Jesus as one of the Triune God is saying, “I am never alone. I have done it.”    AHA! God didn’t leave Jesus alone after all. And He doesn’t leave me alone even if it feels like it. Jesus gave us his Holy Spirit so we would never be alone. God has given us His presence – it’s just that sometimes He expects His presence to be manifested in His people. Me to You. You to Me. That Guy. That Girl. Those people.
  2. God has always expected His chosen people to be different, to do His work on earth, to live in a different way and a different kingdom and lurch along, side by side, set apart by how they love.   Here is the theme – read the Bible and you will see it over and over from God’s delight in us at Creation right up to the last earthly acts of Jesus and the revelation of a future heaven and earth. Here’s the theme  – Love God. Love others.

Ps. 22: “From You comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly, before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.”

We who claim the Judeo-Christian God as our Father are to act like Him and we are to be The World’s duct-tape removers. Ps. 22 goes on to say this is how poor people will be fed, and armies will be defeated, and baby seals will be saved from starvation and planets will be restored to health – by us. By our love and service to a Holy God and by our love and service to a broken motley crew of duct-taped humans, we will live in communion with God and each other forever. Even the angels marvel at how we love.

We are freed only by our allowing our own hands to be all tied up, so we can wait and pray and serve and allow the Lord to remove the duct tape, remove the blinders, remove the stones for hearts, remove the clunky shoes, remove the fashion icons, remove the fear, remove the alone-ness – and inhabit His people as a temple.Then we are the working, creating, loving Body of Christ. Ps. 22: All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord ,and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship.

  1. It is time to look around at the broken, tied up world and do something about it. When you smile at the homeless man as you hand him your dollar, he feels just a little less alone. When you take a deep breath and tell your friend the truth, she is less alone. When you hug your child even if he squirms, he is less alone. When you refuse to buy something because a slave made it, they are less alone. When you give money so that an African woman can drink clean water, she is less alone. And when you give even if you don’t have it, when you feel even though you are tired of feeling, when you pray even for people you don’t know and won’t ever hear the results of your prayers about, and when you stay silent when you would like to rail, and you rail even when you want to stay silent, when you march with those who are discriminated against, when you do the chore even though it someone else’s turn, when you give blood, or visit the sick, when you give up this World’s sorry rights for your rights as a child of the King, when you go to church to be with The People, when you live with passion and not indifference,when you make a meal for the homebound, when you tell someone about the Good News of Jesus, when you live creatively and not resignedly, or when you simply sit, and wait, and trust and pray, and anticipate with completeness,–shalom– that God is The Here I Am — THEN, we are not alone.

The family that tapes together, stays together:

photo 1-11   photo 2-12photo 3-5

At the very beginning of our current Time, God lets us know up front He has other things, appointments, planets, universes to be at but not to worry, He “gets us”. Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him.” That’s you and me by the way. Helpers for each other.

But the weird thing about the God we believe in as opposed to other gods, is that even when He feels far away, or on another planet, He isn’t. He is “here, there and every where”. Our shalom comes from the fact that God has given us each other, God has given us His Son, God has given us the Holy Spirit, and God is continually moving in and with us. No matter how immovably tied up we feel.

Ps. 73: “Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You hold my right hand.” Psalm 23: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Cor. 1: 3-4)

The name Holy Spirit, means Comforter, Helper. Jesus tells his disciples:

If you love me, you will obey my commandments.  I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever.  That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.(John 14)

Quite a while ago, though not as long ago as the seventies, my daughter Clarissa learned a song at Vacation Bible School. At three she had some interesting first person pronoun confusions and she used to sing this song: “Me just saw Jesus in me eyes.” We finally figured out it was supposed to be, “I just saw Jesus in your eyes.”– like when Jesus tells us, whenever you give a cup of water to the least of these, you are doing it to me.

But when I am feeling alone, and as if the world has duct taped me, I like to quietly sing, “Me just saw Jesus in my eyes”. He is as close as my own heart. He has forever duct-taped Himself to my soul. If I have eyes to see and ears to hear, He is closer than my closest sibling. Jesus is in my eyes, my hands, my feet, my knees, my elbows. His spirit lives within me. And within you. He will truly never leave us alone.

On the cross, Jesus sang out, “It is finished! We have done it!” Jesus cried: “Daddy, Abba, Me just saw You, Daddy, in Me eyes!” And into His hands Christ commended his spirit.

May today I let Jesus live in my eyes. Jesus –bind me to you, duct tape your spirit to mine. May I put down my agenda and take up the cross of Christ. And my brother and sister, may I then be able to look into your duct-taped eyes, my friend, and take your hand and spell into it,

“Y-O-U A-R-E N-E-V-E-R A-L-O-N-E”


“Whoa” — a poem for my darlings


March 11, 2015

By Jane Tawel

To Justine, Clarissa, Verity, and Gordon


Whoa, slow down, where you galloping off to?

A second ago, you were a useless collage of limbs.

I had to raise your hands to clean.

I had to raise your head to drink.

I had to ask you questions then answer them for you,

You, without a word, or sound that anybody knew.

But I.

Whoa! Take care! You’re running much too fast.

You’re going to slip and fall — I know.

I’ve seen it happen in my mind

A thousand times a day.

Did you hear me? Can you hear?

Have fun! Be safe! Too fast!

Rely on me and all my knowledge present, future, past.

Love you.

Whoa…slow down… I missed what you just said.

I see the buttons, levers, gears.

My fingers fail where yours speed on.

I hear the words that used to mean

A different thing. A different thing.

Did I already say that?

You tumble forward, catch yourself.

I used to catch you when you fell.

I’m still here watching, waiting– holding out my helpless hands.

Too much.


You’re gone and I can’t hold you here.

My whoa’s are just my own.

Remember—no, you don’t, I guess.

I clutch the memories, now — no more.

I once held you, my baby, child–

And now you’ve flown,

A Pegasus with wings of dreams

Not flaming myths,

Not lullabies from me.

I’ll sing your story old and new

Not mine, not ours. All you.

I’ll never seek to slow you down again.

My joy in you and your bright flight

Is how I can explain these blinding tears.

Blurring my sight

Of your fast ascent.


A Non-Rising Confession

A Non-Rising Confession

March 4, 2015

By Jane Tawel



I must confess. My tell-tale heart is beating like a mixer on steroids. I feel really, really terrible. You may never talk to me again and I don’t blame you. Because …….

I killed the friendship bread.

If it helps you sleep at night I can honestly tell you that the friendship bread died peacefully in its sleep.

This really is weighing on me because a very nice man in my choir, Wes, trusted me with his wife’s friendship bread and I don’t even know her. They have since moved back to the Midwest and I think it is because people there don’t accept your friendship bread dough and then murder it. Grown- ups in the Midwest know how to do friendships and what’s more, they know how to do friendship bread.

Wes brought the sacred dough in a nice little plastic baggie with directions stapled on the outside and everything. It was snuggled like a newborn baby waiting to be adopted or at least fostered by me, the new mama of a whole new generation of friendship bread loaves.

The really awful thing is, I took it.

I took it, knowing very well, that I had absolutely no time or dough raising ability for the friendship bread. The friendship bread has very specific instructions that require daily intervention—just like a non-dough baby. The friendship bread dough requires things like daily kneeding, and daily adding new ingredients, and burping (well, maybe that’s the real baby), and the friendship bread dough probably needs fomenting if I’d gotten that far. I had no right to take a bread baby that I knew I didn’t want and couldn’t care for. I was trying to be nice. Pride often disguises itself as “trying to be nice”.

It reminds me of high school psychology classes that send home a fake doll baby for kids to take care of so they learn what hard work it is to take care of a real child and they will delay this pleasure for as long as biologically possible. The schools should really start sending home friendship dough babies – they are a lot more work and would probably not only have the teenagers delaying having babies but delaying bread making. Many less teenagers would decide to be either parents or pastry chefs if we sent them home with dough babies.

Love is like dough. It needs kneeding and adding good ingredients to and caring for. You shouldn’t take someone’s friendship, dough, or love if you can’t care for it. You should just give it back and just say no, thank you. You should stick to “Quick Breads Loving” in the Cookbook of Love. You should not try any fancy loving, that takes anything more than mix, pour, bake and eat. Maybe skip the baking and just eat the raw dough. Actually, maybe all your Love Bread should come pre-made at Safeway if you cannot commit to daily caring for your friendships, and love-ships. You should make sure you have time for friendship and love and if you don’t, you should not let your pride make you take any one’s fomenting baggie of ingredients. They have cared for their little personal baggie of self-ingredients. And what’s more, there are good, capable people out there, maybe not even in the Midwest, who can take care of their friendship better than you can if you can’t commit. Just like there are the right people to take care of your love and friendship and your fomenting baggie of bread dough. We should all be very, very careful who we hand our friendship and love-ship and breadsmanship to. Because if you give it to the wrong person, it could die.

It took me a couple weeks after I grievously buried the friendship bread, but I finally confessed to Wes that I wouldn’t be bringing him a lovely golden loaf of friendship bread. The funny thing is the very next week an alto asked me sweetly if I’d like to do the friendship bread with her. What am I? — in some crazy Midwestern transplanted choir?

I am never being nice to anyone in choir ever again. It just makes me feel bad when I kill their bread.


Facing It Just As I Am

Facing It, Just As I Am

February 26, 2015

By Jane Tawel

When I was growing up in the seventies in the Middle of America, you ordered things from the Sears Catalogue, or went to the one mall in the one nearby town maybe once a month. You bought your make up from the drugstore where you also could still sit at a counter for an ice cream soda. We eventually moved to the burbs but there still weren’t a lot of over the counter make up products for young girls.

When I got to college, I met one of the first rich girls I’d ever (knowingly) met. She was from The South and she had a make up called “Mary Kay”. I thought I had never seen anything so unique and lovely and fancy and other -worldly in my whole entire sheltered life.

My friends and I used “Cover Girl” make up and in the Seventies, we used a lot of it. Here is me in the 1970’s. (And yes, that is my prettier sister Julie of The Fingernails in the background).

photo 2-7

I have always been a bit off the north running track.In this picture I am doing the “Monkey” and I think I am a good dancer. I am not. Ask my kids.

I also have often thought I was intelligent.  I am not. Ask my kids.  Proof:  You know I didn’t actually realize until I was writing this post that Cover Girl must have meant “cover” as in cover of a magazine — a model girl. Duh!  In other words, Cover Girl was a pretty classy make-up for girls who wanted to look like magazine cover models. I thought “Cover Girl” meant Cover – up. Like make-up was to cover your face and hide blemishes and spots and cover your eyelids bright blue. Not a classy name, simply descriptive of why I bought the product. To cover up.


Our faces are such an important part of us, male and female alike. Our senses are all contained there, our eyes, “the window of the soul”, our smell and taste and hearing. We either love or hate certain people to touch our face– there is no middle ground. Our faces are what people see us as first. Our faces are what we share with our lovers and babies as we first snuggle and kiss. Our faces are what we take the most time with as we cleanse and primp and make our presentation to the world. Our faces are what we hide in shame if we have wronged someone. We protect first our faces when afraid. Little children often think if you can’t see their face and they can’t see yours then you can’t see them. Faces have been known “to launch a thousand ships” and to induce guilt. When the Dutchess of Malfi is murdered at the instigation of her brother, he famously remarks, “Cover her face, mine eyes dazzle. She died young.” (John Webster, The Dutchess of Malfi)

We “save face”; we “empty our face of expression”; we mask our face. We face up to things; face off, face it; we face the music; we face facts. We are forward or backward facing; we make an about face; are faceless, take things at face value, fall flat on our faces. We don’t want to be just another pretty face but don’t want people to ask about us as “what’s his face?” We have straight faces, long faces, poker faces, set faces and two-faced faces. Let’s face it, we often cut off our noses to spit our faces and then do an about face and say “in your face” cuz I’d rather face a firing squad than do an about face and face you with egg on my face.


Here is my problem. I have the exact same face I had when I was young in the 1970’s. When I look in the mirror now, forty years later, I see the same face that I don’t like. I see my face, the one with problems, the one I want to change, the one with the blemishes, the one I want to cover up. It doesn’t matter that instead of pimples I want to cover up wrinkles, or that instead of blue eye shadow I need under eye cream. I look at my face and I judge it unworthy. And I have wasted a lifetime caring so much about how my face looks.


Colbie Caillet wrote a beautiful song called “Try”. I’m not usually big on videos but you should watch her video. : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXoZLPSw8U8

In her video, Caillet shows women, including herself with make up on and without. Here are the words:

Put your make up on

Get your nails done

Curl your hair

Run the extra mile

Keep it slim

So they like you. Do they like you?

Get your sexy on

Don’t be shy, girl

Take it off

This is what you want, to belong

So they like you. Do you like you?


You don’t have to try so hard

You don’t have to give it all away

You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up

You don’t have to change a single thing


Get your shopping on,

At the mall,

Max your credit cards

You don’t have to choose,

Buy it all

So they like you. Do they like you?


Wait a second,

Why should you care, what they think of you

When you’re all alone, by yourself

Do you like you? Do you like you?


You don’t have to try so hard

You don’t have to give it all away

You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up

You don’t have to change a single thing


You don’t have to try so hard

You don’t have to bend until you break

You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up

You don’t have to change a single thing

Take your make up off

Let your hair down

Take a breath

Look into the mirror, at yourself

Don’t you like you?

Cause I like you

When my daughter showed me this video, I couldn’t stop crying as I thought about me, sad, insecure little girl me who still doesn’t know that who I am inside is more important to make beautiful than who I am outside. And I cried for my children, including my son, who really don’t know how beautiful they are inside and out because they live in a society that dehumanizes them and uglifies their souls while selling them a world of cover -ups.


One of the women in Colby Caillet’s video, actually gets brave enough to take her hair off, because it’s all gone due to chemo. The point of the video is, it’s okay to wear makeup and it’s okay to wear a wig, but are you doing it for you because it helps you like you? Or are you doing it because you will never ever be pretty or handsome or buff or sexy enough for someone else? When you choose your outer self, are you revealing who you are or are you hiding who you are?


Lucy Grealy wrote a book called Autobiography of a Face. When Grealy was nine she was treated for cancer and they had to remove a third of her jaw. Let’s just say her classmates and even many adults were less than kind. They mocked and taunted her. This is Lucy Grealy’s comment in the book, “This singularity of meaning–I was my face, I was ugliness–though sometimes unbearable, also offered a possible point of escape. It became the launching pad from which to lift off, the one immediately recognizable place to point to when asked what was wrong with my life. Everything led to it, everything receded from it–my face as personal vanishing point.”


The book continues with her medical journey to change her face, and she writes: “I spent five years of my life being treated for cancer, but since then I’ve spent fifteen years being treated for nothing other than looking different from everyone else. It was the pain from that, from feeling ugly, that I always viewed as the great tragedy of my life. The fact that I had cancer seemed minor in comparison.”


How sad that many of us who are not scarred by cancer are still scarred by who we let judge us. We are duped into thinking that the world wants us to be beautiful when all it is doing is tricking us into washing the outside of our vessels, these bodies, while the inside grows uglier day after day.

Here is a picture of Lucy Grealy today:



The reason I started thinking about faces this week was because I was finishing up a study by Michael Card on the book of John and I’m at the place where Jesus has been arrested and one of the things the Roman soldiers and Jewish Sanhedrin do to Jesus is spit in his face. I’m sorry, I know that the pain of beating and whipping must be horrible, but I have a hard time imagining any thing more horrific than someone spitting in my face. The fact that Jesus spoke not a word when they were doing this astounds me. Jesus faced my accusers for me and not only allowed them to deglorify Him as God, but to dehumanize him as one of us. Because spitting, not just at someone or near someone which is demeaning enough, but spitting in someone’s face, is the most degrading act of dehumanization I can imagine.


Do we not in one sense, spit in the face of our Creator, when we value our looks, our sexiness, our acceptableness, our better than that grade or face or body- ness more than we value our souls, our talents, our minds, our hearts, our characters? I think this is why Jesus was not “a looker” according to the Bible. There can be no mistake that any one was attracted to the Savior because he was rock star gorgeous. Jesus was homely outside so that nothing would get in the way of His God-sized inside beauty.


What is getting in the way of your inside God-beauty today?


I think one of the most astounding blessings from God is a promise that He gave the Israelites first and later to all those who seek and follow and love Him. See even atheists know that no one has ever seen the face of God. But in Numbers 6: 24 – 26, the Lord asks the Hebrew priests to bless the Hebrews with this prayer and promise:


The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.


I used to sing this to my children in bed at night.   They thought the Lord was going to give them “peas” and so we got silly and sang “The Lord give you peas and carrots”. But God will give us so much more than vegetables and so much more than we can imagine; God will give us His real self; He will show us His face. In

I Corinthians 13:12 we are promised that someday we will see Him face to face.” No veils, no curtains, no hiddenness. The face of God will be shown.


But we must be warned, no veil between us and God means no cover up, no courtesy of pretense. I won’t be able like a little child to hide my face so Daddy can’t read the truth there; to look at the floor because it really was me that broke Daddy’s vase. My face will be seen – no Cover Girl allowed. And The Father’s Face will at last be seen and it will completely reveal all He is because He is the same inside as He is outside. His face will be revealed to be the power of the storm, the glory of a sunset, the guiding light of a star, the miracle of a birth, the gentleness of a lamb, the frightfulness of a lion, the awesomeness of a universe. And these are only things He has revealed to us in this lifetime. His face will contain all things beyond our imaginings. It will take an eternity to study God’s face.


Will I recognize Him? Am I spending this beginning of eternity, as the Psalms instruct, seeking I Am’s face?


And will my Abba, Daddy, recognize me? Will He have seen past all my cover up’s, all my mess -ups, all my hidden sins, all my pretend selves, to His little girl? Or like that horrible, terrifying word in Matt. 7, will He have to sadly say, “Be gone, I never knew you.”?


There is only one make- up in the world that can make me beautiful.There is truly only one “Clean Cover Up”. That is the cover-up that Christ’s blood shed for me has achieved. I am not made clean or beautiful by special soaps and lotions, or injected botulism or a shaved nose, or a six pack, or inflated balloons where my boobs used to be. My life is not worth living because I have a certain GPA, or award, or group I belong to. I am not judged by my skin tone or my stained hair. I am judged by the stain of the blood of Jesus Christ, that by grace and faith covers all my failings and makes me perfect.

Remember Billy Graham crusades? That was a gorgeous man who knew what made people beautiful.

Every day as I slather on my lotions and suck in my gut, I should be singing,

Just As I Am

And waiting not To rid my soul of one dark blot

To thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

Oh, Lamb of God, I come.

I come.

 Psalm 32: 1 & 2: Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

I Peter 1: 19 & 20: but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a Lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for

“All flesh is like grass

and all its glory like the flower of grass.

The grass withers,

and the flower falls,

but the word of the Lord remains forever.” 

And this word is the good news that was preached to you. 

Good News, my friends: Jesus was the perfect model. No Cover Up  Makeup required.

Now let’s get out there and beautify ourselves and the world with Love. Let’s put on our party faces like we have  an eternity to celebrate.

Time to put my best Jesus face on and look at myself in the mirror and then head on out there and look at you, my sister and brother. If you don’t recognize me, I’ll be the one showing up “Just As I Am”.



Time for the Sillies

Time for the Sillies

By Jane Tawel

Silliness – is defined as engaging in “a ludicrous folly”, showing a “lack of good sense or judgment”, or “the condition of being frivolous, trivial, or superficial”.

Silliness: 1.weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish:a silly writer. 2.absurd; ridiculous; irrational:a silly idea. 3.stunned; dazed:He knocked me silly 4.Archaic. rustic; plain; homely. 5.Archaic. weak; helpless. 6.Obsolete. lowly in rank or state; humble.

Synonyms: witless, senseless, dull-witted, dim-witted. 2. inane, asinine, nonsensical, preposterous.


I am blessed to have friends of all ages and at all stages. About a week ago a friend was telling me something she and her young son did that was silly. And it made me ache remembering my young children and our silly times. Sometimes the silly times included me and sometimes I just over -heard the silly times. My family and I are all quite serious now it seems about each other and life. I miss grabbing a hold of my little goofballs’ grubby chubby arms and giggling, “Come here you sillies!”

 When Did They Get So Serious?


The current definitions of “silly” or “silliness” do not seem to consider it a preferable or admirable state of being. I don’t think the people who wrote these definitions were mothers. Or maybe they were never children. There are many types of humor, all necessary and needed and holy in their place. Even making fun of others can be helpful as we strive to burst the serious balloons of politicians, dictators or just good old fashioned meanies. I read recently that if only the German nation had had a collective sense of humor, they might have laughed Hitler out of the country before he could turn most of them into serious serial killers. (For laughing at Hitler, watch “Rat Race”). I like satire, and improv and wit and almost any humor; But I do not think silliness should be only a hallmark of childhood humor.

I have a friend at work. His name is Charles and he teaches History. Not a silly subject you might think. AND he is ex- marine, pretty serious right? But what I absolutely thank God for and so admire and love about Charles is that he is silly with me.   It started with his wanting to find a way to get his unruly students out of the classroom and so he would send them to my office with “The Box of Knowledge”. The Box of Knowledge was often empty. Sometimes it would have Charles’ Marine Manuals in it. Sometimes a blank piece of paper. The students always thought they were in trouble and / or doing something very important and would come quite seriously into my office. It helps that there is an important title on the door. (Another silly thing we humans do if you think about it.) The students had no idea what was in The Box of Knowledge and were a little scared to come, until they realized that bringing the Box of Knowledge got them a big smile from me at Charles’ silliness and also a chocolate from me. (It also of course got them out of class for a breather.) Charles knows that it is good for adult friends to share silliness so their minds don’t implode from their serious jobs. Charles also realizes that even very serious high schoolers (and if you are not around high schoolers much, let me tell you, they take themselves super duper seriously)—even they need silliness and often they are unruly because their teachers and their parents and their girlfriends and their homies have all gotten so doggone deadly serious.


When I taught 9th and 10th graders sometimes I would get frustrated when they behaved like little kids. But then I realized, hey, there’s a little kid in all of us just whining to get out sometimes. So I would in my most sickly sweet pre-school teacher voice and with my finger pointing at my eyes, shout, “One – Two- Three, Eyes on Me”. And they would quite happily shout back, “One –Two, eyes on you.” Once I went further and said, “Criss-cross applesauce.” And several of them asked if they could please sit criss-cross applesauce. You would have thought when I said okay that I had given them a new puppy; they were so pleased. And they were better behaved, big sixteen year old young men and made- up, coifed young ladies–sitting there like three -year -olds on the floor while studying “The Odyssey”.

My son Gordon loves silly humor and some of the best silly friends in the whole world. I am so happy for the times he shares his silliness with his mom and it is our joy during these turbulent teen years to set aside Geometry or English and watch “Key and Peele” or “Psyche” or Nigahiga.

Gordon and his Mom were always a bit silly:


You know if you look at the definition of “silly” and you look at who Jesus was, He was downright silly. He was: “lowly in rank, humble”, “plain, homely”, and of course “foolish” in the world’s estimation. He was never “dim-witted” of course, nor “asinine or inane”, but boy, oh, boy was He “preposterous”!

Have you noticed how much people have to let go of when they let themselves be silly? It’s why our best comedians, the ones whose humor is super intelligent but super funny are our silliest. Think of your favorite comedian and you will see I am right. It is why children are so good at being silly. It is partly because children’s pride is not developed to the level of adults. Their ego is small, like them, and silliness comes naturally. It is also because they are relational without working at it and silliness must come out of a wild freedom with the person you are with. Aren’t you often able to be silliest with those you have known since childhood? You have been together in ways that aren’t even part of your consciousness, and so you have a freedom to not over think, to not over control (either the friend or yourself) and a freedom to know that no matter how “dim-witted” you may act, tomorrow that person will still be your friend.

You will notice in the above definitions of silly, the example used in the number one definition is: “a silly writer”. I guess this post will prove once and for all how “ridiculous” I am, because I am actually right now in my own insecure, misguided, silly way, bragging about being a silly writer. Francis Bacon, someone I don’t really think of as a silly writer wrote: “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.” Our God-given sense of humor helps us accept our limitations while allowing us to keep dreaming of our passions being fulfilled. If we take ourselves too seriously, we are missing how silly we are to think we can do anything on our own. Our humor helps us give up a bit of our own control and allow God to laughingly guide us. Silliness is about freedom. And in Christ we have complete freedom. We do not have freedom to maliciously hurt someone else, even if we wish they would take the stick out of you- know- where and be silly for a moment. But we have freedom to be childlike – needy, a little uncertain, bold, creative, hugely loving, and fantastically silly. We should always remember, that our silliness was bought at a great price, and so we should use our silliness, just as we should use all our gifts from God, for Good and not for Evil. But we should, just like with all good gifts, cultivate, nurture and care for our sense of the absurd, our laughing at well, why pin it down? laughing at maybe nothing at all, and our sense of silliness. I have found if you don’t take care of your child-like sillies, they will shrivel up and die and all you will be left with are the willies and the bill-ies.

My silly husband and me:


I love silly writers. I love the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes. I love Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss – both of whom are super intelligent, brilliant silly poets. I love Charles Dickens, he is so silly sometimes you laugh out loud. I love Anne Tyler, Douglas Adams, Oscar Wilde. I love Napoleon Dynamite, George Carlin, Robin Williams, Amy Poehler, Jeff Gaffigan, Jimmy Fallon, and Mr. Bean. I love “The Simpsons”, “The IT Crowd”, and “Parks and Rec”. I love my daughter Clarissa who inherited my side of the family’s silly genes. Clarissa and I do this pointing thing to a Dixie Chicks’ song, well…. You had to have been there. I love the silly sayings my husband and I share that no one else would understand (and that he would be mortified if I outed him about). I love my friend Heather Toole who has officially been my friend long enough and through enough that we can be quite silly with each other.

It is time I started thanking God daily for all the silly, silly people he has allowed to be in my life and my family’s lives. I am so thankful for my children’s silly friends who were always the best friends. Thank you Twyla, Grace, and David, Nathan, Caleb; Thank you Amy, Heather, Christian,Tommy, Dan, Mike, and Samanatha. Thank you to the Gordon Clan for my genes and to the Brallier cousins for sharing them with me. Thank you Deb and Zulay, Anne and Kim, Charles, and Julie, Geoff, Jen and Sandy. I would like to thank so many people for this award, tonight, but there are just too many silly friends and family members I have accumulated over the years.

Gordon and some of his silly friends


Thank you Justine, Clarissa, Gordon, Verity, and Raoul for all our shared silliness in this life. I look forward to an eternity of silliness together with the Great Silly Savior.

Here is a picture of my silly friend Heather Toole and her equally silly friend me.

IMG_1094            photo 2-5

The thing about silliness is – it is like a beautiful scent or sunset – you can’t keep it. Go on try it. Try to remember what was so silly it made you laugh so hard and then recreate it or tell it to someone who wasn’t there. Neither of you will be laughing. You will probably have a hard time even remembering the silly things you did or said or the silly times with your family. Silliness is not storable. Except in your heart.

My recommendation to the world on this day, February 22, 2015 when most people are sitting around watching serious actors accept serious Oscars, is “Go ye into all the world and do silly things”. We have done a pretty good job working the “Random Acts of Kindness” gig. Don’t stop that.   But could we please start doing “Random Acts of Silliness”? Be a fool for Christ today. As a very silly man, Charlie Chaplin, once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Don’t waste today. Go accomplish something silly.

An Ode of Thanks for My Silly Friends

(and if you are reading this you know who you are)

by Me, Jane (Go on, say the next line)

There once was an Amish named Duckie

Who lived her whole life rather pluckie.

She planted potatoes

And pineapples.

She lived in a house of beat-boxers

Who often ate bagels and lox-ers.

And they sang without fuss

About loving their Gus

And also saying bad “S-words”.

The parties had only just started,

While the kids danced with glee.

And then farted.

Then they cornered their besties

And had eating contesties

With really, icky, spicy, horrible combinations of things all mixed together.

Raoul and some others knew Cato

Whose Prius Hydrolics were Ghetto

Her auto-correct

Was stellar by heck

And zoxozoxozozozxhmfpsld.

They tried her once for Russian spying

And fashions she shouldn’t be buying

And one day she’ll die

But please laugh ‘til you cry

And take her corpse

Banana tube riding.


Ash Wednesday 2015


Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I can’t put words together well today. Every time I try to think about any thing about the endless irritating meeting today or the fight I had with my child or how old I look these days. I think of the families of these 21 men:

  1. Milad Makeen Zaky
  2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
  3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
  4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
  5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
  6. Bishoy Astafanus Karnel
  7.  Somaily Astafanus Karnel
  8.  Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
  9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
  10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
  11. Mina Fayez Aziz
  12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
  13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
  14. Samuel Alham Wilson
  15. Worker from Awr village
  16.  Ezat Bishri Naseef
  17. Loqa Nagaty
  18. Gaber Munir Adly
  19. Esam Badir Samir
  20.  Malak Farag Abram
  21.  Sarneh Salah Faruq

Since seeing their names on Monday after their martyrdom Sunday February 15, 2015, I have been going down the list holding each name and each names’ family in prayer. These are my brothers in Christ who took up His cross in the realest way possible. These are my fellow humans who went to a dangerous country because they wanted work – a job – a way to bring food to their families. For bread, they embodied Christ’s body, the Bread of Life.

The one I can’t stop thinking about is “Worker from Awr village”. Did he refuse to give his name because he feared for his family if a name was given? Or did they simply not bother to find out his name? What is his secret name now, the name that Christ hands him written on a white stone?

The ones I cannot pray for, and God forgive me, but I can’t are the executioners who are as much in need of Light and Life as any of us. I managed a small little thought for them this morning on my 5:00 am jog – God help my violently angry unbelief. I felt some grief for those who kill others. But I just can not focus on my “real life” today. I couldn’t jog today because tears kept blurring the pavement so I walked carefully, like there were hidden bombs.

I went to All Saint’s for early Lenten service. I’m sure they thought I was crying for something in my personal life—I couldn’t seem to stop. I thankfully saved myself from saying, “I am crying for the 21 Egyptian martyrs.” Thankful because I do not even deserve to mourn them, in my dress and boots and jacket, and my stomach turning from going one stupid day without gorging on food, and the beautiful well cared for church, and driving away in my Prius, off to a job in an office – Oh, God, how can I even claim your Son as my Lord when my offering is nothing compared to the world’s martyrs?

My cheap tears offered up on Ash Wednesday for the mothers of martyrs. My easy pride laid down next to the poorness of spirit –the heart – ache –of the fathers of the 21 martyrs. My worries about safety blasted to smithereens by the dangerous world my brothers and sisters live in daily so that they can eat. My old face staring back accusingly with my head wobbling still on my scrawny old neck while 21 families see in their hearts’ eyes the heads of their loved ones lying in the dirt. My paltry prayers for my four children as weak as kittens next to the Lion of Judah alive in these great saints.

My cheap grace – surely God would forgive me if I denied Him? Isn’t my life more important than the Truth? My Walmart Grace.

What is it like to be like Kara and Casey and Malak and Bishoy and Worker from Anw Village and untold others throughout history who love Jesus enough to lay down their lives?

I tried to explain my grief today to someone who told me, “Stop, I can’t think about that. I won’t be able to go on working if I let myself think about that.”

We should not be able to go on.

We should not be able to go on as if nothing has changed.

We should let every thing change in us.

  1. Plus. Plus. Plus. Plus. Each day, across a “civilized”, “evolved” world, a human soul murders a human soul. Souls kill themselves with darkness and souls die because they will not deny the Light. Someone chooses death rather than The Life. Someone chooses Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Someone dies because he or she will not deny the Lord.All souls. All saints. All created by The Word. All making choices that mean life or death. But we are still not understanding which ones died when the 21 were martyred and which ones lived — eternally.  My life was bought at great price but I live it so cheaply.

I have no words for my shame and my ignorance.

I have no words for a grief that should fill the whole world.

I am only thankful for this day, Ash Wednesday, to “mourn with those who mourn”.

Oh, God, forgive me for thinking I am worthy to someday stand near them and rejoice with them. I am too afraid to even pray to be made worthy.

Forgive me. Help me. Accept my cheap tears. Hear our prayers.

How To Be Less Objective With Your Postman

How To Be Less Objective With Your Postman

February 15, 2015

By Jane Tawel

So, ever since I ‘ve started my blog and a few hearty folks have started reading it, I’ve noticed people looking at me a bit funny.

Sandy at work grabbed my hands and asked if she could see my fingernails and then started laughing really hard. And no, she wasn’t a hand model, but she did work previously as a manicurist. (Told you – I’m surrounded.)

Is it my imagination or since my last post have people been looking at me cross-eyed?

And my daughter, Clarissa, who so sweetly reads and likes what I write, the other day walked past me when I was sitting at the dining room table and scratched me behind my ears.

This is my funny friend Steve’s recent comment:

Jane, you are scaring me a little with some of these posts.  I find out you only have one good eye and you want to shoot just about everyone.  You do realize the police monitor social media now and may be making you a visit.  Fortunately I know that when you say “shoot” you really mean “shoot a mean glance at”, and even then you are only shooting with one eye.  Actually, knowing you, you really mean that you think about shooting a mean glance at these people, since if you actually shot a mean glance at them (with your one good eye) they might feel bad and that goes against the kind of person you are.  Since I am OCD, I do need to point out that your numbering scheme repeats itself between 49 and 50.

It seems this blog is just pulling the words out of you.  

Thanks for the read, Steve.

I grew up with Steve in Winona Lake, Indiana. We call him the “Energizer Bunny”. He is “that” guy – the one who rode a motorcycle cross-country at twenty, climbed Kilimanjaro at forty, hikes through the desert without breaking a sweat, and I believe Steve will still be doing back flips while sailing around the world well into his nineties. Yeah, now he tells me quite carelessly that he’s OCD?!?!?! How do I connect those dots?

Perceptions of people are chimerical. How we perceive people changes the more we know about them. Or the more we know what they want us to know about them. Or the more we find out how little we actually know about them.

For example, there’s the couple you’ve known for ten years, and one day she carelessly says, “oh, that was when I was married to my first husband.” “What first husband?!”,you gasp, gagging on your bruschetta. She frowns and says, “I told you that”. NO WAY DID SHE EVER TELL YOU THAT!

Or like that game you play – “Two Truths and a Lie”, and one of the statements is, “I am your biological mother”, and your mom says: That’s the lie! Surprise!

My son Gordon and I watch this show called “Supernatural” and the lovely human beings are going along like normal loving, fun humans with green or blue eyes and then BAM! In a second you realize the cute kid with the cowlick has been inhabited by a demon. You know this because when demons enter their bodies, their eyes turn solid black. If you ever, ever see your husband’s eyes turn black, throw salt in his face. Just sayin’.

Then there’s the stuff you think you know about yourself, but other people assure you that you are dead wrong.

For instance, you tell people you are an introvert and they burst out laughing – “You?” but you are always……. (fill in blank with extrovert actions) Or you tell your spouse, I have always hated lima beans, and he says, ‘you love lima beans.”

And you start double thinking, maybe I DO like lima beans….

The real question is, why does it matter what other people think? I mean, if I think of myself as an introvert who believes that I am being mean and selfish unless I am talking to the people in the room with me, then why do I care if you think I am an extrovert who loves being around and talking to people? It’s just a different perception after all, right? I see myself as someone who feels guilty if I am not talking with people and you see me as someone who can’t shut up.

The act itself is not changing, just the perception of the person analyzing it.

But we do care what others think of us. What do they say? –Perceptions are everything. But whose perceptions should influence what we think, feel and do? That is where subjectivity and objectivity matter.

You know it made my day when I found studies proving that Science (Capital S, Science) is just as subjective as any thing else. Scientists think they are all, like, “Oh, we are the only ones who are completely objective and therefore only Science (Capital S, Science) can analyze what is True (Capital T)”. (When you read that can you please read it in your mind with a gruff, stuffy, nasally geeky, superior sounding Scientist Voice?) But actually it has been irrefutably proven that scientists go into every experiment knowing what results they want to get. Totally subjective! They may know they know or they may not know they know, but they know.

We are the same in relationships with each other – we may know we know, or we may not know we know, but we know. The more subjective I am about you, the less objective I can be. For instance – objective with kids and husband? Fuh-git abut it! The postman, well, I can be pretty darn objective. Perceptions matter less with less love and need. More love, more need = more subjectivity.

And why not?

Well, for one thing, you will find as your kids grow older they do not want a parent to show any subjectivity about them whatsoever. A kid who is cruelly and selfishly growing up away from his / her selfless, adoring mom, wants you to be completely uncaring, unsubjective, unperceptive, and unintelligent about him/ her. You are to be completely objective about your kids by the time they are fifteen and when they are twenty- one, they immediately become your postman. (IN THEIR MINDS).

If your child does not show up for your birthday you are to feel as if the mail just didn’t come today. If your child angrily bites your head off (and his eyes turn black) you are basically to think of yourself as the dog that the postman just tased even though the dog was just lying in a coma in your living room. And it’s the dog’s birthday. It’s just that crazy postman again –LOL. Stay objective. You don’t love or need the postman. Who cares what he does?

That is how objective you are to be in your perceptions of your children after they turn twenty-one. After twenty –one, a child can tase you and you don’t care.

Your spouse on the other hand wants you to become more completely subjective about him/ her. You are to become uncruel, unobjective, unobtuse, and unstupid. You are to be completely subjective about your spouse after ten years of marriage and after twenty years, you are basically to think of yourself as the same organism. No surprises. After twenty years of marriage you have spent enough years surprising each other and now it is time to rub along nicely while you stand back from the splatter and together watch your grown children scare the heck out of you.

When you have been married awhile you love your spouse in the same exact way that you love yourself – completely and utterly subjectively.

For instance, your wife farts at the dinner table. You pretend it didn’t happen just like you would do if you farted. You are one farting organism.

Or your husband buys a new Mercedes without telling you. You smile and think, “Of Course, if I had wanted, I would have Certainly bought a new 500-million dollar friggin’ Car without telling HIM!” You stay subjective, no matter what. (Unless his eyes turn black and then you can throw salt.)

It’s a fine balancing act we are supposed to do, we humans, navigating relationships: both large and small, temporary and eternal, and casual and serious relationships. Am I ever really uninvolved – objective? My emotions can turn on a dime about myself and “the other” – even if the other really is only the postman (especially if his eyes turn black). People who know me will tell you I am not very good at objectivity. Of course, do they really know me? Do I really know me? Does any one care if they know me or I know me or I know them ?

We are truly only ever known by the One who made us. God promises He knows us better than we know even ourselves. There is much proof of this but as the Psalmist in #139 says, “God has searched me and He knows me.”

God knows, we are not created to be objective – even if we are scientists. Jesus was not objective. If you want evidence look at the relationship between Peter – a completely subjective guy if ever you want to meet one – and Jesus.

I really, really hate when movies or books portray Jesus as this completely objective, Zenned-out practically flat-lining guru. Objectivity = less love, less need. Subjectivity = more love, more need. Jesus was as subjective as they come. If He came to show us the Father then Jesus came to show us that God is subjective. When people say, God loves you but He doesn’t need you, then I think, well what the heck is the point then? Why bother?

See I wanna tell my kids: I know you want me to stop playing God and be all objective about your lives and your choices. But I can’t, because God isn’t objective about you either. Kiddos, I don’t just love you in this “objective, I’m so far above you and I could not care less kinda love” way. I need you. Justine, Clarissa, Verity and Gordon: I am completely subjective when it comes to how I love you. Kids, I can pretend and I can shut up, but I will never, ever, ever ever be objective about you. I love you too much. And I need you.

Jesus didn’t go through life as an objective human with no needs. He was the opposite of apathetic. He was the opposite of unfeeling. Jesus was, as in every other way, the most human – the most subjective. He just was able to not let His needs or His subjectivity cause Him to sin. That ‘s where we differ. But we do not differ because Jesus had no needs, no feelings, no subjectivity.

Jesus was subjective with his mother and family when they told him he was crazy and later when he asked his disciple to care for his mother after his death. He was subjective and both confrontational and caring with a strange Samaritan woman at the well when he called her out on her lies about her husbands. Jesus was subjective when he was grocery shopping and he zapped the fig tree for not bearing fruit. Jesus was a completely subjective extrovert when he whipped through the temple so the Gentiles could worship –not His people, not his homies, why should he care?

The Christ’s greatest need for relationship is perhaps shown in the Garden, when he is scared, and feels far from His Father, who The Son has enjoyed a close relationship with until now. Jesus needs his best friends when he wonders not only if He can see it through –the task of dying alone for something He didn’t do — but is agonizing over how in the world his “kids” will survive when he is gone. He is not at all objective in the Garden, but cries, “Could you not have stayed awake with me just now? Could you not love me enough just now to pray with me? Where is your love when I need you?

If Jesus came to show us the Father, then we do not worship an objective God. Oh, Jehovah is not like any other god – He isn’t subjective when it comes to choosing favorites, or whims, or human foibles and sins. That’s only what false gods do. But “I AM” is subjective when it comes to loving us – choosing us, caring for us, and yes, needing us.

In Scripture, God constantly needs His children to say, “Abba, I know You need me to do this, so I will because I love You.” God  needs Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Esther, Ruth. And, after all, He chose and needed one of us, Mary, fully human, to be the mother of His Son on earth. And He needed that Son to present himself blameless on our behalf, to restore and save us for relationship with Him for eternity. Jesus daily turned to His Father in love and need. Even when He was older than twenty-one. Jesus and The Father – a subjective relationship based on real need and real love for each other. That is great need. That is great love. That is as subjective as life gets.

Heavenly Daddy, Abba,

I am sorry for all the times I wanted You to be objective about me. I’m sorry I have doubted Your love for me and didn’t want You to need me. I’m sorry I shunned Your need for me to love You as You deserve to be loved. I trust that You are the only One Who truly knows me.


I’m sorry that the older I got, the less I trusted Your good advice and wanted to go my own way. Forgive me for the times I bit off Your head in anger because I was confused about myself and You. I don’t know me and I don’t know You nearly well enough. I’ll try to work at knowing You better and let You know me better.


Forgive me for the times I chose a lesser god to worship.


I’m sorry for all the times I missed Your birthday. And thank you, for treating me the same way You treat the postman – with sacrificial and subjective Love. Thank You for loving me too much to be objective about me and thank You for needing me. Help me love you more and need you more every day, even though I’m older than twenty-one.

Your daughter,

Jane Karen Cook Tawel

Driving With One Good Eye

Driving With One Good Eye

First Written 2010; Revised Feb. 2015

By Jane Tawel

I was born with strabismus in my right eye. That took me an extra second to write because I still have to close one eye to figure out which one doesn’t see well any more. A human’s ability to either adjust or live in denial is amazing, is it not?

Strabismus is when your eye is supposed to go left and it sometimes detours right and vice versa. My right eye used to go all wiggledy-woggeldy. When I was four years old, my parents bought me an operation that corrected the errant eye, and the operation made me look normal but unbeknownst to me it didn’t correct the actual sight in my eye.

I didn’t know I was sight-impaired and defective until I was twenty-four years old. My future father-in-law, Gaston Tawil, took me to a hot -shot young eye specialist at John Hopkins who with flint in his egotistical 20/20 eyes asked me if I knew I was legally blind in my right eye. Legally blind!?!?! Wow, I felt like I’d just been asked, “Did you know you are legally stupid?” I had been legally tested and been found to be legally faulty. Dr. Hotshot furthermore told me there was nothing I could EVER DO to change my blind eye because some (and he implied) Podunk doctor had corrected the alignment and had thus ensured that the higgledy-piggledy corrected eye would never ‘learn to see’. It was a life sentence of lazy eye, which is ironic, because they used to call my higgledy-piggledy eye, “lazy”.

The irony was that although I no longer looked as if I had lazy eye, I actually had such a lazy eye that it didn’t do a decent day’s work ever. I had bum-on- the- street eye, homeless guy eye, lazy good-for- nothing eye. Good thing I like irony. Except when it has to do with me, of course. The young hot shot doctor who took great pride in freaking out the little blond bimbo, also told me I better take very, very, very good care of my one, solitary good eye, because if I lost vision in my one good left eye, I wouldn’t only be blind in my right eye but permanently blind in both. Two lazy good for nothing homeless guy eyes.

I thought maybe I had suddenly lost my hearing as well after this news as all I heard after that was, “Thank you very much, Blind Girl, and that prognosis will cost you five hundred billion dollars”. I was blissfully happier and wealthier before I ever went to John Hopkins. I took my little homeless guy eye back to my future in-laws, and told them, thanks yes, every thing went well. It is important to realize that future and current in-laws must always be kindly told lies if you want them to like you. After you get married, you realize that lying to in-laws is often part of your job description if you want everyone to be blissfully happy.

When I told my mom about this event, she felt so bad. You can imagine. Of course it didn’t help that at the time, remember, I was in my mid-twenties, which is the universal age of “Blame Your Mother for Everything that Ever went Wrong in your Life” Age. Being my mom, she tried to rationalize and explain our way out of this and when she did that, (which was often) she always knew that at the end of hours of discussion, when we understood what was going on, then she always felt that The Thing (whatever it was) would have been reasoned out of existence. Mom’s great inside joke with God on me is that I got four children just as my Mom did, all of whom have enjoyed hours of my reasoning discussions.

My pretty and wonderful Mom, Jane Cook, who did not do everything wrong:


But of course by the time I told my mom about my legal blindness, I was getting used to feeling sorry for my poor newly handicapped little old self and looking for someone to blame. Remember, all kids no matter the age have a hard time not hanging up their parents on giant Guilt Tenter Hooks.(I always thought this was tender hook, as in meat tenderizing hooks. Thank you, Amy Brallier.) I strung up my parents, the Podunk doctors and perhaps a few random strangers passing by and I refused to let them off The Guilt Hook.

I think the guilt hooks we make for other people are those big, galvanized iron kind you can buy at Home Depot that have the clicky bars that go across and you have to do something fancy to release the hook. If we can string someone up with guilt about our iniquities, infirmities, or just plain old bad choices, then we are going to string them up on a giant butcher’s meat Tender Hooks (see)—think Rocky meat room hooks. Then we can  take boxing swings at them for the rest of our Blame- Someone -Else Lives.

Those guilt hooks we make for others are strong – kryptonite-infused big crane hooks.

The guilt hooks we make for ourselves, should we ever feel the slightest twinge of needing to feel guilty, are the little, fake gold ones that you can screw into wood planks with your bare fingers, and that are good to hang mugs on upside down in your kitchen cabinets and which often do not keep the mugs on, but let them fall off and break. Our personal guilt hooks are wee itty bitty made of play-doh hooks.Our personal guilt hooks are like little bitty crochet hooks.The guilt hooks we hang ourselves on are totally un- sturdy and they allow our own guilt to slide off quite easily.

I hung my parents on Super Colossal Guilt Hooks and took my poor little homeless guy lazy eye on a guilt free trip to The Holier-than-Thou Land.

My Parents’ Hook:


My Hook:


When I was four, and after the operation, I had to go have my eyes checked all the time. I remember the doctor’s office as this very large, clinical, white, circular room divided into sections with doctors’ chairs all over the place and all around the perimeter of the waiting area were the many doctors peering into various people’s eyes. I’m not sure if this was a real place or a pre- literate dystopian nightmare of mine. But I do definitely remember the clinic had the only kids’ magazine in existence, “Highlights”. Today there is a children’s magazine for everything thing under the sun. There are children’s sports magazines, children’s beauty magazines, Play Station magazines, left-handed kids’ magazines, and magazines to read to children in the womb before they even become children.

“Highlights Magazine” had stories but also had connect-the dots, and mazes, and “find the hidden picture” pages. You weren’t supposed to write on those pages in the doctor’s office because the magazine wasn’t yours and other children wanted to look at them without having the hidden items all circled. So being good little Midwestern boys and girls, we just found the hidden pictures and traced them with our little clean fingers and sometimes, showed our mothers, who were sitting distracted by worry next to us.

But “Highlights” also had a cartoon called “Goofus and Gallant”. It was about two little boys, and one named Gallant was Good ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME and one named Goofus was Bad, REALLY, REALLY BAD. Capital letter, “Good”, and Capital letter, “Bad”. I thought it was the creepiest comic strip I had ever seen. Now, I was a pretty good child in those days, so you would think I would have related to Gallant and felt good about this Christian tale of how one child, no matter what, always chose Good and the other one always chose Bad. But I didn’t. It seemed like maybe, just like I was born with my crossed eye and so I couldn’t see right, maybe some poor little kid named Goofus could just be born with a crossed set of morals, and not be able to be Good. Maybe you could get something crossed at birth, and then, you would always be Bad, even though you looked normal to everyone who looked at you. You could be born blind inside, like I was blind outside.

Goofus was lazy, just like my right eye was lazy. Goofus was naughty and weird looking, like my eye, and unlike cute perfect Gallant. Goofus did all the wrong things, just like Dr. Hot Shot made me feel my parents and doctors had done all the wrong things, and I had probably been born doing the wrong things – like Goofus. The prognosis: Destined to be Bad. My little homeless guy eye was just a born Goofus. A person could forever be labeled blind, never to be Perfect Vision Gallant, the Good One. Poor guilty, bad legally blind Goofus. And that name. Why did they name the poor boy, Goofus? Goofus makes it sound as if he just wasn’t intelligent enough to learn to do the right thing, like Dr. Hot Shot pronouncing my eye legally stupid..

more-goofus-and-gallant_thumb[6]              a53108f7543b75adbb34afc035d4cdf61243092860

After the operation, the eye doctors’ always did the same check up procedure. They would put a black disc on a stem over one eye, hold their hand in front of me and ask: “How many fingers do I have up?” “Now how many?” “How many now?” I can remember my family sitting around in my Grandma and Grandpa Cook’s apartment in New Carlisle, Ohio, saying, “How many fingers?” “Now how many?” “How many, Jane Karen?” Then the doctors in the circular clinical white room with many doctors’ chairs, would put up charts to test my eyes. They would put different lenses in front of my eyes that would be different colored, or would make the symbols on the chart go blurry, or get clearer, or bigger, or smaller and they’d ask “Is this good?” “How about this?” “Is this better or worse?”   And it was like they were testing me. They were testing me of course, but no matter how very, very hard I tried to score well on their tests, I could never see any better with my right eye. My right eye was too stupid to pass the tests. My right eye was my Goofus eye and no matter how hard she tried, Goofus-eye always did The Bad Thing. My right eye was blind and made “stupid choices”. My Goofus eye couldn’t help it, she was born blind, but I always, always, felt so guilty that I couldn’t see even for the doctors – especially guilty that I couldn’t see, even for my family.

Now when I go to get my eyes checked, I anticipate the doctors’ tests and I immediately tell them, “I don’t see at all out of my right eye. I am legally blind in that eye.” Almost always they still test me and try anyway to get me to see with my right eye, as if somehow I might have been wrong all along, or maybe just stupid. Just maybe they might be the doctor who has the right lens or the right trick or the right test so that my Goofus eye can finally choose good over evil and SEE. But of course they never can. I leave each office, still legally blind in my right eye. I always go back home with my little homeless guy eye, my Goofus eye.

And you should see the song and dance routine I do when I go to the DMV and have my eyes checked for driving. I admit to them straight up, “Hey, I am legally blind in this eye. I am driving with one good eye.” Like they wouldn’t figure it out, when they gave me the eye test and I kept saying, “No, nothing. Nope, still nothing”. I assure them and so far they’ve bought it: Don’t worry,I drive with my one good eye.

I think maybe there is no such thing as a boy or girl who is always a Gallant and a boy or girl who is always a Goofus, but that all of us are always both Gallant and Goofus all wrapped up together in one person. Just like two eyes in one face, we have one part of us that has 20/20 vision and we have one part of us that no matter what we do, it is always blind to what we should do. Or what we could do. We just have to accept that all of us have a part of us that is legally blind when it comes to God’s Kingdom. We are all the blind ones before healing comes from Jesus. We just can’t see very well, no matter how hard we try; the lens is dark and blurry on this side of eternity.

See, it isn’t any one’s fault that I never got vision in my gimpy homeless guy eye. I had one doctor tell me that we would never really know but maybe I had actually been born blind in that eye. Maybe the correcting operation didn’t make me blind after all. Maybe it wasn’t my parents’ fault, or the doctor’s fault or my fault. My eye wasn’t lazy, just between jobs.

Jesus teaches us many things about blindness but the lesson I love is when he heals the blind man by putting mud on his eyes – on the Sabbath. Jesus really is Dr. Hot Shot – the Great Physician who heals with a little “mineral water” and a little faith. Christ’s healing on a Sabbath is a big, big culturally religious No-No. But what He does that is even more radical than breaking the cultural law of no work on the Sabbath is He lets the blind man and his parents off the big galvanized guilt hooks that society has strung them up on.

We are all driving through life with one good eye. Oh, it may not be your actual eye, but there is something that keeps you from seeing clearly. One hundred percent, 20/20 perfect eye sight doesn’t exist in this world. As I Corinthians 13:12 assures us, in this life we see as if through an eye with glaucoma, a clouded mirror, a window that has only a tiny speck washed enough to be clear; we are all partially, legally blind. We are all driving with only one good eye. That’s why we need the faith of a blind man.

Do you know there’s a rumor that maybe the Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a weakness in his eyes? The apostle who saw so many things so much more clearly than anyone, maybe couldn’t literally see all that well. None of us can see all that clearly, until one day when we see Jesus, face to face. But we cry out, “Lord, I can’t see. Help my blinding unbelief!” We are called to use our one good eye, to try each day to “See Him more clearly, Love Him more dearly, and “Follow Him more nearly, Day by Day”(Godspell).


In John 9, we find the only instance of Jesus healing a man stricken from birth with a debilitating physical problem – blindness. Can you imagine a person who has never seen anything having enough faith to break the law by obeying an unknown Stranger, and then for the still blind man to walk the streets, his face dripping dirt from his muddy eyes, and to wash them in a pool – believing he will see a world he has no visual knowledge of? Then this same man when asked by the people in charge who was responsible for causing him to sin on the Sabbath, tells them truthfully, “I have no idea, but I do know that I can see!”

Sadly, the parents of the blind man want to make sure they are not strung up on the guilt hook. They disown their son and reject the Messiah who healed their blind child, so they can ‘appear” to be without sin and stay in the “In – crowd” of temple and society. How sad. Jesus warned us that those who are blind will see and those who think they see, will be blinded.

Jesus’ disciples saw a blind “sinner” and asked the Son of God, “Who sinned, this man or his parents – because no one is born blind unless it is someone’s fault”. There was no way this blind man had ever been able to hide his wiggeldy-woggledy eyes. No way to pretend he had perfect 20/20 vision. The man not only had two homeless guy lazy eyes, he was a homeless guy, begging on the streets because his family kicked him and his lazy eyes to curb when they realized they might be blamed for his infirmity as if it was his iniquity. So the disciples are just asking to clarify theology, “Hey, Jesus, why DO good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people? Who is the Goofus here – this blind guy or his mistake-ridden parents?”

Jesus answered, “Neither has this man sinned nor his parents. This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9: 1-3)


God formed us and knows our innermost parts. He knows we are both Gallant and Goofus and He knows we will sometimes choose wrong and sometimes with His grace, we will choose good. And He loves us. He works through forgiveness, and grace and love to correct even the blindest of spiritual eyes. And one day, we will all who choose to trust God, have 20/20 vision. One day with faith, all our little homeless guy parts, our Goofus- parts, will be healed and restored to perfection because we are walking with enough faith to believe it is not about our sin or someone else’s sin but about “the works of God and the glorification of His name”.

“For now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see Him face to face.” After the blind man leaves the temple priests and rejects society’s judgement of him, Jesus, despite a threat on his own life, went to seek out the blind man. When Jesus asked him if the man knew who had healed him, the blind man had no idea – remember he was literally seeing Jesus for the first time. But when the blind man, saw the face of his Savior, he was no longer spiritually blind and he bowed down and worshipped Him.

And so shall we, blind men all, someday worship the only one who can make the blind men see, for then “we shall see Him face to face. We shall know fully, even as we are fully known”. And all the gimpy, homeless guy, lazy-eyed Goofuses will be perfected, even as Christ is perfected in us. Someday we will be driving with two good eyes.