Thoughts for my Blogger Pals: Keep the Faith. Keep Helping.

I posted this famous quote by Fred (Mr.) Rogers today, and then a friend texted me back those questions and concerns that go raging through many of our heads and hearts in this day and age. I thought my own thoughts might be of use to some of my blogging friends who are some of the “unseen, unsung” helpers in my own life. Thank you to all of you who keep trying to help others in these times. I hope you can each believe that you make a difference in the world — after all, isn’t that really why we write?

Dear ________________, 

I am beginning slowly and painfully to discover a few things: 

1. Although I continue to believe as D.L.Moody said that one should have a Bible in one hand and a (valid) newspaper in the other, there is much more opportunity today to endlessly be sucked into “news” and what is ultimately the “junk food” of our times, than to be sucked into spiritually enlightening “food”. There is always bad “news” but I don’t have to believe that it is more powerful or ultimately more true-Truth, than something beyond anyone or any nation or any time and place, whatever people may call the “Other Reality” and what I think of as true Truth and God’s redeeming love for our planet and His children. It helps to say to myself what a friend said wisely to me yesterday, “If it is something that is out of your hands, don’t let it take up too much space in your head.” Hard for me but helpful. This friend is always one of my own “helpers” not just for me but quietly in the world. At the same time, I want to believe that if I do a small unsung kindness here and someone else in the world is doing an unknown kindness over there, then all the little truly unselfish kind things that all the little people do as “helpers” will always tip the scales in the world towards Martin Luther King’s “arc of justice” and towards the mustard seed of faith and the mighty waves created by the power of truly loving hearts. And — 

 2. Sometimes my being the sort of person who is always trying to help others is more about me than it is about them. There is a difference between being ready and alert to help a need that appears than what we often do which is to look for ways to “fix” people or ways to disguise what the human hubris always is in part, a way to assuage our own ego needs. One struggles with comparing one’s “intelligence” or “compassion” with what one assumes is another’s lack of these things, and so the big beam grows in one’s eye. And conversely, I often neglect loving myself enough to be a helper to myself (Psychology 101 is still a distant achievement for me — LOL) 

Anyway, a couple great books to recommend that were recommended to me by some of my “helpers” in the world doing good for others in quiet, unsung ways, “The Wild Edge of Grief” by Francis Weller (helps with grieving for what is happening in the world and on our planet as well as personal griefs). And the other is the Powers trilogy by Walter Wink, which helps put what is really happening in the world in a Judeo-Christian but rather radical context which is both empowering and mind-blowing. 

Love you. Thank you for your kind sweet words. I hope to get to your neck of the woods this fall and actually see you, dear friend.

And so Blogger-Pals, carry your weight today because the only way out is through, but also look up, see the sun or lovely clouds that bring rain or the stars that are out in your own “neck of the woods” and know that our grief makes us human and compassionate and better able to be “helpers” in the world; but our love for ourselves and others and the place in which we live, and the planet which I sure do hope we can help survive — all the love in the world, whether they are tiny drops of water like mine, or big rolling waves like Mr. Rogers’, or Martin Luther Kings’, or Jesus’, or Buddha’s, or… ______________(insert the name that comes to your mind in the blank) — all the helpers are here. May you seek and find them today and then go out and do likewise, 

Jane 

Pre-Dawn and I

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Pre-Dawn and I

https://unsplash.com/photos/gapRs3zsdg0

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Pre-Dawn and I

By Jane Tawel

August 10, 2022

*

And just like that — 

And as I was looking down — 

with barely an upward glance,

Light snuck around,

the edges of the dark.

*

Oh, the hours are too often filled,

with lists and pages of words;

but if perchance,

you happen to glance up,

at just the moment, when

Light makes her slow entrance on the stage,

Then drop the page you hold,

and breathe deeply in and out

and listen to the drumbeat of your heart,

welcoming the Dawn.

*

This pre-dawn as I sat,

and worried over Time-past,

and of course, as always I do,

fretted over the Time-not-come,

the Present Moment snuck-up on me,

and I looked up and out, not down and in.

The veil of dark pulled back.

And though I had just a peek,

I caught Light in the act,

of once again confirming,

with just a narrow band, still grey,

that soon the Sun would rise, in full array,

and with a bit of hopefulness,

I knew that Dawn was on its way.

*

Oh, the night is filled with strangers and friends,

and even though you let them in, they are not there.

I have determined not to speak, nor listen,

with those who would intrude upon my thoughts,

but are not in this place or time.

Oh, Universal Love of me and All,

help me to honor You by being awake,

to all that dawns upon me, both by day and night.

Help me to listen with a heart full of love,

to early morning birds,

and the scrambling of lizards in the heat of the day.

In moments that manage,

to sneak away from me,

I shall return to myself,

and quiet myself.

I will listen

to the dove’s song,

and the hushing of leaves in trees.,

and to the miracle of my own beating heart.

And I shall watch the Light and Dark,

dance their dance,

and kiss each other in the great Romance,

of all that is lovely in the Presence of the Now.

*

© Jane Tawel, 2022

What Will I Do with Love Today?

What Will I Do with Love Today?

By Jane Tawel

July 21, 2022

“Clouds — Summer 2014” by Pam_Broviak is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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What will I do with Love, today?

What will I do with my love?

Will I open my hands?

Will I walk in The Way?

Will I watch what I say?

Will I trust and obey?

Oh, what will I do;

what now will I do,

what will I do with Love?

*

What will I feel with Love, today?

What will I feel with my love?

Will I hurt with a friend?

Will I forgive and mend,

all the fences that others might tend?

Will I suffer the cross?

Will I risk feeling loss?

Will I laugh hard and long?

Will I sing a new song?

Will I to my fears die?

And without asking why,

will I quickly employ

the strong will of true joy?

Oh, what will I feel with my Love, today?

Yes, what will I feel with Love?

*

What will I be for Love, today?

Oh, what will I be for God’s Love?

Will I truly embrace,

every person and place,

as the Kingdom on Earth, as Above?

Will I let my beliefs,

take a humble back-seat,

to the needs of the world in this Time?

Will I know The Sublime?

Seek until I, Truth, find?

Will I make the world’s treasures as naught?

Will I with peace, leave every self- thought?

Will I brave the true lessons Christ taught?

Will I be, and not strive?

Will I be freely alive?

Oh, let me be only true Love today.

Oh, let me be all and all Love.

*

© Jane Tawel, 2022

Golden Harvest

Sunset on the Lake

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Golden Harvest

By Jane Tawel

July 8, 2022

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Golden harvest has come due.

Evening sun commands the view.

Now the red-maned goddess flies,

‘cross the deepening gloaming skies.

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Earth’s horizon sings Time’s song:

“Day is short, and night is long.”

Bast, the Lion Goddess comes.

Birds are stilled and people, mum.

*

Oh, the glory of the Sun,

as the day has come and gone.

And before the Night entombs,

the world’s on fire with Sunset’s bloom.

*

© Jane Tawel, 2022

Dead Angels

Angel by Capt Piper

Dead Angels

By Jane Tawel

June 29, 2022

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“Your angels are dying,” She said.

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And so, we found our excuses

to offer to the God,

we had created —  all red, white and blue,

in our own image.

But if we had read it correctly,

we would have known;

there is only One God,

and He is the one who accepts,

no excuses.

*

“Your angels are dying,” She said.

*

The problem is, angels need a lot of care.

And we were once unwilling,

we are now, unwilling;

the nation was unwilling;

the churches were unwilling;

and so, the Spirit of the Age,

began to shrivel and clutch,

in very wealthy widow’s weeds.

*

I don’t know how it is in other places,

but here I know we worship money;

we worship power;

we worship who we think we are.

And we put little God stickers on the outside of it all,

reducing a Savior’s price,

so we can get more buyers.

We pray prayers of helplessness,

to make us feel safer,

to get us off the hook of actually doing anything,

to make sure Jesus takes the fall. Again.

And while outside, our Easter finery is shiny,

like newly minted thirty pieces of silver,

inside, we are rotting like hidden corpses,

hiding from ourselves,

hiding from The Source.

*

“Your angels are dying,” She said.

*

A Human-being once called us ‘white-washed tombs’.

and while we focus on unfulfilled wombs,

we don’t mind killing, no not at all,

while America’s better angels go AWOL

As long as our left hand is in the till,

our right hand ignores the Pearls — for swill.

And so, the Angels of America writhe.

And while we think we can buy God with our tithe,

we take God’s name in vain.

Our worship is profane,

because we keep leaving out Love,

and the freedom to choose

from the Eternal Equation of

God + me =Living Christ.

Instead, we have made God in our own image,

and not in the image of Them,

and we have left Christ on the cross,

so we can go shopping and buy cheaper gas.

Because who needs angels,

when we have nuclear weapons and assault rifles?

Who needs angels,

when we can blame our inner demons,

on some one who is not like us?

*

“Your angels are dying,” She said.

*

Now let us bow our heads,

in the prayer of Our Holy Flag,

and place our hope in a worship of past successes,

and the catechism of power-full-ness,

and the holy rites of more-ness-ness,

and the “our way or the highway”

of laws without consequences

for anyone but Lazarus at the gate.

And fingers crossed,

that we can keep believing that our own cross,

is bearing the pangs of the Dow Jones.

And hopefully, angels and demons are not real,

and the Kingdom of some old documents

can take the place of Heaven on Earth.

*

© Jane Tawel, June 2022

**Written with fear and trembling and much gratitude for the works of Walter Wink.

And What Will I Be When I’m Gone?

“…Time…” by ĐāżŦ {mostly absent} is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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And What Will I Be When I’m Gone?

By Jane Tawel, June 26, 2022

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And what will it be, when I am gone?

When All is gone, when all of “I” is gone?

No and Yes,

Oh, what will I be when I am gone?

*

And what will I see, when I am gone?

In fact, will I see at all?

Or will there be a different sense,

a sense beyond all sight?

*

Oh, what will I hear, when I am gone?

Will I still listen to the day’s news?

Will I still hear the birds? Will I listen to you?

Or will my heart be tuned to The Song,

The Song of The Stars,

The Song of The Sun,

The Song of Eternity’s Hymn?

*

Oh, what will I feel when I am gone?

Will my heart still beat in my chest?

Will my feelings of fear dissipate like the dew?

Will my feelings of love remain?

*

Oh, now is the time to feel and feel more,

and to rage and to hold lovers close.

Oh, now is the time to feel and feel more,

and to shun fear for power in Love.

Oh, Now is My Time,

and I will it to be,

what Creator and human can feel, hear and see,

when We work hand in Universe — 

Universal Design.

And I will resign myself to being strong,

and to see time is short but Eternity’s long.

Oh, I will not tear down, but I will build up,

and I’ll fight all the darkness within and without,

with a whimper, a whisper, a cry and a shout!

And I will not see this Time that I’ve been given,

as anything but my one chance at True Living.

I will sing all the Love songs.

I’ll fight darkness til’ Dawn.

And I’ll seek Light’s True Love,

til’ I’m gone.

© Jane Tawel, 2022

The Flag We Really Need Right Now is Love

“Rainbow Flag at Oxford Pride” by Datchler is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Flag We Really Need Right Now is Love

By Jane Tawel

June 14, 2022

*

It is the fault in us, Horatio, and not in our star-struck eyes.

It is society, and the culture of our own bent and broken time and place,

that has informed us, tried to misshapen us, and taught us falsely

that our sexuality is our identity.

Whether I have been straight or gay or I prefer to check “neither of the above”;

when I have let people think that my sex or my ex,

or my having or not having a certain defined relationship to my gender,

is what defines me,

then I have succumbed to the ills of the age.

I have fallen prey to the false religion of our times.

*

And the religion of this place and time is

that what I Do is Who I Am.

This world will try to tell me that what I do,

in the board room or the back room or the bedroom,

IS who I am.

But “IS” is not defined by some public agency.

“IS” is the agency of being.

“IS” is a being verb.

*

And yet, being is the scariest, most active thing a person can “do”;

and yet once one decides that being who she is,

is more important than any thing she does,

then he can be the very best self they want to be.

*

“Can’t we all just get along?”

Oh, I am old enough, if not yet wise enough,

to glimpse that when I fight you, I give you more strength;

but if I giggle and guffaw at how you try to define me,

and if I but hold my pride and need for you to approve,

as lightly in my hands as Mother Teresa held the lepers,

then I defeat your ability to tell me who I am.

I don’t need to heal myself of my gender or my sex or my color or my race.

I only need to heal myself of the world’s definitions, not of who I am,

but healed of the false definitions of who the world says, I can not become.

All I need is healing to become my true self,

and that doesn’t come from out there,

but from inside of me.

*

Who I choose to love is not the truth of me.

The truth of me is that I choose.

The truth of me is that I choose to love;

choosing to love me and love you.

*

Why do we fly so many different flags?

The flag we really need right now is love.

Why do we carry so many weapons of heart ache and words?

The only weapon we should be carrying is the weapon of unfettered hope.

Why do we put our faith in the gods of definitions?

The only God we need is the One beyond all defining.

*

No, what the world has told us is not the truth.

Are we all too afraid to unmask the lies?

Or are we too used to living behind our masks

to recognize the lies we live within ourselves?

*

Surely nothing is true when it becomes the mile-marker of who I am.

World, I take your erasable markers writ on me

and I use my magic eraser of self-worth,

to clear the chalk-board of your scribbles on my soul

and then write in large letters of indelible ink:

“I Am Worthy.”

I am much greater than my color or my creed,

my gender or my sex,

my body or my intelligence.

I am not checked-off boxes on the world’s identification censuses.

I am proud to be myself,

but I don’t need your pride in me to give me my grade.

And I don’t even need my own pride in myself

because I am worth more than ego-fulfillment by anyone’s standards,

even the standards I have sucked in

from the world’s alluring but empty teats.

I won’t accept your judgement or mine.

I don’t need anyone’s a-okay.

I am great, not because of anything I do or don’t do.

I am wonderful;

because who I am

is enough.

*

No, whom I choose to love is not for anyone to judge,

except of course, for me and them.

Because they that I love will be the only ones

who hold the scales of judging any thing.

What we are all just trying to do,

no matter who we say we are, is this — 

We are all just trying to love and be loved.

*

No, who I choose to love is not about my gender or my color or my sex

or my race or my religion

or my nation or my education or my station.

But That I do love

any one,

Wholly,

Completely,

Sacrificially,

Truthfully and truly,

with all my heart, soul, and mind — 

That is all that has ever defined any of us,

ever.

And if the body, which is only a symbol and nothing more,

follows the heart in that love,

then that can not be me

if it is just my gender or my sexual self alone.

My body, my symbol,

And all symbols, whether of peace signs,

Or crosses, or raised fists, or rainbows,

All symbols merely point the way

to true and whole being.

*

No one defines me, but me.

And if God defines me too,

Then She defines me obviously not by gender, since THEY have none.

No, definitions are meant for crumbs to lead us on the way,

But they are not The Way,

For there is neither Greek nor Jew or male or female,

But all are One. Or so it is foretold.

And also, just to point out,

who we shall be, our true definitions,

are unknown by all,

even ourselves;

except, I believe (and hope) that

who we are and who we will become is known,

by that Universal Good that some call God,

and some call Awakening, and some call Woke-ness, and some call simply,

Love.

*

My body, my choice.

My I.D., my voice.

Their silence, my noise.

*

But when the world has told me that because

I am a woman, I have to be a “feminist” to get the same rights as a man;

or because I am a white man, I should be a “proud little boy”;

or because I am not heterosexual, I have to fight for my rights in only one month out of the year;

or that because I am Black or Native, my great history

should be separated from the history books because it makes imperialists uncomfortable;

Or that because I work with my hands or live in this neighborhood or talk with an accent,

that I must be “deplorable”

and not bright enough to know that something is wrong,

very, very, very wrong.

Then if this is who I am,

and who you are,

then shouldn’t we all stand up for each other and say — 

Don’t we have to say,

“There is nothing wrong in us.

There is something wrong with the systems

that set us up to use definitions against each other.”

NO! it is not some thing “wrong” in me or in you — 

It is the deep, deep wrong in the unseen and unseeing energies,

in the systems allowed to mutate the narrative,

against our wills.

It is something wrongly seen and lived in the whole set-up

of the place and the time in which we live.

But we can right it.

We can if we believe we can.

*

We must make it right, if not for ourselves, for our children,

and for the children of the birds, and fish, and trees.

Let’s right this ship,

so that our children have easier sailing,

so that there is a Mother-Ship left for them to sail;

and a planet and world in which the tides are always running in our grandchildren’s favor.

Are you in or out?

*

When the Powers that Be

try to define me,

I want to say: “No More!”

And when the Powers that Be,

try to define you,

I will say: “Enough!

I stand with her or him or them, and we have had enough.”

I want to stop fighting you, my brother and my sister.

Let’s link arms and fight what does not want us to be free together.

When the Powers that Be,

try to define me,

I want to stop fighting within my better self,

and I want to laugh at them and say:

I don’t need to show you or prove to you who I am.

I don’t need to fight the Powers for my pride.

My ego, my pride, doesn’t come from anything that I do,

or any one I do it with,

or any one I do it for.

The egos and powers of the age don’t define me.

And neither do they define my neighbor.

My neighbor and I will begin this day

to redefine ourselves

as mutually

Human.

And my only goal will be to be a better human Being,

and to let you be the best human Being you can be, too.

And now, let us become.

*

As a matter of fact, my ego trips me up and defeats me.

That’s what ego-trips do.

Just like your ego, whatever name or pronoun or adjective it goes by,

does to you.

Now don’t get me wrong,

the problem with pride, is that our world hasn’t given some folks

as much self-esteem as they have handed out freely to others.

But when did people start letting governments and nations

and religions and institutions

define us?

“I am Human! Hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore.”

If we are honest, don’t we all realize somewhere deep inside,

that only those we love and who love us can define us.

And the definition of Love is — 

Well, that’s just it, isn’t it? All the poets and saints and gurus and teachers and lovers in the entire history of the world have never been able to define Love.

But we all know real Love when we see it.

And we all know real Love when we are it.

*

Beloved children of the One Great Parent:

To be a part of the ONE, means we are One.

And that is beyond anyone’s understanding of who any one of us is.

And if I know I am One with The One, and One with all of you,

then no definitions of who we are, are ever necessary again.

We are One in Love.

*

And so, we march for pride,

and march for justice,

and march for life,

and march for rights,

And Oh Yes!

we should be, must be

marching, marching, marching,

with hearts pounding,

like the drum beats of reckoning and righteousness.

And we have always had to march.

But can not you and I also walk gently and peacefully together

in The Way –

together just as we are,

today?

Does it really matter what color I am,

Or where on the spectrum you are,

as long as we live,

and as long as we love,

we are all a part of the same Rainbow?

*

We march for justice and freedom and happiness and love for all,

Rolling down like thunder.

And we march not just for our sense of justice, but for the kind of mercy for everyone,

that we think that we ourselves deserve.

And we march not just for who we think we are,

but we march for what all humans

are meant to have been,

and still might become.

We march for what we are meant to be

with a bit less ego,

and a bit less humility,

and a bit less fear,

and a bit less anger,

and a bit less defeated-ness,

and a bit less push for success,

and a bit less power,

and a bit less powerlessness,

and a bit less pride,

and a bit less sense of worthlessness,

and with less of all that –

we could find so much more within ourselves — 

and find within us

a lot, a lot, a lot more love.

Well, you may say that I’m a dreamer.

But I’m not the only one.

I hope someday, you’ll join us.

Then the world will live as One.

*

Even our marches,

should not define us.

No, what defines each of us

is what a once powerful guy

who gave up his power for Love once said:

“If I have not love, I am like a loud, brassy gong,

Cuz without love, I am nothing.” — 

We live on a planet with lots of sounds,

full of fury but signifying nothing.

Full of fury, but too much in a hurry to be defined.

And we raise our voices or raise our fists,

not with enough self-esteem to see it isn’t about just our own team.

Without love we are all just blinding ourselves with giant planks,

while picking the splinters’ out of our neighbor’s eyes,.

And if I am blind, then I won’t see,

that I am still letting the Powers that Be,

define me.

*

Take back your power to love who you want to love.

But make sure you are truly, and truthfully,

Loving someone.

Because some of us have learned the hard way,

that we use other people

to define ourselves or get the love we need,

and that has never been

and will never be enough true meaning;

without love, no one’s identity can ever

be enough to live by.

*

So, love yourself for who you know yourself to be.

And then find as many people as you can to love as they are.

And then with those we call our enemies who seem hard to love — 

Don’t love them for who they are defining themselves as,

but love them for who you secretly define yourself as –

a beloved child of The Super Power of Great and Mighty Love.

*

Because when our bodies are gone,

and our minds are gone,

and our marches are in the dust bin of history –

Love will remain.

Not just in pride month,

not just in Black History month,

not just at Gentile or Jewish or Hindu holiday months,

not just in the U.S. of A.

or in the Ukraine or in Babylon or Rome,

not just in A.D. or B.C. or in AC/DC,

and not just in you or in me.

But Only Love will Remain.

Only honest-to-goodness-no-matter-who-you-are

Love

will remain,

Forever.

*

I offer you here,

All the pride you need –

Be proud to be

wholly and completely the love you have in your heart.

Be Love.

Be You.

All you need to know with the certainty

of place-lessness, and time-lessness,

and face-lessness, and mind-lessness,

and me-moreness and you-moreness,

all we need

this month, this year, this century, this place and time

this moment –

all you need to be whole-ly you, proud to be you, humbled to be chosen to be you,

all that is needed to know who I am and who you are –

is love.

Be You.

Be Love.

*

© Jane Tawel, June 2022

He Bought Every Thing

“A Pile of Money” by veken is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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He Bought Every Thing

By Jane Tawel

June 12, 2022

*

He bought up every thing in the whole, whole wide world.

He bought all the pleasures, the birds and the bees.

And he plotted and planned how to buy even more,

as he gassed the whole planet and chopped down all the trees.

*

He bought all the finish lines, so he won all the races.

He bought so many mansions, he couldn’t remember all the places.

He bought a new spouse and he bought a new face,

and when he owned the whole planet, he bought outer space.

*

This man for an instant in time was quite famous.

This rich, famous man owned the world — the whole cosmos!

Who is he, you ask? Who is this great mystery?

No one knows any more, he is buried in history.

*

The richest and ruling-est here on this earth,

think that profit and power reveal one’s true worth.

But even by owning every thing one can buy,

no one can buy out of the fact we all die.

*

The poor man bought every thing, below and above,

But in the end, what he never owned — was what lasts –

only Love.

*

“For what is the lasting profit, if we gain the whole world, but in the process lose our souls.” (Jesus of Nazareth, dirt poor but definitely remembered by history)

© Jane Tawel, June 12, 2022

Pictures and a Story on The Way to Jury Duty in L.A.

Metro, Los Angeles

Pictures and a Story on The Way to Jury Duty in L.A.

by Jane Tawel

June 8, 2022

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I walked this route from Union Station, Downtown Los Angeles each morning to the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. One morning I saw a thin, rather frantic young woman who had parked her shopping cart of belongings against the railings that are the only things protecting walkers from falling into the mass of cars on the freeway. She had a small bucket of red paint and she was painting something on the sidewalk. The next morning I found she had painted a love letter to some one named Amgtriky. I wondered what she had written but then covered over with a big red square. “I Love you Amgtriky you are my world.” I hope Amgtriky got the message and hope the frantic young woman gets the love she craves enough to risk arrest for defacing public property. Aren’t we all, in one way or another, trying to get our message out to the ones we call “our world”? Aren’t we all just living with our big red letters sloppily painted wherever we go in our hope that someone will answer back that we too are someone’s world?

Los Angeles

Taking the metro about an hour each morning and evening was an experience in itself. Union Station is a truly beautiful architectural gem, both inside and out. 

Union Station L.A.

One morning I was going to stop at the restroom in Union Station before making my fifteen minute walk to the courthouse. The restroom was unavailable and there were about five or six cops and a couple station security guards swarming around the entrance to the women’s room. I never knew why but I found the paradox of what is shown in this picture quite a succinct comment on modern life. Outside the restroom is a “Lactation Pod” next to someone’s entire earthly belongings, carried around on a makeshift cart because they have no home. I wondered since the lactation pod didn’t seem to be all that practical or often used, if maybe we could give all the lactation pods to all the people who don’t have a home? We could call them “Humanity Matters Pods”.

Lactation Pod and Belongings, Union Station, L.A. 

At lunch I would, for a brief hour, escape the horrible weight of being a judge of someone else’s life and a carrier of a lot of people’s pain, and I would eat my little cheese sandwich and apple in this park that sits in the middle of all the justice halls that a big city like Los Angeles needs. This playground was unavailable and yellow-taped off. I don’t know why but there weren’t many children around at that time of day anyway. I found myself singing to myself Cat Steven’s metaphoric and prescient tune, “Where Do the Children Play”. 

City Hall Park, Los Angeles

During my lunch hour, the thing that always restored my joy was a group of men who played a pick-up soccer game in the park. They were also enjoying freedom from whatever jobs or lack of jobs they might have had to go back to. I imagined some of them may have been the police or public defenders or D.A.s who had a bit of anonymity and a bit of fun in otherwise hard, stressful days. I had a lot of respect for not just the people who make our American legal system still what has to be one of the best things about America and our wanna-be democracy, but for all the people I met in Los Angeles. I got lost my first day and I was a bit over-the-top freaked out about it and yet so many people would stop on the street and help me reorient or calm down or figure out where I needed to go (I got lost quite a few times). Strangers can be so very kind, even in a big city like L.A. and it made me hopeful to know that as Anne Frank said, “people are really good at heart” — or they want to be, if we maybe just let ourselves ask for help. It gave me such hope for the human race, that even though I didn’t get to see children playing in the park because the playground was shut down, I got to see grown men playing in the park each day, and as long as grown adults can still play, maybe we can all somehow stop all this ridiculous violence and sorrow. 

City Hall Park with Soccer Game in distance, L.A. 

Every evening, on the way to the metro at Union Station, I walked past homeless encampments. Every unhoused person I talked to was very nice, although there were a couple of them now and then who had just “lost it” and I guess I would be crazy loco if no one loved me enough, here in the richest nation on earth, to at least give me a roof over my head and maybe some meds I might need and some daily bread, I mean, food. I often saw the saints of the world out on the streets, like the mobile shower people who park their vans near the encampments so the homeless can take a shower and feel at least a little more human. Each day the metro took me past the Homeboys Industry Home and I saw a lot of care given to homeless folks by strangers and city cops and security guards. I think it’s time we took all the guns and bombs and weapons in the world (or at least in our nation) and turned them into homes.

L.A. Homeless Encampment overlooking the freeway
L.A. Un-Housed People

Going downtown by myself every day and serving on a jury, felt like a very brave thing for little old, stuck in the mud me to do because I am pretty well sunk-in to my careful little, often anxious but small risk suburban life. I ended up feeling both much older and quite a bit younger and also hopeful that my life wasn’t really all that set yet, and I could still live a more helpful, kind, — adventurous — and useful,caring life. I realized it is now time to find a practical way to give more to people who need another pair of hands to help them out. I have been volunteering from a distance, literally during the Covid pandemic years, but always a bit distanced metaphorically in how I choose to care for the stranger, the orphan, the homeless, the prisoner,or the hurting. But during my two weeks of Jury Duty I had been forced to be “present”. Each morning when the court clerk would call my number and I answered “present”, was like a vision of a future where the Great Judge of All calls the roll call. I want to start waking up each day, and be able to say, “I’m present. I’m ready. What is it that The Universal Good would have me, little old me, do for someone else today?” Because you know what — most of the good that gets done in this world is being done by “little old me’s”. And seeing all the “little old me’s” of Los Angeles made me realize that if anyone is looking for Christ, or looking for Jesus to return, I can tell them where to find him — he is in the City of Los Angeles, in the homeless camps and prisons and court houses and parks and sidewalks. All we have to do is look for Christ and we will find that Christ is here because Christ is waiting to be us.

And I realized, although I didn’t want to do it, that Jury Duty had been a sobering, emotionally and spiritually exhausting gift from God. After seeing the world that lets a young man join a gang because he doesn’t have any real family to help him grow up strong and valued and loved, or a world where someone gets shot by a gun while going to the grocery because we have become so greedy and stupid that we worship guns instead of life, or a world that walks past people without homes while other people fly into space on their chump-change, or a world that has been so very, very gracious to me, such a lucky world for me to be born and raised and survive in, while other people get the short end of the whole deal, after seeing a world where bad decisions became a life of no return, and good decisions can get you in trouble or killed, and where everyone is seeking the same things but some people just have the odds stacked against them and no one is around to help them find their way–help them find The Way; in world where every one is throwing their red paint around hoping that someone believes in them and loves them enough to say, “You are my world” — in this time and place that I happen to find myself in, I realized I need some skin in the game. Because this game? This game of life can’t be played from the sidelines. 

Every day I got to come home to a home and a family that loves me and feels loved and where I have more than enough food and clothes and places to keep my stuff. I got to come home to a garden, and not just any garden, but a garden my daughter had made for me to enjoy. I got to come home to roses and I could avoid the thorns or get a band aide if I pricked my finger on a thorn. I thought about the defendant in the trial who would have many years where he would never see a garden, let alone tend one. I thought about the families of the victims who would never have their son or daughter make them something beautiful, like my daughter made my garden for me. I thought about the homeless folks who didn’t have any where but a cold or hot sidewalk to lay their heads at night. I thought about the judges and detectives and cops and prosecutors and defense attorneys and courthouse guards who every day go back into the world hoping for justice and also, I hope, praying not to get so jaded or worn down that they give up caring. And after my journey in the City of Los Angeles, I am still asking to know a better answer to the question, “How Shall I Then Live?” 

My daughter’s garden for me

© Jane Tawel, June 2022

Maybe It’s For the Best

“Tree” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Maybe It’s For the Best

By Jane Tawel

June 1, 2022

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I haven’t lost my faith.

No, I’ve just lost my knowledge;

and maybe that’s the best, the very best place to be.

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I haven’t lost my faith,

I’ve forfeited the facts.

And maybe that’s the best, the very best way to see.

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I’ve given up my hope,

in something great, somewhere out there.

But now I’m seeking hope,

in little old you and me.

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I’ve given up on hoping,

that there’s a god who’s for me.

And now I only cling to hope,

that I plus Christ make Three.

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I don’t believe in love,

that’s never enough and never been free.

But with a seed of faith,

and just a finger-hold on hope,

I do believe that Love

abides forever with you and me.

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Sometimes if feels so sad and scary,

not knowing what I believe.

But maybe it’s all for the best,

to give up my knowing and striving.

Yes, maybe it’s for the best,

to give up my fears of living and dying.

Yes, it must be all for The Best,

to seek only the Unknown I Am,

to be in the moment unknowing, but known,

in which all that remains — 

just the faith, hope and love — 

is this moment, — this Now — 

This is where I find rest.

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© Jane Tawel, June, 2022