Sheep Gotta’ Seep An essay by Jane Tawel

Sheep Gotta’ Seep

By Jane Tawel

February 24, 2019

IMG_5331

 

In the past few years, more than ever before perhaps, I have been seeping. And conversely, more than ever,  I have been being seeped into. The short definition of to seep is (of a liquid) “to flow or leak slowly through porous material or small holes.” I have always been a seeper; or would I be a seepie?  My spirit and character are such that whatever is in the human environment near me or being made known to me, seeps into me as if I am porous. This is often and in some ways good; and often and in some ways bad.  If you are a seepie, you will know what I mean. If you are not a seepie or seeper, then you will meet people like me and find us emotional, passionate, questioning, empathetic, insecure, philosophical, needy, bossy, uncertain/certain, and someone to be taken in small doses. Think about the small amount of tea leaves that you need to seep in hot water to get the right brew and that’s about the amount of a seeper a non-seeping person wants. We seepers are not the thick- skinned ones of whom the world relies on. We are those with the angst of prophets. Seepers are those who mirror the clogged pores in a thousand unwashed faces. We are the ones with a thousand Quixotic holes; those who don’t just point out the windmills of the times, but actually feel the winds of the times as if we are the windmills.

 

And yet, frankly, lately, don’t we all feel a bit as if we have a lot more small punctures in our being for the outside fluidity of the world’s mud and tears; holes pierced in our survival armor that allow the world’s raging and rising emotions to seep in? Isn’t there at least for most of us, some days a sense that the tide of Time is rising to dangerous, climate-changed proportions; filling our solid mass with what feels like a daily shifting ebb and flow, shifting the very sand beneath our metaphoric feet and flooding our hearts and minds with the wreckage we can’t imagine being able to clean up after the hurricane-proportioned current events? This is not just true for some of us on national and community levels, but on the very  small planes of existence within our own small families.  More and more people that we know, in the news, but also in our homes and churches and synagogues feel this ebb and flow in tsunami wave proportions and can not continue riding those waves to the end of their appointed time.  The tragedy is that the very people who should have answers for despair or hopelessness, find themselves standing in the large waves of sorrow and mourning over lost lives and lost purposeful lives.

 

I have long claimed to believe in a God who seeps. Yes, what makes the God of my Judeo-Christian worldview so fascinating is that He is a completely other being Who yet allows the feelings of His /Her (for God is not gendered in our way of being gendered)—allows Her creatures to make Him feel. God allows us to put into His Holy and All-powerful Being, the small holes of our need; to puncture His omnipotence and pierce His omniscience; in order that His love may flow freely to us; providing all we need. The pierced hands, feet and side of The Christ create the perfect metaphor for what God allows us to do to Him.  The God of Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Leah, David, Mary and Jesus, begins the tale of our history in Genesis, with His Being “hovering over the earth” and from that moment of creation, God continues to flow into and amongst His Creation. But Adonai, The Lord, is nothing if not clear that the flow of God’s spirit can be as forceful as a hurricane or can dry up like a desert. We forget to our current and future peril that throughout recorded history, we human beings must also create in ourselves and allow the world’s needs to pierce the small porous holes of  love in our souls. We must remain porous in order to be a part of the God-flow.  When people harden their hearts, stiffen their necks, break the covenant formed by the bloody  flow of sacrifice; when we like sheep go astray, relying on our wooly thinking and herd mentalities to keep us safe and “on top of the heap”; then God can no longer seep into our lives. Our lives are now become as hard and impenetrable as the stone or golden idols we have chosen to worship. And our drying up has been so incrementally orchestrated by Evil and brokenness; that we  will often call our empty, hard shells of belief things like “hard work”; “getting ahead”; “supporting our programs”; “evangelism”;  “increasing our donor base”; “being non-judgmental”; or “taking care of number one”; “being patriotic”; “supporting authority”; “seeking peace”; and even sometimes calling it “grace”. The list is endless of the purloined armor of worldview choices that we surround ourselves with to protect us from the Seeping Flow of God’s good commands and loving desires for our very beings.  Our spirits are more armadillos than sheep.

 

Listening to Bob Dylan and attending different churches and a synagogue or two and a Kingdom Hall or two and a volunteer event or two and a school or two, and reading a newspaper or two and talking to young and old friends, and so forth and so on – well, I lately revisited some quotes that have had me thinking about the particulars of the time and place in which I find myself. 1. “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” (G. K. Chesterton) and 2. “Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?” (John Wesley) 3. “America was not founded on Christian principles.” (John Adams, founding father) 4. “We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” (Dave Platt, Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream) and of course I could quote the prophetic C.S. Lewis until the end of time but this one is apt: “ If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” (Lewis)

 

And what has all this to do with listening to Bob Dylan. Well, we like to listen to the prophets like Dylan that proclaim, “The Times They Are A’Changin’”, do we not?? We listen to them with a sense of self-satisfaction (“I was right”) or with false hope and dismissal (“So I just need to wait until God makes things better for me.”). And then we like to turn off those prophets and go about our lives as if truth did not matter to little old us.  We choose different truths to get through our days and nights, rather than trusting that God’s Truth is not only more relevant but more timely. I would be remiss if I did not share the lyrics of Dylan with you because although written in 1963 (imagine!) they are as prophetically prescient and currently critical as ever.

 

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Songwriters: Bob Dylan

The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Witmark Demo – 1963) lyrics © Audiam,

 

 

 

As Dylan says, if we are non-porous stones, we will sink. We must be as hole-y and wholly open, like sponges, to God’s truth and love; and we must seep ourselves in both truth and love in equal parts.  As we in our own times a’changin’ feel the waters of the world rising, we must learn to swim.  In that great archetypal story, sung today not just by Dylan but by Jews the world over; (and sadly almost unknown and unsung by many of those of us grafted onto the Tree of Jesse), God is always willing to save His people from the floods of their time. In the great history of God’s people, they approached  the Red Sea of the Enemy and although they were horribly out of practice and had grown hard skins and stiff necks in their relationship to God and others; God’s people had to be ready to “swim” or drown; knowing that the God who creates the seas, also controls the seas. And yet the God who created humans, chooses not to control them. In this way, He invites us to model His behavior with our own out- flowing love and care for our planet and for our fellow humans.

 

The point is, some of us look at the past, history, to find our meaning. We choose the past in order to count on our accomplishments or on ideas like being chosen or like believing our salvation comes from someone long ago in the past doing something that makes me safe and saved.  Some of us look to the future and decide none of this past stuff – even my own past bad or good stuff – matters. We decide that what matters is the future; having a ticket to some future world or “heaven”; trusting if we vote for or worship with the right folks that the future will be different; trusting that the earth doesn’t matter but only a place where we never have to deal with any of this bad, painful, uncertain, feeling stuff again.  And some of us look to the present only, trying to be “mindful”; taking care of what I need; caring for only those I love; trying to change the world in which I live; eating, drinking and being merry for tomorrow I die.  And all of this is so very, very partly right and so very, very astoundingly wrong.  Because we humans are blessed with free will and consciousness and we are cursed with the free will of God allowing us to be in control and yet we do not – can not– understand so many things, even lacking true understanding of our own human hearts. We are given the God-like qualities of being emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, conscientiously porous creatures while being cursed with the pain of sure and definite death, the burden of the solidity of sin, and the broken useless shards of the knowledge of good and evil. And perhaps worst of all, we are moment by moment aware of the linear, unchangeable, and  non-porous factor of the hard march of Time.

The thing about Time being linear is that none of us can disagree on that reality (at least not for long); and the non-porous nature of Time makes it very hard for us to understand or even believe in a god.  Because True God is not linear. Though we often want Him to be linear (God knows my future or God knew me before I began sort of stuff); these are merely poetic attitudes of praise to God, not a reality that God shares with us. While God does enter place and time on our planet, squeezing His vastness into our smallness; God does this for reasons and in ways we can not truly comprehend. Like the burning bush of Moses or the wrestler of Jacob, God becoming small does not make Him different than what He Is. It should however, make us different. The Judeo-Christian God is the exact opposite of Her creatures in terms of Time and Character.  And that is why we stumble in our understanding and commitment to God. Because God is completely un-porous in His Character and in His very Being while being completely Porous as Adonai, the Cradle and Arbitrator of All Place and All Time.  God allows Goodness and Love to seep from Him but never allows Evil, Hatred, Despair, or Death to seep into Himself.  God being outside any linear idea of Time, and outside any solid sense of place, has Her own view of the Universe to which someday, we may be privy as beings finally taken out of time and place.  Jesus came to show us how this could be done – exiting Time– and He was resurrected from His actual linear time and place to God’s timeless and place-less; death-less and evil-less; brokeness-less and sin-less, existence in Eternity.

About 2000 years before the Prophet Bob Dylan, there was another prophet who sang the songs of change to His people and proclaimed that in His life, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.  His name was Jesus and many believe him to be the Promised Messiah. Jesus said several things about the porousness of time in our lives with His Father.  He said, that “God loves the planet earth so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes and lives as He did, will have eternal life.”  Jesus also cautioned those who would believe, that we should remain alert and keep working through the days since the night of the end would come at a time no man can predict. The prophecy is not for future prediction but for present affirmation and commitment. Christ told us to focus in this very moment, on that which is eternal even in the linear confines of our own selves; since we do not know when that day will come in which the world as we know it will end forever and be remade as it was meant to be – perfect, timeless, and holy whole, being finally, completely porous for God’s light to shine through and yet more solid than we have ever been.

 

Jesus showed us a whole bunch of stuff and it is worth reading and re-reading his life story as committed to paper by some people who are now considered the authors of The New Testament.  But one thing Jesus did very well.  Jesus seeped. The most memorized verse in the Bible and also (and because it is) the shortest is about the Seeping Jesus.  In John 11:35 we find, “Jesus weep-ed”. Jesus did a whole lot of seeping. You will find him seeping in other people’s problems and sorrows, both those foisted on humans by the world and those resulting from their own choices. Jesus saw the seeping sores of lepers and seeping sores of hardened hearts and healed both. Jesus seeped in our prayers and needs with his ears by listening; he served us with his hands by the powerful flowing of his healing. He seeped in our journey with his feet by walking our dusty byways and by washing our own dirty feet, showing us the way we should serve others. The Lord who could see God in Heaven, saw mankind with human eyes; seeping by being One with The God of Hagar; the God who sees.

 

The Christ mirrored His God by providing miraculous flowing water to seep into the lives of the thirsty and undeserving. And Jesus could do this because He daily, obediently, joyfully, carefully, and wholly and hole-y whole- heartedly,  seeped in the life of His Father. He did this through conversation with God; obedience to God; and worship of God. Jesus was sent by God to seep in humanity in all its beauty and ugliness. He was also sent to remind us that we were created to seep in the knowledge, love, and covenantal relationship to the One True God.  Jesus spent his time on earth seeping in His Father– His Father’s commands, His Father’s sorrows, His Father’s joys and love, His Father’s grace, mercy and stern judgment; His Father’s commitment and His Father’s holy Otherness. And this why Jesus was able to proclaim that in Him, the times truly were a-changin’; because in Jesus was God’s Kingdom, alive and well on planet earth and available to all who choose to “seep” as The Christ did.  In Christ was Jubilee; a way of living that was completely free from greed, lies, hopelessness, loneliness, despair, one-upmanship, or uncertainty. In Christ was God-life seeped in and seeping out to all who would listen, trust and obey. In Christ was not only Times a-changin’, but hearts a-changin’, and even death a-changin’.

Jesus left us to follow The Father into Abundant Life, into life in a radically different kingdom, the Kingdom of God as created first for us in Eden. Jesus did not leave us behind to gamble on what He did yesterday, nor to bank on what we hope to gain from Him tomorrow, not even  to worry or count on what we have and are this very day.   He left us to see and live out a different Kingdom; to seep in a different Kingdom; to open ourselves to the Kingdom of God that is porous between our world and God’s world. That Kingdom is right beyond our reach, seeping from Heaven into Earth by God’s great love. To know God is to know that although it looks as if the waves will drown us sometimes, God can be the Ark of our salvation, the Walker on Water, the Savior from the floods. And though the ebb and flow of Time, while everything to us now, is nothing to God.  Eternity means that when my porous body returns to dust, my soul will rise impermeable.

 

The Christ teaches us to pray the Kingdom’s seepage into the whole world, “on earth as it is in heaven”. And this is the belief that the world is in fact a very porous place.  Jesus left us many metaphors – profound and deep keys to understanding. Christ often used the metaphor of the leaking through liquid of God’s not-yet Kingdom:  in the flowing of the water he use to wash dirty feet and to stave the thirsts of the multitudes; in the gushing of wine he gave to combat the raging thirst of longing for God; and in the sinless outpouring of his blood that seeped from His hands and feet and side as He died to show us how we might live.  But one of the most profound metaphors He left for us is in that of the hard stones of the Jerusalem Temple and the heavy, blinding curtain symbolizing our separation from God. What makes this metaphor profound is that Christ makes porous, something that was in fact impermeable. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ punched holes in the heavy curtain of separation between God’s dwelling place on earth and Her chosen people.

 

The heavy, unassailable veil between God’s World and our world was torn apart at the successful completion of mission of The Second Adam, The Christ. Jesus was the very imago Dei that we each were created to be. Messiah’s life, death and resurrection revealed the truth of our histories, the hope of our futures, and the true meaning of our present lives.  The impermeableness of relationship between God and human was overwhelmed by God’s begotten Messiah, Jesus. Jesus was the porous incarnation of and between God and humans and He has made the impenetrable veil separating God and us, porous again.

 

The Judeo-Christian worldview, especially as revealed in the Bible, is full of irony, paradox, incomprehensibility, poetry, metaphor, and failed attempts.  We would do well not to fight them or explain them away or cut and paste them to suit our current world’s needs.  But rather, we should allow the flood of truth, love, and light provided by a God who cares for us, to ooze and percolate through and within us. We should perhaps see ourselves, not like a human mega-coffee-shop chain, but rather more  like little varied, multi-colored, multi-flavored, fragile tea bags who must seep ourselves in the often Hot Water of a God who wants to take our bitter, useless little tea bag lives and turn them into something wonderful – perfectly seeped and nourishing, healthful, living overflowing cups of living watered lives. By this will the steam of our praise rise to fill the nostrils of A God who has seeped into our very souls.

 

This is our worship — remaining porous and malleable to the movement of Adonai in the world within and through us. For while the times may change and the waves at moments overwhelm us, we can know a Savior who commands the stormy waves to be still. By allowing the character of The Christ to seep into our souls, we can trust in that same Savior who allows our prayers even now to seep into His heart.  Jehovah promises that “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”(Isaiah 43:2)  The Messiah promises that “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14).

Today I ask myself: Am I willing to be thirsty? Am I willing to be porous? Am I willing to accept my need for God’s Hot Water to turn me into something new? Am I willing to humble myself to my need for The Christ’s living water? Am I willing to pass through the waters? Am I willing to be seeped into the character of Christ? Am I willing to seep out love and living water for others?  Am I porous enough for God?

Will I, today, be an acclimatized aging and armor-hardened armadillo or a ceaselessly serving and served-up saved seeping sheep?  Will the wooliness of my thinking and my thick fleece prevent me from trusting that God is really real and really Good?  Will I like Gideon, allow the Lord’s dewy hand, so porously overflowing with His salvation, to permeate my fleece and guide me in His ways of righteousness?  Will I become pierced with the hole-y-ness of a God and the holiness of The Christ?

 

I would love to have the mature writing ability of a Bob Dylan or the Psalmist David, or a Dickinson or Donne.  But even childish writers like I are committed to casting our small little pebbles into the flow of Ideas.  I love stories ostensibly written for children but which have eternal teaching moments for all ages.  There are also just some wonderfully silly  and plain fun children’s books, not just by the famed Dr. Seuss, but others. I am often so filled with the seriousness of my own time that I forget to be open and porous to the lightness and joy and humor of being alive. One children’s book that came to mind while writing this was one my own kids liked. It had a wonderful bunch of illustrations by Margot Apple and was written by Nancy Shaw. The book is titled Sheep in a Jeep. It’s a silly one because sheep are silly.  We, God’s sheep are rather silly when all is said and done.  But somehow, still, He chooses to love us. Here is my re-write (I wouldn’t dream of trying to draw any thing until I reach heaven) of “Sheep in a Jeep”

 

 

Sheep in a Heap (of Trouble)

By Jane Tawel

February 24, 2019

Beep! Beep!

Sheep in a heap,

On The Way that’s very steep.

If the sheep don’t fall asleep,

God’s True Way will in them seep.

 

Uh! Oh!  The sheep won’t go.

But the Shepherd loves His own sheep so.

God wants us humbled,

But we sheep still grumble.

Uh! Oh! Sheep in a heap of trouble!

Headed again for hell’s shiny rubble.

God sends a Savior in a flash.

Christ’s sinless blood on the cross is splashed,

To Raise the sheep from eternal ash.

 

 

Caught in Time’s briars,

We sheep, helplessly mired,

Ignore all  the signs

That point to the Divine.

 

Sheep always yelp,

God always helps.

Oh, dear, sheep still fear

But still refuse to let God steer.

Sheep in a heap.

 Sheep weep.

Oh, the Shepherd’s love—deep, deep,

That He would choose the sheep to keep.

 

Postscript: If you have kindly read this far, I highly recommend you read the prophets – those found in the Tanakh of the Hebrews, those found in the Gospels of the Gentiles, and even those written on the subway walls. As Mr. Dooley said about the “news”, and Mr. Niebuhr said about the “olds”, we who would look to truth in love should seek to be “comforted in our afflictions but to afflict those who would be merely comfortable”.  The prophets of all ages and times have tried to do this through word and action, song and poetry; and with anger, sorrow, angst, humility and love.  Prophets and poets allow themselves to be porous, so that perhaps others won’t be so afraid to do likewise.  Allow yourself to be seeped in the words that, as the dictionary defines a true prophet, “is an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God”.  You may emerge full of holes but some of us think it is the only way to be holy and whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

One Small Pebble – A poem

One Small Pebble

By Jane Tawel

February 17, 2019

DGt6DmoWsAIaOep

 

 

From Dorothy Day: “What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do.… We can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend.”

 

One Small Pebble

By Jane Tawel

Today I threw a pebble in the pond

The pond I’ve been assigned to;

I’d rather walk as Jesus walked,

Than grow moss upon a cold pew.

 

The first pebble that I threw

Was singing songs beside some Jews.

I sat in synagogue with them

And praised the God of Bethlehem.

I looked at faces, like my Lord’s

And ghostly hordes from holocausts,

And felt quite humbled by my tossed,

Small pebble of such little cost.

 

The second pebble that I threw

Was picking up the trash from you.

I didn’t use my gloves or sack

But just my hands to show the lack

Of love we feel for this mocked world.

The planet is My Father’s Pearl,

He treasures it as would a girl.

God loves the earth, the sky and sea

And that is why He planted me.

And by my awkward kneeling down

And worship, as I clean the ground,

And suffer for those able rebels,

I hope that others might throw pebbles;

By picking trash I missed today,

And following Jesus in His Way.

 

 

Another thing I had to do

Was cast some cash to the small crew,

That sleeps outside in my town’s park,

And oft reminds me of the stark,

Injustice that our world has spawned,

Increasing darkly since the Dawn

When Eden was first given us–

As something Good that God could trust

To us, His loved Imago Dei.

God fashioned us from common clay,

And gave us powers to rule the earth,

But ever since our sin was birthed,

We look upon this life as right

And choose not nourishment but fight.

 

And that reminded me that I

Should pray for enemies that lie

And tell the world they are in power

And do not fear the coming hour

When all the nations’ high built towers,

Will before Justice kneel and cower.

 

Ah, do we not regard the One,

Who claimed to be God’s only Son

And told us if we did not cry,

“Hosanna to the God on high”;

that all our faith would be just talk,

and God could get the praise from rocks!

 

It is not wealth nor earthly might

That can restore the world, once bright;

No, only we can make things right,

By seeking Justice, Goodness, Light.

Just one small act, but not one random,

But one that’s tethered to the Ransom

Of God, that Fisher of our shoals,

Who loves each lost and broken soul.

 

Oh God, who hurled out our small Mass,

May Thou, now seen through smoggy glass,

One day restore each stream and tree–

And let Your work begin in me.

 

So I pitch puny pebbles few

And hope that maybe when I do,

Against the tide of moral drought,

Those pebbles small will circle out

And like the pebble David hurled,

Will slay the Evils of this World.

I do not wear protective gloves,

Because there is no fear in Love.

And just because I claim each time

That some such problem is not mine;

I must confess that Good not done

Is just as bad as sins that are.

Because I’m guilty of this mess

And find the only way to bless,

The name of Yahweh is to walk

The walk and not to merely talk

About the change I wish to see.

The changes must begin with me.

 

If only all we foolish rebels,

Will keep on throwing our small pebbles,

Then ripples will in time expand,

To heal our hearts, and heal our land.

“A tiny human pebble”, you say,

“Will never Evil’s Giants slay”.

And yet, it was a pebble trivial,

That made small David, king of Israel.

And there was just a tomb’s small stone,

Preventing Jesus from His throne.

And when Christ rolled that stone away,

He rose from Death’s final decay.

 

We too can see the World’s perfection

By joining Christ in resurrection.

But first we must get dirty hands;

Tear down our towers built on sand.

We need to wash each other’s feet

And watch converging circles meet;

In streams of Love, my Rock, I fling

to truly imitate my King.

My circle that conjoins with yours

Can truly change the whole wide world.

Because by now it’s widely known

That Jesus is the Cornerstone.

He chose to heal and not throw stones,

And sent us out to be atoned.

And by His love He does persuade us,

to heal the world that He has made us.

And that’s best done avoiding trouble,

By merely picking up the rubble

And humbly, small-ly getting rid of,

Any thing that is not True Love.

For Truth and Love survive all clocks.

 

And so I fill my life with rocks,

To throw in God’s provided pools,

And join the cast of many fools,

Who think small actions can change Spheres;

As Christ’s return draws ever near.

For only if our nets we cast,

In Pools of Love, will this Life last.

 

The God-man who upon the cross,

Began new life with one small toss,

Will one day call us to His docket;

And count what’s hoarded in our pockets.

The Christ hurled all His power aside

And gave His life for His soiled Bride.

If I want to by God be known,

Then I must rid my heart of stones,

And empty out my life and heart

By throwing pebbles for my part;

And whether that seems worldly smart,

By foolish love of Earth I’ll chart

My course –as just one tiny stone–

Tossing it all before God’s throne.

 

God’s Kingdom Come

His Will be Done,

On this Blue Stone

As in His  Home.

 

And while the preachers would coerce;

I thrust my hands inside my purse,

And hope by serving from my case,

The pebbles, with a joyful face;

I’ll show the Love, that for someone,

Will show the Love of God’s own Son.

Because this planet given to us,

Has now become so treasonous;

That by our fallen-ness and sin,

We will have brought World’s bitter end;

But only then God will be able,

To bring His Kingdom Ever Stable.

And then the King will on His throne,

Reward the ripples of small stones.

For one day all the world will tremble

Before The Christ, God’s One Small Pebble.

As Dorothy Day much more eloquently does in her writing, my hope and prayer, if you have chosen to read this far, is that you will discover that you have been given much and that your pockets are filled with the Good pebbles that God has given you. I hope you will begin to see as I am beginning to see that as The Christ said, “it is only by throwing out one’s life, that one truly gains Life.” I hope that what will be revealed are the small pebbles that the Beatitudes call the blessings of the poor in spirit; and that we will have courage to throw the pebbles out; tossing them one by one in the pools of our own particular lives, and in that way, change the world, one ripple of love at a time. The Ecclesiast in wisdom, advises to “throw your bread upon the waters; for you will find it after many days.” I hope if you are reading this and lack any good thing, that you will find the ripples of Goodness, Truth, and the Love of God cast upon the waters that are rippling toward you where you live today. If you have been given much, as I have, and realize that because of that, one day much will be required of us; I hope you might find joy in picking up someone else’s trash today, or give some of your money to make life a little simpler for someone else. Ultimately, as Ms. Day said,  and as God says in His Word, even better –there is absolutely nothing worth doing but loving.

“Now these three things only will remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is Love” (Paul of Tarsus, a lover and servant of Adonai, The One True God)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verses 2-4 of A Mother’s Poems

***Verse 1 of these poems was published separately on February 10 under the title: “This Small Heartbeat”. These poems are for my thriving adult children.

 

A Mother’s Poems

By Jane Tawel

 

Verse 2- A Haiku

by Jane Tawel

February 11, 2019

 

Metaphors slide skew

When I try to write of you.

Only love will do.

 

 

Verse 3 – an Ode

 

Beyond and Above Aphrodite

by Jane Tawel

February 12, 2019

 

Now I, the geek,

Will mimic the Greek.

But Odes to love of children

Are false gilden, not real gold.

Or so I’m told.

 

I strive like Psyche

To see you, hidden from me.

And in the process, burn you

Then angst ‘bout why you flew.

 

Wondering why

And wandering nigh’

I hold coins in my mouth

To keep the devils out.

Yet before long,

My righteous strength is gone;

Opening forbidden boxes that you might see

A mother’s lasting love in me.

 

 

Ah, Aphrodite’s  love of child can not compare

To the cupidity of my every prayer

That you, my dear divines,

My treasures, as long as sun does shine,

Will find more Love, than all I’d give

And find True Love within you lives.

 

 

Verse 4

This is a poem I wrote several years ago that I thought I’d end these with for Verse 4.

Whoa

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.

Forever.

 

 

This Small Heartbeat – Poem

A Mother’s Memories

Verse 1

To my beloved children

By Jane Tawel

February 10, 2019

 

This small heart beat of mine,

Pounding down aisles

Of memories,

Reconstructing the blue prints

 of your now built temples,

As they once stood trembly

Scaffold-ed only by my love.

 

Ah! The sight of your accomplished domes and arches

Thrills me in my voyeuristic tourism.

And yet, to me

You will always be

That childish little chamber

In the house of my heart.

 

 

 

Do We Really?

Do We Really?

By Jane Tawel

February 3, 2019

man-2814937__340

 

All the assumptions we make.  And we just take it all for granted that because we call ourselves something, label ourselves something, that these things are true.  And we like them to be true because that is what gives us personal meaning and usually a paycheck or two.  One of my favorite sayings of the current younger generation is when someone says something, and they sing-song with a bit of Socratic sass: “But is it? Is it really?”  “Was he?  Was he really?”  “But did you?  Did you really?”  With the emphasis on really, this seemingly silly question has all the power of Pilate’s “What is truth?”  I imagine if Pilate and Jesus were talking today, as they did in John 18, their conversation would go something more like this.

 

Jesus :“I have come into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth, hears my voice.”

Pilate: “But do they?  Do they really?”

 

Here are some assumptions I hear people making, and being the stickler for the needed role of an antagonist in any good story, I will present how one might wonder about the “truth”  of things people base their lives, livelihood, and even salvation on.  This of course is a partial list of just my own particular meditations today.   We can add on to these and ponder them for eternity; or rather until God’s Kingdom comes. Then the fat angel sings and it’s game over.

People say a lot of stuff about what “Christians” believe.  Here is some of my personal “Socratic” dialect about some ideas that I have been struggling with lately. As is my bent, I will open my stream-of-conscious rather bent and banged up thinking here.  I will use the second person “you” as a more colloquial version of the more proper third person “one”, meaning of course this is at heart, a first person reflection in the final analysis.

  1. We should lead like Jesus. Jesus was a good leader. But Jesus proclaims himself not a leader at all but a servant and follower. In fact, Jesus flees the leadership role that could make Him a king of nations.  Jesus flatly states that he can do nothing in His own power but only what His Father, Jehovah, does through him.  To put the final “nail in this coffin”, It is very clear that when we are judged, if we have been a leader, we will have gotten our reward while on earth.  Only those who serve as and with the least of the least will be chosen to lead with The Christ. We may all be created as equal, but we do not go through life as equals which brings us to false idea #2.
  2. All human life is sacred. There is, I am afraid, nothing at all in the Bible that implies this. The metaphor found in Psalm 139 is merely that, a personal poetic reflection on the part of the servant of God and chosen Jewish king, David. This current Western idea that each human life is special and sacred is purely a religion born out of Humanism and wealth and the warping of “Christian” thought. This humanistic, individualistic religion that we erroneously call worship of God is nothing more than worship of self, and is not a Judeo-Christian worldview at all. I could go on and on with proofs from God’s Word about this but read it for yourself from beginning to end and you will wonder how we got to believe that each human is sacred.   To give you only one indication, read the story of God and Sodom and Gomorrah and of Abraham’s plea for God to save just ten people worth saving. This idea that a human life is sacred is blasphemy in fact. There is none sacred but God, the Bible says.  We can choose covenant with God and be chosen in that way and only in that way to have a life that is more than dust.  But it is by our keeping covenant with God and living as The Son of God lived, that we become holy, sacred, eternal soul. I am afraid it is an incredibly important thing to think through in this day and age of the rather (sometimes literally) “Micky Mouse” -Americanized- Christianity-ese. It is  critically important because people use this idea of all life as sacred to be “pro-life” about the abortion of unborn fetuses, but not “pro-life” about the born lives of illegal immigrants or not pro-life about people who do not vote or worship as they do.  People support this idea of each human as sacred, in the ridiculous worldview that you can “ask Jesus to be your  Savior” and then he is because “God loves you no matter what”.  There are so many “Christian” songs that flat out say this over and over and it makes me tremble because if you read the actual tome that we call God’s Inspired Word”.  You will realize that:
  3. God does not love you no matter what you do. There is absolutely no indication in God’s Word that this is true.  Let me just give you one example: Moses. Yeah, that star among God-followers.  God was going to kill Moses and then – well, read the story for yourself of  Moses’ wife, that wonderful pagan woman called Zipporah.  Which brings me to this.
  4. God is not my friend. God is not that friend Who comes whenever I call Him to help my team win the game.  God is God.  Again, read God’s Word.  Actually read it; don’t show up to have the experts tell you on Sunday how much they love you because Jesus  loves you and died for you.  He didn’t. Jesus, a Jew, died for a Holy God, his Father, Adonai.  Jesus completed the whole cycle of being human in perfect covenant with a Holy God. Jesus died to show us that we could be reborn through our own deaths (both literal and figurative, as He did)  if we lived in covenant with Yahweh, as Jesus did.  Jesus is very, very clear that He did not come to throw out the Bible, what we blithely call to our peril, the “Old” Testament, but to fulfill and live it as it was meant. Not as the religious leaders had interpreted it but as The Christ lived it. We are meant to live it too. But it is not this wide road that is easy to stroll down because your own particular life is so sacred. Nope.  It is a narrow road that you choose, but as Robert Frost said, that choice will “make all the difference”.  I should be different because God loves me enough to make me different enough to be with Him. Which bring us to #5.
  5. God loves me. Well, yes and no.  God loves me but not because I’m me.  The Bible tells us that God loves “the World”. God made the world perfect and He made humans perfect. And then we messed  ourselves up and messed up the world and continue to do both of those things.  Read the bits in the Bible about how God “chastises and disciplines those He loves” and then decide if you want A Holy God to love you.  Because frankly most of us live like animals.  This is where those who don’t believe in God have it partially right.  We are like animals and we can choose to live like animals if we want; “eating, drinking, and being merry” for tomorrow we die. And that’s it.  Scripture implies that if we live long enough, we get three choices in this world: 1. To live for self and get as much as I can for me and my family, just like the doggie families, and ape families do. When my days are over enjoying this wonderful life, I will either lay down with gratitude or regrets or a mix of both, and then return to dust and cease to exist. The place of buried animal bodies, or the ground from which no man returns, is what the Bible calls Gehenna.  2. If on the other hand, you lead your life and choose to be cruel, wicked, to abuse God’s name, to abuse power, to abuse others, to enjoy evil in word and deed,  and perhaps even if you just commit those things we call the sins of omission, ie not doing the things you were meant to do for Good; then God is pretty clear you will be punished even after you think you escape judgement through death.  Those people will go to hell, complete with the demonic gods they have enjoyed while alive on earth.  3. You can spend your life living on the planet as best you can in relationship to a God we can no longer see. We can no longer see God as Adam and Eve could, because we have chosen sin instead. But God provides a way “back to The Garden” so to speak; and that is by following the rules, worshiping only Jehovah, and loving others as we love our own selves. This is the option we have to live in a covenant with  The One True God, Yahweh.  These people live to glorify the name of Jehovah, live for the least of the least in this world, study Truth, learn how to love and trust and hope again after The Fall, and resist the temptations that The Christ did: those temptations of power, greed, and self-worship.  These people will rise from death to a new earth and to even something  new and unknown – a “Heaven”, the place where at last we can be in the same space as God is and not die. These people will see God and live.
  6. Everyone wants to go to heaven. No, they don’t. You  may have been taught that you will go to hell if you don’t listen to Christians. Well, ironically the only people Jesus, the founder of the little Christs sect, says will go to hell, are the leaders of the religion he practiced.  Matthew 23:15:  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” This is sobering to say the least for any of us who have taught any thing about Jesus.  And while, I have always loved the practices and people of today’s churches,  the incremental off -course steering that The Church has done for the past centuries, has us so far off course as to frighten me. Which brings us to something we might call semantics in #7, but semantics are crucial to explore when you are thinking about Jesus who is called The Word.
  7. Jesus loves his church. He doesn’t.  He couldn’t because he never used the word and there was no such idea as we now know “the church” in any of Christ’s teachings. In fact, in what we call the “New” Testament, another scary thing we’ve come to believe, there is not a single time the word “church” is used.  Church is a misinterpretation of several Greek words.  Again, you can read and google this for yourself.  There is, of course, much proof that to follow God, we must live in communities, caring for each other and worshiping together.  There is much proof that we are to live as followers of Christ with others who want to follow Him, like his disciples did. But the point is, we have turned the religion of Christ (and by extension of His early followers, including the people who wrote the Gospels and Paul) into something they would neither recognize nor I would venture to boldly say, would they approve of.  So let’s just say this for now.  Jesus was a Jew. Jesus believed that He was the Messiah of The Chosen People who were the Jews, the Hebrews.  Jesus believed that it was through the Jewish Scriptures  and lives of the Hebrew covenant keepers that God, The Father is best revealed.  He also believed though that the Jews had abused their status and that “there would come a day when God will be worshiped neither on the Jewish Mount nor in the chosen confined temples of any other peoples, but by all peoples in “spirit and in truth”.  Then He claimed that the day had  in fact arrived with His way – The Way – of worship of God. Jesus did not come at all to form a new “organized religion” and we have programmed and capitalized on Jesus’ beliefs out of all recognition and wisdom. The main word that Jesus used that should make all the difference in our understanding of who He was / is was not “church”, congregation or synagogue.  The word Jesus used was “Kingdom”.  And He did not preach His own earthly kingdom, but The Kingdom of Yahweh.  Which brings us back to the “really”, “is it really” of #1, in #8.
  8. The Gospel / Good News is that Jesus is the only way to heaven. No, He isn’t.  Jesus is the only way to The Father.  And Jesus came to bring The Kingdom of The Father back to our understanding and to make available the germination in us  of how The Father’s Kingdom can be restored to our world / planet/ Eden. What Jesus taught is that: “I am The Way (to God), The Truth (about God), and the Life (with God). No one comes to Jehovah except by means of my way.”  In fact, this is why early followers of Jesus who were Jews or converted Jews would never have called their religion “Christianity” because it wasn’t.  It was Judaism.  They called what they believed what Jesus called what He believed: The Way.  If you don’t want to truly know a Holy God and become holy, you won’t go to “hell” (necessarily).  You will merely have enjoyed a good or an awful life depending on your status, personality, and circumstances and you will return to the dust of this planet like all animals and plants will.  Nothing wrong with that choice.  If however, you think that you want to live forever in the presence of God as we were intended to do in Eden when humans were created in the image of Divinity, then it is best to try to figure out how we are really meant to live now.

Because claiming to be something, doesn’t make it so.  I would love to claim that I am a gorgeous twenty-three -year -old with a million dollars in the bank and five houses in various parts of the world and a private plane and that every one who meets me loves me and that  I could rule the country, maybe even the world in the way it should be run, and  that I get do-overs on every minute I’ve messed up and that God loves me no matter what.  And you would have to ask me with all the Socratic sass you could muster, “ But–Are you? Are you really?”

If you think Jesus did all the work for you, or that because you were born into some cultural religion or other, or that just because you are alive, that those facts– which the Bible says, fall randomly like rain, on the good and the evil — that those facts make you something you want to be; and that God loves you no matter what; well then, you may want to look around at what we are doing to God’s world, to God’s other children, to  our own bodies and souls, to God’s planet, and what we do in blasphemy of God’s Holy Name, and you may want to humble yourself; and ask yourself when you think you have it all figured out:

Do you? Do you really?

 

The Miracle of Eating Toast

The Miracle of Eating Toast

By Jane Tawel

January 15, 2019

So when you pray, pray like this:

‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name always be kept holy.
May your kingdom come
and what you want be done,
here on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us the food we need for each day.
 Forgive us for our sins,
just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us.
 And do not cause us to be tempted,
but save us from the Evil One.’ [The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.] (Jesus Messiah– as written down by His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13, NCV)

The older I get the more I realize that I don’t need prayer to get through any normal given day. But I do need miracles. I also realize that the only reason I am still here, walking and talking my way through this place and time is because of a lifetime of miracles, wrought each day by the miraculous creation Jehovah set in motion at the planet’s beginning; at humans’ beginning in Eden; and by His grace and sovereignty for each of our lives, and every day ever since The Beginning, all the way up to my own small life and the small lives of my beloved children.

Believing in miracles is simply the radical point of view, that my needs are being met. If death is the curse, then each small factor of existence is being met by the miracle of continued life. We easily talk about the miracle of a baby’s birth and then quickly forget all about a human’s miraculous-ness every day thereafter. But if I take a moment to meditate on the very air I breathe, the working legs that support me, the brain that still analyzes what it sees (even if sometimes  hazily or often incorrectly); if I take time to contemplate the miracle of those people who stop to say “hello” or who call to say “I love you, Mom”; or if I actually taste the food I eat or enjoy the water I lap greedily, or become astounded at the multitude of colors and shapes of cacti or lizards – if I for one little minute choose to regard all of these things as the miraculous provision they are—well then, “normal” daily life becomes something profoundly amazing and my mere human existence, an heroic adventure. If I see God’s daily set -in -motion planet as a place of miracles, then I become a miracle-worker.

Jesus, who healed paraplegics, raised dead people, and created matter, tells those who see the world as He does and who choose to follow, faulted and fearful, in His Way, that they will “do greater things than I have done” (John 14:12). Imagine if even one or two humans began to believe that and then live that.

We like to tell the stories about Jesus manipulating common matter by turning the water into abundant flowing -over wine; by his feeding thousands with small supplies of fish and bread; or his instructions on fishing that netted his disciples so many fish their nets burst; and so forth and so on. These miracles of Mind over Matter remain part of a story about the Man-God, trapped between pages of a good book of stories about Him. But if we see Jesus as the new Prototype of Humanity, the Second “Adam”, then we see that The Christ, after years of seeking first The Creator’s Kingdom on earth, Jesus found that these miracles were in fact simple tasks. He laughingly says to the amazed eyes of those who watch Him do His magic tricks, “which is easier to say:  to the lame, get up and walk, or to say your sins are forgiven?”. (Lk. 5:23) And though He hadn’t a penny to his name nor a “place to lay his head at night”, Jesus had no worries, no stress, no selfishness, and no greed. He walked and talked through His life as if God were available, relatable and in charge of it all. In terms of daily sustenance, He said with a wink and chuckle, “Don’t you know, I have food the Father feeds me that you know nothing about?”(Jn. 4:32)  The Jewish Messiah told His disciples – and us – that “If The Father cares for the little birds enough to feed them, don’t you think He cares enough to feed you?”(Mt. 6:26,27) In effect He was asking, “Don’t you remember? Have you stopped believing? Have you so little faith? Do you remember God’s provision of the trees in The Garden? Do you worship Him for saving your ancestors by the simple creation of manna in the wilderness? Did your priests and kings not have in their need the miracle of the Showbread in the Temple? Was not Abraham given the lamb for the sacrifice? And did Yahweh not see that the table was set for you at your own home yesterday? Don’t you know that though you find the water, scarce and precious, that God provides it? And that God can make it spring from a rock if He so chooses?  Jesus’ mantra, so to speak was, “Why do you worry about tomorrow, what you will eat or drink? Doesn’t today have enough worries for you that you want to borrow more against tomorrow?”(Matt. 6:34)  Of course what He was needling and ribbing us about is that if we say we believe in a Benevolent God who gave us the whole good earth to tend and care for and “rule over” and “supervise”, then our worries are of a world not of God and are self-manufactured. They are Sin-manufactured.

And this is because we don’t see our needs being met as miracles but rather as things that we are owed. We have come, tragically, to see our wonderful lives as a bottom line, to be added to by more work, more money, more people, more stuff, more, more, more. We don’t see all of life as not a bottom line, but a complete circle. And in breaking that complete circle with God, we have also stopped thinking about what death means, or could mean. We stop following the commandments of how to live on the earth as we were intended. And we allow our neighbors, those we are meant to treat as God treats us,  to in fact have to wait and beg for true miracles as they starve or become diseased for lack clean water or live on the streets like modern day Lazaruses in view of rich folks’ homes. Because we are unwilling to work The Christ’s common miracles for our neighbors.

The perfect circle as a concept is a miracle in itself. So too, the circle that is this planet; the circles contained in our solar system; the circles that are our cells; the circles that are our families and communities.  Each day of my life can be seen as one more chance to start a new perfect circle in God’s Kingdom on Earth. The Christ encourages me each morning, “Be perfect just as Your Heavenly Father is perfect”. (Mat. 5:48). The circle of life represents wholeness or the Hebrew idea of Shalom. But most days I choose to live life as another long string of dots marching forward toward the next day’s line – disjoint, disconnected, un-whole and unwholesome. We can see each day as a line, moving us toward death as on a treadmill, an assembly line of disconnected lives muddling throughout the planet together, ever pressing forward toward just another day of “getting ahead”, passing the other guy in the race, looking forward toward the end of the unseen line’s end and never stopping to look inward. For at the middle of the circle of all of our days’ small dots, therein lies the truly miraculous — our souls.

I wake up – hallelujah! And I begin again! Hurrah! with just one little dot of existence – my Life! That dot becomes two dots as I open my eyes, and three dots as I rise or perhaps, someone must help me rise into my wheelchair or out of my crib.  And then the truly, truly miraculous happens! Oh Miracle! The most amazing dot of all is added to my breathing, sensate self – I drink and eat and the earth provides sustenance for my next moment. Perhaps I eat a piece of toast or a bit of cereal. Perhaps I can only be fed from a tube a nourishment provided by a nurse or loyal mate or a mother. But I eat my “daily bread”, that which A Creator has provided for my life.  And the circle of my day, my whole life really, re-begins — because this moment will be all I can know for certain. This moment begins to take shape, as the next dot needed for my life is provided. That next moment’s dot may be the great gift of running water from a tap or it may be a bottle of water a person gave me while I beg on the street because I am homeless. That dot may be a well in my village that I recognize as miraculous while I wait in line in order to fill my container. That dot may be a drive to work or a walk to the bus stop or the great gift of dishes left over in the sink to clean this morning or it may be another application to fill out with hands that know how to write and a pen filled with ink.  The next dot might be a co-worker’s complaining needs that I can meet, a spouse’s depression that I can hold in my heart, a child’s tummy ache that I can soothe, or a stranger’s rude outburst at the grocery that I can hear.  And I can see each opportunity as yet another indication that all I have – my eyes, ears, hands, mouth, breaths, family – all are miracles. Because life itself is miracle. When Jesus tells Nicodemus, “you must be born again”; is He not saying, look at the miracle of your life which The Creator has provided? Jesus says in truth, let your inner most being,  your soul be re-born today into a new relationship with the Creator of All.

The dots of another day are my existence in the world, guaranteed only for that moment, and they provide two different choices for me. I can let God recreate in me and use each of my life’s dots to create a circle – a renewed wholeness in the image of Him; or I can see those dots as my right , my due, as a little god, and as we all do since The Fall, I can let life’s dots go all pear-shaped. Again. Because frankly, most days are lived without my intentional point of view that each moment is a miracle awaiting my embrace of it. And so I do not take control and then trust that control to The Control of a loving Providence, but rather I speed through my life feeling out of control.

To see life as miracle takes time and love. Miracles must be nurtured. Miracles take an attitude of constant prayer, and as Jesus taught us, prayer must start not with finding my “brand”, but  with hallowing the name of God. And then prayer must move to a view of the world as Us, not me.  Give Us today…. But my repentance must accept that I rarely stop and breathe out and in and look around me and look in someone’s eyes and listen to the miracle of their speech or listen for the movement of God’s spirit in the world around me.  I worry and analyze and talk and talk and work harder and get more and think about tomorrow’s agenda and take notes on things and make lists for stuff and shop for stuff and get irritated at that person and worry about that person and feel anger for those people and my hip hurts when it’s hot and my knee hurts when it’s cold and nights are long and days so very much shorter than when I was young and it’s all so much that I wonder how I will ever get it all done and then it’s time to crash into my lumpy bed and fall asleep if I can until tomorrow starts but I worry about what I have forgotten I have to do tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow….  And life becomes a drudgery. And Heaven is merely a perhaps someday reality if I prayed the right magical prayer which I am saving up for the future. Heaven is rarely among us now, and not, as The Christ proclaimed, among us every day if we choose to live as He did. And I live as if I have absolutely no idea about the “powers and principalities” of Good  — the miraculous –that are all around me and can take residence inside me. Of course, the powers of Evil are quite happy to sneak in to the gaps I leave open in the circle of my life. And I shall simply accept those evil powers as another normal day and pray that God does His usual normal, non-miraculous stuff until I need a “real” miracle

In the recorded words of the prophet Isaiah, God tells us that “if you are willing and obedient, you will eat of the good things of the land” (Is. 1:19) The very beginning of humanity began with God giving humans good food to eat (Genesis 1:29). God provides all the good we need to live, but it is our choice of whether we see this as miracle or our right. And if we see it as our right, then God will allow us to shove Him aside and let us eat of the food which does not nourish the soul. Which brings us full circle back to the miracles Jesus, the Son of God, performed. Ultimately Jesus had to come right out and tell us that the miracles of God-given food were nothing compared to the miracle of our souls, nourished by living water, and Christ’s  own body and blood as food. And if we want to live as The Christ did and live forever as The Christ is living forever with The Father, we must see each morsel of our lives as we do that first miracle of birth. We must daily be reborn, forming a life meant for eternity. A life that as it was with The Christ, will be resurrected from Death. A Miracle.

Wendell Berry writes in an essay in Sex, Economy, Community, Freedom, and Community: “The miraculous is not extraordinary, but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air, and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances, will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine – which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes.”

In the past year, I have come to often meditate on this re-trending idea that is contained in the word, “mindfulness”. Many people claim to have coined this idea and it is often connected to Buddhist scholars of the 20th Century in connection to meditation techniques.  But it is in fact, the original mindset of The Chosen People of God dating back as far as we can read about them, to Abraham, David, Ezekiel, – even to Adam and Eve.  In fact, one could argue that it was Adam and Eve’s mindfulness that made them so happy and perfect at The Beginning and their chosen and sudden lack of “mindfulness” that led to their downfall. Eating from the Tree of Good and Evil, could be seen as Adam and Eve not trusting God for just that moment, being mindful of what they were enjoying eating, being thankful for the air, the puppies, the unicorns, and the cold fresh spring water. It can be seen as the pride of thinking ahead for themselves and only themselves, and not trusting  God for providing the best food – the best of everything — for them tomorrow.  It is because Adam and Eve stopped believing that Life was miracle, not personal accomplishment, that they and we ended up in this rat race. Because people were created to be at their very best by trusting in the moment and enjoying what that moment provides; giving thanks to their Creator for that moment’s joyful provision. But when we stopped doing that and wanted more, more, more, more and ate from the Tree of Not Just Goodness but Possible Evil in Case Evil would Get Me More than Good Would – when we stopped trusting that our needs would be met; then we were cursed with a need to achieve-no-matter-what; we were cursed to work through the sweat and stress of our hard labor; the pain of our labor in birthing our kind; the weeds in our wheat; the bugs in our soup; the fear of the other people who might have or get more than me; and the hatred of those we love most because we need more from them than that moment’s companionship in the journey. And so those moments of inspiration and creativity rather than being common place miracles, become rare and mere glimpses of what our lives can be like, and we hope and pray, will be like when The Kingdom is come forever. Meanwhile, because we don’t worship God for the miracle of our existence, we ironically lose the very powers we were meant to use wisely for good on this earth. We  continue to abuse and destroy the miracles of our planet and the miracle of the human soul. And in gaining the world by our own efforts, and being mindful only of self and our desires, not the miracle of this moment, we lose the miracle of the world God freely gave us.

And so we no longer know how to pray. Because prayer is being mindful of my need for A Provider. Prayer is believing that earth is meant to be like Heaven. Because for Jesus, it was. That is why He could teach us to pray, “Thy will be done on planet earth, as it is every where in all the other universes and wherever You are truly present – The Heavens.”

We no longer truly thank God for the miracles of the mundane.  Bless this food to our bodies, we beg, but we do not truly find flight in the gratitude of a body that can miraculously work or profoundly surprisingly walk. We do not thank God on bended knee that in His righteousness and holiness, He has seen fit to protect us from evil yet again, even the evil of disease or disaster.  We do not thank Him for the minutiae of the miraculous– the salt in our shakers or oil in our pan or light at the end of a wick or switch. We paste on the words of “For Thine is the power and glory forever” as we would paste on a return label on a bill we are paying.

This morning I heard on my little I-pod the song “I Can Only Imagine” by the amazing creators known as “Mercy Me” and it just struck me, “we have this song all wrong”.  Well, at least I have this song all wrong. With apologies to the song writers, who probably have the song all right in their own hearts and minds –when we sing about being only able to imagine what it will be like when we see Jesus and are ushered into the presence of The Father and “walk by His side”, then we are missing the whole point of Jesus and of our very existence as believers and eikons.  We are not to imagine what Kingdom Life will be like, but are meant to imagine – and the word “imagine” here could also be translated as “have faith” – that Life Here and Now is like that. God’s Chosen People are meant to choose to experience our lives and our neighbors’ lives and the whole planet as the miraculous creation of a Kingdom on earth as it is in The Heavens. We are meant to live as if God’s perfect Creation of our world is available and that it truly has always been, is now and will be again. We are meant to see that Jesus did not have to imagine what it would be like when He was with The Father in Heaven, because He lived as a human in complete relationship, complete wholeness with The Father while on earth. Jesus said, “I come to bring you abundant life, filled and flowing over.” Jesus proclaims, “In me, you see the Kingdom of God among you.”.  We do not as the song says, have to imagine if we will stand in the presence of God, or  if we will instead sing, or dance, or fall to our knees – we should be doing all that now, here, in worship of the miracles all around us; in worship of the miracle of God loving us enough to provide another moment; the miracle of our ability to be mindful, in constant prayer with a Parent/ Creator/ Mother who longs to re-birth us into new shalom, wholeness, and abundant life.

The miracle is not in what Jesus was able to do but in what we are able to do in Him, if we only “imagine”.  I think maybe if we interpreted Jesus’ words “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed” as His saying, “Do you not see what a Miracle even this small tiny little seed is? Imagine what you could do if your itty bitty faith meant that you believed that miracles surround the very air you breathe, the very water you drink, the very hand you hold, the very bread you eat, the very blood that courses through your veins.  Look and see what the Lord has made.  It is good, so very Good, that it is sheer miracle. Don’t wait to imagine what Heaven is like.  Have faith that Heaven on Earth is within your very being, your very soul. That is how you will have me, The Messiah, abiding in you and with you, forever.”

Miracles are so easy to miss because we keep waiting on something big and grand and something to happen tomorrow or beyond our ability or reason. But this whole life, is truly beyond our reason, isn’t it? The miracle is that we have been given the ability of gods. The tragedy is that we squander those abilities for the mundane.

And so we keep missing the miraculous moment when we wake up, and the miracle of eating toast.

23kitch2-articlelarge

 

In My Cocoon a poem by Jane Tawel

In My Cocoon

By Jane Tawel

January 2, 2019

 

In my cocoon

I lie

As yet, unraveled

by the winds and swatters

of the awaiting day.

 

In my cocoon,

I do not need to fly

Into, out of, despite.

My day’s wings are not yet formed

And I can ignore

Pretend

care for

 that

Which is not yet born

In flight.

 

In my cocoon

The creepy caterpillars

Of my nightmares die

And a new body

Full of promise

Chrysalizes

If only while I can still lie

And to self lie

In my imagination and deny-

all.

 

There is nothing scary or sad,

Without a heart or brain,

In my cocoon:

No Pain, No Gain, No Blame;

No feigned vain reigns

Of kings or queens

or me.

And the rain in Spain falls always on the train

Because all the moments

Are all the same

When I am tourist-ing life

Sweetly paralyzed

In a cocoon.

 

In my cocoon

Nothing hurts and

Nothing hurts me

And my pupils

Remain closed

While the pupa of my

Solitary, sedentary self

Undisturb-ed

Dreams.

 

And yet. . .

The waking antennae

Of my soul

Begin to sense that

In my cocoon. . .

 

There is no room for

Laughter

Friendship

Shared meals

Warm Sunshine

Rain

Dry toes

Wet leaves

Cinnamon rolls

Spontaneous Grins

Splashy Puddles

Or

Hope.

 

In my cocoon

I can not hear

The notes and chords

A baby’s bleating cry

The breezes

The pitter-patters

The gurgling waters

Giggling waders

Gorgeous sunset weepers

Or

Love.

 

In my cocoon

I will never, ever, ever

Know

Risk

Understand

Hurt with

Imagine

Create

Touch

Be touched by

Or

Trust.

 

And so

I begin to shed all

That would keep me here

Incomplete again.

I digest the self of yesterday

Willing wings to grow

Though still small and damp

With tomorrow’s fears.

I emerge.

 

Today it is enough for me

To materialize again

Alive

The same,

Yet some one brand new.

 

Today

I’ve never been a butterfly,

But I will learn in this new moment

How to use my wings.

 

And being a slight grey moth

Is enough.

Moths can also fly.

 

And with a small amount of creature luck

tonight there will be

A new cocoon to rest in

To grow in hidden promise

unaware to all

Even to my moth-holed self.

 

And someday

I hope to wake

And find the whole World

Has been cocooning

Until Eden is restored

And Butterflies

rise from their

imagined cocooning graves,

Never to die.