Tag, You’re It!


Tag, You’re It!

January 23, 2015

By Jane Tawel

Tagline: In entertainment, a tagline (or tag line) is a small amount of text which serves to clarify a thought for, or designed with a form of, dramatic effect. Many tagline slogans are reiterated phrases associated with an individual, social group, or product. (Wikipedia)

Tagging: (Urban Dictionary) Somewhat graphiti. A way of signing your name anonomously. Sometimes people use random words, like Spalt, or also symbols. Hey man, me and Elliot went tagging last night, why didn’t you show?”

Tag: 1. a label attached to someone or something for the purpose of identification or to give other information. 2. A small piece or part that is attached to a main body. 3. A recurrent or characteristic verbal expression.(various dictionaries)

Since starting this blog yesterday I am on a steep learning curve. When you post on your blog, you should tag words so that any one who is searching for information will accidently stumble on your post by searching for the words you have tagged. For instance, in this second post I am tagging the words, “sex”, “party”, “earn money”, and “Obama”. None of these tags will have anything to do with this posting but I figure it will get me lots and lots of accidental views.

Tagging is not a new human endeavor, it is as old as cave-women. I realized as I was looking up the definition of various forms of the word “tag” that I believe quite deeply in tagging. Tagging has to do with art, words, labels, design, drama, clarification, names – in other words, important things.

GuaTewet_tree_of_life-LHFage

Tagging is “random” and “designed”. This paradox is perfect when you consider how many things that completely and profoundly effect your life are random – where you are born, whom you are born to, and when you are born. And yet, many of us believe there is a Designer to the pattern of our lives. It’s a random purposeful paradox. I believe we are “designed with a form” and yes, this is often to “dramatic effect”, but I also believe that we are all dealt a rather random hand and we play it to the best of our ability.

Psalms 139 poetically proclaims: “For You formed (tagged) my inward parts; You wove (tagged) me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (tagged); Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame (tagline) was not hidden from You, When I was made (tagged) in secret, And skillfully wrought (tagged) in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained (tagged) for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”

We have been tagged by God. The Creator has “signed His name” on the very fabric of our being. “For the purpose of identification” we have been “labeled”.

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But how many times in my life have I ignored God’s tag line on my soul and painted over His masterpiece with my own graffiti?

I am constantly trying to write a tagline: “a small amount of text that serves to clarify a thought”. Here is today’s:

How many times have you heard that you are God’s masterpiece? We tend to think of the definition of “masterpiece” as it has evolved to mean –the highest achievement of the master artist. But it first meant something a bit different. A masterpiece, or meisterstuck, or masterstik, was a term that referred to the work produced by an apprentice or journeyman in a guild, who “aspired to become like his master craftsman”.  The apprentice was judged on whether he successfully produced a piece of art that would be judged by knowledgeable artists to be like that of the master. In other words, those who judged the quality of the work would not be able to discern the difference between the masterpiece of the apprentice and the Masterpiece of the Master.

For instance, the hand of God of the apprentice of Michelangelo would be indistinguishable from the hand of God of Michelangelo himself. Jane Tawel’s sonnet on comparing you to a summer day would be indistinguishable from Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee to a summer day?” And the “little Christ’s” masterpieces of life, would be indistinguishable from The Christ’s Masterlife. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Eph. 5:1) “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48) “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (I John 3:2)

That is just plain impossible. If I set out today to imitate Michelangelo, I could spend five hundred million years working at it, and at the end of five hundred million years, it would still look something like this:

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Actually those of you who know that I have absolutely no visual artistic talent at all know my drawing of a hand would never look this good.

But then I don’t know how to draw. I don’t have the gift of drawing. Honestly, I don’t even like to draw. But:

  1. I know how to live.
  2. I have the gift of living.
  3. I like to live.

I have been created and formed and wired and taught and inspired and encouraged to live. And I have a Master Craftsman who came to live among us, who still lives among us, and who desires us to choose to live with Him forever. I was tagged at great price in order that I might live, and “yet not I but Christ live in me”. (Gal. 2:20)

So why would I not choose to imitate my Master? He lived a perfect life – a masterpiece in the sense of the highest accomplishment a Master Artist can create.

This summer my family went to the Art Institute of Chicago. When you see a master work by a true artist: 1. You know you are seeing something that should be humanly impossible and yet is right there in reality before you– for your eyes to see. 2. You could see it a hundred times and always feel and see and understand something new and have new questions that would draw you back to see it again and again. 3. It connects to a deep part of you that you cannot explain. 4. It gives you not just happiness but joy; it is transforming, and it makes you want to be a better person, just by having had a short relationship with the masterpiece– you want more.

This is the effect that the life of Christ should have on us. We view His master work and we can hardly believe it, we have questions, but we want more; He connects to a deep part of us we can’t completely understand but which brings us joy; we are transformed.

Now hold on to your seats – consequently, this is the effect that my life should have on others.

Raoul and I were privileged last week to attend a Guitar Concert with master musicians. The music they created  hit me in the solar plexis – it spoke to that deep, eternal part of me called the soul. The Imago Dei of the artist is just that – Humanity as it was created to be – like a god. And when artists play alone it is incredible but when they create together? Well, then we understand the idea that we are tagged to create together. We create human lives together just as God the Three created life together. We create a home full of love together, as God creates a home for us, this world and the next, so we can live and be eternally creating together. This is a glimpse of what it should mean to be part of the body of Christ. As a single tag, I am created to be:”a small piece or part that is attached to a main body”.  “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5) We are closest to God’s idea of masterpiece when we are part of a great Whole — a unique part, necessary for the beauty of the masterpiece, but a tag in something even bigger — the Sistine Chapel, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Symphony, the non-abridged version, the Life of Christ.

Each day, I get the choice of a tagline. When I get up, I can set out to end my day with a tagline that matters – not just to me, but to someone else I encounter in my day. It might look like a simple drawing of a cup of water, but if done well, it will be a masterpiece. I have the Master’s promise that if “I draw a cup of water and give it to someone with Christ’s tagline on it”,  great will be my reward and the performance halls of heaven will ring with applause. I will be judged on how closely my tag is to that of the Master Artist. But each evening I can ask for help, so that tomorrow my life  is just a little bit closer to The Perfect One’s Master-life.

And when someone writes, my final tagline, what will they remember as the “reiterated phrase associated with me”?  These three things remain: Faith, Hope and Love but the greatest is Love.

As Francis Schaeffer once famously said, “How shall we then live?” if we have been tagged in the image of God?

Okay, I’ve tagged myself. Now, tag – you’re it.

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On Fingernails

On Fingernails

February 2009

By Jane Tawel

I have never, ever had pretty fingernails.  You may remember my sister Julie.  Julie of the long, long, long  to- her- knees  true -yellow blond hair. Julie of the pretty smile. Julie of the pale, moon-kissed skin. Julie of the many pretty friends.  Julie of the perfect fingernails.  Yes, that Julie. Julie used to have beautiful “as long as she wanted” fingernails –long before acrylics.  Real, home-grown long fingernails– before nail spas. When really long, pointy sharp fingernails were in, we used to call her nails, the “Ginsu Knives” — after these sharp knives advertised on television. This was before cable t.v. and infomercials, so you pretty much believed what you saw. This was before every show was a reality show – who wanted to watch reality?  We wanted Mayberry and Bonanza and the Brady Bunch. Who would think reality shows and infomercials would ever be “in”? I don’t watch television much now so maybe info-mercials are still not “in”, but pretty fingernails have always been “in”.  I imagine First Woman, Eve, had gorgeous long, hard –as- nails fingernails without Sally Hansen’s help.

I have a sort of false pride in my crummy nails.  Obviously false, since no one envies them. My nails are truly ugly – Hulk- nail ugly, Gollum-ugly, Shrek-ugly. I refuse to get “fake” nails, and I emphasis the “fake” as a sort of Caesar Chavez revolutionary fingernail stance. Actually I am, as in many things, not revolutionary but deeply afraid. I fear acrylic nails since, and I heard this from a reputable source, probably online where I hear most reputable things, that acrylic nails eat your own nails underneath.  Your own nails get eaten by the fake nails, kinda’ like that gigantic plant that ate New York.  Getting fake nails seems to me like getting plastic surgery.  I would always know that they weren’t really mine.  Not mine from birth. Of course my hair is not really colored mine, since birth, but that involves a minor chemical reaction and not a scalpel or super glue. I am also deathly afraid of any sort of non-necessary medical intervention and having seen my daughter, Clarissa, once get fake nails and then have to have them removed so she could play soccer – well, let’s say her recovery time rivaled the recovery time of a C-section. It was a C-section for nails to get those fake suckers off!

I have never bitten my nails, but they look bitten. I have always imbibed a lot of milk, but my nails look like I never drank milk. I have never tanned leather with my bare hands, but it looks like I have tanned leather with my bare hands. I clip my nails short, but they seem to grow in sort of Picasso-esque shapes.  Two of them, one middle finger and one thumb (though technically not a finger, still considered a fingernail in a set) got mangled somehow somewhere along the way long ago, probably when I was still in the womb or when I was first dating.  I was told once by a hand model who of course back then had to have naturally perfect nails–  (Yes, it is my lot in life to be surrounded by perfectly nailed people. I of course, had to move to California, rather than somewhere like Leeds or Afghanistan. I do not think there is anyone left in the entire state of California other than I, who does not have perfect nails.  Men included.) I was told by this hand model, who always wore white gloves with cream slathered inside, that these misshapen nails of mine would never grow out of their problems.  It was like having nails that were always going to be going through puberty, with eternal nail acne. My middle finger and thumb nails are just always going to be two hunking, ugly pimples, never poppable.  The hand model assured me that I had evidently somehow so damaged the beds of these nails, that the one with the crack would always have that crack no matter how many times I cut it or babied it or how much gelatin I ate; and the one with the deep groove, would always have that deep groove because the bed would just keep growing and growing with the groove coming from the very depths of my own, private, under the skin, fingernail purgatory.  You know, not many people realize how smart hand models are, but let me tell you, this hand -modeling girl was absolutely right, because twenty years after she prophesied the future of my abused nails, they still look as if their owner works barehanded in a rock quarry.

Yesterday I took two of my daughters, Clarissa and Verity, for a pedicure and manicure. Now, we are not the “Take Your Daughters for Pedi-Manis” type of family that all of the entire rest of people in California are, (including the men).  I think some women in California are actually having little mini-pedicures and manicures done in-vitro now.  But it was so fun to splurge on my daughters after a hard week.  They half-heartedly encouraged me to get acrylic nails; half-heartedly because by now they know how acute is my false pride in low maintenance.  This is their mom after all, who calls the Salvation Army Thrift Store her Special Consignment Shop.  So I sat in the waiting chair, happily hearing my girls chatter with the lovely sounding and lovely looking Vietnamese women. I was so relieved that these lovely soft sounding and beautifully groomed Vietnamese women, did not have to take a chisel to the calluses on my feet, nor that they might pass out at one look at my Hulk-nails. We went home three happy women, two with pretty nails and one with her pretty pride in tact.

But the next day at home, when I was cutting off the little torn thumb nail, because if you don’t cut it early it will catch on something and rip and really, really, really hurt for a long time — as I was cutting it (okay, biting it with my teeth) –I felt a little wave of pity for it.  I felt it was my little Special Needs fingernail.  I wanted to give it some meaning in life beyond just protecting my worthless thumbnail bed.  So of course, being me, I found a little analogy in my nail, and it was a good, positive, “you are capable of so much more” thumbnail analogy.

This journey of Life has had a lot of wrong turns and there have been times when I wasn’t sure of where God was, where I was with God, or worse, whether my children would ever know Him at all. But I know that I am where I am and who I am today, because long ago when I was a child, God and God’s people, my family, my churches, my youth groups and Christian schools and colleges and collective strange angels along the way, kept wearing grooves in my soul.  No matter how many times I shoved God aside and tried to exchange my soul for a fake, meaningless, “not- mine -since -birth” acrylic coating, God kept finding people to imperceptibly keep wearing a groove in my soul. The groove of God’s grace and goodness remain, deeply imbedded under my skin, and each time whenever I finally grow out of excuses, get tired of running away, or hiding, or trying to paint over my sins and sorrows, the groove is still there.

Isn’t it just like the great Hand-model of all time to give Himself a pair of battered, carpenter -bashed, and literally nail-scarred hands as the epitome of the Imago Dei? Jesus with no false sense of pride, modeled nail scars in His hands and promised, “My grooves will never leave you, nor forsake you.” “Groove a child in the way she should go and when her life grows out, that groove will still be there.” (A paraphrase of Prov. 22:6)

So just like Jesus renamed Peter and Paul, today I gave my little special grooved thumbnail and forked fingernail, new names: God’s Groove of Grace and The Nail Scarred Finger.  They are reminders that once God makes His mark on the bed of your soul, He will never let it grow out, even if you try your hardest to cover it over with something not real.

And the advantage to having crummy nails is that you never mind helping people with things that might break or chip perfect nails.  Today it is good to see my ugly scary looking nails, like stigmata, and realize that even in my imperfectness, maybe especially in my imperfectness, God chooses to imprint His Son’s scarred hands on mine.

A Meditation on the Oxymoron of California Rain

A Meditation on the Oxymoron of California Rain

January 11, 2015

By Jane Tawel

Millions of other worlds’ elsewhere- rains later,

Dry heaves of rain drops fall.

Alone in the dripping desert of skyscrapers,

Goldberry’s bastard heir keeps the dance.

She worships the sight of

The spittle of the gods in the gutters.

Genuflecting in baptismal puddles,

She parts the seas of cautious cars.

The pittance of little sparks of firewater,

crackling wet,

Makes a solitary drumbeat

for her dance of The Tribe.

My real world is best lit

through drizzled gorgeous grey.

In a world gone mad looking for the sun,

God shelters me best in rain.

Bloggers are Boring Unless They are Dying

Bloggers are Boring Unless They are Dying

By Jane Tawel

For years I have been gently poked and prodded by my husband and friends to start a blog. Take this you all! Ugh! I do not want to do this.

I want my first novel and a small discrete book of poems to be published on beautiful, hard bound paper in a book with no “e” in front of it, that you can hold in your hand, an actual shelvable thing that requires you to quietly turn pages, and that smells like a tree chopped down for good reason. Or, if not today, then I want to be published after my death and maybe after I cut an ear off or something. I want to be famous for the life-changing, deep, funny yet poignant thousand page- turner novels that are, after making the Oprah scene, taught in university level literature classes. I want to matter in ways large and far-reaching.

Bloggers don’t matter. Bloggers are boring, self absorbed, “what I ate for breakfast”, whiney, argumentative, unemployed wanna- be writers. (Is that why my friends and husband think I will make a good blogger? Mirror check!)

Then I tripped on someone’s blog posted on facebook (where people who can’t write, post whiney, argumentative, “what I ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner and saw the person sitting next to me eating” boring posts). This blog was about dying. (www.mundanefaithfulness.com) And I paused.

I have learned that epiphanies, for me anyway, come often in life’s pauses. Some of my epiphanies have come after the baby is born and I am home alone watching reruns of “Magnum P.I.” (it was his legs that got to me). The light bulbs frequently went off, when I was forced to walk with a bum knee, not run, when I was kept waiting over forty-five minutes by a friend, when I was unemployed or cleaning out the refrigerator or when I didn’t have a boyfriend (before marriage, not after I am happy to report). Pauses are boring and can be whiney as well. They can also be life changing.

So how appropriate that my epiphany that it was time to become a boring blogger came in a pause in my life (same ole 9-5, same ole family stuff, same ole face and body, same ole world). The blog thing might be just a wee pause and nothing more.

I hope some of you will read my pauses here in my little “Blog-world”, but if not that’s okay. Because maybe if I am the only one who reads my posts for their life changing content, that will be enough. Because just maybe personal epiphanies are enough.

I hope you are taking seriously the pauses in your own life. There is nothing to do in a pause but be in it. Don’t fight it. And don’t think the epiphany will come at your beck and call. Sometimes a pause is just a boring moment, however long that moment may last. Sometimes those pauses last for years. But even a boring moment is still a moment in which to be alive –and still being alive is worth blogging about.

Some day I may have the great good gift to be aware and awake in that Ultimate Pause, The Death Pause, that quintessential pause I hope to live in, that special time between when the Great Event of This Life ends and the Next Great Event of the Future Life begins.

You will excuse me if I blog about it? And maybe if I don’t. I might be a bit busy pausing.