Set Us Free

A Poem by Jane Tawel

“Monarchs in motion” by farflungphotos is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Set Us Free

By Jane Tawel

September 3, 2022

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Set me free from the future.

Set me free from the past.

Set me free to live into

The Truth that will last.

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Set me free from stagnation.

Set me free from my needs.

Set me free to change wholly,

and to set new dreams free.

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Set me free by forgiveness

of the great and the small,

and as I forgive others,

may I forgive myself, all.

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Set me free from the prison

that only I can create,

by attachment to anger

and fear, grief, and hate.

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Let me open the prison doors

and free memories’ hostages.

Give me strength to release,

tomorrow from bondages.

And when I would put

heart or mind back in jail,

May The Spirit of Love for All Life,

fast prevail.

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Freedom is not a longing

for nothing to lose,

Nor is being free, gain

for the ego to use.

Freedom is never greedy,

nor self-serving, nor fearful.

Freedom is never needy,

but in needlessness, cheerful.

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Freedom is the soul’s seeking

of Love’s peace that will still

any hurt, fear, or longing

and by Grace, all is healed.

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Oh Creator, of heaven and earth and of All,

May my spirit be freed from the sins of The Fall.

Let me claim my true power that by You, I’m designed,

to be free to create in me, new life divine.

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May I free those who’ve hurt me

and forgive once — and all.

May resentment and bitter seed,

take no root in my soul.

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Daily let me forgive

those I know and in general.

And as I forgive freely,

make my joy and love plentiful.

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Oh, True Life is just waiting!

Our souls long to be free!

When I loose bonds of judgement,

I free God in you and in me.

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May I use my soul’s freedom

for true care to employ.

And God, moment by moment

set my soul free for joy.

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May my soul find true freedom

in The God who is One.

May our souls be united,

in only Truth, which is Love.

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May I trust in The Word

that brings Heaven to Now.

And though I don’t know how,

let my faith become strong,

that I live now, in God’s freedom,

and for all my days long.

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Let my daily prayer be:

Set me free.

Set him free.

Set her free.

Set them free.

Set us free,

Dear Creator,

Oh, Dear God,

set us free.

© Jane Tawel, 2022

Dead Angels

Angel by Capt Piper

Dead Angels

By Jane Tawel

June 29, 2022

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“Your angels are dying,” She said.

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And so, we found our excuses

to offer to the God,

we had created —  all red, white and blue,

in our own image.

But if we had read it correctly,

we would have known;

there is only One God,

and He is the one who accepts,

no excuses.

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“Your angels are dying,” She said.

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The problem is, angels need a lot of care.

And we were once unwilling,

we are now, unwilling;

the nation was unwilling;

the churches were unwilling;

and so, the Spirit of the Age,

began to shrivel and clutch,

in very wealthy widow’s weeds.

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

but here I know we worship money;

we worship power;

we worship who we think we are.

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

reducing a Savior’s price,

so we can get more buyers.

We pray prayers of helplessness,

to make us feel safer,

to get us off the hook of actually doing anything,

to make sure Jesus takes the fall. Again.

And while outside, our Easter finery is shiny,

like newly minted thirty pieces of silver,

inside, we are rotting like hidden corpses,

hiding from ourselves,

hiding from The Source.

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“Your angels are dying,” She said.

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

and while we focus on unfulfilled wombs,

we don’t mind killing, no not at all,

while America’s better angels go AWOL

As long as our left hand is in the till,

our right hand ignores the Pearls — for swill.

And so, the Angels of America writhe.

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

we take God’s name in vain.

Our worship is profane,

because we keep leaving out Love,

and the freedom to choose

from the Eternal Equation of

God + me =Living Christ.

Instead, we have made God in our own image,

and not in the image of Them,

and we have left Christ on the cross,

so we can go shopping and buy cheaper gas.

Because who needs angels,

when we have nuclear weapons and assault rifles?

Who needs angels,

when we can blame our inner demons,

on some one who is not like us?

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“Your angels are dying,” She said.

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Now let us bow our heads,

in the prayer of Our Holy Flag,

and place our hope in a worship of past successes,

and the catechism of power-full-ness,

and the holy rites of more-ness-ness,

and the “our way or the highway”

of laws without consequences

for anyone but Lazarus at the gate.

And fingers crossed,

that we can keep believing that our own cross,

is bearing the pangs of the Dow Jones.

And hopefully, angels and demons are not real,

and the Kingdom of some old documents

can take the place of Heaven on Earth.

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© Jane Tawel, June 2022

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

A Somewhat Incoherent and Rushed Amount of Thoughts on a Trip to a Stunningly Beautiful Part of the World

A Somewhat Incoherent and Rushed Amount of Thoughts on a Trip to a Stunningly Beautiful Part of the World

By Jane Tawel

May 3, 2022

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Here are some random thoughts on a recent trip I was privileged to take with my husband to Bryce and Zion National Parks in Utah, U.S.A. This was our second trip there and if you have never gotten to go, well, find a way. Go. Now if possible. Our trip was a celebration of my husband’s birthday, but it also turned out to be a retreat for our marriage and relationship, and a spiritual adventure for our souls.

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If you have never quite been able to believe in a Creator-Being, some call “God”, then you just might after visiting Bryce Canyon. And if you need to find solace, inspiration, and joy in putting one foot in front of the other, both literally and figuratively, then head to this area of amazing and incredible natural and glorious wonder. And if you want to learn about both the incredible creative Spirit that shapes towering red glowing rock formations and vast purple and yellow canyons, but that also shapes each human heart and lives within each human open to Spirit and Truth, a Quixotic and Incomprehensibly Wise Creative-Father that also shapes men and women into creative sources as well, then go to Bryce and Zion. You can just “be” there, which is the best, but you can also hear and read about the miracles of creation, both divine and human, that make this place a continual, evolving, and ancient as earth and native peoples – a story of glory and grace, determination and awesomeness, and practicality and natural magic.

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After a week of hikes and picnics, rest and play, Raoul and I drove the long day’s drive home and talked about our “take-aways”. Here are some of mine, in no particular order.

  • Sometimes you have to rest from trying to learn, in order to learn. Sometimes you have to play to let the hard work of relationship grow into something fruitful. And sometimes, you have to stop thinking, in order to understand – to understand others, to understand the Mystery many of us seek and call God, and to definitely, at times, understand oneself.
  • Forgiveness of others is hard, and forgiveness of oneself is even harder. The difficulty is why many of us never try to forgive and many of us never do it particularly well. True forgiveness means the annihilation of past judgments and the desire to avoid any future judgment.
  • Acceptance does not mean condoning, but it is better to remain silent about not condoning actions and let your voice speak loudly and lovingly of your acceptance of the person. It would be good to try each day to do this with myself. “Hello, dear Jane. I do not condone the fact you over-ate yesterday, nor do I condone the fact that you gossiped about that workmate or had that negative thought about that loved one. I do however, lovingly accept you – slightly chubbier, a little bit anxious and worried you – and I love that you are still seeking and going to try to do better today. I forgive you, Myself. I accept you myself. Jane ole Pal, Go out there and love!

  • There aren’t really any good words to describe Nature’s beauty. But I am so happy that people just have to keep trying to describe it anyway. There were a couple times I slightly embarrassed Raoul by bursting into the verses from the old hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth.”  I sing this to myself some nights when I feel anxious about my kids, or the world, or myself. I sing it sometimes when I can to stop myself from cursing other reckless and naughty drivers on side streets and freeways. I sing it to myself sometimes when I feel God moved off far-away too long ago, and I keep wondering when She will return to save the planet and the people in Ukraine and all the angry people in America. But…. There was something about singing it to Raoul and me and the red rocks, and the impossibly- surviving trees hanging on cliffs, and the chipmunks that find enough food each day to scamper along the dusty trails, and the American antelopes, that aren’t antelopes at all but a unique deer-like creature that has had its own completely unique DNA since God said, “Let there be!” – and it all came into being. Which brings me to this:
  • It is good to be “becoming”. If even rocks are still changing under the glory weight of a God Who Is, then so can we be “becoming”. So am I still becoming. It is good to be alive and as long as there are rocks standing in Bryce Canyon and waters flowing in Zion, there is not only hope for our planet, there is hope for you and me.
  • Surely the Psalmist was right, when she wrote, “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place.” But it is good to tell oneself when returning to the ugliness of a city street or the boredom of a 9-5 job or the angst of a world gone headline-mad, or the fears for a child or loved one, that God also lives in us:

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (I John 4:16-19) 

  • I couldn’t stop looking at what the world and nature– from the large towering impossibly colored rocks to the small, delicate flowering plants –what all reveal about a Mind, a Spirit that is beyond my comprehension and yet Who somehow created a planet that is not only perfect for life, but perfect for exploration and awe-inspiring and wonder. The Psalmist also wrote these lines that kept zinging through my head while in Utah:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. …

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Dear fellow travelers: Today may be a day when like I, you get up and do the same old thing and feel the same old way– if not even a little achier or crankier or scared-er. And beauty may seem long past or remembered as a dream that you can’t quite bring to mind any more. Some days, or many days or most days –hope may seem to have hit a years’ long drought in the living waters department and God, well, He might truly be hiding out in places like Bryce or Zion because He doesn’t always seem to be on our speed dial any more. I know if I were God, right about now, I’d be taking a centuries long retreat to Zion and waiting to see if old Jane or the rest of the folks on the planet decide to stop warring and waging war and causing mayhem or just creating irritation in people they say they love. 

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And so perhaps the best thing to do is to realize – if you are reading this – you still have the miracle of your eyes, along with the miracle of your hands and thinking brain – “Look, See, for the Lord is Good to have given you eyes that can see and hands that can work and a brain that can remember and envision something new to create today, even if it is just to create a perfect cup of tea.

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Breathe deeply and mindfully, some might say that is all prayer is, and then realize today is yours to live as you choose. Choose now. Choose joy. Choose love.

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Finally, no matter where you are, there is a dandelion growing in a sidewalk crack to remind you that the Earth is full of life and hope and beauty. And as long as you can see a wish-flower or hear a bird or taste a drop of honey or smell the morning air or touch your very own hand to your face, then you can trust that God is good and you are good to go.

And as long as people keep trying to create word-pictures that express the beauty of God’s creation and the beauty of God’s love, and the beauty of an hour more to live, and the beauty of our love for each other – well –then no matter where I am, or where my day will take me, or how simplistic and ineffectual my words may be, then I can have the teensiest taste of hope and glory and trust that “God is on Her throne and all will be well with Her World.” 

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For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

2. For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

3. For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

4. For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

By Folliot S. Pierpont, 1835-1917

© Jane Tawel, 2022

“Come Play With Me”, Said God

Mud Puddle Stompers” by clappstar is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

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“Come Play With Me”, Said God

By Jane Tawel

March 29, 2022

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There is always so much noise out there, and so much noise within. I let it play within my mind like an endless loop of commercial ads. Increasing the volume, I buy my way to shallows of meaning, hoping to find resurrection in more stuff. My fears are like puddles of mud that I have stepped in once accidentally, but keep on stepping in again and again, as if I could not walk around them. They seep into my soul like vinegar held on a sponge to anesthetize the feelings of the crosses we bear.  And we do all bear them, do we not? –what with the silence that roars with the absence of peace.

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They, (and you know who they are), keep telling me that God is just like me and I am just like God, and while they say that will fill me with hope for a better day and a better me and a better god, most of the time, it only makes me feel hollowed out and angry and afraid.

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Some of us find making words helps to clarify what we mean and the words can act like breadcrumbs dropped from our mouths as we try to find our way back. Back to God. Back to home. Back to ourselves. Crumbs of bread and this is My Bread, given for you. Take. Eat. Follow the crumbs from My Mouth.

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I said to God: “I am not like You, am I? I don’t want You to be like me.  A humanly-god, is too small for me. I want You to be Other.”

God Said to me: “I AM what I am, but you are not yet what you will be. Now you choose to be small, but a godly-human is as big as you should be. I want you to be you and yet not you. Just as you long for Me to be Other, I also desire for you to be Other.”

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I wept and cried to God: “I am sad. I am alone. I feel lost. I am lost. The whole world is sad, and lonely, and lost. It feels like it is always night. It is too much for me to bear.”

God wept and cried with me and said, “You only bear it alone because you choose to. I created day and night. I can bear all sorrows and turn mourning into Morning, and darkness into light. Your sorrow is the path towards Me. I am The God who weeps. Our tears will make a stream. Let us follow the stream of our tears towards Home and there we will live together in joy.”

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I said to God: “I don’t know how to love them without worrying about them and wanting to fix them.”

God Said to me: I love you without worrying about you or trying to fix you. Love as I do.”

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I raged at God: “I hate. I fear. I am so afraid that it makes me angry. I don’t want to die.”

God raged with me: “It is unjust, I know. It makes me angry, too, but not afraid. I am never afraid. Be One with me, and fear not. Know that in My Spirit, when you die, you are only then reborn. All is for The Good in Me. All is open and anticipating, like buds to rain and sunlight, ready to bloom into glory, ready to grow tall and strong under the canopy of My grace.”

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I searched for something more to say and something true to pray and the words were not in me but where of me and I could not frame the words because they were not of my frame, but I knew the words because they were of my spirit-soul.

God Said: “When you are able, stop looking outwards, you will not find Me there. Stop following your doubts, and trust The Way of faith. Stop your words and know My Word. Stop looking for your worth out there, and look within. And there you will find My Spirit within you. There you will know Our peace.”

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 I knew I was a human of unclean lips. And yet, I spoke to God the only word that is: “Love!”

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And then, without words, I was.

And when I had nothing left to say to God, I finally had found the vision of Who God Is and Who I am becoming.

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“Come play with Me”, said God.

And so I put on my big-girl boots, and began the Great Creation Dance; a dance with God in puddles, and messes, a rain-dance and a sun-dance, and an embracing of all the hurt and pain and laughter and happiness of growing. And all my words were childish joyful scribbles on the palette of World-Soul. And I began to see my muddiness as the fertilizer of Our Spirit.

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And with very few words, God and I began to Become.

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I am becoming a child who seeks the God Who Hides. And in my wordlessness, The Word finds space, and I find my becomingness and worth.

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God was silent and it was good. It was very Good.

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God was still.

And in the stillness, I found The Hidden One.

And The Hidden One found me.

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© Jane Tawel, 2022

Space and Time and the Essence of Spirit and Truth

by Jane Tawel

Space and Time and the Essence of Spirit and Truth

By Jane Tawel

February 26, 2022

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At no other time in our lives, have our ideas about space and time been so challenged, so shifted, or so illuminated. Two years past the beginning of this time that will, as long as we humans are allowed to keep creating history on this planet, be called “The 2020 Corona Virus Pandemic”, on what we hope will be the tail end, we are all taking stock of our actions, the actions of the world’s leaders, and the past versus present versus future worldviews we held/hold/ will possibly keep on holding.

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Many of us who hold what we might call a spiritual worldview, have long meditated on and mostly wrestled with our ideas about the big two: Time and Space. Even if a person does not have a spiritual or religious point of view about life, there is simply no way to go through one’s life without some philosophy or other about time and space. From pithy proverbs to gigantic tomes to every religious work from the Bible to the Quran to the various Buddhist Canons, if one is mature enough, wise enough, open enough, and hungry enough, one will find that apart from the human questions of  “what is the meaning of life” and “how do I find and feel love”, the two great motivating quests and relational aspects to every person’s life is  the relationship he has to Time and Space. On a simple level, space for most of us peons, means “where do I call my Home”. Our idea of time, for the common folk, is “what am I going to do today that is really what am I doing with my life?”

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Over the past two years I have had a lot more time to read and so I can end this essay here and refer you to three teachers and writers who have opened my mind and stretched my world view in so many ways, but significantly in terms of the ideas of Time and Space. The first great teacher I happened upon, thank God, is the profound Jewish rabbi and theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and specifically his books Man is Not Alone and The Sabbath. Secondly, the many works of the brilliant and open-minded Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, whose views on both Buddhism and Christianity, can be not only worldview changing, but World-changing, if we let them. Finally, if you have not yet found a way to Richard Rohr’s many profound writings on Christianity as a “new and improved” religious lifestyle, please do.  However! But! Wait for it!  All of these teachers have brought me back around to the astounding, life-changing, True Truth Spiritual Worldview – words fail! – the words and ideas about Time and Space of Jeshua ben Joseph, Jesus, who some call The Christ. When read with not just an open-mind, but a childlike wonder, what Jesus believed, taught, and lived, is mind-morphing, world-shaking, mythically eternal, true Truth no matter what religion you call it, unsettling, and incredible. The problem as G.K Chesterton, among others, so sadly put it, is that the “ideals of Christ have not been tried and found wanting, but found to be difficult and so have not been tried”.

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So, in my small, still immature, seeking way, may I tell you a few of the practical ideas I am having about my desire to keep an ever growing, changing, worldview about living in The Way, seeking The Tao, and being a disciple?  I am going to stick to the practical ideas because first of all, the above teachers I mention, among others, have much better illuminated what I would call the spiritual or philosophical or Big Ideas than I ever could, especially in terms of those illusive and ethereal ideas of Time and Space. Secondly, I will stick to a few practical ideas because, I don’t know about you, but the past two years have made me reevaluate, what Francis Schaeffer so pithily coined as “How Shall We Then Live”.   A pandemic has made many of the world’s citizens look not only at their individual lives, but our collective lives on this planet as well, and the bottom line has been, for many of us, a hard look at how we have been rather blithely living on this planet with our fellow humans, and how we sure better start living in a practical, immediate, real way, if we want our species and this lovely globe to continue. And frankly, some of us feel this desire to somehow “continue” ourselves.  So, let me start with a couple of ideas that are based on my particular upbringing in the religion we call Christianity, but that I think can be applied to whatever your own religion was or is or to no “religion” at all.

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A Mediation on 2022 Steps Along The Way

By a Seeker

The Bible is a book about four relationships, with examples in biographies, poetry, essays, and history of humans trying to find the best way to live in those relationships. This collection of writings should be read with a desire to grow in one’s own relationships to: God, Self/others, Time, and Space. The man named Jesus was a believer in the Bible, the Jewish collection of writings of the Hebrew people and of a God that had many names and no name. Jesus taught what can be called The Way or The Truth, to people who believed in Torah/ The Bible and people who didn’t; to people who believed in God and people who believed in gods; to people who were Jewish and people who were enemies of the Jews; to people who followed him and to people who ended up killing him. But Jesus reminds me that the truth can be hard to hear, perhaps today, it is most especially hard to truly hear by the very people who have called the members of their religion “little-Christs”.  Jesus wept. What I have been finally able to listen to in the past couple of years, is that any religion or spiritual or philosophical pursuit, but perhaps especially the religion of Judeo-Christianity, is ultimately worthless if it is only about doctrines or ideas. The only true worth of a worldview, is in its practice. The ideas and teachings of Jesus were ultimately meant to be a practical way to live for every one. And any thing we read, whether it is found in the Bible, the Quran, a novel, a scientific text, a quote, or a bumper sticker, must be held up to the Light – and the Light is whether this is a true – a real—a practical way for all beings in all spaces and in all times—to live.

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This is where the words of Christ let us know that our relationship to God is not really something that can be taught, but which must be experienced as personal, mysterious, and the kind of relationship a small child has to her Parent, full of love, but very limited in terms of the limited mind’s ability for understanding who the Parent really is. “Our Daddy Who is “out there and everywhere”, doing stuff that I, a little human being/child don’t understand, I revere You, God-Daddy, and love you so much I worship you!” (a paraphrase of the beginning of Christ’s Lord’s Prayer)

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 Jesus also tried to teach us that Self/ and Other Humans are interbeings, we are One, and boy is this where the ego/ mind revolts. But to accept that who I am today is not who I was yesterday but is also who I was yesterday and is also part of who my parents, and grandparents and ancestors were, is to understand that our comprehension of self, is well, let’s just say – it’s complicated. Jesus had a hard time expressing this reality of “interbeing” but he tried to by teaching us that “I and the Parent of All are one” and that as Jesus and the Psalmist taught, “you are all gods” (Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34-36). When we look at ourselves and at others, we should see the image of God, and since God is One, so are we. Okay, that is Big Idea. Jesus dumbed it down for me so I could figure out how not to comprehend this great mystery but to live it in a practical way. The two big practical ways were: Live every moment and every relationship with complete empathetic caring love and complete forgiveness. Period. Fini.

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So, to forgive another is to forgive myself, to love my True Self, not my ego, but my soul, and that is how it is to love others, and therefore love myself, and even to empathize with and “become” my enemy in order to love him. Words fail when trying to grasp Ultimate Truth and Reality. But — Relationship to God, The Ultimate Alpha and Omega = Love and Awe and Trust. Relationship to Other Beings = forgive, let go, love self leads to love them = care as if your life depends on how you treat the least of life. Because it does. This loving and forgiving idea of Christ’s is not a suggestion, it is a revelation about what is actual Ultimate Reality. We just too often prefer our false reality which is limited by ego, greed, and our false views of time and space. 

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Jesus also does a great job of messing with our ideas about Space. Personally, the past two years of not being allowed to attend a building full of possibly virus-laden people on Sunday mornings, or Saturday Sabbaths, has been one of the greatest things to happen to my understanding of worship and space. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for a lifetime of pastors and churches where I have learned and grown in understanding and I have only a few (and I do have them, mea culpa) regrets about raising my four adult-now children by taking them to church every week. But I now see that what we call The Church has been reduced horrifically to a building of (sorry) a capitalistic business enterprise where a handful of people get paid to speak and the rest of us sit and listen and give money to keep the machine running and then we call it worship of a God Who says quite strongly over and over again through the Prophets, “I detest your ‘sacrifices’. Your assemblies and feasts are a stench to My nostrils”.  I require you to treat others with mercy and a daily, humble acknowledgment of a need for Me to create in my people a Holy Character, which is peace, love, mercy, and grace. I, God want you to accept that all that is given is nothing you have earned, but is My Gift.”   Jeshua ben Joseph says that simply all we have, symbolized in Hebrew by the word “bread” or “manna”, is a gift of God, and we can’t hold on to what we were given in the past or the future, or take it with us to any space but the space of our own beating heart, breathing space of our bodies. “Give us today our daily needs”.

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Jesus makes very clear over and over, that what we consider Space, even the Space of this earth is not an ultimate reality, all will “pass away” and as scientists have tried to tell us, matter, or “space” never dies, it merely changes its “reality” or form. This is true of the matter we call, our own body, or space, or matter. But whatever form our matter takes, Jesus says that we exist in relationship to God. Christ teaches, in his very succinct and clear way: “If you mature, if you allow the change to happen, which will happen whether you accept it or not, then there will come a day, when you do not worship God on this mountain or that one, or in this temple or that building, or in your current form or another form, but in Spirit and in Truth.”

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As Paul said, when we are little children, we think as little children and we need the kind of teaching that little children need. But if we truly seek to be what some of us believe A God has called us to be as human beings, then someday we stop “drinking milk” and we take up the strong brew of maturity.  This is not for the faint of heart. And here is where a gathering, whether it is in what you believe to be a “sanctified” space on Sundays or not, is important. A gathering should ultimately lead you from a need to listen, to a need to partake; from a desire to learn to a desire to experience worship; from a self-need to a communal-need. If you are able to gather with a small community of those who seek Truth and Spirit, as you do, those who challenge you, walk alongside you in life, question you and themselves, and support you and need you to support them– then you are right to gather and “worship” or learn or just fellowship with those people. I have my community, my “church”, my “sangha”, spread out across the world. My “people” include some of my relatives and best friends, and teachers and even some people I have never met in person. They include people who would probably say they believe the same basic religious tenets that I do, and those who would definitely not. And might I go back to a desire to assemble on a weekend day to worship? Yes, I actually hope so, but it won’t be for the same reasons and it won’t be until I can find a space where people gather not because they think they have to in order to find God or go to heaven, but because they share a life of mutual need and mutual support and a desire to raise our voices to A Being, a Mommy-Daddy-Parent, Who we do not understand the Mystery of, but Whom we know somewhere deep within our very souls, loves us, Her children, and desires us to love each other and this beautiful Garden that our Progenitor has graced us with and Who longs to, as Jesus did, “gather us little seekers to Him as a Mother Hen gathers her fledgling chicks.”

*

As I write this, The Kingdom of Russia has invaded The Kingdom of Ukraine. I happen to live in The Kingdom of America (which no longer should hold the title to “United” States, in my opinion); and my Kingdom has invaded lots of other Kingdoms in its short history. A lot of Jesus’ contemporaries tried to make him an invader of other Kingdoms. The Israelites changed a lot about their God over the course of their history, and one of those things was that God was created in the image of man, rather than the other way around, with a human-projected desire for the people who loved him to force other people to love Him too by taking over their “space”.  This idea that space should belong to the most powerful among us, is one of the greatest misunderstandings of God’s intention for our “Garden”, this beautiful Earth. We change God’s original idea of caring as wise caretakers for all of Creation, into the idea that we can “rule” the earth. If you have ever planted seeds or tended a garden, you may realize that we humans can not ever “rule” what God has created as nature, “natural”. For anything to grow, it must be accepted not as the work of our human hands but as something dependent on the grace of sun and rain and good soil and all the grace that is needed for life.   So, when his closest friends asked Jesus to conquer the Space of his time, he kept trying to point them to the truth about Space: “God’s Kingdom is not “out there” or “here”. God’s Space is among YOU, within YOU, within Me, it is everywhere, and no-where, it is “on earth, as it is in the sky, the heavens, the cosmos. The space known as God’s Kingdom is a cosmos out there and also within your very little human self. I could no more conquer it than I could hold it in my hand. “My kingdom is not of this world, but of a completely different idea about Space.”  Oh, dear children, what does it profit you if you gain all of the kingdoms, all space, all time, all stuff, all money, all fame, all admiration, all knowledge, and you die, ceasing to have any of that, ceasing to exist outside the Ultimate Reality, and have lost the only thing you have ever really wanted and have ever really been – a cosmic soul?

*

The radical views of Christ’s about Space have begun to change my idea about who or what I am. Because the older you get, the more you are aware of the space you actually live in – your body/mind, or what Jesus called “your temple”. Talk about a place to worship in – the body/mind changes every day and when you are young, it is easy to overlook the changes. When you are older, not so much! And as I am older, I am not only more aware of the space of my body, but more aware of the great question of what will happen to “me” when the space I call my “body” is dead.  And what does “death” mean to me?  The recorded life and words of Jesus at least implies that one’s “self” can be eternal. Can be.  There is a way, that early disciples of Jesus, called The Way, and it is an eternal life that begins now, which takes us from the rather secondary reality we have been meditating on and which we call “Space”, to what Heschel reminds us is the Ultimate Reality of relationship and humanity, which is what we call “Time”. After all, as it is said, Time is the only thing we can never earn more of and which we continually undervalue, to our eternal regret.

*

And so, saving the “best” for last, we come to that thing that defines us as a species, our comprehension of the passing of Time, but which is also that very thing we cannot comprehend even as we chase after its meaning until the very last breath – the idea of Time.  And really what the teachers and writers I referred you to at the top of this essay have tried to, well, “drill into my thick skull” can be summed up in one word; and that word is:

NOW.

*

That’s it. That is all that needs to be said about Time but also, truth be told, all that can be said about Time. It is one of the words, The Christ, uses over and over and over again, and which we relegate to an intro, rather than the very main idea Jesus wanted us to grasp – “The Time is NOW”.

 *

We humans waste so much life thinking we can change our past time, or create future time, and we live in the past and future in our heads, our relationships, our decisions, our dreams and regrets – and it is all a false reality – all The Big Lie, because somewhere deep inside when we face True Reality, we realize, whether we want to or not, that all that ever exists is This Moment, This Present, This Now.

*

How shall we then live? As if this moment was exactly all I would ever live. This moment is Eternity, and how I live this moment, is what I will eternally be. “To have eternal Time, you must be born again.” In other words – Wow! Bam! Whooo hoooo! I was just born to this moment!  Yikes! I just became alive! Look and true-ly see. Smell and true-ly breathe in and out, in and out, in and out. Listen and true-ly hear.  As the Psalmist says, “Taste and see that The Lord is good, take shelter in The Ultimate Love of Presence”.

*

Jesus to me NOW: “I go to a different dimension, and you can’t go there, yet because you are still in this body, this space, and in this time, not yet dead. But in the Ultimate Reality to which I, Jeshua ben Joseph, Jesus, who has become Christ, am going, you too can come, if you want. It will take a new attitude on your part, my dear little friend. It will be as if you have become a little child again, full of wonder and delight in wherever you are in this very moment. It will be painful, like being forced out of a womb, and you will suffer and cry and find your own cross of suffering and dying to your ego to bear. But you will be reborn to something and into someone that you can only envision yourself to be, as if through a fog, but it will happen in eternity and it will also happen right now. But you will be awakened, and in each moment, you will become more and more alive than you can now imagine. I have shown you The Way. Follow my lead. You have been created by and for Love and all the Love that you are, that you give, that you accept and that you create, will never, ever pass away, but will exist outside Space and Time, within what you call yourself and within who you call others, and within Us. Your Love will become Our Love, and All will Be, within Our Relationship, forever and ever. Amen.”

*

© Jane Tawel, 2022

My Worry-Bed, My Garden-Bed, My Bed of Nails, My Ocean

by Jane Tawel

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My Worry-Bed, My Garden-Bed, My Bed of Nails, My Ocean

By Jane Tawel

February 23, 2022

*

Here am I,

in my Worry-Bed,

my Bed of Nails,

my wanderings,

down trails and trails,

of past and future ruts well-worn.

I’ve come to make my nest of thorns.

I lay me down,

my soul to rend,

my fears to tend,

like blood-sucking friends,

I let them in, again and again.

Dreams aborted, bashed and torn,

I fill the spaces in my head,

with raging demons, dead — 

and not yet born.

*

Here I am,

in my Garden-bed.

I come to plant and tend and seed.

I lay me down,

my soul to keep,

and furrows clean and straight,

my seeds of fear are shorn,

right at the roots.

From weeds of worry,

stones of grief,

I plough the field of dreams towards truth.

I water drop by precious drop

the flowers of joy and plants of peace.

Without a need to grasp or climb,

but letting go of all but faith

in God’s protecting, mindful vines,

that reach and curl and hold and keep

Gardens of peace and love entwined.

*

I rise up from my bed of nails,

exhausted from the fight and flight.

Oh, to wake and die no more,

to know all blindness, is now sight.

Oh, to find my tossing, turning nights,

have reached at last that tranquil shore.

I rise up from The Ocean-Bed

A wave, unique and wholly me.

I, a wave, in God’s great Sea,

and I am I, and I am Thee.

And in Love’s cradle,

even night is Light.

*

© Jane Tawel, February 24, 2022

Meditation-1, Prayer – 0

The Sound of Silence: Leaf
“The Sound of Silence: Leaf” by fotologic is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Meditation -1, Prayer – 0

By Jane Tawel

January 12, 2022

*

If I meditate on you,

seeing through you today,

as you were when young, as you will be when old,

then all my telling and all I am told,

fades away, and I see you.

and I see me, at last,

free;

but it is a freedom, frightening,

and I prefer to chain myself again

to outcomes and perceptions.

I will try again tomorrow,

to see through you to the little child,

and I will replant my own seed

in the womb of wholeness,

at least if only

for just a fleeting moment of conception.

In new conception, one finds Eternal Love.

*

If I meditate on You,

I feel fear and uncertainty,

because I think of You as a thought,

and that You should be somewhere.

Instead, You are every where,

The Seeker and the Sought are One.

I despair—

You are never going to come,

but You are here and now, instead,

and that I can’t get through my head,

and my heart aches with the anger of my aloneness.

If I but give myself away,

to lack of desire and lack of days,

then Eternity creates anew,

the me in You.

*

Give way, oh my Mind, to Heart of pure release.

Remorse is but a fire consuming,

but repentance waters the seeds of True Life.

What is a prayer, if not a certainty of Answering?

And the answer comes in Silence,

and the Silence is the womb.

*

© Jane Tawel, January 12, 2022

How Much We Must Unknow to Understand

green and yellow fish on water
https://unsplash.com/photos/SPTh4rzR6xQ

By Jane Tawel

September 6, 2021

*

To allude to a fact, is to release it to deeper understanding.

To allude to the past, is to increase its future expanding.

To cling to knowledge is a losing game,

as shallow as a puddle, as fleeting as fame.

Oh, to have faith in what is not known,

is the key to a wisdom that is not blown

by the winds of the time or the waves of the tides,

of humans’ small knowledge and man’s foolish pride.

*

If there is a God, then She must have a splendor

that surpasses religion or nation or gender.

Yes, there is a God, and He rises above,

even our greatest poets’ small odes to great love.

Yes, there is a Being, beyond all our facts,

known not through our creeds, but just by the acts

of the people who yearn for a soul free from self,

and the people who learn less from books on a shelf,

than by doing and proving that the self has to die,

for the Soul of Eternity to be truly alive.

*

How much, how much we must lose to gain.

What fields of faith, in one buried grain.

Embrace the story and the mysteries.

Let the present flow into past histories.

Release the need to understand,

and wholeness and holiness will expand.

Don’t limit today by confines of the mind,

and as all seekers, you may find,

that God is present and God is close,

and God is faith, and love, and hope.

*

How much there is we must un-know,

for the faith of Eternity to be planted, and grow.

For faith is the action that shores-up our belief,

and rescues our odysseys from the sirens’ reefs,

of limited knowledge, which ours always must be,

in a world in which there is just one guarantee –

that as small as I am in life misunderstood—

God is here. God is love. God is peace. God is Good.

**

© Jane Tawel September 6, 2021

Today begins Rosh Hashanah, and this poem was inspired albeit poorly done, in reverence and appreciation for the profound teachings of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Though he would point out that I have read merely his books, Rabbi Heschel, a man of faith for all religions, nations, and peoples, through his books of  profound thoughts and faith has taught me more than I can begin to express in my own small words of gratitude. Shalom to you and yours — Jane

Hidden God Hiding Love

Hide and Seek Game - Ultimate Guide to the Best Game EVER!
bighappybackyard

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Hidden God Hiding Love

By Jane Tawel

August 29, 2021

*

God hides.

All truth speakers know this.

All truth seekers show this,

in The Way they treat others.

We don’t know why God hides,

but it must have something to do,

with us, not God.

After all, a God who hides must love us very much.

For who can see God and live?

*

Love is not particularly our human forté.

And the kind of loves we mistake for Love,

perhaps the one that hovers and smothers,

in a needy insecure desire;

or love in a parent’s or lover’s missional bait and switch;

or love that demands returns on love’s investments

until a better investment comes around;

or love that claims to sacrifice,

while in reality,

it only takes and takes love unto one’s self,

 in the name of charity for others;

these things we all accept as if we know their meaning.

But the still small voice within us, always cries: “Lack! Lack!”

These false loves we accept and make stories about,

and award and honor those we think did it selflessly,

and so, we spin and protect the tall tales of selfless Eros;

and miss the truth myths of Agape love.

And we die false sacrifices in the name of love,

never having lived in the sacrifice of God’s Love.

Or we love others, with only their false names on our lips

because for most of us we think that kind of love is the best we can do,

and because the names we have given them are the only names we know.

We have not yet repented of our love,

and confessed that our hearts are still mostly made of stone.

We have not stopped to listen to the hidden song within,

the others or ourselves,

and stopped-up the noise of love-songs,

and stripped away the names of our families or feudal tribes.

We fear without our names,

the only names we know,

we will not know who we are.

But that is only because we have not yet received our white stones.

But we put far too much faith in knowing who we are;

“Be still. Stop your stories. And Know God, I Am. you are.”

*

Oh, put aside your childish things, and fairy tales.

There is no white knight riding forth to save you.

You have salvation within yourself.

Arise from your deathbed and live.

*

Selfless love is a cancerous myth,

full of false gods and false loves,

spreading through our lives like locusts in fields of grain.

Make your story about loving yourself.

God loves Himself;

and love is of God and everyone who truly loves,

is born out of God.

Make your story about loving everyone.

God loves everyone;

and this hard love, like a hidden diamond,

 is hidden even from God Himself,

so that all may be loved.

*

God’s Love is hidden,

Like all treasure chests are.

God’s love lies hidden within my very chest walls.

And if I can not sense its Presence

in myself, I will never sense it

in my brother, mother, sister, friend, child and

Yes, even hidden, like a lost coin, in my enemy.

If my Truth is not seeking

The Hidden God in me, and

God’s Love hidden in you,

then all truth is a lie

and all loves are hates.

*

Just because the God in me

lies buried

under the eons of fallen, rotten fruit

from Eden’s deserted crop,

the pearl of great price is also buried there;

gifted, not earned; found, not banked on;

apart from all I have nurtured or harvested;

a part and piece of all that is

my solitary humanness, my island, myself,

 alive and a-love within the Divine Whole.

*

And just because the God in

you, or me, or them, or us

may be hidden under layers,

and layers of the dusts-bowls of fruitlessness,

of the arid wastelands of anger and fear,

of the decimating wars without and within

or the shackles placed on us by the concepts of slavery or sin;

just because we feel alone

or alone,

or sometimes we are so very all alone;

just because we can’t see clearly,

and all is muddled in minds gone rancid from the infections of information,

and our hearts hurt so bad from longing for love,

and our eyes sting from trying to see through,

the crusted over with dirty things

cracked mirrors of our souls;

and the world has been unformed and fomented

by our own lusts and dirtied hands;

none of that means anything

 if The God Who formed the Universe,

who formed us each in the World’s Womb,

is still playing peek-a-boo,

with us Her children,

and when we are afraid in this world of hide-and-seek,

that we will never find God,

She is reaching out Her Hands,

and God suddenly appears

to hold us in Her Love.

*

In the world of false loves,

We grope blindly and fall, and fall, and fall.

But that doesn’t mean that now and then,

if we keep our eyes open,

and keep stepping out with faith,

and keep our lamps filled with oil,

every now and then, and eventually with practice,

and giving up, and with, (I am afraid to say it) a lot of dying to that which is dead;

every now and then,

the Living Hidden will peek-out and peer

 through the most unremarkable people,

unremarkable people like myself;

and beauty will appear in the most undesirable things and places;

and Love will be like nothing we could ever imagine happening in ourselves.

And by finding the hidden and divine Love within ourselves,

we will find God.

*

This Way is the only Way.

And This Story is the only Story.

And This Love is the only True Love.

When I love only and completely

the God in you,

and when I love the God in me,

then we who still seek,

will see God.

And we will live.

© Jane Tawel,  August 2021

When I Killed God

by Jane Tawel

https://unsplash.com/photos/iSDr-pNsINk

When I Killed God

By Jane Tawel

April 24, 2021

While it’s true that as a child,

there were incidents, bad things that happened against my will,

(because of course, a child is born with a soul, but not a will);

and while my exposure to events I accidently lived,

were pale in comparison to those children over there,

that child that lives in a different yard than I did;

it was still a thing that happened to me early on,

that some adults who thought they loved me,

killed God.

In fact, like you maybe,

I still have nightmares about that one person,

who abused the God in me.

And even the ones who thought they loved me best

by force-feeding me the formula of God-in-a-baby-bottle,

even those dear ones gave me some allergies,

and I have yet to heal from them.

*

But I can’t complain if I compare.

I lucked out that the pendulum swung,

mostly towards grown-ups who loved a God Who Was.

And that was enough,

For many years,

Until I found that a God-Who-Was,

didn’t make up for a God-Who-Isn’t.

*

At first it was simply a matter of making God too small.

I found Him and kept finding Him

for long years, hidden well among the wood pulp.

He had been manufactured and

stuck between the pages.

God looked good in black and white,

and we feasted on some words,

until our stomachs ached, and our minds grew dark

with the drink of self-righteousness.

Oh, yes, the words we chose were quite select;

while other Words were thrown out like

unrecyclable trash.

Our elders picked and chose

the parts of God to eat and then — 

to use as fodder.

*

Oh, I was one of the lucky ones,

to have such a glut of God-food

to grow older, fatter and more secure.

But have you found, as I have,

that the more secure you are in what is on your outside,

the less secure you become about what might Be — 

 — inside of you?

Haven’t you found, that the more God you hoard,

the less God you have?

Maybe as I did, you stopped imbibing God,

and started instructing Him instead?

*

When I became smart, I became so afraid.

That’s when prayer became my tyranny of a God

that I could use for my benefit and mine own,

mine own, my own true loves,

(which by the way, God didn’t number among;

Well, maybe He did in word, but not in deed).

*

Yes, words in a book are easily idolized.

Words are so still and compliant.

Words can be raped and their unholy union made to be born.

*

Words can be quieted.

Like the children of famous men,

words are meant to be seen and not heard;

meant to be worshipped,

but not brought to life again in someone else.

*

The idea of actually living the words

is akin to plagiarism.

See, but don’t touch.

Read, but don’t do.

Admire and profit by, but don’t suffer and live.

*

Oh, please don’t get me wrong,

I love words and The Word.

Words can be made to look so pretty,

like lipstick on a pig,

like make-up on a corpse.

Unlike A LIVING GOD SPEAKS!, — 

and we quickly shush Him;

a book can be so comforting,

so easily managed;

its little broken-up word-limbs lying there on pages,

scattered but contained in their little covered box;

or cremated and remembered as dust,

not “This is my Body, given for you. Take. Become.”

*

And God’s Word, what a life it once had!

Our eulogies are endless

as we look at God-Words that Were.

We stand around bereaved, but anxious to get back to work.

Our attention for mourning a Dead Word can only last so long,

maybe a few hours a week, tops.

Oh, thank goodness the Word of God

Passed away peacefully in Its sleep.

We sit in our pews and then file by its handsome carcass,

a relic so safely buried, at peace, not bringing a sword now, thank God!

In its final resting place. Amen.

God-Word doesn’t look much like a human,

lying there, with its heart no longer beating,

a God-heart that once belonged to someone else,

who left it there for all to find,

words once living in a person, now entombed.

God-soul up there, far away in what I like to think of as Heaven.

Doesn’t need a heart, or hands or body, right?

Let’s just remember Her in Spirit, not in Truth, okay?

It’s so much less painful, that way.

*

Stories about God are enough,

and God-heart, hearts-like-God, are allegories,

as useful as a history-lesson.

Unless, of course, we relearn, re-hope, re-shape our own stories,

and take the heart of words as mere clouded mirrors,

Dim reflections of a Cosmos-Heart-of God,

Alive and well in all,

Alive in every molecule of Planet Earth.

The Word of God,

once alive in the God-people, still lives.

God-people then and now,

have died to donate their words

to give the World a heart transplant.

Words still beating with Life, yearn to Be,

implanted and given new life in me,

Sutured by the Great Physician.

*

The Words we give our religions copyrights to

Desire anonymously, to Be;

Edited by The Writer of the World,

Given the Kiss of Life by The Living Word,

God-Alive.

*

But it’s safer and calmer and I am much more popular here

in my own little boxes that I store my thoughts and achievements in.

Such a lot of stuff I give a dead god credit for.

The few times I caught a glimpse of God still alive in the wild,

It scared me so much, I turned tail and ran back to what I called home.

Funny, how we humans change definitions to suit our fears.

I wonder what the word “home” really means, don’t you?

Well, I wonder what the word “God” really means, too.

I do have a rather useful library of books written to define God.

Sometimes, I get a feeling God looks at all those books on Her,

And laughs and cries, and laughs and cries,

For lack of Her True Self in the world, in us,

in me.

*

But Oh! how energizing it has been to use dead men’s words at will!

And prayer is such a convenient tool

to wedge a piece of God out.

Stagnant things are things, after all, and we can control things.

Ta da! Oh, to never be wrong, in a world of otherness!

What a kick to have a handle on how best to use a God!

But how does a human control a God?

Why, by making Her something to own and use, of course.

God makes a lovely product.

The God-salesmen cry out:

“Step right up, no matter your age or socio-economic status!

You can own your very own God, suitable for all your needs,

practical for every purpose!

And when your God of childhood wears out,

Come on back and get a grown-up God to use instead.”

*

Indeed, as I grew

I knew God was a worthy weapon for war.

And so, I locked and loaded,

and let my God-out-there

hurt the God-in-here,

the God-in-me, the God-in-you.

But really, the God-weapon can be a very nice way to feel in control;

Even though the dark insecurity of the embers of knowing-ness,

and the shrapnel that The Physician was never allowed to remove,

always hurt, and also always beckon.

To come to terms with just how out of control the world in me was,

which threatened to overtake the God-in-me,

I shriveled and grew colder;

Wait, I meant to say, grew older.

*

I keep reading up on Eagles,

but I am like a fledgling, fallen from its nest,

never knowing it wasn’t born to read up on “How To”,

but simply born to leap out of the nest

and to fly.

*

You see, when I let the God-in-me die,

I killed God.

Hanging Him on a cross,

burning Her at the stake,

electrocuting Them in a chair,

were all far too easy after that.

*

And then, today, I went to the empty tomb as usual,

looked in the mirror, and brushed my teeth;

embalmed my face as I thought

was the right rite to do.

But …….suddenly…….

the sun came-up again.

And I heard a rumor that tomorrow, we might all get rain to end the drought.

And I couldn’t help myself — 

Someone in me arose.

*

In the time it takes to say a single word — Bam!

I realized, the tomb I had put God in, was empty!

And in that moment, I wanted my tomb to be empty, too.

I wanted God to rise from the grave of self-important ego,

I had buried Him in.

I wanted God to Be not just be “in” me, but all-around me.

Everywhere-God. Everyone-God.

I wanted to be the God who wanted to Be me;

Not just with words, but with hands, and feet,

and beating, hurting, healing heart.

*

And as I stepped in terror to the precipice,

uncertain if I would fly or fall,

live or die,

I found I still had one unbroken, unbent wing,

and I could hear the eternal beating of God-Word

Pounding in my pulse.

And I leapt out into Living-Arms,

*

Even as the God-in-All,

Oh, YES! — the Living God in All of Us,

Just as He rose from the grave we stuck Him in,

I, too, may rise and fly today.

For yesterday, I learned,

as long as God’s alive in you,

as long as God’s alive in me,

He will never be as small as a book,

As small as my thoughts,

As small as a word,

Or as small as I am.

GOD-ALIVE are as big as we can imagine,

As wide and deep and true as the whole world.

SHE is as able and embracing as a loving Mother,

Cradling the entire fledgling universe in her sheltering Arms.

HE is as mighty as the Wheel of Fire,

that rolls toward Justice, making in its wake,

in His mercy,

a path in The Way for ALL who seek and suffer to rise.

THEY are as playful and vulnerable

and loving as Children, who never grow old

and never grow weary in their delight,

in Each Other, and in us, Their Creations.

*

Resurrection means that

I can not really kill God

I can only kill the God Who wants to live in me.

And so, today,

I will throw-out another of my self-made weapons

into the hell of no longer useful or needed.

And I will find some more words

to childishly shape into The Living Word,

Spoken in the here and now through me.

And I will chip away at the tomb of fear that leads me to control.

And I shall ascend.

Ascend!

in the Glorious Now of God-Alive.

*

© Jane Tawel 2021

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