Six times a year, our family lights candles for Gram, and for Grandma and Grandpa Tawel. Birth and Death. Life and Love. Remember all who have come before you and made you who are.
The Hebrew Bible is full of loving reminders, admonishes, and encouragements to Remember. The God that appears in the Genesis is One Who would like us to believe that He/She would like to be remembered and that we can nudge Him/Her to remember us when we are in need. “Hello, here I am, YHWH. Remember me?” “Why yes, but don’t you think, little human, you might have forgotten something? Me. Here, IAM.”
Next week two great faith traditions begin a season of remembrances. Passover, when we remember the God who “delivers”, the God who “saves”, the God of covenants of love and mercy and commitment. “I am the LORD.The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD — a lasting ordinance.” (from Exodus 12)
Next week we remember a Jew named Jesus who celebrated that covenant with the God of his ancestors by reworking it so that people in a new time and new place could evolve a new understanding and begin to understand what internal, psychological, personal, spiritual salvation and deliverance might mean for them, and then could spread that new understanding of what we humans were created to be out to the whole world in love and rightness and peace. “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (from Luke 22)
It is hard for me to look at what these great religions have done in the name of remembering that same God and continue to do in a false sense of who we are created to be, as nations continue to rise against nations and as people use a God’s name to do what we keep hoping that very God won’t do to us — judge, hate, neglect, diminish, etc. Sometimes it is oh so hard for me to remember that God longs to see us restored to the wholeness with which He created us and so, I pray, “God, help me to remember that You are good. That You have created me for good. That there is goodness in the world and help me remember that You have not forgotten the people here. Remember us, Oh Lord.”
Today, I encourage you to light a candle, literally or metaphorically to all that you have that is worth remembering and honoring. It may be that you need to remember that YOU are worthy of honor today. Today I am remembering and honoring my mother and next week my family and I will light a candle for my mother-in-law and throughout the year, we will remember and light candles. Lighting candles not to lead them home, because they are already Home, but lighting candles to lead us Home.
Remember not just those who have given you so much in the past, but remember all you have to be grateful for in this very present time, and if you can, remember that tomorrow is another day and you do not need to carry today’s burdens any further than when tomorrow begins your life anew.
Remember all the love. All the Love.
Remember the ancestors and despite it all, despite them and their mistakes, despite us and our wounds, we have each been given enough. We have been given enough and we are alive for a reason. Honor those who have given you life and then forgive them and forgive yourself. Be at peace by being sure that you have inherited enough goodness, enough strength, enough love, enough of what you need and enough to share a little with someone else. Remember you are enough, however small you may feel your portions are.
Remember that today, you are able. And when you are not able, look for the helpers. Remember there are helpers out there in the world. Remember that you are stronger than you think and loved more than you know. Remember that no matter what you face, no matter how you feel, there is always hope, hope in what we may only vaguely remember from when our spirits were created. Remember that today, there is a Spirit of Love that wants you to believe — today you are loved. Today, you are love.
And remember — the children will find their way; they will find their strength; they will find love and faith and wholeness and health. They will. They really will.
Remember the future. And believe, that despite it all, the children will learn from us and they will learn better than us. The children will ask God to remember them and the Earth, and they will remind God to remember us, to remember that She loves them and loves the world She created. The children will seek and seek and they will continue to find the old ways and new ways. And the children will find The Way. We will find The Way that has always been, if we remember. The Way, that is here now, if we remember to look for it. The Way, that is up ahead, all across the universe, if we remember that we have enough if we have just a little candle-flicker of faith and hope and love.
I found this in a notebook when I was clearing out “stuff”. I wrote this way back in 2007, before I ever started this blog space and when I still drove my four kids around to things and often drove them crazy. Written before I knew how quickly those years of parenting would pass and written, well, during everything that mattered.
I wrote this after a visit to the Los Angeles History Museum’s incredible gem and mineral collection and exhibit. For better writers than I on rocks and other natural things that sing, talk, yell, shout and praise Creator-God, please read Habakkuk, Isaiah, the writers of the Psalms and the words of Jesus of Nazareth.
Even the Rocks Cry Out
By Jane Tawel
The world can seem lonely,
and I doubt there can be a God.
Otherwise, wouldn’t He or She or They
inside me and without.
And people keep killing each other,
while churches and synagogues and mosques
make more and more and more money
to feed their superstars.
While the masses go hungry
for the lack of a miracle
of people sharing their loaves and fishes.
Ah, yes, Superstars.
We would rather worship running backs
and quarterbacks and rappers and
pretty people all in a row.
But the real stars in the sky
are consumed by our false neon-lights,
and the darkness is completed–
in the heavens as it is on earth.
The stars. The stars!–
Those magical rocks that glow in the sky–
Ah, where are the stars?
They have been put out,
just as the bridesmaids whose oil ran out
on their way to the Great Wedding.
No, the celestial lights,
don’t bother to speak to us anymore.
We stopped listening to the wisdom of the stars
just as we stopped listening to the trees,
and birds and bees.
We are too busy trying to explore and exploit them all.
Busy, busy, busy, busy as bees,
And we are killing the bees with our business
just as we kill ourselves.
Sometimes even killing ourselves by
the saddest, most hopeless choice.
Perhaps because there are no more stars of light in the darkness.
And I feel like a very small and useless pebble,
tossed on a god’s whim,
into the roiling angry waves,
of a sea perpetually at storm.
A useless stone, cast out.
Yesterday I went downtown in L.A.–
Los Angeles–land of people hungry for stardom,
and begging for applause;
people also hungry for a meal
and begging for change.
Los Angeles – City of Angels,
and of Devils, too.
With the most human stars per capita,
and not a single star
that can break through, shine through
the city’s false lights and the smog.
Poor little luminaries,
all dressed up and no where to glow.
Yesterday I went downtown in L.A.
and I visited the Natural Museum of History.
And there I saw the most amazing exhibit.
Among dead rows of extinct things,
or things nearing extinction,
like our planet, our poor dying planet.
I saw a living universe of color and light.
I happened upon a world unearthed.
There in row after row,
were rocks that glowed.
The glass cases held
every color of the rainbow.
Hundreds of minerals and gems
with tiny little placards
that tried their best to name
the unfathomable, unique glories of rocks.
An entire cosmos seemed to breathe,
in and out, and in and out.
How can rocks breathe, you ask?
I guess you had to be there;
holding your own breath as I held mine,
to hear the inhalations
and soft, sweet exhales of a rock’s breath.
There I stood alone in a crowd,
and communed with
that which is found under the earth.
“Ah, bless the hands that discovered
the jewels of the Earth!” I thought.
And still, I forgot,
to bless the womb
of She Who created them.
And yet, there among the rocks,
that seemed silent
in a world of our noisiness,
I discovered this:
There must have been a Creator.
And whatever you may call Him or Her or Them –
This Creator has created this planet with love,
and us with it.
There is no other way to understand,
how there can be so many different and
beautiful, incredible, unbelievable things—
even just the most simple of things
that we call minerals or gems;
let alone the creation of a butterfly wing,
or a whale’s song, or a human eye.
There must be Something – Someone –
Who said, “Let Us play with the dirt
and see what we can make.”
Only love and beauty and wonder and delight
and playfulness and joy
and creativity beyond human understanding—
could make the scope and breadth,
of things we might call – “stones”.
How else do you explain –
quartz, and opals,
aquamarine, and talc,
chrystobalite, adomite, hematite,
beryl and benitoite,
diamond and pearl,
painite, mica, and more.
Oh, I entered there
with a heart as hard as stone.
But my feet were set upon a rock,
and I was hugged by the rocks,
for want of shelter.
I was silenced
by the world’s hardness.
There was no faith left
in calcified lungs, or mind, or heart.
And then standing
in a temple of wisdom
in down town L.A.
A riotous, wild cheering!
an adoring psalm broke out!–
among the most inert, unmovable things
that any god could create.
I looked around but no one else there seemed to hear them.
The minerals and gems were yelling at me.
Now singing as a choir, in harmony—
Now performing as soloists.
All were praising their Creator,
their loving Parent
The God of each mammoth mountain,
and each tiny stone.
The Creator of every fallen leaf
every stone unturned,
every child who ever felt unloved,
were held, and turned and loved by Him.
All the rocks knew their Maker,
the Creative Genius of the whole world,
still holding all He loves
in the deep caves of His hands.
All the rocks knew their Mother,
has She not told us?–
“I am the Rock of your Salvation.”
And even an inert, unmovable thing,
like my heart had become;
even the mountain I had built of my doubt,
I was moved to cry, “My God!”—
as even the rocks cried out.
“I tell you truthfully, if every voice on the planet is stilled, then even the rocks themselves will cry out in praise of the Parent-Creator.” – Jesus of Nazareth.
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
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.
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.
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. …
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
I knew I was a human of unclean lips. And yet, I spoke to God the only word that is: “Love!”
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.
“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.
And with very few words, God and I began to Become.
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.