Jury Duty in L.A.- Reflection #1: You and Me

Homeless Person Vaporized on the Subway” by ramsay stirling is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Jury Duty in L.A.

Reflection #1 “You and Me?”

By Jane Tawel

May 17, 2022

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There is no place for me to go.

No place.

No place.

No place.

And I look out at a world not mine,

and no one sees my face.

My face.

My face.

My face.

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What did I look like, years ago,

when I had some of that?

How did I lose it all so fast,

and end up here,

and end up lost,

and end up so miscast?

‘Cuz’ you don’t really see me, do you?

You think I am not like you.

Admit it, it’s true.

You don’t see the slippery slope

that’s been keepin’ you on your side of life’s river,

and I floating downstream on my frail mat,

and alla that, alla that, alla that,

you got, you think that you deserve it?

But one wrong glance, one bad romance, one missed chance,

one person screwing your finance, one look askance,

one little perchance,

one wrong step in The Big Dance,

and there you go, lucky you, not so lucky any more, are you?

No, you are just like me.

You ARE me,

but you don’t see.

There ain’t no you and me –

The Dance is always for Three.

Let them that have eyes, see.

Let them that have ears, hear.

And let them like me that have nothing any more,

Weep and mourn.

There ain’t no joy in the morning,

‘cuz alla you-all are blocking The Light.

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© Jane Tawel, May 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

The Centered Life

dreamstime

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The Centered Life

By Jane Tawel

March 16, 2022

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There can be no circumference

without a center point.

And though all points surrounding,

wobble;

The Center can and does still–

and it holds

still.

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It is we who let the unsteady legs of our small compasses,

bend and rust,

and always feel we must,

create something apart

from that which holds our hearts,

and holds the world in Her turning,

And with our childish yearning,

we twist the method roughly;

unsteadying in our haste and waste,

 our whole circled meaning,

created self, created design.

And flawing the Flawless

in our attempts to move the Center of Our Being,

we search for a freedom to scribble crooked lines

apart from the true Trued.

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It is we who let the outside dividers

divide us.

Buckling, folding, veering,

we stretch our outer points too far.

Reaching away from the Center Point,

we find we are no longer whole.

And we have flatlined,

far from that point which Centers all.

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Oh, Great Law of Divine Geometry!

Create in me a new center, O God.

Bring to bear upon my childish patterned ways,

the loving kindness of the

never-ending multiplying Sum of Your Infinity.

Create me anew.

Make me as pi to your Eternal Focus;

that all the small points on my life’s line,

may point inward, always to You.

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We commit this day,

to start at just this point.

Not knowing where each circle

begins and ends,

but trusting that in God’s kingdom,

circles have no horizons, that the Center does not see.

We enclose as we are enclosed,

looping together our own small circles;

that in this great Circle of Life,

we may find the Path that

whirls and revolves

gyrates and wheels,

and orbits round and round eternally

together……All…..One……

Wholly and holy circling round and round,

in that Divine Spiral,

in and within,

the Center that does hold.

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© Jane Tawel, March 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.”

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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”.

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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.”

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© 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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© Jane Tawel, February 24, 2022

We Are Not the Flame

Candle in the wind
“Candle in the wind” by Ralf Appelt is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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We Are Not the Flame

By Jane Tawel

February 8, 2022

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We are not the flame.

We are but a flicker,

and a flicker, and a flicker, and a flicker after that.

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I am not one name,

but many I have worn,

like coats of many colors,

some beautiful, some torn.

And yet the garment is all One,

and I am just the tassels,

just one small voice amongst great passels,

and yet not passing-on– not all–

and yet not passing on.

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Eternity, we deeply feel,

must be in us, must be real.

And yet, we know we die.

We pass away to live not yet another day.

But what I do, what these hands make,

not for myself, but someone else’s sake,

will last, will conquer even death,

and even with my dying breath,

I hope, I pray, that I can say:

“The Flame. The Flame! I see it now!”

And some way, some how,

beyond– yet still me–

my little flickers of The Flame,

will live on, eternally.

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© Jane Tawel, 2022

My Island and the Waves

Island 2018
“Island 2018” by jule.lumma is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

My Island and the Waves

By Jane Tawel

December 29, 2021

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On my peaceful, happy island,

where my mindfulness is calm,

when for just a moment, I am free

of you, and me, and what has been or what might be,

I embrace all life and living,

in accord with God and all.

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But freedom and peace even on an island, are briefly held,

while waves lap and rise and advance and swell.

But must even waves that threaten be feared,

when light is dark, and dark is light, and peace is meant for loosing?

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What happiness I’m meant to find in watching waves,

and knowing if I see that they are only and always water,

I, too, can walk on waves.

And once my faith is practice,

then I return myself to my island,

and bring my friends along.

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The waves are never too high when one is not alone.

And an island expands to create more time and space

 for all who trust and love.

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©  Jane Tawel, December 29, 2021

Santa v. Jesus

Santa Claus vs Jesus Christmas Card | Zazzle.com | Custom christmas cards, Christmas  jesus, Holiday design card

Santa v. Jesus.

By Jane Tawel

December 24, 2021

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If Santa is happiness,

Jesus is joy.

With Christ, you get hope,

with Santa, fun toys.

Both Santa and Jesus come to our minds,

but sadly, for most of us, just at Christmas time.

If Santa is magical,

and Jesus is miracle

then it’s surely tragical,

when it’s not empirical,

to give freely to others, like Santa would do,

and to find our inner-Christ, the eternal and true.

Remember the specialness of everyone’s birth.

Try mindfully to be what brings peace to the Earth.

Laugh deep in your belly with glad ho, ho, ho’s.

Give daily your best gifts, so true love will grow.

We get stuck thinking holy-days are calendar days;

But each morning, we’re offered new steps on The Way.

No matter your culture, religion, or creed,

or if Santa or Jesus, you no longer believe;

Today is a gift!  And my friend, so are you!

Today can be magical, and miracle, too!

Embrace every moment, no matter the season.

For you are the child that was born for a reason.

You are the giver of gifts and the star.

You’re loved now and forever, wherever you are.

Every day, celebrate! Give your life some applause.

Be your very best Jesus, and your best Santa Claus.

And when feelings or thoughts threaten to do you in–

Take a very deep breath, and to all, give a grin.

For tomorrow we celebrate, if we only believe!

Oh, each day is a miracle, a gift to receive.

Both Santa, the jolly, and Jesus, the mild,

have the same hopeful message:   “Be today, like a child.”

Rush like a toddler, to the gifts laid before you.

Accept, like a newborn, the folks who adore you.

Anticipate happiness as a kid does a new toy.

Give big hugs and wet kisses as a child does with joy.

Be the elf or the reindeer or the shepherd or king,

For your story is the very most important thing

that you bring to the world, every day that you live.

You are the best gift any day has to give.

When we find in ourselves today’s Jesus and Claus,

We find plenty of reasons to rejoice – Just because!

© Jane Tawel, December 24, 2021

A Letter to Remember

Hello All,

Many of you know my mom passed away this summer. No day will ever be quite the same for me, but especially this season of Christmas, will never be the same — Mom loved Christmas.  In the first picture here is an ornament from one of my mother’s and our favorite places in the world (Winona Lake’s Warsaw Cut Glass). It has my mom’s earthly dates on it and this: “She loved Christmas and she loved us”. If you knew my mom, you would know that of course, the Season of Giving was her favorite time of year.  I hope she is enjoying playing Broadway show tunes or Christmas songs on some big heavenly piano today as she often did on earth.

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The second picture, from a Christmas my Mom spent here in CA with us — well thankfully, Mom is not seeing it, since she would not like how she looks, but it is a good reminder that with True Love, no one really cares how we look, do they? We enjoy very much this whole idea of little poor minority, Jewish baby Jesus in a stable, and then we forget that there were no kings and gifts then, (that we added on later), and there was only fear, and lack, and uncertainty, and ugliness, and nationalism, and loss, and grieving, and pain (childbirth not least among the pain). There was nothing — not even a home. But there was the most important thing. There was true and great Love. And there was Hope. And there was the kind of joy that is deeper than happiness, the kind of joy we like to think that angels sing about.

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Oh, yes, this is a lovely season of remembering; not one story about one baby, but all of our stories about love in adversity and love in the good times, and joy in the very present moment. As both Jesus’ ancestors and future religious descendants would advise: “Remember”. “Never forget” “Store these things in your heart.” Remember so you can be present in this moment to the absolute joy that you are alive and have been loved and are loved.

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So, as we wrap up a year, and it has been quite a year! — and as we wrap up our gifts for each other, and wrap our arms around each other, and wrap our minds around another year of uncertainty, and loss, and pain, and for so many, too much of nothing or sorrow or need — we need to be reminded — Remember! — that all that ever matters, all that ever remains, is the Love.
Remember the love. Seek the love. Embrace the love. Be the love.

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Be the hope for someone today. Be the joy for someone today. And above all–Be the love.

This is a wonderful season to remember that what we really care about are those we love, and to let the people we care about know it. “Taking Care” — that’s really what the whole Christmas story is about, isn’t it? It is a good season to remember that we humans long to worship something or Someone that takes care of us, even if we are naughty and not nice, even if our doubts overwhelm our faith, even if we have erred hugely in our relationships with others and ourselves, even if we, like the little drummer boy, have nothing to give in return . So the question is — if we long for that kind of care and love despite ourselves, and despite the other person, isn’t the message of Christmas about our deep need to give that care and love to others, even the ones we find it hard to love? Didn’t little baby Jesus eventually grow up to tell and live that story?

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It’s a good time to remember that Baby Jesus was blessed enough to grow up to be a man, and a good time to read some of the stuff he said when he wasn’t a baby any more. It can rock your world. I’m trying more and more to let it rock mine, but I won’t kid you, it’s not easy, which is another thing we have to remember little baby Jesus the grown-up said. No, true love is not easy. But then, the great and true things in life are worth the price, aren’t they? Isn’t that what we are trying to symbolize with our crazy gift giving and decorating and feasting Holy-days — that Love is priceless? I know my mom believed that. I have read that is what Jesus thought, too.

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My mom was a giddy crazy lady around Christmas time. Price tags were meaningless to her. And she had a horrible time waiting for anything. Unlike I, advent and anticipation  did not bring her happiness. There was never too much — there was just so much to give! I once mentioned I liked nativity scenes and needed some ornaments for the tree — so Mom would send not one, but three nativity sets and keep sending ornaments and decorations, and yes, more nativity sets, every year. Putting them up this year made me cry those tears you get — you know the ones — where you cry because you are so sad and missing someone but you are sort of smiling and laughing and happy too because you feel so much love still warming up your insides from memories and thoughts of that person, who is also making you cry. Remember. And so it goes.

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My kids and husband don’t know it yet, but I also got a little remembrance “thingy” to give them each this Christmas,  that commemorates their grandparents, Raoul’s folks, Esther and Gaston Tawil. One year my dearly beloved father-in-law took me to Fedco or Feddies as he called it and we bought some special little fragile Christmas ornaments for the tree. Each year I put the ones that have survived on the tree and think of him. And our first Christmas with our first child, Justine, we flew to D.C. to spend with Gaston and Esty and Uncle Guy and I bought them ridiculous ugly Christmas sweatshirts with something along the lines of Proud Grandmother and Grandfather of Baby’s First Christmas. You can see below how delighted they were to wear those ugly sweaters, even though my mother-in-law had such style and beauty, she wore that ugly thing so proudly. Look at her face below looking at her new granddaughter. There was no one who could squeal with pleasure like Esty Mizrahi Tawil and Gaston would chuckle with delight as he spent time with each of his four dearly loved grandkids. Esty left us all far, far too soon and Gaston is with her and my mom now too. Ah, I miss them so very, very much. But what a lucky, lucky human I am to have such memories to store up in my heart. Never forget.

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My mom’s and Raoul’s parents’ wonderful Christmas spirit lives on — especially in their grandkids, my children, who aren’t children any more, but who keep the traditions, keep the good things, do a great job of working on healing the bad things, are incredibly giving humans, and who each live lives that did make and would make their “Gram” and Papa Tawil and Grandma Esty proud.

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So yeah, this year we sent a traditional Christmas “brag” letter, because when my mom was bragging about her own children and grandchildren she was happier than anything. I am proud of my husband and my kids, and I am working on being proud of myself. I am proud to be the play-it-forward carrier of my mom, my dad, my grandparents, and my parents-in-law.  I miss them so much. I remember and I am here now and I will do my best to carry forward all the love. All the love.

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So Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Years to you all. Hug your loved ones close, even if they squirm. Study something or listen to something that brings you both joy and growth.  Find forgiveness for others and yourselves for everything. As a different but gloriously similar tradition to the one Jesus believed but which teaches truth as Christ’s many parables taught, let the negative seeds within you go unwatered and nurture the positive seeds that also lie within you so they may grow to the size of huge mustard plants —  huge Christmas trees.

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Remember the good and the love and let it grow within you, this season, and every day you are blessed to wake up.  Whatever you celebrate, celebrate with abandoned joy in the very present precious moment. Take care of yourself. Take care of your loved ones. Take care of strangers. Take care of your enemies. Take care of the world and the planet.

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You are loved. You are love. Remember that.

With Love, Jane

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Jane Tawel, December 2021

Shall I Give You This Moment, Too?

clear hour glass with brown frame
https://unsplash.com/photos/KYxXMTpTzek

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Shall I Give You This Moment, Too?

By Jane Tawel

December 8, 2021

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Shall I give you this moment, too?

I gave you most of yesterday.

My fallow brain,

was trained upon,

the shallow depths and weedy ways.

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Shall I give up the narrow Way,

of seeing teacups and seeing light;

to wallow more in thoughts most fey

and things that haunt both day and night?

Yes, haunt!– for these are spirits dim,

and not the moment I’m within.

To let the future or the past

steal yet more moments that won’t last,

is like a little death, each day,

and not True Life in The True Way.

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It matters not if good or bad,

the things I think upon.

It’s not about you, unless you’re here.

And if you are, I’ll hold most dear,

my task to focus, until you’re gone.

But then – goodbye. We’ll both be free

until the next time you see me.

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I seek a different Point of View.

Enough! Enough, I say!

I have anew, this gift, this day;

I’ll not waste it on you.

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© Jane Tawel, December 2021