“mother to Mother” by Jane Tawel

mother to Mother

A Poem

by Jane Tawel

September 1, 2017

 

I have spent many years with you, My Father

Seeing you only as a Father.

And so when my heart has turned away,

I have seen you as absent;

When my nights were dark,

I turned only to your power which seemed to  pale

 against

the Monsters under my bed.

When I was naughty and sinned against You

I hid from the might of Your Right hand;

As if You would never be able to find me

naked in my temper tantrum.

Your firm judgment weakened my resolve.

For

by treating You only as a Father

I could stay childish.

And alone.

Today Your still small voice

reached out like the grasping hand of

a Woman who never

forgets Her labor pains.

At first I was afraid to come out from my hiding.

I didn’t recognize Your voice when You spoke.

Your Words sounded different

 when crooned through the Heart of Your suffering

 as You gave birth to Your own birth

 in

becoming My Mother.

You, Mommy,

spoke to me endearing my heart with nicknames,

 and You called me to Your breast

As my Mother.

I ran awkwardly  like a toddler

sensing  that I need never be childish or alone with You;

And I knew that I could neither impress nor help You

nor ever make you less of a Mom to me than you were on the day I was reborn.

Because no matter what

 I would always be Your beloved child.

You gathered my sad split spirits

 to Your Womb,

My tiny- limbed tributary returning gleefully

 to its open- armed Source.

And I wept with relief and joy

 because You, my Mother

were powerful enough

to die to save me.

And You took my wee small hand

And helped me cross the vast estate

into the motherly loving eternal arms of

My Father.

 

 

This poem is a poor response to a phenomenal writer and theologian: Henri Nouwen. Here is a small part of some of Nouwen’s thinking on the painting by Rembrandt and Jesus’ parable:

From Henri Nouwen’s Book The Return of the Prodigal Son: (emphases are my own)

I am convinced that many of my emotional problems would melt as snow in the sun if I could let the truth of God’s motherly non-comparing love permeate my heart.

How hard that is becomes clear when I reflect on the parable of the laborers in the vineyard… Why didn’t the landowner pay those who worked many long hours first and then surprise the latecomers with his generosity? Why instead, does he pay the workers of the eleventh hour first, raising false expectations in the others and creating unnecessary bitterness and jealousy? These questions, I now realize, come from a perspective that is all too willing to impose the economy of the temporal on the unique order of the divine.

It hadn’t previously occurred to me that the landowner might have wanted the workers of the early hours to rejoice in his generosity to the latecomers.  It never crossed my mind that he might have acted on the supposition that those who had worked in the vineyard the whole day would be deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to do work for their boss, and even more grateful to see what a generous man he is.  It requires an interior about-face to accept such a non-comparing way of thinking.  But that is God’s way of thinking.  God looks at his people as children of a family who are happy that those who have done only a little bit are as much loved as those who accomplish much.

God is so naive as to think that there would be great rejoicing when all those who spent time in his vineyard, whether a short time or a long time, were given the same attention.  Indeed, he was so naive as to expect that they would all be so happy to be in his presence that comparing themselves with each other wouldn’t even occur to them.  That is why he says with the bewilderment of a misunderstood lover: “Why should you be envious because I am generous?” He could have said: “You have been with me the whole day, and I gave you all you asked for! Why are you so bitter?  It is the same bewilderment that comes from the heart of the father when he says to his jealous son: “My son, you are with me always, and all I have is yours.”

Here lies hidden the great call to conversion: to look not with the eyes of my own low self-esteem, but with the eyes of God’s love.  As long as I keep looking at God as a landowner, as a father who wants to get the most out of me for the least cost, I cannot but become jealous, bitter, and resentful toward my fellow workers or my brothers and sisters.  But if I am able to look at the world with the eyes of God’s love and discover that God’s vision is not that of a stereotypical landowner or patriarch but rather that of an all-giving and forgiving father who does not measure out his love to his children according to how well they behave, then I quickly see that my only true response can be deep gratitude.

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If He Clothes

 

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If He Clothes

A Poem

 by Jane Tawel

August 11, 2017

 

 

 

Nature’s indiscreet ignoble ignorance

Revels before The Glory.

Lacking dignity, She indecorously decorates in bold immodesty;

Celebrating unselfishly in fuschia-crimson-midnight-gold-cerulean-purple-aqua-pink-cerise-ecru-limegreen-blue-chiffon-mustard-ochra-red-chocolate-chartreuse-denim-puce!

Creation greenishly proclaims “there is no self outside God’s Glory!”

 

In this de-meaning comes true meaning.

In this indignity lives dignified identity in Son of Sun.

In this un-nobling comes ennobled rampageous God-image.

In freely- clothed nature’s requited love comes uproarious beauty.

How much more…

How much more….

 

If Our Parent-Creator robes these in their tumultuous foolish nakedness

How much more should we exude our blooming grace?

 

If Fairest of Them All

Vestures with glory and awe-inspiring miracles of prismatic growth

How much more The Three yearn to en-robe me?

If I but dance with nothing to hide my love

Will not my barren heart be seeded in new life

as David’s was?

 

If I  de-mean my bleak self

in worship of Their Artful Meaning;

If my dour, dreary soul will paint praise

razzle-dazzled do-see-doed

with showy palm -fronded-joy;

Then I will dance

like David did

Before the Lord

as all Creation gawked in awe.

 

But if I do not cry lushly out

nor dance against the muteness

of my plain pride,

The very rocks–most ugly and controlling of us all–

will riot-up in worship,

kaleidoscoping their praise

for those with ears to hear and eyes to see.

 

If ugly rocks will dance,

I can only imagine what those crazy  flowers will do!

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Matthew 6:28 And why do you worry about clothes. Consider the flowers in the fields, see how they grow; They neither labor nor spin.

Psalm 96: 11 & 12 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.  Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

2 Samuel 6:14 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might.

Luke 19:40 “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

 

Good Grief! It’s Friday!

Good Grief! It’s Friday!

By Jane Tawel

 

 

We were so afraid.

We weren’t used to troubles like this

And it knocked the breath out of us before we could

Catch up to our spirits.

Breath of Life, don’t breathe too close on us today.

We might just faint away.

In fear.

 

We were so angry.

The spin on You went through the stratosphere.

We based our bottom lines on Your success and fame.

We blessed each other in Your name.

Jesus H. Christ, what in the world were You thinking in the end?

Name above all Names, don’t list us as Your close associates.

We might just kill you

In anger.

 

We were so sad.

Now what were we supposed to do

Without You?

We loved You so much, we can’t stop asking why?

Our worldviews can’t contain the fact we die.

Holy Lamb of God, what good is it for our sin to be gone

When You are gone too?

We claim to follow You,

but we walk un-straight in circles,

In Confusion.

 

We are silenced,

watching now from

So many moons past,

The souls that everlast-ingly,

love from beyond, upon the earth-as-it-is-in-heaven,

As our children’s children’s children

Are still and ever and always–

Afraid.

Angry.

Confused.

 

And we long to send our sisters and brothers a message

As Lazarus could not do,

And yet,

No one has ever had ears to hear

Unless heard in the backward / foreward shadow of Your Cross.

 

But if we could speak from our own tombs,

We would cry “Hallelujah” throughout the earth,

For–

The Son of Man,

He too

Who knew

Anger,

Sadness,

Confusion,

and His daily tomb

And yes also,

His final resting place—

 

Today, deemed “Good”,

Messiah God Jehu

Has died, ‘tis true.

 

And yet…..

And yet…..

And yet…..

Good Grief!  It’s Friday!

And yet…..

 

What is final to The Eternal One?

He slipped through hell without His blinders on.

And rode the glory train to earth and back to Heaven again.

We touched Him so we know.

Before He had to go,

He promised us

Our Fridays would not always be

so angry

so fearful

so confused

Our Fridays too could go from good grief

to just plain good.

 

If only we would spend the Weekend with Him.

 

Good Grief!  It’s Friday!

And yet….

 

The Son of Sunday comes!

 

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Fear Not!

Do homage to the Son that He not become Angry.

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

 

Ode to the California Poppy Reserve

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Ode to The California Poppy Reserve

by Jane Tawel

April 4, 2017

Giggling, gorgeous, golden girls

Orange as sacred fire,

Running from the wind, unfurl

Blooms that never tire.

Vision of a Heavenly land

Flame-glow! Purple! Yellow!

Rainbow-hued amidst the sand

Return so soon to fallow.

Oh! my darling girls and boys

Embrace the festive desert!

Orangey smiles of flowery joys

Live on in hearts forever.

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Five Rainy Day Haikus by Jane Tawel

Five Little Haikus

Written by Jane  C. Tawel

February Ten

 

 

                     1

Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip

A music that never grows

old for my dry ears.

 

2

My soul thirsts for YOU

In the pouring rain. Only

YOU can light the fire.

 

3

Parch-ed parchment skin

To the dust you will return

Unless HE waters.

 

4

The rain light changes

All the colors of my world

Including my heart.

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Growing Old #2 – A Poem

Growing Old #2

A Poem

By Jane Tawel

January 24, 2017

 

Time runs fluid through my brain, my heart, all that make up my soul’s being.

Like a sluice, the years line up

Impeding very little Time’s rushing waves

Flowing toward the Future

Where I will not float.

 

And I gaze ahead with one hand on The Shore,

The memories drifting ever so slowly

Sometimes sludge-like

Sometimes like snowflakes

Sinking to the bottom of my dreams.

 

Dreams that I wade in searching for meaning to my years whether

Waking or sleeping or half awakesleep or asleepwake,

Small parts of me still awkwardly

rolling forward

While more and more

I long to swim Ashore

and play in the

Mud-Sluiced memories

Of my stagnant world.

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America the Ugly

America the Ugly

A Mythical Ode

By Jane Tawel

 

 

 

Well, hey!  How are ya’?

Hey-ya!

Just me here.

 

‘Member how this road used to run straight on through the fields and fields and fields?

And at night the houses looked so lonely you could cry with the windshields keeping time.

And by day there was absolutely no sound at all for miles and miles and miles.

‘Member?

 

You could take this ‘ole turnpike to the next little Edenic town ‘cross the state line, maybe stop for a Dairy Queen cone and sit on the patio out of the summer rain.

 

But ‘til ya’ got there to that one-road town,

the same ‘ole gray road lined with Apple Trees –

That same long road you’ve been riding on all afternoon, Well, hey…

Until you reached Home,

The horizon–like muscles holding up that ole bone of a road– it bled gold and green

Out in all directions no matter which way you turned your head.

 

But straight and straight and straight ahead stretched the long gray plumb line of road.

 

No need to look in your rear view mirror to see it still stretching straight behind

You knew it’d always be there

Left behind with your kids’ singing voices spent on the breeze through the back seat open windows–

A thin stretched out old gray string of a road ready to darn Time.

 

We spent time travelin’

With nothin’ to outrun

Nothin’ to hurry away from or to–

No hurry at all.

 

 

‘Cept if Grandma had the potatoes ready to mash.

You sure as heck best not keep Grandma’s potatoes waitin’.

 

What were they thinking when they thought the gold of short returns held out more than the golden fields we could touch and see and harvest?

 

What were we thinking’ when we sold our birthright for a fast-food stew?

 

‘Member when you went to church to see your friends?  You listened to the Bible and sang some hymns around the organ, every one fitting around the altar nice and snug and the kids fiddling with quiet toys from mommies’ purses and the dads itching in their suits to get back out there, and the sun or the rain beating down – hurry and open the windows or shut them fast. ‘Member?

 

What were they thinking when they built a mall to worship in?

What were we thinkin’ when we thought we’d like to be entertained instead?

 

And now we’re in a God-forsaken, God-damned stew all right.

 

A stew of tract houses behind flimsy gates where there once was a house in need of paint with fences to keep animals in not neighbors out, and walls of corn and cows and alfalfa.  I asked a kid about alfalfa the other day.  He had no idea. He sure as heck knew what a Wall was though. He can’t go to the Mall though any more, his mommy makes him shop online so he won’t get caught in cross fire. At least we can thank the almighty american god, the kid’s freedom is protected– online and in the line of fire.

 

And the houses are so big that a person can rattle around in ‘em nicely all alone. And the fields are all so small that the Company’s big combine gets home in time to watch Ti-Vo.  Dear Oh Dear, John Deere is no more

 

We fill our ever empty spirit-bellies on stews of Walmarts and Nordstroms and Mickey D’s and save up for bigger screens and more thrill rides. We are obese with want.

 

‘Member Flo’s Coffee Shop and Jerry’s Diner?  Where there was just enough space for everyone on Saturday night? ‘Member on the menu how “Specials” used ta’ be Special?  Give me the Manhattan Plate Special with extra gravy.  We thought getting a turkey sandwich and mashed potatoes covered with gravy had to be just a bit better than taking an actual trip to Manhattan, New York!

 

‘Member dinners on Sundays after church, with cousins ‘round the table at home and all the little kids sitting in the kitchen with Aunt Barbara?

 

 

Now I sit at home and click to buy. The clicking never seems to fill my empty gut.

 

The only click I used to hear was my daddy clucking and clicking his teeth to get that swishin’-tailed pony to pull that little cart faster down the road between my house and Grandma’s.

 

Or the quiet clicks of mothers’ tongues to quiet us down so they could hear the preacher.

Or the close clicks of crickets in the summer dusks, singing us forward on the gray road as my family headed home.

 

 

That little road is a major interstate now. And my Grandma and my Daddy are riding a road upstairs with the back road angels.  All the time in Eternity they have now to explore the roads — clicking and clicking and clickety –clacking, riding along with the swooshing angels’ wings soundin’ like that ‘ole pony’s tail.

 

There are no gray roads where I live now. There are only and always lines and lines of tangled threads of cars and cars and cars covering up pavement meant to take you to work and back home to shop some more. Plumb crazy not plumb lined.

 

This Land – This LAND – was our birthright.

 

But we thought rich people from fancy schools and other countries had better ideas. We let them snake-like point us in new directions and we traded our compasses for Orwell’s certain Siri-d voice. We trusted in One Nation Under Siri. And all the voices talked so much, we forgot we could be the Quiet Americans. We thought because They said it, they could do…

 

Do what?

 

We somehow began to believe we weren’t already like gods ‘cuz’ we started to feel so god-damned red-necked naked. Do you think I don’t mean literally God-damned? Damned Yankees and Confederates alike?

 

We decided we’d rather be One Nation over God than one under.

Under sounds so ––un-American.

 

What were we thinkin’?

 

Well, the kids all moved away didn’t they?–to buy blu-rays from outer space and to buy people to pick up their dog’s poop.  And when the kids didn’t want them anymore, what could we do with our long roads and wide fields?

 

What do you do when no one wants your hidden treasure in the field? What is a pearl of great price worth in a world economy?

 

My ancestors fought wars that meant something because it was our Land.

But how do you go to war for something you can’t touch? For someone you can’t touch?  How do you go to war for people you don’t know?  How do you go to war because you need the money and it’s your job or, hey, come to think of it — maybe they’ll let you become a citizen of this country that you are bombin’ other nations for. Why isn’t that illegal for an immigrant?

 

It’s war we’re talking about here.

 

Lots of folks want to point out how prejudiced we all were back then and how exclusive and you know, some people were, but do you really honestly think that today behind our walled rich cities with motorized gates that you don’t have to get outta’ the car to open, just give a button a click—behind thick walls with gates that even a Tesla can’t fit through—Land-a-mercy! Do you honestly think that we love each other more? Do you think today with the freedom to say anything about any one we want and with everybody not just keeping black folk out but killing black and brown folk with freedom owned machine guns – do you really think we’ve come further in not hating each other and keeping our heads down? There aren’t enough gated prisons for all the free and incarcerated people in the world  to keep America beautiful.

Land-a-mercy!…..  Well, I guess not even the oath makes sense any more.

 

We used to believe in heaven and hell.  No color code for either.  Now we believe in freedom and grace and we are all secretly filled with politically correct hate and despair.

 

 

And now all my friends have families I don’t know.  Some traded up and some just moved away. And I go to church because I always have but if I don’t show up, well, I guess no one will notice.  I don’t have that much money to give.

 

I work all the time and can’t remember what I spend my money on to make up for all the time I’ve sold.

 

It feels so good to get angry at the tricksters and hustlers who have made America great and only want to make it greater and speak their Barnum and Bailey hype into the arena of our nightly news. We just keep clicking Re-post/ Share while the circus ponies go ‘round and ‘round and the riders throw out cake for us to catch and repost and we don’t read history any more – Marie Who? Was she a Khardashian or an Idol? An American Idol? Sounds like a socialist to me.

And the sky-risers in the deserts babble back and forth while the babbling brooks run dry.

 

When did we put the cart before the horse?

 

Are we the cart and they’re the horse?

Or is it the other way ‘round?

 

When did we stop tending our Eden?

When did we hand over our Souls and our Roads to get paved?

When did we first begin to mask with cement and botox all the naked ruts we want to hide from God’s Eyes and each other’s?

 

‘Member tar stickin’ to your hot bare feet as you skipped home unafraid?

‘Member Grandma’s wrinkly mouthed kisses?

 

Now I can’t find a long straight gray road to save my life.

 

We listen to the talking heads night after night and ask ourselves –Why?

‘Member when sometimes the talkin’ heads were quieted cuz there wasn’t any reception to feed their angry mouths and you had to just sit and listen to the raindrops or the crickets?

Or Each Other?

 

How did we get so ugly, America?

When did we put on these threadbare, gaudy clothes like fig leaves from an ancient world?

 

‘Member when you couldn’t pass someone on the street, even a stranger, without recognizing they were human? Without sayin’ “hey.”? “Hey there.”

 

How did we get so lonely, America?

 

When did The Three of Us become –not enough?

 

We paved our fields.

We computerized our friends.

We went to war.

We put on masks.

We incorporated our churches.

We left each other.

We asked too much.

We asked too little.

We ate The Stew.

We didn’t stop -by.

We didn’t have time.

We became I.

 

We thought the Pearl of America was not as beautiful as the plastic walls around our Apple I-phones.

 

We were hungry and we didn’t want to wait for the harvest this time – the harvest of our fields, the harvest of our studies, the harvest of our children, the harvest of our hard work, the harvest of our learning, the harvest of our own hands, the harvest of our hearts, the harvest of our souls . . . . .

 

And we saw the Stew of Immediate Gratification and just like the First People everywhere from the time God started Time on this earth, the time from Adam and Eve, from the beginning of  Peoples Everywhere, from the Time of kingdoms upon kingdoms stretching back to Eden. . . . We wrapped a snake around our dollar sign and called our country, “god”.

 

And we stopped and veered from the straight gray road we were created to travel by. And that pathetic meek ‘ole naked gray road become Ugly in our eyes. And we forgot that no matter our culture or creed– that narrow path we were created to travel by, One Under God – that route ordained with room and time for all, was Our Inheritance. And we sold it for a time-share in Maui.

 

 

 

We thought we knew the difference between Good and Evil and we couldn’t – we wouldn’t –stop after the first intoxicating bite.

 

We took out second-mortgages on the Garden.

 

We sold our Birthright.

 

We left the Long Straight Road.

 

 

And in our own eyes, our nakedness became Ugly, America.

We looked at each other and were ashamed.

So we hid.

 

We left the Land

And the road filled up behind us

And we lost our way Home.

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