Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

“The Token Rose”, a plea for love and tolerance.

February 1, 2017


The Token Rose


Outside it is cold.

No leaves flutter

In bitter winds,

No birdsong to

Sweeten the air,

Just the Token rose

Trembling in fierce gusts

Howling round eaves.


This rose started to bloom

Too early this spring,

A miracle of season,

A miracle of mercy.


Named for a woman

Who died by her  hand,

A hand forced by ignorance



No Mercy.


We are so hard on those

We say we love,

We lack  compassion

To those who march

out… of… step.

Those who don’t believe

as we do,

Then we hide from

What we have wrought,

Uneasy but still righteous.


If there is a hint of shame

We bury it deep as the grave

She now lies.


The Token Rose flutters in the cold.

A pearly white

Catches the feeble sunlight

And waves a forgiveness

That we, hardened of heart,

Do not deserve.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014-2017

At the beginning of the year, I post this poem in tribute to Token, a woman I knew a long time ago. She, a minister’s wife, with two small daughters, believed she was a lesbian and left her family.  She suffered harassment and intolerance, little compassion from those around her.   She came to the end of her rope after about a year, and while talking on the phone to relatives, shot herself in the head and died.

I don’t know what those involved felt. Was there any guilt or remorse? These people considered themselves “Christian”.   They still do.

Faced with the issue of unconditional love, this isn’t of Christ. I struggle with this issue of unconditional love myself.  I don’t know if I can ‘love’ those who take such judgement into their own hands and a woman dies.  How do you love such people? How do you love anyone who threatens your life?  Token  was a woman who went against something  she could not bear.  Right or wrong, she deserves our love and compassion.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017







“The Token Rose”

April 23, 2015

The Token Rose

It is spring here in the South, and the tenderness and fragility of life brings memories of those who have died over the years.  Token was a suicide, driven to this by the intolerance of her family, and mine.  Her ‘sin’ was that she became a lesbian, after marriage and children to a fundamentalist pastor.  Religion can be a ‘cup full’ of bigotry, intolerance, ignorance.  It’s not supposed to be so, but in the hands and minds of narrow bigots, it becomes something with the capacity to maim and kill.

Token was very kind to me when I was severely injured in an accident.  When she died, it was a shock. . It was incomprehensible to me that a beautiful young woman could be driven to such an act.  I planted a white rose bush in my front garden many years ago in remembrance of Token.  It is the first rose to bloom and continues on throughout the year until frost. 

Token’s kindness and beauty are present in those blossoms. They are a reminder to me to show compassion and acceptance to others as was given to me by Token.

Lady Nyo

The Token Rose

Outside it is cold,

No leaves flutter

In bitter winds,

No birdsong to

Sweeten the air,

Just the Token rose

Trembling in fierce gusts

Howling round the eaves.

Too early this spring,

This rose started to bloom,

A miracle of season,

A miracle of mercy.

Named for a woman

Who died by her own hand,

A hand forced by ignorance


Isolation, and

No Mercy.

We are so hard on those

We say we love,

We lack compassion

To those who march out of step,

Who don’t believe as we do,

And then we hide from

What we have wrought,

Uneasy but still righteous.

If there is any hint of shame

We bury it deep

As deep as the grave

She now lies in.

The Token Rose flutters in the cold.

Pearly white tinged with pink

Catches the feeble sunlight

And waves a forgiveness

That we, hardened of heart,

Do not deserve.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

A Short definition of Humanism:

an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.

Religious Fundamentalists hate the thought of Humanism.  It’s not only the ‘absence of theology’ in humanism, but the inability of fundamentalists to control the thoughts and creativity of humanists.  Power and Control seem to be the two legs of fundamentalism.  Where they can’t achieve this ‘order’, they will raise Hell. In my opinion, there is no difference between the oppression and ignorance between Christian/Jewish/Muslim fundamentalism.  They are of the same cloth.

“Food Chain”…..

February 9, 2014

hardscrabble hearts

This poem will upset people and it should.  What happened has traumatized my neighbors, who witnessed this.  I am glad I have such neighbors who have gone through war and other horrors of life and can still be so moved.  A slice of life in the urban centers of our nation.

Lady Nyo



Are we really

At the top of the food chain

Or is this the conceit

Of humanity

Hit over the head with the Bible

And the further conceit

That Mankind has

Dominion Over the Earth?

I see a bit of a food chain,

But it blurs when reality comes close.


The Coroner dragged a body bag

Out of the woods and over the rocks.

A homeless man died in those woods

The fox and worms and who knows  what else

 Had at him, so he was light as a feather,

Inconsequential, probably never more

In the eyes of most while he breathed.

He must have been.

It took only one man to drag

Him like so much garbage

To the van in the street,

Bumping him over the pavement.

(I’ve seen dead dogs treated with

More respect.)

So….the food chain

Gets blurred, confused

In the light of actual life.

And those who say  we are the wisest

The most intelligent,

The most  evolved…

Still allow their species to die in the cold,

To rot yards from  warm houses

To be fed upon by wildlife

Who are waiting for our stupid mistakes

To reveal the real food chain existing

Right under our noses.

 Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

“Turkey Vulture”, from “Pitcher of Moon”

January 26, 2014







(No, not a Turkey Vulture, but a bird of Hope)

From the same family  who once had Token as a sister, another sister who  stands for many of us as an example of compassion and sacrifice.  We should all be so.

Lady Nyo



I once knew a woman

Living in a scrubby trailer park

Down near the scrub pines of Florida.


She was poor as a church mouse,

half–crazed by life.

She fed all strays

-was the pariah of the neighborhood.


Every evening a flock of vultures,

Like fixed-wing aircraft,

Would skim the pines,

And land in a muddle of feathers,

Awkward birds out of their element

Land and with a group waddle

Come to the cat food offered in pans.


They were patient guests

And waited for the strays to finish.


There was decorum

Among them,

These fierce looking birds

Perhaps they knew

The charity offered

Had humbled their nature:

Or perhaps they had reformed;

I don’t know

But they had a leader named “Frank”

Who held back until the others were done.


Frank would never face you;

He sat sideways

Though I believe he peeked.

Perhaps he was ashamed

A lord of the sky

Brought down to this station,

To fill his crop with kibble

From a dented metal pan.


Come sit with me.

Extend a feather,

I promise not to stare.

Your warty red neck,

Your hang-dog countenance

Does not disturb me.


Come sit beside me,

Let our talons dig into the sand

Let the ocean cleanse our feathers

I will call you friend, brother

For the gift of trust

You have brought on your wings.





Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

From “Pitcher Of Moon




“The Token Rose”, a plea for compassion and tolerance.

January 23, 2014

The Token Rose

Outside it is cold,

No leaves flutter

In bitter winds,

No birdsong to

Sweeten the air,

Just the Token rose

Trembling in fierce gusts

Howling round the eaves.

Right before Xmas,

This rose started to bloom,

A miracle of Winter,

A miracle of mercy.

Named for a woman

Who died by her own hand,

A hand forced by ignorance


Isolation, and

No Mercy.

Ah, we are so hard on those

We say we love,

We are lacking in compassion

To those who march out of step,

Those who don’t believe as we do,

And then we hide from

What we have wrought,

Uneasy but still righteous.

If there is any hint of shame

We bury it deep as deep as the grave

She now lies in.

The Token Rose flutters in the cold.

Pearly white tinged with pink

Catches the feeble sunlight

And waves a forgiveness

That we, hardened of heart,

Do not deserve.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

– Many years ago, Token killed herself, a victim of religious intolerance.  I have planted a rose, called The Token Rose, to remind me of her and her spirit.  Most of all to call me to kindness and compassion.

“Original Blessing”

January 24, 2012


I am dizzy with love,

Standing in the rain,

This cosmic blessing

Pouring on my head,

Mingling with tears of gratitude

Til one stream

can not be deciphered

From the other.

I am an Original Blessing,

As are you,

And we are not born in sin,

But brought into the light of life

In great joy and anticipation.


Our first bellows are not of pain

But surprise at the roominess of the Cosmos,

As we kick  feet, flail  arms

And finally open eyes at the glorious colors

Of Nature.


Original sin would have us

Born rotten,

A theological monkey on our back–

But I know no God of the Cosmos

Who would scar these tiny blessings

With such  a heavy burden.

Original Blessing is a deliverance,

A deliverance of hope, trust and pride

A heritage where we can discern and save


Walk in harmony with the Earth,

Stride with God across the span of life–

For this Earth is our cradle,

And all in it our kin.

For a truly wise person

Kneels at the feet of all creatures

And is not afraid to endure

The mockery of others.


And when the day sidles up to night

I will settle into the nest of the Earth,

Draw the dark blanket of the Cosmos

Across me,

Pillow my head upon stars

And know  the blessings I have been

Graced with today and always

Have come from the womb of God.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

‘The Peace that Surpasses All Understanding’, Part 3

August 29, 2011

Getting tired of this title?  WOOF!

Well, perhaps I can finally use this quote  closer  to its meaning.

We went to the Unitarian Universalists Congregation this morning. We have been one other time, about a month ago, and were really moved by the service. It was on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War: not blue, not gray, but a musical tribute to all who suffered and died.  Perhaps only the UUs could  walk this path between the North and the South.  And it wasn’t about Slavery, either.  It was about humanity embroiled in a conflict that is still shaking our nation today.

But this morning was of a very different theme.  I didn’t check, because I wasn’t sure we were going to make it.  Both husband and I were snarly the day before, and putting aside our insults and hurt feelings  was almost asking too much:  it seemed  a lot of effort to go and sit amongst strangers.

We are glad we made the effort.  It was the annual “Blessing of the Animals” service and the place was full of dogs, cats, a Japanese fighting fish in a tupperware bowl, and a rooster.

Music holds a lot of weight with the UUs, and this service was no exception.  “Puff The Magic Dragon”, “Waltzing With Bears”, “Home On The Range”, “I Wanna be a Dog”, “Spirit of Life” and “All Creatures of the Earth and Sky” pretty much rounded out the musical offering.

Actually, it was a LOT of fun, and really very moving.  I think it took suspending the ego for many of us:  “Waltzing With Bears” was hilarious and “Home On the Range”, projected on a large screen overhead brought both us to tears.  Ok, it brought me to tears, the Great Stone Face doesn’t cry much (any) in public.  The lyrics are tender and moving, something we forget about  this song, yet there on the screen, with a background of incredible Western beauty, well,  it was something that stirred us both.

There were fewer cats there than I would have liked, and those  there crated, poor pussies.  Some dogs howled during certain songs, especially on the refrains, and the Rooster?…well, he crowed in all the right places.  I thought  maybe someone had a very good recording of a rooster and were playing tricks, but I was assured by the lovely woman next to me “the rooster was here for the blessing last year.”

There were no dog fights, just a few overly friendly attempts to make friends, and a couple of half-hearted snarls. Watching the dogs was a treat.  A young German Shepherd was the model of discipline, sitting or asleep quietly at his owner’s feet, the numerous Standard Poodles– an elegant addition to the morning, the beagles, as beagles do, fell asleep, the Goldens looked happy, eager to please, the pugs looked…..bored.  We were amazed how well behaved our canine (can’t say anything about the fish) friends were in such a potentially stressful environment.

We were thinking of what dog we could have brought (the cats  are atheists). Gally, the big Shepherd/Hound mook at 80 lbs is well trained to sit and lie down, but this would have been too much temptation.  Merlin, the mostly- Golden, is fiercely protective and growls and might snap. Laddie the almost- cocker is totally deaf, so he has this piercing bark:  He would start a riot with his alarm.  We realized  the only dog we could have brought was our Sparky, our English Field Spaniel, who died of cancer June 20th this year.  He was a gentleman, such a good example of his rare and intelligent breed, but he was planted out in the front garden under an old boxwood.  His loss to us, especially this morning, brought me to tears.

This is such a different entry…considering the last two other “The Peace…” offerings…but this morning the Blessing of the Animals went exactly where it should have gone: straight to our hearts, opening a pathway to memories and further compassion.  I also got a good tip on a Standard Poodle breeder not far from our home.  My husband is groaning, and puffing on his inhaler but there is no better balm to grief, (and my grief in losing Sparky so suddenly went deep) than another animal to wrap your arms around. 

Of course some would call me a hoarder: 12 (kittens, thrown over the fence at various times) and then cats who have been with us  for  15 years, they are not just cats…they are treasured members of our family.  My dear husband’s nose hasn’t stopped dripping for 26 years but his shots are helping nicely here.

Today was a wonderful example of compassion, charity and love. Seeing the care  people expressed with their animals, and seeing the pianist with his pug in his lap while he played, well, it was a lovely morning.

Even unto the least, which I guess would have been the goldfish in tupperware, the message was loud and clear.  Extending our love to other species is natural and good: we aren’t the only ones who live on this Earth.

We are enjoined in love. Or should be.


Lady Nyo

A note from Phil in Wales…he’s had a bad incident and deserves our comfort.

November 14, 2008

Today I had to deal with tragedy…

I enjoy my position, it is responsible and the work I do is I believe valuable. However, sometimes that responsibility has its down side.

Last night there was a fire and two people died in their home where they felt safe. I was immersed in my own social life when the text came through on my blackberry. A few terse words that rips one back to a very gritty reality.

The morning was dealing with emergency services and fire investigators. It turned out that the home was not one we were responsible for but the impact on the community we serve was just as severe. Talking to worried neighbours to reassure them while mourners arrived to place flowers at the Police cordon was difficult.

Worse were the fixed smiles of the press, radio and TV reporters who love a good death by fire and were thrusting mic’s, notebooks and camera’s into the faces of all and sundry. Being polite while being interviewed and carefully managing one’s words is far from my favourite pastime.

I am not complaining. I am well paid to do what I do and as they say the buck has to stop somewhere.

But in seeking diversion and some respite I came here and read some things that just made me react. We are sometimes so concerned with fragments of our fantasies that we can forget the harsh truth of real life.

Some would say that that is the purpose of fantasy and escapism, to some degree I would agree. But let’s remember that fantasy and escapism is just that.

Apologies to Avatara and Jane.


No apologies needed, Phil as we spoke by phone today.  These things happen in life, and when they do, they jerk us out of our ‘pretend’ lives, and our yearnings for fantasies…even when we are living those fantasies 24/7.

I would hope  you and everyone else here know by now that this blog has created some strong relationships and friendships.  We don’t always agree, but we don’t have to.  We DO  comfort each other because it shows the best of our humanity, and I am so taken with everyone here (except last weeks troll) that I want people always to be able to express what they want.

What Phil experienced is one of the extreme realities of life, and that he has done so with so much grace, compassion and control of the situation around him is truly a learning experience and an example to me.  I am sure others who know Phil, know his heart and know the quality of the man.

I do and love him  because he is worth that emotion.  We are here for each other…and more… in the good times and the distressing times.

Lady Nyo

A Short Story: “Ahmed is Dying of Love”

October 3, 2008

The ney is a wooden flute, only played by men.  Women aren’t to touch it.
The Zar is a trance ritual to get rid of demons.  Men don’t touch it. (except to play the ney at it…)


“Ahmed is dying of love”….

I hear Hadil next to me, chanting something under her breath.

“What? Is Ahmed sick or something?” I ask, for Ahmed is a young Algerian waiter in this Lebanese restaurant.  He’s a sweetheart and a good ney player.

We are bellydancers, applying our makeup in this ‘green room’ Nicola has given us behind the kitchen. An old sofa against the wall, a curtain over the doorway, and the same tray of dried fruits, nuts and bottled water on the table. Since we rarely touch it, we think he recycles it nightly.   Nicola is the owner and he’s very protective of the dancers.  No window in the room, typical of the seclusion of Muslim women.  I hear Hadil chanting again.

“So, what is wrong with Ahmed?”  I am trying to apply mascara, and since I don’t wear it except for dancing, I look like a raccoon.  Leila,  the head of the troupe, the uber bellydancer, insists on the heavy makeup.  We look more ‘professional’ she tells us.  Yeah, more professional, but what profession?

Hadil, the graceful one, puts down her blusher brush and looks at me with a deadpan expression.  Or her usual expression because Hadil is languid to the extreme for a bellydancer.  I always feel she should be given some catnip to perk her up.

“Ahmed has a huge crush on you.”

What?!  My face reflects my amazement.  I have to be 20 years older than Ahmed.  He’s so sweet and innocent.  Perhaps not so innocent.

“Do you suppose he has noticed my wedding ring?  And besides, he’s met my husband. You know, the one who sits at a table by the door?  His asthma kicks in, he says, when we dance because of Nicola’s moldy carpet.”

“Well, he’s hopeful, then.”  Hadil adjusts her lovely breasts in the heavy bra.  We all suffer because of the costumes, heavy and uncomfortable. We wear double bras, something soft sewn into the costume bras.  The women in Turkey who hand sew these bras must be sadists looking for masochists to torture. They have found us.

“Hopeful of what?”  I turn and stare at her instead of looking in the mirror before us.

“Well, you bring him presents.”

“I brought him a couple of dozen eggs.  What’s so special about that?”

“Think about it, Aurora.  In his country, when a woman brings a man such a valuable present, she is announcing her interest.  And besides, you’re American.”

“What?  Does Ahmed have trouble with his green card?”

I think over what she said.  I have brought him a basket filled with my chicken’s eggs.  I have done this several times.  Usually Nicola grabs the eggs and says that he will make himself a six- egg omelet.  I wondered if Ahmed ever got to eat an egg.

I thought about one of the first conversations I had with Ahmed.   I gave him a dozen eggs, and his eyes, those beautiful black pools, grew large at the sight of them.  I was touched.  He explained in Algeria, in the countryside, at 11am sharp, he and his brothers would hear the hen cluck her egg-laying song and they would rush out to find the egg.  Ahmed was younger than his brothers, and rarely got the egg.  He would disappear from home, and lay in wait for that egg, but usually he was summoned back to the chores or the field with the others.  This constant supply of eggs from my pet chickens was of value to him, and not just for the eating.

“So”, I said to Hadil, now brushing out her hair.  “The price of love in Algeria is a couple dozen eggs?”

Hadil snorted.  “No, it’s also because you are American.”

“And American women put out?”

She laughed uneasily.  Obviously, she knew more but wasn’t telling me.  Then She’nez came in, the beautiful Amazon from Somalia, and bending down, she put her face next to mine, and I saw our light and dark reflections in the mirror. Painted day and night.

“Ahmed is dying for love of you.” She chanted.

“God no, She’nez…not you too!”  I was laughing, but concerned a bit about Ahmed.

“Did you see how his ney fell out of his mouth at the Zar?  He saw you writhing around with your demons and the poor boy forgot what he was there for.”  She’nez laughed, a deep rumble from her dark, silky throat.

I thought of the Zar.  We were 12 women, dancers and students, and we were doing the ritual as a ‘bonding’ between us.  We danced out our demons, drawn by our drama queen lives to the attention of compassionate hands.  We twirled and jerked, our hair flinging outward with our spins, our demons holding onto the ends of our hair before we threw them off and into the waiting arms of the Sheikha. I have no similar cultural rituals and I was a bit abandoned in my behavior, but then again, I am the class clown.  I have been called down for this before.  I just like to make people laugh.

“Ahmed thought you really were possessed.  He told Abdul that he was mortally afraid for you.  He burned incense and said many prayers that night.”

I started to laugh.  My antics were getting me in trouble again.  I had thrown myself on my back, and wiggled like a roach dying of poison.  I would be dead, only to come back to life with my arms and legs in grotesque positions, and I would do it again.  I had my friends around me laughing, but we were all high on the turkish coffee and friendship. We didn’t get much chance to let loose like this.  So many petty things were dissolved in that afternoon of vigorous fun.  The stolen mascara, the blushers not replaced, the intentional bumps on the dance floor, the exchanged nastiness between us while smiling at the audience.  It was a clearing of many problems at that Zar.  Women things.

“So, Miss American Belly Dancer.  What are you going to do about Ahmed?”

I thought about it.  There really wasn’t much I could do.  He was a man, with all the yearnings for the kindness of a woman.  Even a much older woman who only gave him eggs.

That night, when I went out on the dance floor, I saw Ahmed at the other side of the room, playing a drum.  I waved at him and threw him a kiss, making him blush heavily.  At least a kiss, so public, from the pretty American belly dancer, would begin to repay his concern and his prayers.

I made a mental note to bring him eggs and spring plums from my trees. Let the girls talk about that!  Ahmed’s concern would be repaid with this coin of friendship.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2008

Forgiveness and Unconditional love.

September 24, 2008

I have been discussing this issue of forgiveness and unconditional love with a lot of folks over the past several days. I have had a rocky time with this recently, but I have come to a place where it’s not a question anymore. It must be done by me, but for a better purpose.

Forgiving someone is not the final phase. You have to go on. You have to consider the circumstances of that particular person, the previous relationship, and their capacity in life. Their part of humanity.

Sometimes we don’t consider the objective mental state of a person. Some people are thwarted by life and we need to be gentle with them. Some people are thwarted by their own wiring and can’t help how they behave. They may be dangerous or harmful, but the trick is to not hate them. They know not what they really do. And, although they can make a great hash of things, I choose to believe that they are just not ‘worthy’ of the emotion of hate nor are they worthy of marginalization.

That is the rub. How do you stay healthy yourself and avoid the influences that are not healthy? You put a kind of distance between you and the other, but you don’t dismiss. Not from prayer, whether it is the mumblings to a God, or it is the mumblings to something positive and healing to come into their lives. You must continue this process to work those ‘miracles’ we don’t believe can really happen….for both sides.

Forgiveness is not easy. There is lots of bitterness to share. But bitterness is just hollow and in the end, pointless.

It is a challenge, because sometimes what is opposite you is a raging beast. You don’t poke a raging beast. You only make it rage more. I tend to poke. That is dangerous because I’m not as fast as I should be. I could get trampled. It is also inhuman of me to poke…and ego ridden.

Fuck ego! That is the control mechanism that will keep the barriers up when the barriers to the human heart need to come down.

I don’t have a great barometer when it comes to sensing danger. I tend to think that my own personal ‘light’ will soothe a savage breast. I can get, and do, hurt this way. But I will continue to forgive and give unconditional love to those that hurt because in the end (and the middle and the beginning) they hurt more than I do. I can sense that finally, and that is why I can not only forgive, but go on to accept the other as they are. And love them, or to try. It is something I believe that gets better and easier in the doing.

I must meet them even when they would not meet me. I must give over the endless game of ego.

Sometimes we can see or sense that the humanity in the ‘other’ is still there, maybe burning weakly because of their own issues facing life. Perhaps they have had to build up themselves because of past injury to the psyche and they can’t live now without sucking the esteem from others to add to their meager and always needy supply. Perhaps they feel so unlovable that they can’t tap into that great reservoir that circles our heads: the more we give freely, the more is returned and reinforced.

I wouldn’t have believed this except recently, very recently, I found this to be so. When in great emotional confusion, I was fed and fed until I was so full of the uncondtional love of some people…I was able to stand again and started to realize that I could give it back to the one who hurt the most. The one who needed it the most, and it finally wasn’t me. I was told by many that this person wasn’t ‘worthy’ but I am reckless and was not fearful anymore. I was ready to forgive and and do more. What were they healing me for if not this, a real challenge to the heart and  my own sense of humanity?

IF we can see even a flicker of that humanity still burning inside of another, we are under obligation to humanity, or our concepts of ‘goodness’ or whatever calls to us as something higher than ourselves, to extend our love and forgiveness 40 x 40. Endlessly. We must become rivers of love and compassion to these that need it the most. We must give with joy and constancy to that piece of humanity who must not be marginalized by us, regardless of what they do.

There is nothing else that will serve the issue. We must gather them in.

They are not expendable. They are us.

Lady Nyo

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