Living a Legendary Life … November 1st, 2020

Just Downstairs

Benny loved his mom.  Of course, most kids do love their moms.  But his was stronger.  Benny believed he would love his mom if she weren’t his mom, if you know what I mean.

She always was happy.  She always seemed to have a story to go along with every problem and a joke to accompany every blessing.

They lived on the third floor in the Briargate Apartments. Benny used to complain about having to climb the stairs until his mother pointed out two very important points. “It’s special, Benny, to live on the third floor! First, we get all this exercise without having to pay for a gym, and then, when we finally get to the top of the stairs, we have the most beautiful view of everything in the whole town.”

Benny had to agree, although some nights, when he was particularly tired from school, the climb did seem arduous. But his Mom was right about the view. He always felt rewarded when he arrived at the top and saw vista before him.

Mom also made a point of making sure that Benny always was aware of the needs of others.

“Just downstairs,” she would say. “We need to think about the folks.  Maybe they don’t have as much as we do.  Maybe they are hurting.  Maybe if we make a few extra biscuits, we could take a couple to them after dinner.  Because just downstairs,” she would close, “there are always people in need.”

Benny wasn’t sure he agreed.  He knew that he and his mother were fairly poor and she had a difficult time making ends meet, although you could never tell by her disposition, nor did a word of complaint ever come off her lips.

“Just downstairs,” she would say.  “Those are the people in need.”

So mostly to make his mom happy, Benny visited a little girl in the apartment on the ground floor. (He figured she must be really downstairs.) Then he toted her books to school, and paid for her lunch twice a week–and made sure that when his mother made those “extra specials” that the little girl and her family got some. The little girl was very gracious and the family was grateful for the generosity.

Benny was about eleven years old when his mother became very sick.  Once again, you could hardly tell, except that she became smaller and frail and her skin turned very white.  But she still continued to tell Benny “just downstairs there were people in greater need.”

Benny had just turned twelve years old, in the springtime, when his mother passed away.  He didn’t have any other relatives, so the family of the little girl came to see him.

They asked him if he wanted to live with them now that his mother had passed on.

Benny said, “I don’t want to be any trouble.  I know that you—well—that you don’t have much money.”

The father, surprised, looked at Benny and then laughed.  “Didn’t you know?  We own this apartment building.  So I think we can afford one more mouth to feed.”

Benny was a bit bewildered but also delighted to be part of this new family.  He wondered if his mother had known that the father of this family “just downstairs” was the landlord.

He would never know. It didn’t matter. The words and beauty of her philosophy live on.  He never forgot what his mother said.  Because no matter how low you may get in your life, there is always someone “just downstairs” from where you are.

The only way to keep gratitude fully blooming in our hearts is by returning the little bit we can to those living beneath us.

Just downstairs—another step to living a legendary life.

Sit Down Comedy … July 19th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is a breathtakingly simple three-step process:

I. Like. You.

I, like you.

I like you.

Although not complex, it seems to profoundly stump the consciousness of the human race.

It begins with I.

In other words, me. I will stop putting the focus and the blinding light on the faults of others and center it on my own foolish foibles.

I will remove the sacs filled with venom so that when I become grouchy and bite someone, I don’t have to accidentally poison them.

I will become the “I” that needs to learn what I need to know, and only I need to know, in order to accomplish what I must do.

This will lend itself to becoming a person who can “like” things once again.

I have stopped doing so. In favor of coming across with wit, I have transformed myself into a cynical snoot, thinking that intelligence is better expressed through critique. I have refused to appreciate the little blessings that have come my way.

But since I have taken the time to acknowledge what I am and what I need to do, I can ease up my insecurity and start to like things again.

Which brings me to You.

You have always been one of my problems—perhaps my only calamity—because I view you as competition and resent the hell out of you using up the oxygen in the room that I could be hoarding in reserve.

I am twice as critical of you than I am me.

I am ten times more judgmental of your pratfalls than my huge stumblings.

But if I will take the time to find out who I am and not be afraid of admitting that I am lacking in some areas, then the possibility for liking things will cheer my soul and make me much more pleasant to be around—so I will be able to store up a measure of grace for when I find myself dealing with you.

With Step One in place, I am ready for Stage Two:

I, like you.

Yes, I look for similarities between you and me—your kind and my kind—my race and your race. I want to stop discussing your culture and my culture and see if we can discover the human culture.

And thirdly, I believe I will arrive at a position where I can say—hopefully:

I like you.

Perhaps God was too optimistic to think we could love our neighbor. But maybe we are able, after we’ve taken stock of our own weakness, to like things again, offering more room for one another.

Then negotiation, reasoning, conversation and even arguments could be well-oiled with compassion, commonality and gladness.

There are nearly eight-and-a-half billion people in this world. It would not be necessary to get all of them to follow this three-step process. Even if we had one million people with hearts of good cheer, to pursue:

I. Like. You.

I, like you.

I like you.

Well, if we could just get a million, the light that would shine would be so brilliant that another ten million would want to imitate the success…

Of course, offering their own name for it.


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G-Poppers … August 10th, 2018

The young woman seemed quite certain that because she had an ancient ancestor who was a queen in Africa, that somehow that energy, authority and ability had been transfused into her through DNA.

She had no basis for this conviction–just, shall we say, a hope.

But the difficulty with such thinking is that if blessings can be passed along through genetic code, then so can cursings–and G-Pop does not believe we’re all prepared to go back to a time when we insisted that certain people, families and whole cultures were condemned and alienated by the heavens.

G-Pop has noticed that even some of his own children are being swayed by the commercials for ancestry identification, somehow thinking that finding someone who lived centuries ago, who is linked by family, might grant credibility to them in this present hour.

There are only two things that affect us, and two things alone–and it is not our DNA. For after all, people overcome and work with their genes all the time.

We are actually guided by two forces:

1. What have I learned?

2. What do I fear?

And often when one is able to track down one’s fears, a path can be traced to something which was learned and is found to be errant–and can therefore be discarded, allowing for a new enlightening idea.

When a study is made on what we have learned, we can often see when and where our fears crept in, and we can highlight those things that might trigger anxiety and timidity.

All of G-Pop’s children want to be independent–until something goes wrong. Then they want to explain why their fears kept them from success, as they attempt to conjure the spirits of the past that might energize them through their “double helix.”

It is foolish–a sign of a generation that has lost sight of the joy of taking responsibility for one’s own life.

G-Pop does care what his ancestors did. They’re not here.

G-Pop looks at the world they left, ridiculous notions they tolerated, and warns his soul to function off the impetus of his own talents and faith.

G-Pop offers this piece of advice:

God gave you a life.

It is yours.

Do something with it.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 1st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Come, My Children

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Come, my children, let us greet

The rumble we hear on the street

Tear down the walls of religious tradition

Take a look at the human condition

Bring the drum, start the beat

 

Then let us dance to the sound

Of understanding spreading around

Love your neighbor is the scheme

Living out Brother Martin’s dream

May the blast of brass abound

 

Jimi arrives with his lick

Jesus comes and heals the sick

Love blends jazz to soul

A song celebration is our goal

 

Who am I in this holy jam?

An honest heart

I am what I am

In a climate of physical fitness

Can I get a spiritual witness?

 

Ease on down in the Muddy Waters

Bring your sisters and your daughters

‘Tis the season for the news

Race escapes into the blues

 

Gospel created the rhythm and rock

Join the festival on our block

Hometown boy is back today

His hair sporting a streak of gray

The shepherd seeking a groovy flock

 

So count your measures and blessings, too

The joyful noise is coming to you

 

This week’s reader is James, who lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, and shares his music, labor, love and ministry to everyone he meets.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 22nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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pohymn-kick

Practicing My Kick

I can still do something

After failure has given me astart

My gifts may be fewer

Or may be a bit tired

Yet they remain

Faithfully the same

I cannot judge myself

By the value adhered to me

I must simply rest and consider

How blessed I continue to be

For the bubbling in my soul

Is still a volcano of power

Ready to erupt and display

Many wonders in this hour

For if I am too confident

I abandon the chance to learn

Yet if I am afraid

An opportunity I will burn

Thank you, thanks and appreciation

Grant me love for every nation

Just give me a door and watch me sell

I’ll ask and seek and knock so well

A little slower but still not sick

Feeling alive, practicing my kick

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Three Ways to Ask… December 18, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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child pick up bigger

Timid or aggressive?

It is the unholy bounce we find ourselves in when trying to pursue our heart’s desire.

  • Timid makes us ill-suited to acquire our dreams.
  • On the other spectrum, aggressive is undesirable. We end up looking self-serving.

Yet we do have needs. We do require certain input to make our lives work and on occasion these valuables are not immediately provided.

So how should you ask? How do you bridge the gap between timid and aggressive and find the appropriate profile to offer your beseeching?

1. Ask from a history of gratitude.

I do not believe that anyone will get what they want in life without preceding it with a great dose of gracious thankfulness. There is something in the heart of humans–and I also believe in the heart of God–which repels those who think they can come making demands without first giving testimony of the blessings that have already come their way.

People don’t like to do this because it seems awkward, contrived and insincere. But what could be more awkward, contrived or insincere than coming one more time to ask without expressing a “thank you” for what has already been provided?

2. Ask and be specific.

It is annoying to have to draw out of someone what they really need instead of them being candid and sharing their heart with you.

If you’re embarrassed about your lack, then you should learn to live with it. You have to decide if you want to improve your situation or if you just want to act humiliated.

Be clear about what you want.

Focus on what you’re asking.

3. Ask, prepared to use what is available.

Once people know you’re grateful and you have been forthcoming, be prepared to get a little bit less than what you petitioned, and then astound yourself and the world around you by working with it.

My definition of greed is thinking that what you have determined to be your bottom line has to be achieved before you will move one muscle to begin.

Asking is one-third of the great energy that’s necessary to be a human being. It is the first step to seeking, and finally culminating with the perseverance of knocking.

Never be afraid to ask–as long as you have a grateful heart, an honest tongue and a willingness to make a start of things instead of stubbornly waiting for exactly what you want.

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