Day 504… February 24, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Day 504Seems like an odd landmark, doesn’t it? Day 504.

But it came to my mind, and when I counted up the days, that’s the number I ended up with.

It is exactly 504 days since I woke up in Fremont, Ohio, with my legs so stiff, sore, cramping and aching that for all intents and purposes I was not able to walk. Therefore I thought it was time for an update.

Let me start with one of the greatest statements that can ever be made by a human:

It’s not worse.

After 504 days, that original cramping and debilitation did not place me permanently in a wheelchair, unable to move, travel, interact with human beings or even dress myself. I think we miss a rare opportunity in life when we don’t celebrate the absence of things getting worse.

Because quite bluntly, my friends–they can. There are diseases, problems, afflictions and habits that are avalanches toward disaster. It did not get worse.

Secondly–it’s better.

How is it better? I’m walking more than I was before. The stiffness is not as bad. The knees are still achy, but somehow or another, the beautiful construction of my human anatomy has enabled me to get accustomed to it, and I am able to perform all of my tasks with the same vigor I had in my twenties. Now for a third thought:

I am better.

Here is something I want you to consider: we are temporarily blessed in pleasure but perfected in pain. Why is that?

If we don’t feel a sense of our own mortality and are unaware of our own weaknesses, we begin to think that everything that comes into our minds is valuable instead of in need of a good interrogation.

I am better because complete mobility and self-sufficiency is not at my fingertips–or in this case, my toe tips.

  • It makes me appreciate everything more.
  • It makes me plan more efficiently.
  • It causes me to be sensitive when I look across the room and see someone with a cane, a walker or nursing a limp.
  • And finally, it has transformed my meager thinking into the understanding that life is about “better.”

Although I hear both religious and secular people lamenting the condition of the world around them, our thermometers should be set to notice the slightest change in degree of improvement.

Those who have the sensitivity to peer through the darkness and find one candle of light are the souls that sustain us to a better tomorrow.

So on day 504, I am happy to report that my condition is not worse. It’s better.

And because I have gone through it, I am better, converted to the philosophy–and powerful it is–that life is about better.

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Parma Jon… October 8, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

That’s my new name. Parma Jon.

Well, at least it is for today, as I reflect back on my visit to the Parma Lutheran Church and the clipped-off version of my name, Jon. (Like so many things, the idea seemed cuter in its conception…)

There was nothing remarkable about the Parma Lutheran Church. That’s what makes it truly exceptional. While America seems obsessed with discoveirng its new Idol, X-Factor, Voice, or political savior, God is doing what He always does–searching the deserts, the villages, the huts and the crevices for anyone who’s happy being who they are, doing what they do, who might consider taking on just a little bit more possibility.

It seems appropriate to me on this Columbus Day to talk to you about discovering America. Like Christopher Columbus, I launched out to find one thing and ended up uncovering another. When I left in January, I thought that I would be going to regions of the country that were saturated with culture, preferences, political swingings and religious tendencies. I should have known better–I’m not exactly a novice in the realm of traveling and speaking. But the pundits on television are very convincing, insisting that our country is diversified and split into many sections. It just ain’t so.

Actually, it’s much simpler than that. There are those folks who still believe, pursue and persist in the Golden Rule“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”–and a contingency who have succumbed to the notion that it’s every man for himself.

In other words, whether it has a southern accent, a Yankee dialect, a Georgia drawl or a west coast coolness, “I don’t care” ends up feeling just as cold. And whether it’s Republican, Democrat, conservative or liberal, “How can I help?” is just as comforting.

I met a man yesterday who used to deliver packages for UPS. Now he stands in a pulpit and tries to deliver the best of salvation, hope, gentleness and tenderness to a congregation of people, while dodging fiscal responsibilities and fits of grumpiness from those who have forgotten the mission of the Master. You know what struck me about him? After all his years of dealing in business and now the religious community, he is still overjoyed in the pursuit of finding reasons to be joyful. Though tempted to be jaded, he instead remains gold.

I met four wonderful young humans who sat on the front row in this church and indulged in enjoyment, praise, laughter and kindness to one another without feeling the need to explain it to the old folks or make excuses for their particular profile of worship. They were intelligent and caring. They were not prejudiced against Janet and myself because we’re older, but instead, took our gift of talent and message and received it in their own space, with their own simplicity.

I met a woman who came to my book table, and because I was having a bit of trouble with my legs, brought me a cane to ease my pain in walking to my van. She also brought a beautiful hand-carved elf that her husband had whittled, which was absolutely gorgeous. He was due for surgery today, so I send out a prayer his way.

Did I mention the poet who came to the table, bringing me his recently published book? I think the reason God likes creativity is because it sparks a light in our eyes and a giggle in our souls–that we were actually able to make something instead of just using up all the natural resources around us. That was the countenance on this fine fellow.

One after another, they came before me yesterday–delightful human beings in the midst of making that very important choice between believing that NoOne is better than anyone else, or finding reasons to separate themselves from the human family.

Oh–not everyone likes me, you know. There are people who stomp out the door, angered by my presumption to mess around with perfect, Germanic Lutheranism. I do not begrudge them their opinion.

But I will tell you that the majority of the American people I have met this year, especially in Parma, Ohio, are looking for a reason to continue to believe in the idea of people and God. It is amazing.

It makes me glad that the heavenly Father has not asked me to check out of my human living quarters and move on to eternal reward. I am so honored to be part of this phase of history and to jump into my four-wheeled Santa Maria and to sail away, discovering America.

So yesterday, I was Parma Jon. Today I move on. But I want to thank all the wonderful human souls that I have met over the past four or five days in the Northern Ohio area. They have enlightened me, blessed me and made me aware that taking the time to believe in people is never wasted.

It is the only way to guarantee that you have actually tapped a little piece of the mind of God.

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