Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)

Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog


Sitting Fourteen

Left alone.

Young boys run on energy, not smarts. They are fully capable of performing the duties of an army but are minus the insight to know where to march and when to struggle.

Pal paced around the tiny campsite. He flailed his hands in the air, enraged with everything he saw. “Somebody is gonna know we don’t got nothing!” he screamed.

Iz sat quietly, stilled by the circumstances, in what seemed to be a mountain of resolution, but most probably was just a crumbling hillside of destruction.

Karin stood stunned, staring at the two boys, trying to decide what her duty was going to have to be in this youthful fiasco. She needed to be decisive, yet she didn’t trust her own take on the events.

She realized that she should try to talk the boys into going home.  But then she considered Iz. What causes a twelve-year-old boy to contemplate death? Could any of that responsibility be laid at the doorstep of his family?

Then propriety chased down her musings. They certainly needed to go to their parents. These boys did not belong in the desert. If she left them there, the soldier might return with his buddies, to drive them back into town in disgrace, or even for punishment.

The whole thing was so crude and so nasty. It all could blow up and just promote more smugness in this region already permeated with piety.

But in her heart, Karin was a journalist. Her ethics forbade her to be a party to façade. She couldn’t allow herself to become the third wheel in a doomed game destined to produce nothing.

She considered—who would everybody blame? Of course, her. Here she was, out on a lark, trying to get a story. Some scoop to help her maintain her edge as a lead writer for a dead periodical. But she wasn’t looking for a cause. She didn’t want to become “Mother” to the Middle East version of Leopold and Loeb. All she wanted was a story.

Unfortunately, she had fumbled her way into a tragedy.

Pal finally wearied himself of pacing, leaped upon Iz, and the two boys were rolling in the sand, fighting, growing more angry with each flip and punch. So Karin shook herself awake from her deliberations and ran over to pull the boys apart.

“What are you guys doing?” she screamed. Somehow she managed to squeeze her body in between the wrestling pair.

“He won’t talk to me!” Pal spat.

Iz said nothing, just continuing to thrust at the air with his arms.

Karin lost all patience. She threw both boys to the ground and straddled them. “You’re going to listen to me!” she proclaimed. “I don’t know what you think you’re achieving by beating each other to a pulp. Hell, I don’t know why you’re disappointed that the hand grenade didn’t blow you to smithereens. I don’t know why you’re both so damned nuts. But here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to sit here until everyone is calm and I can sprout some sort of an idea.”

The boys were mad, their chests heaving. They wiggled and squirmed, but Karin’s firm thighs held them in check. They tried a series of insults.

“I hate you.”

“You really are fat, lady.”

“You smell bad.”

Karin laughed at them. At length, the twitching ceased as the young gents lay panting in a pile of exhaustion.

Slowly Karin released, dismounting her captives. “Here’s what we’re gonna do,” she said. “First, let me tell you what I think. There is nothing we can possibly to do determine what that soldier is going to tell or not tell. Secondly, I think the best thing is for me to get a ride back to town—somehow or another—and just talk to my editor and find out if I can get someone else with some brains, or someone maybe willing to share the pain, to become involved in this whole mess. And finally—this is the most important. You guys need to rest and promise me that you won’t claw each other’s eyes out.”

Iz was insulted. “We are friends,” he retorted.

Karin was relieved. He sounded a bit more normal.

Confident that they could no longer kill each other with a grenade and might be too worn out to box each other to death, she headed down the hill toward the nearest path that resembled a road, hoping to find some vagabond with wheels, who might be willing to pick up a disheveled female.

It could be a wait.

But she knew the next stop was her editor.


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G-Poppers … March 30th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


He was anxiously looking forward to spending the weekend alone with his beautiful wife, Claudia, near the sea. The responsibilities of his position were unyielding, leaving him negotiating all sorts of foolish squabbles, bringing him home at night still reeling from the grumpy day.

Unfortunately, Claudia had been the victim of many of his temper tantrums, as he ranted and raged about the inflexibility of the people who dubbed themselves “the children of Abraham.” He just needed to get away.

Caesarea was perfect.

It had been built by the Roman occupiers as a little piece of home–and freedom–in the midst of this inflexible, dim-witted region. For a few days, he could pretend he was civilized again instead of trying to govern a pack of wolves who refused to accept the fact that they were caged.

Resting in his bed, he was awakened early on Friday morning with a request to meet with Caiaphas, the high priest of the Jewish people, to adjudicate a particularly difficult matter. Worse was that Caiaphas and his entourage refused to come into the Great Hall to see him because they were in the midst of their Passover celebration, and to be in the presence of him, a Gentile, made them unclean.

He shook his head, baffled by how foolish they were to make these contentions, for some reason thinking they were not offensive.

Arriving in the outer hall, he was surrounded by bearded, austere theologians, who ushered in a weary, wobbly man obviously suffering from punishment.

Within seconds, he realized that their request for his intervention was not needed. It was one of their pieces of fussiness–something about their God. A reference to a Messiah.

Realizing that the young, abused gentleman in front of him was from Galilee, he decided to pawn the situation off on Herod, whom he hated. As he went back to his chambers to tell his wife of his great solution, she appeared before him with terror in her eyes.

She’d had a dream. It was a dream about a man who would be brought to him, who was accused of great indignities, but was truly innocent.

He listened carefully to Claudia. She was not normally given to such outbursts. He trusted her. She advised him that he must avoid bringing any judgment on this man.

They had barely finished their conversation when Caiaphas and his entourage returned. Apparently Herod had passed the case back over to him.

A little spooked by Claudia’s dream, but even more, aggravated by being disturbed on the morning of his departure, he strolled onto the porch of the outer hallway to interview the young Galilean.

He was a little embarrassed. The religious leaders of the Jews seemed very intent on harming this man, while the fellow stood quietly by, offering no defense. Normally a man in this position, surrounded by accusers, would become defensive, agitated and sometimes even violent. But not this chap.

It was unnerving.

Accusation after witness after lie after deception were presented, with nothing congealing into an airtight complaint against the young man from Nazareth.

Then Caiaphas brought up Caesar. It was a name that terrified him. He considered the fact that he had been made governor of Judea to keep peace, and try to bring civilization to this backward nation. It was a formidable task. Of course, Caesar wouldn’t know that. He would only gauge results.

The religious leaders wanted the young man dead.

On this Friday morning, Governor Pontius Pilate was anxious to get away for the weekend. Who was he to challenge the contents of their oral law and practices?

So…he relented.

Symbolically washing his hands clean of the whole affair, he sentenced the quiet Nazarene to death. It was the quickest, simplest and seemingly most intelligent course of action.

In less than an hour, he had packed his things and by nightfall he was in Caesarea. He had a brief flashback about the morning’s activities, but it was quickly forgotten when Claudia cuddled up to him and they sipped delicious wine from the vineyards of Italy.

He had no idea that his Friday morning, seemingly insignificant encounter with Jesus of Nazareth would be the only remembrance that history would provide of him.

He was the one who gave permission to kill the Christ. He was in too big a hurry to consider any other possibility than ease.

G-Pop is thinking about that on this Good Friday.

What might he be ignoring?


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A Very Strange Mother’s Day… May 13, 2012


It wasn’t really Mother’s Day, since no such holiday existed in Nazareth, Galilee, two thousand years ago. But to Mary, it probably felt very much like a Mother’s Day blessing. Her eldest son, Jesus, had returned home from his traveling and escapades and had been invited to share the scripture in the local synagogue. How proud she must have been! How much she certainly advertised to her friends about the upcoming event. Now, she didn’t totally understand his work. From all of her upbringing, “work” entailed labor, sweat and toil. He had rejected the life of a carpenter to become … well, she wasn’t quite sure WHAT he had become. But she was proud of him–especially on this day, when he was going to be the center of focus during the worship.

The morning arrived. They handed him the Book of Isaiah, and he read a passage about being anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, sent to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight for the blind, to set at liberty those who were bruised and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Mary’s heart was filled with such pride that she was barely able to absorb any of the content, focused on the beauty of his voice and the courtly nature of his demeanor. He closed the book and sat down. She wanted to applaud, but years of propriety prevented such an unacceptable gesture.

Then he did something strange. He spoke again. Usually the reading would conclude the presentation. He told the gathered that today the scripture had been fulfilled in their presence and in their ears. Disruption. It made her nervous when he did such things. Ever since he had been a boy, he had found many moments to grant her pride–but occasionally came up with that bizarre thought that she would have to ponder in her heart.

The people were impressed with his speaking. He continued. He told them that they probably wanted him to share his work in Nazareth as he had in Capernaum, but that “a prophet had no honor in his own country.” He continued by saying that in the days of Elijah there were many widows in Israel who were in need of provision, but God sent Elijah to a Gentile instead. He also said that God did the same thing by ignoring the lepers of Israel and healing a Syrian named Naman.

Mother Mary became more nervous. It seemed that her eldest was trying to incite the gathered and taunt them. Her instincts bore out–because they rose up as a mob, took him outside the city, intending to throw him off the cliff onto the rocks below. How had it gone so wrong? she thought. He escaped through the crowd and continued his work.

It seemed that she was never able to connect with him. Even though she had birthed him and raised him, he had reached a point in his life when his choices had to be his own and his mission born of his spirit alone. Every time she tried to be mother to him, her offerings were rejected. Once, at a wedding feast in Cana, she encouraged him to use his gifts. He pushed her away. She also heard that strange things were going on in his work and she feared for his sanity. So she sent the older children out to bring him home–and he told the crowd that his mother, brothers and sisters were anyone who did the will of his father.

That hurt. A mother wants to know that her son loves her, but also that her influence continues. Matter of fact, throughout his life and work, to some degree they remained estranged. She had to learn what every mother does–that even though you carry your children in your womb, and you wean them, caress them and love them, and your instincts tell you to encourage them but keep them close to your home, still, there comes a time to let them go, maintain a presence of each of them in your in your heart–and step away.

But to her credit, rather than alienating herself and becoming hopelessly offended, she stayed with him. She stayed with him when the tide of public opinion turned against him and he was executed. She remained, along with several other women, to attend to his needs on a Sunday morning, when burial was required, and she was there when the tomb was empty and her eldest son rose from the dead.

She was so glad that on that very strange day of a mother’s pride, back in Nazareth, when the crowd rejected her child, that she didn’t follow in their footsteps. Because being a good mother is understanding that you have birthed a child for the entire world–and for God’s pleasure. Somewhere on the journey, he iwll need to separate and find his way.

Mary was an intelligent woman  and an excellent mother. She let Jesus go, to be who he was supposed to be, making sure that she never broke their bond.


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