Jesonian: Jesus of Parkersburg … October 25, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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bearded man in headlamp big

Cara is hard at work, desperately trying to finish up an extra half-shift she has taken on to earn some extra money for her two children at home, who want to go on a field trip to Charleston with their class.

Things have been tough since her husband left early last year, without any explanation.

She’s working double shifts for single-digit dollars, trying to singlehandedly be a mother, provider, disciplinarian, and if there’s any time left over, companion to her fledglings.

She doesn’t need much.

Some encouragement would be nice.

Maybe just to not have people look down on her because her clothes are a bit bedraggled.

Maybe one night off, to laugh instead of budget.

She needs Jesus of Parkersburg.

She needs him not to be religious, but rather, helpful.

Maybe to just listen.

She needs him to tell her that she’s still only thirty-three years old, that her life isn’t over, and she’s not just a paycheck trying to fund her little tykes into an uncertain adulthood.

****

Matt has the afternoon off to go to Wal-mart to buy some incidentals–clothing and shoes–for his family. He tries to plan this trip to the Superstore once a month, taking a good bite out of his paycheck, hoping that they can make all the macaroni last as long as the cheese.

He doesn’t mind the hard work at the coal mines. He doesn’t care that often his safety may not be the primal concern of those who run the company. He has enough faith in God to get him in and out of the tunnels everyday without fear.

But it sure would be nice if Jesus of Parkersburg would lighten the load just a little bit. Not much.

Maybe give him a few extra dollars so he could buy some insulation for the house so that the winter months wouldn’t be so brutally cold and expensive.

Maybe Jesus could help him get a break on that medication that one of his young’uns needs, which the doctor insists will help with the repeated seizures.

Matt’s not a demanding sort, but he sure would appreciate a break.

*****

Calvin hangs out down next to the railroad tracks on the east side of town. He’s officially homeless, in the sense that he neither has an address nor a pillow on which to lay his head.

He begs next to the railroad tracks because when somebody does give him a quarter or a dollar, he jokingly runs across the tracks and says, “Thank you. Now, you just helped me get on the right side of the tracks.”

Ever since his wife was killed by a drunk driver, he has lost much of the will to pursue or succeed. It was just the two of them, and now that’s it just one of them, he feels no compulsion to over-produce.

But he sure could use Jesus of Parkersburg.

Maybe somebody could just come along and pop him a twenty-dollar bill so he could remember what the taste of a good hamburger is in his mouth.

Yes, that would be nice.

Maybe Jesus of Parkersburg could help him find a way to get back into life, and feel important to someone again, like he was to his loving mate.

For you see, Calvin’s not miserable. Just underused.

*****

And then there’s Tim–a young man who’s hanging out at the Dairy Barn, even though it’s set to soon close for the winter months.

He’s not sure where to go. A junior in high school, he’s not adept in sports, can’t sing in the choir, couldn’t afford a band instrument even if the school still had a band.

So he finds himself with a lot of time on his hands, with a bunch of mischief trying to tease and tempt him into some unnecessary choices.

Tim sure could use Jesus of Parkersburg.

Just someone to come along, put an arm around his shoulder and say, “Listen kid. Let’s go out, find what you can do really well, and then get you to doing it.”

He might rebel against such interference, but considering that Jesus is so compassionate and full of good cheer, he just might listen.

For after all, when the Dairy Barn closes, where is he going to go?

*****

You see, the problem is, there is no Jesus of Parkersburg.

There’s no Messiah walking around healing the sick and raising the dead.

For the next twenty-four hours, there’s me. Makes me feel sorry for the good folk of this town. They deserve so much better.

But since there is no Jesus of Parkersburg, I’m going to think, pray, laugh and try really hard, in my own clumsy way, to be Jesus… in Parkersburg.

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A Tiny Step–November 5, 2011

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Packed up.

There’s no feeling quite like it and I wish you could all be there to experience the sensation. The program is done, folks are greeted, the equipment is loaded and you find yourself prepared to journey back to where you have selected to headquarter yourself while on tour. There’s a little chill in the air that’s able to reach your soul because you’ve allowed yourself to be open to other human beings.  It prompts a bit of giddiness.

It was Thursday night in Summerville, South Carolina, near Charleston, and I was about two hours from a good night’s rest. I got on the freeway and did what I always do. I set my cruise control at 65 miles per hour … because that was the speed limit. You would have thought I was rowing a boat in the middle of a muddy creek. Everyone passed me–and some of them even honked at me because I was presumptuously driving too slow for their taste.

At 65 miles an hour, it was going to take me two hours to get home. Driving 70 miles an hour, I would have gotten home in one hour and fifty minutes–ten minutes sooner.  Driving 75 miles an hour I would have gotten there twenty minutes earlier. This is a big deal to some folks, or at least it seems to be.

Also, it annoys me when I am driving along at 65 miles an hour and I have to suddenly slam on the brakes because the guy driving in front of me, going 75 or 80 miles an hour, suddenly notices there’s a police car ahead. So we go from the ridiculous to the sublime. Yes–he drops all the way from 80 to 50, sheepishly creeping by the police car and hoping that radar has not caught his errant behavior.  I pass him, continuing to drive 65 miles per hour–the big, fat tortoise that I am.

I don’t feel self-righteous about this issue. I just think we need some place to start–yes–to begin to have integrity as a bulwark for our character. We are constantly bombarded by examples of lying and cheating on television and in the movies–and especially on the scandal-ridden news programs which pepper our minds with negative images of our fellow-man. I think we’ve actually begun to believe that most lying is inevitable and some lying is even necessary.

Here’s what you have to do to drive 65 miles an hour home from Summerville, South Carolina, and not get frustrated or be tempted to speed:

1. Make a plan. The reason most people feel the necessity to break the law and drive too fast is that they’ve convinced themselves that they’re way too busy to spend time in a car, scooting along to their destination. The art of planning is the essence of escaping worry and frustration. Just being able to leave ten minutes earlier saves you from having to slow up in front of policemen or eventually get that ticket when they inevitably catch you. Planning has become a negative in our country, associated with anal behavior, female tendencies or even poor mental health due to fussiness over meticulous detail. And boy, does it show up! We have people who can’t keep their word on deadlines, government in gridlock and organizations that repeat the same activities over and over again until people totally lose interest. Yes, I had to plan my trip to Summerville AND back. Yes, I went into much detail. Yes, I prepared myself physically for the excursion. And yes:

2. I surrounded myself with pleasantness. The reason most of us are in such a hurry is that we’re trying to get away from unpleasant activities we have failed to transform into reasonable joys. I am the great benefactor of sitting in a van and traveling with two delightful women who converse with me and I with them instead of staring out the windows, acting like we’re looking for icebergs on the Titanic. Because folks don’t plan well, they miss the opportunity for great pleasantries with one another. Matter of fact, you can do some of that planning for the next day while riding in your car, going the speed limit.  How about a book on CD? I have a couple if you’re interested.  How about music of your choice instead of the radio? Once again, I have some of those also. How about a cup of coffee and a really tasty, cheap hot dog from your local convenience store?  (Everyone knows calories consumed in a car in the pursuit of a journey don’t count on your waistline.  At least, I heardthat’s what I’ve heard …) By simply driving the speed limit–a small step–you will learn to be a better planner and surround yourself with desirable possibilities, causing you to use a great human attribute:

3. Patience. Patience is not gripping the steering wheel like it’s a life preserver in an ocean storm, but rather, relaxing in your planning and pleasant environment, knowing that what’s up ahead isn’t any better than what you presently have. Jesus said, “In your patience you possess your souls.” A powerful thought. Is it possible that this entire human journey is going to boil down to God evaluating how willing we were to drive the speed limit, patiently evolving our plan, in a pleasant mood? For the sake of many of my dear friends, I hope not.

Take a small step.  Take one day of your life and drive the speed limit. Take a few minutes ahead of that to plan your day so it’s feasible. And then reward yourself by surrounding yourself with really neat things, so you can happily enjoy yourself when others drive by and honk at you.

We need to take some small steps to move toward honesty so we don’t have to frown at ourselves in the mirror.

But instead, we can look clearly … into our own clear eyes.

***************

Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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