Not Long Tales … January 28th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4303)

25.

Did I Keep You Waiting?

by Jonathan Richard Cring

It’s not really the tears. Privacy can be found for them.

It’s more the sense of vacancy—the emptiness, like a deep, dark cave, where the growl of agony echoes against the walls.

Eleanor counted the days. Forty-three. It had been forty-three days since the death of her soul, Jack.

Although she tried to remember, all that came to her was a wave of hopelessness which drenched her, leaving behind nothing but angry frustration.

She could barely remember the circumstances. An accident. A sleepy truck driver.

Instantly dead.

That’s what they told her. It was supposed to comfort her—that at least, her Jack did not suffer. No, all the suffering was left for her.

Somehow or another, she’d expected more empathy. It had been little more than a month and people were already moving on—perhaps wondering when she would be able to “compartmentalize” her grief.

To push on.

Somehow, she survived the funeral. But continuing life after Jack was not something she had planned for nor could any preparation have left her understanding the sense of incompletion that swept over her entire being.

She spent her days staring at his last razor, rubbing her hands across the top of his deodorant, using his washcloth and never rinsing it out, peering at the six-pack of beer in the corner of the kitchen he hadn’t finished.

And mostly—yes, mostly—indulging herself in smelling everything he had touched and everything that had been his.

Everybody had called them “Jack and Eleanor—the perfect couple.”

But if a coupling is perfect, what does it become minus one of its links? Especially if that joining has been ripped away, leaving the devastation on the other.

There was no relief for her grief. She didn’t want any. Not only was she unwilling to move on but found the whole idea blasphemous to a divine union which had been squelched by the demon of chance.

At first, Eleanor feared sleep. For it was peppered with flashes of Jack—some distorted and many violent. But gradually, the dreams tempered. They became an aching journey through images—almost like a photo album.

They were visions of firsts: first meeting, first kiss, first lovemaking, first child.

Ah, yes. The children. There were two—much too young to be talking about their dad in the past tense. Eleanor needed to tend to them, like a shepherd to sheep, but she was frighteningly put off by their presence. They were the evidence of Jack and Eleanor’s love—and now that their love was gone, only the needy evidence remained.

She was ashamed. She wanted to criticize the kids for not caring enough about their father—simply because they no longer broke down at the sound of his name or the sight of his picture.

Then, in her dream life the photo album of memories changed. She was given sights she couldn’t remember. She recognized herself—the children, old friends, and even Jack—but she held no recollection of the event or the scene or the time.

And then, on Tuesday night, October 25th, she met a visitor. Yes, a new image appeared in her dreams—a man. Part American Indian, athletic, eyes like her mother’s and a tender voice, deep and basal, like warm maple syrup.

She had never been visited in a dream before. But the apparition spoke to her. “What if you’re wrong?” he asked.

It was a simple question. She was surprised that her dream self was offended, and immediately spat back, “I’m not wrong.”

“My name is Saralis,” he said, pointing to himself.

Eleanor didn’t care. It was a dream. She wasn’t really interested in carrying on a conversation with something that was not going to last. She had already committed to eternally being in love with Jack, only to have it snatched away after fifteen short years.

But Saralis continued. “Why are you so upset?”

“He is gone!” Eleanor screamed, feeling it completely unnecessary to explain who the “he” was. He was the only he she was interested in or would ever consider.

Saralis smiled. “Jack is not gone,” he said. “You are gone.”

Eleanor became immediately angry. Maybe it was the tone of voice, or the flippancy of the comment. It was rude. Meaningless statements uttered in dreams were not going to fill the hole in her soul.

Saralis, seeing her rage, continued, “If you can be calm, I will explain to you that Jack is alive and waiting.”

Eleanor laughed. She now understood. All her religious training, heavenly schooling and church foolishness was trying to take over and replace her vacuum.

Her laughter quickly turned to scorn. “I am not going to wait for heaven!” she snarled at Saralis. “I am not going to believe in something that isn’t nearly as promising as what I possessed with Jack.”

Saralis interrupted. “Nor would I ask you to. I would merely suggest that your ignorance keeps you from the truth that would free you of your obsession.”

“Jack is not my obsession,” Eleanor said. “He is my love. He and I shared a breath. We shared a purpose. We conformed to each other’s needs. We became gloriously ecstatic when we were able to meet them.”

Saralis walked across the dreamscape and sat down on what appeared to be a glowing pile of logs, prepared for him and his perch. “My dear,” he said, “you just don’t know where you are, so how could you be expected to know where to go? You are in the middle of a mortalation. And before you ask me what that is, let me tell you. A mortalation is when our dreams mercifully evolve into our reality, as God, in his grace and wisdom, grants us the blessing without us having to consciously struggle with the transformation.”

Eleanor was unimpressed. Saralis asked, “Did you understand anything I said?”

“Not a word,” snapped Eleanor, “because there was no sense in it. It’s the jumbled language people use to pretend they’re spiritual when they really have nothing to say.”

Saralis chuckled. “Yes,” he retorted. “It would be impossible to comprehend what I’m saying. But what I would like you to do is just listen to my voice. What I’m about to speak will be very familiar to you. Remain still. Don’t allow yourself to attack or be insulted. Just listen.”

As Saralis stopped, Eleanor took a breath to speak. Then Saralis began sharing again—louder. Maybe not louder, but it filled the space surrounding her.

“The first time I met her, I did not fall in love with her. But I liked her so much that I hoped I would have the good fortune to love her someday. I didn’t think my prospects were good, for she was much more lovely than I was handsome. Much smarter than I was intelligent. And so much better than my simple good.”

Eleanor held her breath, frozen, shocked. These were the exact words Jack had spoken at the altar so many years ago when they exchanged vows. Saralis continued.

“And then, one night, or one moment—just some speckle in time—she looked at me with a gleam in her eye that communicated that I had a chance. That’s all I needed—just an opportunity to try to convince her that her time would not be wasted on us blending our lives together.”

As Eleanor listened, the basal tones of Saralis melted away. It was an amazing evolution—like bitter salt turning into the sweetest sugar. Emerging through the voice of the apparition of her dream came the familiar, gentle and less assured sound of her beloved Jack.

“So,” he went on, “when she decided to let me touch her, kiss her—to unite with her, I was so fumbling bad. I thought she would surely think better of giving me another chance. But she not only gave me another chance, she told me I did well. That I made her happy, and that she, too, wanted to do it again and again and again, with only me.”

The voice began to lose its dreamy quality, sounding more normal. More human. More present.

“So that’s why I read this to you each and every day, with the hopes that one day you will remember when I said it the first time, at the church we chose because it was so pretty on the outside.”

The voice finished. Eleanor slowly opened her eyes, and with cloudy vision, saw the form of her lover and friend, Jack. She tried to move toward him—to put her arms around him, but she was much too weak. Apparently, the dream had drained her of all power.

Jack, looking into her open eyes and realizing she was moving, squeezed her hand and she weakly squeezed his. Without saying another word, Jack ran out of the room, and quickly returned with a man in a white coat, wearing a stethoscope.

Eleanor looked around the room and realized she was in a hospital. Her face was filled with distress, so the doctor firmly laid his hand on her shoulder, holding her down.

“Don’t move,” he said, with a convincing tone. “You’re fine. But I need to check you over.”

That he did, reviewing all her vital signs while Eleanor desperately looked past him at Jack, who was darting right and then left, attempting to maintain visual contact.

Eleanor opened her mouth to speak, but no words came forth. The doctor patted her on the head, took a washcloth lying nearby and soothed her brow.

“I need you to relax and be quiet,” he instructed. “I will explain everything to you soon.”

Eleanor looked at Jack. She hadn’t really taken in his entire appearance. He was much thinner than she remembered. His clothes looked cheap, like they had been purchased at Goodwill. And though she would never tell him and hurt his feelings, he had aged.

But obedient, and too exhausted to say a thing, she lay her head back and closed her eyes. The doctor slipped out of the room, motioning for Jack to follow him.

In the hallway, the doctor looked for a private area and finally ducked into an examination room. Jack was gleeful, grabbing the doctor and pulling him in close for a bullish embrace.

The doctor held up a hand. “We’re not out of the woods,” he said.

Jack interrupted. “I know, doc—but it’s been five years. I never thought I would even see her eyes light up again, or… I don’t know. I gave up on any progress. I spent all my money. The kids and I are back living with my parents. I finally found a job that would accept that I needed to be at the hospital four hours a day. But the money’s terrible!”

The doctor broke in. “I understand all of that, Jack. What I am telling you is, she has come from someplace we don’t understand, so her grasp of the place we’re in may be twisted…”

Jack frowned. “What do you mean by twisted?”

“I don’t know,” said the doctor. “We think we’re so smart, but the human brain is so much smarter. She’s back. But her story may be much different than yours.”

“You mean she may not know she was struck by an eighteen-wheeler and suffered a severe brain injury?” Jack asked.

The doctor chuckled. “No. She won’t know any of that, more than likely. But don’t be afraid of her story. Don’t be afraid of her telling.”

He put his hand on Jack’s shoulder. “The universe is so much larger than we are that her version may be the accurate one. We may be the ones having an illusion.”

Jack stared at him like he had sprouted a second head. The doctor smiled. “Don’t worry about it, Jack. It doesn’t matter who’s been waiting for who. All that matters is, somewhere in that darkness, you found each other.”

THE END

 

Jesonian … January 6th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3544)

Sitting my eleven-year-old self down right in the middle of the Junior High Sunday School class, my attention was riveted on the astounding, emerging breasts of Terry and Linda.

All at once I was startled by some words that came out of the mouth of our schoolmarm-deacon’s-wife teacher. She was reading the names of the twelves disciples when she stated, without flinching, “James, the Less.”

It just piqued my curiosity–so much so that I raised my hand to ask a question. She was so flabbergasted at seeing a student express interest that she paused for a second, and then finally acknowledged me.

I asked, “James the Less? Who made him ‘Less?’ And who has the right to call him that?”

She was stymied. My particular question was not covered in lesson book under “potential points of discussion.”

I waited for her response. At length, she replied, “Well, I don’t know for sure, but maybe it’s because he wasn’t as important as the other James.”

This infuriated me. A God in Heaven who thinks some people are more important than others? How can He be “no respecter of persons” when He’s keeping a private list of “Faves?”

I objected, and all at once some of the other students (who had been deep in Sunday-morning comas) began to listen, and agreed with my concerns. What right did we have to call this James “the Less” and give the other James more value?

Even though this was many years ago, I had been trained in a spiritual communism. Amazingly, we still tout these concept even today.

Everyone is the same, as far as their worth.

Everything that everyone does is just as precious as what another person does.

Of course, this is total foolishness.

I do expect my airline pilot to have more expertise than the city bus driver. I’m not taking anything away from the bus driver, but I am asking the airline pilot to take his job very seriously, and to show up with integrity and deeper knowledge.

We must understand that James the Less was given that name on Jesus’ watch. Jesus had three disciples he favored over the other nine. Favored in what way? Whenever he went into critical situations or needed men of great faith, Peter, James and John were ushered to the front.

Yet we never feel as if the others are slighted–until one day they decided to get fussy. They sat around and discussed who would be the greatest. To stimulate the conversation, they had to begin with the premise that each one of them was just as essential as the other.

Jesus rebuked them. He said, “These are concerns that the world has. It won’t be that way with you. For you, he that would be master must be a servant.”

Jesus offered a Jesonian philosophy. It still works today. When Jesus found people, he did three things:

1. This is who you are.

When a man with many demons cast out of him wanted to join Jesus’ troup, he sent the man back to his own town, to spread the word.

“This is who you are.”

Much of our life span is wasted denying who we are. Maybe we find it insufficient. Maybe we think we should be given more focus. But in the process of arguing over who we are, we fail to reach the second point.

2. This is why it is good.

The greatest gift we can give anyone is to help them understand why who they are is so good. James the Less was not offended because James the Less knew who he was and why that was a great contribution to the cause.

James, who was considered greater, was balanced out by realizing that in order to maintain his place in the front lines, he needed to be “servant of all,” even to James the Less.

3. The Gospel will show you how you can peak.

Yes, once you find out who you are and realize that it’s good, Jesus has a style to grant you relevance.

I always have to giggle when I hear someone advertise “The Great Smoky Mountains.” Actually, when you place a Smoky Mountain next to Mount Everest, it might look like flat land. But because the Smoky Mountains are strategically placed–where there are no other mountains around to compete–they are not only beautiful and entertaining, but considering their location, can be called “great.”

Find your location and peak. Don’t situate yourself next to people who have a different mission and try to pull them down, criticizing them to make yourself look better.

The Gospel of Jesus teaches you how to peak in your own arena.

Unfortunately, my schoolmarm at the church that day could not give me an answer to my question. She was just like me. She was taught that calling someone “less” was an insult.

Actually, when you’re James the Less, you just use wisdom to make sure you don’t hang around the other James too much–but instead, find out who you are and why that’s good.

And then let the Gospel show you how to peak.

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Confessing … October 17th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2725)

XXIV.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

I could.

I should have.

I would … next time?

Guilt is often just acceptable self-pity.

It is a decision to appear responsible without ever really taking responsibility.

I shall refrain.

The night my son was hit and run by a car, I kept waiting for the hero in me to show up. I expected “Super Dad” or the cunning of Spirit to steer me in the right direction. I was waiting for my paternal instincts to engulf me in an adrenalin which would bark out commands, take control and become the victor.

Instead, I found myself embarrassingly self-conscious.

I felt as if everybody was watching my actions, like a movie, and they were curious about how I would escape the tragedy.

I felt insufficient and was completely convinced that everybody knew it.

So I blabbered on, bouncing between conjuring memories of better days with my wounded child, or pronouncing epithets of faith, which now fell off my lips insipid and meaningless in the darkness of my surroundings.

When they finally finished operating on my boy and told me the severe state of his injuries, and moved him to a room in Intensive Care, I noticed that there was a chair right next to the hospital bed.

It was empty.

Even though I was confused and frustrated, I knew in my heart it was supposed to be my chair. It was intended to be my place of residence for the next few days or weeks, while I waited for my son to come out of his coma.

Yet I was frightened.

Or maybe I was lazy.

But mostly, I think I was just unsure that I was suited to fill the chair.

So when the doctors and nurses told me there was nothing else I could do that night, and I should go home and get rest, I put up some passive resistance, and then left the hospital, greatly relieved.

When I arrived the next day, the morning nurse told me that Joshua had cried out in pain all during the night, and she wondered where I was. I explained to her that I was instructed to leave.

She just looked at me like she knew it was a lame excuse, given the situation.

I walked into his room, and there was the chair.

I occupied it during the day, but at night I left him.

I wasn’t up to the challenge.

And because I wasn’t, some very bad things happened to him that ended up robbing him of the possibility of new life.

I was afraid of the empty chair.

For you see, there’s always an empty chair. It is rarely filled because it demands such a level of commitment that it frightens away all sitters.

My son needed me and I was not prepared to be the man I needed to be.

I am very sorry.

But I have spent the rest of my life … looking for the empty chair.

 

confessing chair

  

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The Alphabet of Us: Q is for Quality … March 30, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2547)

Building block Q big

All human beings possess a heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

“Quality of life.”

It is a phrase that is usually introduced when a catastrophic accident has left a victim comatose, with very little brain activity and response. We then ask the powerful question: are more heroic measures necessary and will they guarantee a quality of life?

Yet I must tell you that in any gathering of human souls, the most common subject that can stimulate conversation is to ask the simple question: How many people here have had a disaster in your life?

All of us are on the other side of a fiasco.

Unfortunately, many folks remain in a coma–not a physical repose, but rather, a startled, unresponsive condition.

The quality of life suffers.

So in considering our journey on this “alphabet of human essentials,” the word quality must be included, because it is necessary periodically for us all to take inventory of our faculties and realize what is paralyzed and needs to be revived. We require:

1. A quality of heart.

To achieve this, we must decide to tell the truth. What stalls our emotions is dodging a maze of lies.

We shut down. It’s too painful to continue and too revealing to admit.

The quality of the heart is always cleansed by deciding to tell the truth.

2. The quality of the soul.

Although there are religionists who tout the power of worship, praise, meditation, fasting and sacraments, the human soul maintains its quality by learning to love people.

Candidly, it’s impossible to carry on a gentle, mature relationship with ourselves when we despise another human being who mirrors our features.

To gain quality of the soul, you must always be in a learning profile to love people.

3. The quality of the mind.

Since the brain is a storage area, it often needs to be cleaned out to make room for our new stuff. We never really acquire a quality in our minds until we’re confident that we’re thinking for ourselves.

To be assured of this, we must abandon teachings, indoctrination and prejudices which were thrust deep into our gray matter as truth–and confirm they are wrong. You achieve quality of the mind when you begin to think for yourself.

4. And finally, there’s the quality of our strength.

Our bodies. The body only demands one thing of us: apply what works.

For instance, yesterday I ate some delicious food. It wasn’t particularly high in calories, nor was it filled with starches and fats. But my particular physicality has grown accustomed to a certain diet and is in no mood to suddenly transform to new recipes.

I had a minor reaction. I learned.

All my body requires of me is that I apply what works to keep a well-oiled, humming machine.

It is possible to survive the accident and end up in a coma. Therefore, it is only natural that we, as human beings, encounter personal tragedy and likewise become suspended in a state of confusion.

Get a quality in your heart, soul, mind and strength by deciding, learning, thinking and applying.

 

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