Catchy (Sitting 31) Everything Butte That…January 14th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sitting on the tarmac in Butte, Montana, getting ready to lift off in the jet back to Las Vegas, Jubal Carlos desperately tried to capture pieces of his mind, seeming to float in his inner space.

The major question was very simple. What in the hell was he doing? He found himself interacting and working with people he hadn’t even known this time last year. They were nice enough, but a loneliness was settling into his soul–a yearning for purpose to join passion, to offer possibility.

The band he once loved was beginning to grumble and complain over the schedule, even though there was lots of money and a gentle atmosphere for the work. He cited to his mates that they were reaching people, but realized that they were becoming weary in all their well-doing.

The craziness of Washington, D.C. and the near-death experience of Jo-Jay hollowed out his insides.

But mostly, it was Butte, Montana. It was the most recently-selected little city to receive the noontime luncheon and show. Of the thirty-thousand-plus residents, a jubilant and warm-hearted five hundred came out to sit on the grass and “consider the lily.”

Shortly after the rally was over, Jubal excused himself and drove a rental car over to a nearby convenience store to buy snacks for the plane trip. In the parking lot he saw four young men sitting in the back of a pick-up truck, passing rifles back and forth.

It seemed fairly harmless.

Just before Jubal entered the store, one of the young men screamed across the distance, “So do you supposed to be Jesus?”

His comrades in the truck giggled.

Jubal just smiled, waved them off, and went into the store to acquire his delights. When he came out, the four fellows were gathered around his rental car. A shiver went down Jubal’s spine. Could be trouble. Yet small-town folks could just be curious, even though you’d swear it seemed threatening.

Jubal took a deep breath and walked to his car. He opened it, threw in his supplies and started to climb in himself when one of the young men grabbed his arm.

“You ain’t Jesus,” he said.

Jubal mustered his courage. “You sure are right. I’m not. No more Jesus than you are.”

“Well, I ain’t Jesus,” said another.

The boys showed no sign of being dangerous, but were certainly out on a lark, and Jubal realized that from their menacing profile, they could accidentally produce some mayhem.

A third one spoke. “We got all the Jesus we need here. What nationality are you anyway?”

Jubal smiled. “I don’t know. My mother died before I was two. My father split out after he found out I was gonna be born, and I don’t know where my grandparents are. So I usually have people guess. What nationality do you think I am?”

The fourth one piped up. “You look a little Korean.”

The other three laughed. “He ain’t no Korean,” said the second fellow. He was still holding his shotgun. The other three had leaned their weapons against the car, making Jubal’s departure more precarious.

The original fellow who had yelled across the parking lot offered, “I think he’s just a partially bleached-out nigger.”

“Now, Billy–you can’t say that word. It’s not proper,” laughed his friend.

“What? Bleached out?” said Billy, giggling.

Jubal decided it was time for him to use the gifts God had given him. “I could be bleached out,” he said. “You see, when I was a little boy, the foster home I was living in did laundry every Tuesday morning, and I wasn’t able to help much. So I sat on a stool nearby, watching all the grownups and older kids work on the clothes.”

Suddenly all four gentlemen were listening intently. Jubal continued. “Well, here’s what happened. Auntie Maria–that’s what we called her–well, she brought in a big bucket of bleach. And wouldn’t you know? I was so young and dumb I thought it was water. So when nobody was lookin’, I jumped in. I mean, the bucket was big enough to hold me, and I saw no reason to resist.”

There were a couple of snickers.

Jubal pressed on. “I wasn’t in the bleach very long. So I didn’t get totally bleached out, like you suggested. But word has it that before I went in that bleach, I was as black as an ace of spades.”

The young men stared at him curiously. Billy squinted. “So what you’re sayin’ is, you could be bleached out.”

“Maybe you are, too,” said Jubal.

Young Man Two jumped in, objecting. “No siree. I’ve been white all my life. I’ll live white and I’ll die white.”

“Well, I’ll probably die this color,” answered Jubal, “unless I get a hankering to jump in some more bleach.”

“You’re a dumbass,” said Billy flatly.

“Of course I am,” smiled Jubal. “What kind of idiot jumps in a bucket of bleach? So if you fine gentlemen will forgive me, I’ve got some friends waitin’ for me.”

There was a long pause as the group considered their options.They looked around the parking lot to see if they had gained any attention. There was a small crowd at the door, watching the events, since word had spread that the “Jesus fella” was in town and was picking himself up some Twinkies.

Billy peered at Jubal. “Do you think Jesus liked guns?” he challenged.

Jubal thought for a moment to make sure he portrayed that he was taking the question seriously. “I don’t know, Billy. I’m not real familiar with his feeling on firearms. But I do know that he loves people. And I do know he loves you fellas.”

They laughed him to scorn.

Billy turned to walk away, motioning to his friends to come on. “Like we were tellin’ you–we got plenty of Jesus here. You don’t need to come back.”

With a smooth, choreographed motion, Jubal slid into the car, shut the door and rolled down the power window. “Tell you what. Maybe I’ll just come back and see you guys. Thanks for the conversation. By the way, you didn’t ask me what I think about guns.”

Billy paused, turned around and frowned. “Well, that’s true.”

“You see?” said Jubal. “I’ve already got a reason to come back.”

He rolled up the window, started the car, backed up and drove away.

As Jubal sat on the plane, he realized that even though the moment in the Butte parking lot had been fraught with some danger, he loved it.

He loved the opportunity to meet people and see if he could sweeten their spirits and motivate their minds.

Off to Vegas.

Another three hours in the air, when he should be sleeping.

But his thoughts held him captive.

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It’s Me… February 26, 2013

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opossumI just stepped out for fifteen minutes to go get ice, chips and dip during one of those frenzied moments when you realize that you just can’t live without them.

My two sons, one twelve and one seven, were settled in, watching a TV show, so I felt fairly confident that I could leave, pick up my supplies from the local convenience store and be back before they even broke the trance, staring at the magic screen. I told my oldest boy that I was going to the store.

Upon arrival, I was not in the establishment for even two minutes, browsing, when a young man at the cashier stand called, “Is there a Mr. Cring here?”

Keep in mind–these were the days before cell phones, so it seems that my oldest son had tracked down the name of this store and called, apparently in desperation, to get hold of his dad. I picked up the phone and was assaulted with a nervous, excited and frightened jabber. Through the spurts I was able to figure out that my guy thought there was somebody at the back door, trying to get in the house.

Obviously, I was alarmed. I told him to lock the door and ran out of the convenience store (sans supplies). I drove to the house, parked the car and came around to the back door, where my son had heard the noise. There on the doorstep, banging its nose against the door for some inexplicable reason, was what seemed to be a very angry opossum, with some sort of bizarre agenda.

I could understand why my son was so frightened–it was really quite loud. Upon careful inspection, the possum, through determined smackings, had bloodied his own nose, and it was obvious to me that this was one crazed animal which I certainly did NOT want to deal with.

The possum turned, scowled and growled at me. Not knowing what to do and not having any weapon handy, I duplicated the scowl and growl, adding my own human flavor to it. To my delight and surprise, he turned on his paws and scampered across the back yard, out through the hedges and into the woods.

I was relieved. I was not an excellent possum fighter. Fortunately, I was not required to prove my prowess by disemboweling this creature. When I was sure the possum was long gone, I quietly knocked on the back door. There was a pause, followed by a wee, tiny voice barely resembling the first-born that I knew and loved.

“Wh-wh-who is it?”

“It’s me.”

That’s all I said. Suddenly the door flew open and gangly, awkward son leaped into my arms, hugging me and praising my role as his savior. I hadn’t identified myself in any way except through my voice. But because he knew he had called for my help, and I said I was on the way, he was not surprised when I arrived. He was not afraid to let me in. He was overjoyed.

It happened one night on a lake. Fishermen and good seamen, who should not have been terrified by a storm, were suddenly overtaken by uncontrollable anxiety. In the midst of that turmoil and anguish, a voice spoke through the darkness.

“It’s me.”

The very relieved and overjoyed fishermen received their friend into the boat … and the storm went away.

That night when I returned and was blessed by NOT needing to go on a possum hunt, I still was able to create an even deeper connection with my children because they recognized my voice, I came to their aid, and the danger disappeared.

I do not understand why we would think that teaching people to be afraid of God is a way of creating better humans and more devoted disciples.

Isn’t it preferable to believe, deep in your heart, that “Daddy’s home” … and all the bad things have run away?

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Terkel… February 23, 2013

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On the third day I decided to stop.

Sprawled on the gravel near the dumpster behind the convenience store, sitting out in front of my motel, was a man who certainly conveyed that he had lots of time on his hands and not too many places to go. I guess that’s a quaint way of saying–homeless.

I passed by him in my van the first two days, waving and smiling. On my first passage, he seemed a bit bewildered by my friendliness but on the second day he returned my greeting with the vigor of a long-lost friend watching his confidante fly off to Siberia on a secret mission.

But on the third day I decided to stop. I rolled up, eased my window down and said, “How ya’ doin’?”

Stumbling to his feet, staring into the distance and refusing eye contact, he replied, “Zeus has given me the light.”

I paused, recollecting my Greek mythology. Zeus was the top-dog god on Mount Olympus. I continued. “Zeus, huh? How’d you get an appointment with him?”

The question obviously baffled him so he continued his runaway train of thought. “Mercury gave me wings,” he proclaimed, still staring off into the distance.

It seemed we were going to run the entire roster of Hellenistic deities.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

There was a long pause. I decided not to repeat my question. I felt it would seem as if I were insensitive or impertinent. I just waited. At length, he responded.

“Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” Each letter grew in pitch of volume and intensity.

“I would have guessed Brian or Kenneth based on your age,” I replied.

For the first time the trance was broken and he glanced at me with a crinkled brow. Noting his coherency, I asked, “So what are you doing out here behind the convenience store?”

He yelled, ‘The policeman said I could be here as long as I didn’t lean against the building and sat on the gravel. It’s public property.”

I obviously had struck a nerve.

“You misunderstood my question,” I explained. “What I’m asking you is, what’s your story?”

“Zeus gave me…” he began.

I interrupted. “Listen, Terkel. I don’t know whether you believe in Zeus or not, but let’s just pretend for a second that you don’t. If you’d like me to stop bothering you, I get it. But really, it’s quite simple. I have passed by you for two days and waved, and I thought i would stop this time–just to see if there was anything human that could happen between us.”

This time he paused, recollecting human manners. “Do you have any money?” he asked.

“You know I do,” I replied. “You see, they don’t let you leave the back end of the convenience store and roam around if you don’t have it.”

I think he smiled, which led me to believe there was a little bit more inside of him than just a supernal messenger from Zeus.

“Do you have any money you can give me?” he asked more pointedly.

I reached for my wallet, pulled out two one dollar bills, and as I was beginning to hand them to him he added, eyeing the cash, “Breakfast tacos are three dollars.”

“You  mean Zeus left you out here without breakfast?” I probed with a smile.

He smiled back, as if mirroring my image. I reached into my wallet and added an additional one to my offering. “Breakfast tacos it is, then.”

He took the money and inquired, “What’s your name?”

“This is gonna be weird,” I said. “My name is also Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” I mimicked his previous bravado.

He chuckled in spite of himself. “You’re not Terkel,” he said.

“Neither are you.”

He chuckled again.

“You see, this wasn’t so bad. We talked for a minute, we got past the lineage of the Greek gods and you ended up with money for breakfast tacos.”

I reached down to close my window, finishing up the conversation. He stepped forward, and for the first time, looked me in the eyes.

“Thank you, Terkel,” he said. Then he stepped back and stared in the distance as if perched on the deck of the Santa Maria, peering for the north star. He mumbled something about Zeuss and collapsed onto the gravel in a giant heap.

I drove away. I do not know if I did a good thing or a bad thing. Such determinations, in my mind, are deliberated by foolish souls who pursue levels of divinity instead of acquiring the true depths of their humanity.

What I did was something different. And without difference, we are stuck with what and who we are … believing that nothing can change.

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