3 Things … (May 14th, 2020)

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4409)

That Can’t Go Away

1. Faith…

For we need something to believe that congeals our sanity with our talent.

 

2. Hope…

We require a dream to chase that sometimes chases us back.

 

3. Love…

Our yearning for a heart of affection is greater than our fear of affliction.

Not Long Tales … December 17th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4461)

19.

The Glimpse

Teaching American history at the Daniel Boone High School in Lancerville, Kentucky, required a delicate balance between honoring the actual story of events mingled with comprehension of what every citizen of Lancerville believed to be true—or at least insisted was.

Marco Craswell had arrived in the town four years before as a teacher, and in the past schoolyear had taken on the added responsibility of assistant football coach.

Because his name was Marco, many people thought he was ethnic and looked deeply into his complexion for confirming signs. But actually, his father named him Marco out of a deep admiration for the great explorer, Marco Polo.

Depending on who you talked to, Marco was either the most eligible bachelor in the community or a closet gay. It would be delightful to report that Marco was a dedicated teacher, spending hours developing study plans, and giving extra sessions after school to encourage troubled students. But actually, Marco was the last one in the door when school began and the first one out when it ended. That was why he was a little upset about accepting the job of assistant football coach—it forced him to linger around the campus.

Marco did not like Lancerville.

The town had a credo: “Leave well enough alone.” The theme ran from City Hall, through the streets, into the stores and front doors of the homes, and even to the pulpits and pews of the seven churches sanctifying the surroundings.

As soon as he had arrived, Marco was informed by the school principal that he should find a church he liked—or at least could tolerate—because such things were very important to the citizens, and word would spread very quickly of any non-participation with the Jesus faithful. He had discovered that there was a Community Church in town which had a young minister from California, who by some circuitous journey, had ended up in Kentucky. His name was Jack Murphy, but required everybody to call him Pastor J.

He was a clumsy fellow with a great mind which was never able to manifest its authority through his tongue. So the sermons were a bit confusing, but blessedly brief. Marco made his church home there, struggling to attend each and every week.

Back at school, however, he never went to the teacher’s lounge, nor did he sit with the educators in the cafeteria at lunchtime but perched himself with the computer geeks, which seemed to greatly raise their self-esteem. One day after lunch, one of the leaders among the staff whispered in his ear, “They’re gonna ask you to chaperone for the upcoming class trip to Mammoth Cave.”

Marco flinched. The teacher continued, “This is a good time to say yes. Trust me.”

Sure enough, Marco didn’t even get halfway down the hall before the principal stopped him and said, “We’re having a school trip to Mammoth Cave in three weeks, and we wanted to ask you—because the students love you—to be one of the five chaperones. The school will pay for all your expenses, including entrance to the park. And the mothers are packing sack lunches for everyone.”

Marco wanted to decline—like he had done so many times before—but something told him that this was a line in the sand, a silent demand for him to participate or possibly face the danger of being eliminated.

With the cheeriest voice he could muster, he replied, “Of course! Where else would I be?” The principal really liked this answer. Matter of fact, he patted Marco on the back and tottered down the hall, whistling.

Marco did his best not to think about the upcoming trip. He tried to get sick. He looked for any reason possible to skip out on the duty.

He was just not happy in Lancerville. He was sick and tired of making Daniel Boone one of the predominant characters in his American history class. He was angry that several of the parents had suggested that he refer to the Civil War as the “War Between the States.” He was a disgruntled mentor to young men and women who desperately needed a fresh idea.

Yet Marco was ashamed of himself—so unhappy with his attitude that he decided to make an all-out effort to turn the Mammoth Cave trip into a roaring success.

The day arrived. Everything started out pretty normal. As he rode down the freeway on the bus, he read the pamphlets about the destination. He felt a little thrill. After all, Mammoth Cave was—and is—the largest underground cavern system in the world. Four hundred miles of it.

And even though he was a bit claustrophobic, he thought being with others, conversing, would prevent the walls from closing in on him. He would be fine.

The first part of the tour went well. Then one of the parents wanted to go down a different trail than the tour guide was pursuing. She needed an ally. She asked Marco if he would join her and four of the students. They had all heard flowing water off to the right, and the little group was curious to see what they might discover.

Marco was hesitant, but since he had vowed to become a willing participant in the class escapade, he nodded and joined the mother along with the four kids. They headed down the Eastern path.

After a couple of minutes, there was a sudden, violent shaking beneath their feet—a movement that threw all parties to the ground. Marco believed it was an earthquake. They were not common in Kentucky but did come from time to time—and unfortunately, today one arrived when he found himself beneath the earth inside a cave.

Terrified, everyone tumbled onto the ground, amid a cacophony of screams from all directions. Marco had fallen hard against the stones, bruising his side. He was still trying to recover from the impact when he looked up and realized that the entire entourage, which he had been leading, had run away.

He called out, uncertain what the appropriate beckoning should be. “I’m here!” he said once—then twice and a third time. No answer. A deep silence.

It didn’t seem like the earthquake had done any damage. A few rocks fell. Some sand and dirt.

Where was everyone?

Strangely, Marco felt at peace. Everything was so quiet. The surroundings were primeval. He felt that Nature had engulfed him within her soul.

He realized he should get up and try to find his way back out, but he was content. Maybe they would search for him.

It was so quiet he could hear his own heart.

Then, right in front of him, on the rock wall, a tiny pinpoint of light appeared. It was odd because the cave was so dark that even this small illumination hurt his eyes. It came and then it went. And then it came again.

It happened four times before Marco decided to get up and investigate. He walked over to the rock face and there, etched into the surface, was a small slit about seven inches long—like a rip along the seam of a pair of pants. And every few seconds a brief spritz of light emerged, then disappeared.

Marco giggled to himself. It was so unusual and peculiar that it seemed silly. But it was also a bit frightening. What was trying to shine through the rock?

Slowly, deliberately, he inched his way forward and placed his eye right in the center of the slit in the stone. He stepped back suddenly, unable to breathe. Then he scooted forward again to look. Once again, he retreated, breathless—for inside the miniscule crevice, surrounded by blinding light, he saw himself.

Not the person he was—an American history teacher from Daniel Boone High School. No—he was suddenly, almost cosmically alerted to the fact that he was staring into his own face from another place. Although he had seen the vision for less than two seconds, the realization swelled in his mind.

He slowly inched forward. But this time, as he put hie eye up to the crack in the rock, the stone suddenly began to seal together, as if being mended. The light that had been emitting flickered. Then the wall closed its rupture and the seam was gone.

Marco moved forward, staring at the place where the severing had been. It had vanished. The rock was sealed.

So spooked was he by the event that when two of the students came running up behind him, he jumped, pulling back from them in terror.

“What’s wrong?” said one of the students. Marco shook his head and bound out of the cave, with them trailing.

On the ride back to Lancerville, he could not think about anything else. He did not share his experience because he didn’t understand what he had seen. He didn’t offer details. It was the kind of report that would be considered weird—certainly unacceptable in the provincial village.

He kept it to himself, closing his eyes occasionally, to try to remember and regain the vision he’d beheld.

Arriving back at the school, he was the first one off the bus, ran to his car and drove home. Escaping to his bedroom, he turned off all the lights and lay on his bed, trying to simulate the quietness of the cave. What had he seen? Why did he believe he was staring into his own face—yet not the face that resembled him. It just was him.

Laying there quietly, exhausted from the trip, he fell into a deep sleep. Deeply slumbering, he had his first of two visions.

The first one was like his encounter in the cave, except in this dream, he could see himself more clearly. It was so bewildering. It was him, except formed by a different atmosphere—a unique climate. Or was it a coloration?

He awoke from the first vision, too tired to rise, too weary to think. He fell back asleep.

In the second vision, he was standing in front of the rock in Mammoth Cave. He saw five creatures, so different in appearance. Yet deep in his heart, he knew they were all him—all molded in his image. All constant with his spirit. As he watched, the crack healed and blended into the rock face, returning the wall to normalcy.

Needless to say, he awoke troubled. He carried the burden all the way to school—but decided to share some of his insights with his students during class. They listened, sympathetic, but also deeply worried that the experience had done some physical damage to the teacher’s brain, leaving him in need of medical attention. Less than half-an-hour after his class, three students, one faculty member, one parent from the town and the principal were standing in his classroom, demanding to know how he was feeling, and strongly suggesting that he immediately check himself into the city infirmary.

Marco realized his mistake—he needed to be much more careful about what he said about what he thought he had seen. So he laughed it off and told them it was just an experiment, to see what the students would do. He explained that he wanted to give them an example about how people throughout history had to make major adjustments to see progress achieved in our nation.

His sincerity rang true and they believed him.

He couldn’t wait to return home—to dream again, to see more, to learn more. But there were no more dreams. As startled as he was with the visions themselves, the absence of them left him sad, vacant.

The following morning he decided to take a day off from school and headed back to Mammoth Cave. He tried to find the place he’d been before but had no idea where it was.

Disappointed, he drove back toward town. Hungry, he pulled over at a diner, stepped inside, sat down at a booth and ordered a hot roast beef sandwich.

The young waitress was so kind to him that a sweet relaxation settled in. He realized that he just needed to talk. So he called ahead and asked Pastor J if he would be available for a visitor.

Pastor J was surprised but agreed. They met at the parlor of the church. Marco didn’t waste any time. He shared exactly what had happened, beginning at Mammoth Cave.

He told the whole story—the earthquake. The split in the stone. The flickering light, and the visions.

Pastor J listened carefully, trying his best to muster all his training. After the story was all done, Marco asked, “Is it possible, Pastor J—and I’m only asking you if it’s possible—that I’ve had a visit into another world?”

Pastor J sat for a moment, thinking. “Well,” he began, “let me tell you what I know from what you’ve shared. Or maybe what I think from your thoughts. I, for one, have never believed in a heaven where we humans, who have lived for less than a century, go and celebrate our little adventures eternally.”

Marco thought the way Pastor J put it was so adorable that he had to laugh. Pastor J continued. “Let’s not forget, the Bible itself says that ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard’ what God has prepared for us. And speaking of that prepared thing, Jesus told his disciples that he was going to prepare a place just for them.”

He paused, considering. “And if you remember, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus when he rose from the dead—and they had just seen him a couple of days before. Maybe that’s the way it is with us. Maybe we don’t die and go to heaven, but we raise up kind of like ourselves, and arrive in a new dimension.”

Marco was enthralled with the concept. “Let me ask you something, Pastor. Have you ever thought about the fact that Mars, Venus and all these planets that we think are unlivable—well, that maybe in our dimension they are, but in their spectrum, we look like just a rock hanging in the heavens.”

“No, Marco,” said the pastor. “I’ve never thought of it just that way. But maybe we just rise and live again. Or maybe it’s just a continuation without us being totally aware that we’re ever absent. I don’t know. But it’s gonna be cooler than hell.”

Marco gave Pastor J a hug. From that day forward, the two men became great friends. Marco decided to put any further speculation to the back of his mind, to toy with his own entertainment. But he did decide that if living was about keeping on living, and maybe even living in another aura, he’d better get started doing it.

Suddenly, he wasn’t afraid anymore.

He talked to Miss Sanchez at school—one of the new teachers, who was beginning a course in musical appreciation. He was attracted to her. He just walked right up to her at lunch and asked if he could sit down. The two entangled intensely in each other’s lives. He took her to the dance. He took her to Nashville for a concert. He took her to his family. He took her into his heart. She was thrilled with each experience.

They took one another to the altar, where they were married. Marco was no longer in a hurry to leave. He wasn’t sure what was waiting far beyond the stars, but down deep in his soul, he realized that he’d had a glimpse.

Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4204)

Epilogue

Inclement weather forced the supersonic jet to land in Jacksonville, where a limousine was quickly provided to complete the 141-mile trip.

Upon arriving at the location, the doors of the limousine flew open and two exhausted, but eager, boys stepped out into the morning air. The gates opened and out walked a six-foot-tall mouse, an eight-foot-tall dog, seven bearded dwarves and a stunning princess, adorned in a red velvet dress with white and black trim.

She approached and kissed each boy on the cheek, waving her hand in the air as she proclaimed, “Welcome to Disney World.”

The pair of pals gazed at the scene before them: tall statues, golden castles, tents containing the most wonderful smells imaginable and huge boxes moving over hills (which they found out later were called rollercoasters).

They were together. Their dreams had come true. They really were in a new kingdom.

A magical one.

The End

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4036)

Sitting Eighteen

Iz was still bewitched and bedazzled by his night vision. Charged with energy, he surged past Pal’s proclamation, yearning to speak of his own experience. “I must tell you about my dream,” he said. “Pal, I must tell you before I forget it.”

Pal was instantly sullen. Although he loved his young friend dearly and the relationship was very new, he already realized that he was losing the lion’s share of arguments—being pushed to the side by the manic energy of Iz. But this time Pal was so enraptured in his vision that he chanced speaking up to his overbearing friend. “I want you to listen to mine first,” he insisted. “Then I promise to listen to yours. But I think if we start with yours, there won’t be time to tell you what I saw.”

Pal didn’t hesitate further. Before Iz could object, he launched dramatically:

My brother stole my hat and began to run through the streets. I chased him, all the while knowing he would be too fast for me—that I would never be able to catch him. Meanwhile, the streets grew more narrow. I heard laughter coming from the walls of each home, as if unseen people, were making fun of me—of my weakness because I could not keep up with my brother. I was too slow. The streets kept narrowing until finally, the path closed in on me. All at once I ran into a wall, and fell on my back, splashing into a pool of water.

Well, I thought it was water, but it was green and sticky, and it really stunk. It got on my skin and turned it red and made it bumpy. Alarmed, I tried to scream but nothing came out of my mouth. My pleas were blocked. I tried to rise to my feet, but the green tide pulled me back down, deeper and deeper, into a puddle. I was terrified. I fell, until just my head, and then my lips, and finally, my nose was all that was exposed to the outside air. And then, like with one gigantic push, I was thrust underneath the scum. I looked around, trying to see what I could perceive, as the current gradually became a golden yellow.

The next thing I knew, I was in what seemed to be a small box, being rolled up and down the hills. I had an upset stomach and became sick. I begged for release but the box wouldn’t stop rolling. I heard cheering, clapping and yelling.

Then, deep within me, I stopped being afraid. It was so weird. I was still sick, but I wasn’t terrified.

Now listen. Finally the scene changed, and I was sitting in front of a thousand tents, filled with the smells of great food, with people standing outside calling to me, saying, “Here, Pal! Try this! Here, Pal! Eat this!”

I looked at the array of treats before my eyes. I didn’t know where to start. But I had no fear. Iz, I really wasn’t afraid.

Pal stopped his story, nearly breathless.

Two boys sat by the light of a single candle. They were still. They were thinking. Occasionally they would glance at one another.

Sweet fellowship. Neither one understood his dream. Neither one could interpret the other’s.

But they weren’t afraid.

No. Iz and Pal were unafraid.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4029)

Sitting Seventeen

The desert has little to offer—mainly the presence of persistence.

After Karin left Iz and Pal, they were suddenly overtaken by the sleep of exhaustion—just two boys, lying flat on their backs in the ragged remains of a tent, deeply asleep, overcome by worry and woe, welcoming the needed rest, yet nervous about the pending dreams.

And there were dreams.

Iz floated, his body upheld in a liquidy glue of moisture, suspended a few meters above his family’s home. He tried to flip himself over, to look into the windows and see Pada, but he was held down, some force holding his arms, squeezing his legs, forbidding movement. Then it was as if the glue became thicker and oozed around his nostrils, threatening to suffocate the life from him. Struggling, he loosened himself and fell, landing on the roof of his home, hearing the crack of a bone in his right leg.

Voices ascended to the rooftop where he was impaled, writhing in pain. They were mentioning his name. It was “Jubal this” and “Jubal that.” Nothing he could actually discern, nor words that were perceptible. More an angry, disapproving tone.

He was in pain. Then, all the bones in his body started to break, one by one. Gradually the agony was displaced by oblivion. He melted like a piece of ice on a hot summer’s day, his body dribbling down the walls, through the window, pooling in a puddle on the floor of his home. It seemed he was all there—eyes, nose, hands, ears. But each part separated—a toe where an ear should be, a mouth replacing a knee. Gleaming, watery, flat against the ground, he was trying to see, attempting to find Pada.

Then there was a sound—a whoosh of a broom. Dust flew around his puddle of life. He choked—coughing, wheezing. The broom was sweeping him, pushing him toward the door. He splattered down the steps of his home, gushing his life away and landed on the bottom step in a splat—but somehow, once again, whole. Free of all broken bones and molten flesh.

Iz tried to stand but could not. Instead he walked backward on his hands like a crab, reconnoitering his way into the street, which was busy with cars and buses. Yet no one saw him. No one noticed the crab boy creeping along. All at once, a giant hand wearing a yellow shirt-sleeve reached down and picked him up by his right arm, yanking him into the air and placing him at the gate of what appeared to be a great shining city—an ancient site. There was carvings of gold and statues of granite and cedar. He did not know any of the figures, just that they were large, massive and overwhelming.

The gate suddenly opened, and he heard laughter. No—giggling. It was much younger. Free, absent of trouble, broken bones and gelatin flesh. Then a dog, barking at the gate, and men with beards who came and packed him up, carrying him into the city, as a beautiful woman with long, black hair stepped forward and kissed him. It was not the smooch of a sister, but rather, the caress of a friend who would be a lover or at least as much as a twelve-year-old mind could conjure.

He was giddy with the sights and sounds. He was stimulated even more by the woman’s lips. The bearded men carried him on to a huge castle, where he entered the portals and seemed to disappear forever more.

Iz awoke with a start. It was nighttime.

There was a single candle lit, and Pal sat in the shadows, staring at him. “Did you have a dream?” he asked.

Iz was not sure whether he was awake, or if this was part of the continuing saga.

Pal spoke again. “I had a dream.”

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3945)

Sitting Five

Iz and Pal huddled and cried for a solid hour, shivering, sobbing, trying to speak, but diminishing to painful sighs and groans.

Bruised.

No father ever knows how deeply the rejection goes into the soul of a son who wishes to disagree but is cast into the role of the delinquent prodigal.

Night was falling—a desert night, black and chilly, clear and cold—the human blood still boiling from the day’s heat, but the skin releasing its warmth, beginning to freeze body and then, soul.

There had been no time to build a fire, so the two boys entwined inside the tent for heat and comfort. They whimpered and shuddered.

At length, Iz spoke. “Pada isn’t always that bad.”

Pal was speechless, unwilling to agree, yet not wanting to begin a useless discussion. Iz continued. “No, I mean it. He is a good man. He just has never understood my ways.”

Pal inserted, “Our ways.”

The boys soon discovered that having no fire allowed the creeping, squeaking, squawking and wiggling living organisms all around them to remain unseen, but certainly lively. The desert at night was terrifying. Some conversation was needed to keep them from thinking about the legendary, man-eating sand worm.

“Why do our people hate each other?” Iz asked.

“I don’t know,” said Pal, because he didn’t.

Iz objected. “‘I don’t know’ will not keep the conversation going and keep our minds off the bugs and slime.”

Pal growled, “I think your father thinks I’m bugs and slime.”

Iz attempted to soften his tone. “And what would your father think of me?” he asked.

Pal did not hesitate. “Probably just slime. Jew-boy slime.” Pal peered at his friend in the darkness. “Our skin is not different.”

Iz moved closer, agreeing. “No. In color, we could be brothers.”

Pal continued. “We eat, drink and live in the same places.”

“That’s right,” said Iz. “You don’t get pork, either, do you?”

“Nope,” said Pal matter-of-factly.

In the brief moment of silence between them, there were more buzzes and cackles in the surrounding bleakness. Iz inched even closer to Pal.

“I could never hate you,” he said.

“Why would you want to?” asked Pal.

“They want me to,” replied Iz, aggravated. “Because your God has a funny name.”

Without missing a beat, Pal replied, “And your God has a common name.”

Iz found this funny. “Maybe we could solve the whole thing by coming up with a new name for God that would please both of us,” he suggested.

Pal laughed. “One day in the desert and you’re ready to rename God.”

“How about Frank?” offered Iz.

Pal nodded. “The Americans would love it—and it sounds honest.”

Two friends giggling. The best sound ever.

Iz paused. “I need to tell you,” he said, “we’re almost out of water.”

Pal slowly shook his head. “Not a good thing in the desert.”

“What are we going to do?” inquired Iz with a slight creak in his voice.

Pal sat up on an elbow and said, “I think we should take this tiny tent down, and wrap ourselves in it for warmth, to keep all bugs and snakes far, far away.”

Iz eagerly agreed and the two friends turned themselves into a living, human cocoon. They tried to continue their conversation, but words began to fade into dreams. Dreams were displaced by moments of recollection—only to be interrupted by the sounds of the night creatures.

Iz dozed off, thinking about water.

Pal fell asleep, wondering where his family was.


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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … December 6th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3513)

I Don’t Fit

I don’t fit the manger scene

Not a lass who’s barely fourteen

Nor a man who heeds his dreams

I’m too possessed with my schemes

Never sheepish, devoid of sin

Willing to welcome a baby in

Yet perhaps an ass from the working class

Grunting a complaint over midnight cries

Where would I fit, with all my lies?

I would be the shepherd who remained with the flock

Bound and determined to punch the clock

“Angels we have heard on high”

Don’t pay the rent–let ’em fly

Bethlehem’s too simple and quaint

No time to stress or offer complaint

I just don’t seem to belong

With angels singing a heavenly song

Go to bed, get some sleep

Rise again to sow and reap

For I would never stare at the sky

Believing a star had the answers why

And trek across the desert sand

A stranger in a foreign land

To burst into tears of joy

Because I found Heaven’s Boy

I’m so glad I missed Holy Night

Because I would have failed to see the light

‘Tis the story that touches my pagan soul

And allows me a chance to be made whole

I don’t fit in the manger scene

With Mama and child, so serene

God was smart, with all His clout

To give me time to figure it out

 

 

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