PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 13th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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To Truly Be

by Jonathan Ric

Three boys sit at my table

Too young to consider much

The world swirls around them

They need to develop some trust

What shall I suggest to them?

What truths are unscathed from the warfare of compromise?

Shall I tell them not to lie when lying is a national pastime?

Will they believe that being kind is possible for our race?

Or will they watch the atrocities committed in the name of God and country?

Will they honor women as equals and make amends

Or leer and jeer at the lasses, declaring them stupid with their careless friends?

Is the Golden Rule for saints

As gold, ruling the world, is touted as worth?

Can I teach them not to cheat when it seems that cheaters prosper?

Can I speak to them of God when others deny He lives?

Can they learn the power of humility and all the true grace it gives?

Do I have the courage to differ from the passive horde of sheep?

Or is my soul slowly dying and my conscience falling asleep?

I pass the food around the table ​and look at the young men before me

It’s time to shine

It’s a season of reason

Dear God, grant to me

The willingness to truly be

Our reader today is Jasson. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with three sons and his wife, Deahna

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G-Poppers… June 19th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop’s youngest son asked him, “What was your dad like?”

G-Pop took a long pause. He realized that often in his conversations of discussing his childhood and his relationship with his father, he was not very generous. Maybe it’s the lot of all children–to simultaneously be offended by parents while also defending them out of tradition and respect. G-Pop wanted to be honest with his son, but not overly critical.

“My dad was like all dads in the sense that he wasn’t prepared to be a dad, but was frightened to admit that. For after all, the word ‘dad’ begins with ‘da.’ Nobody knows how to do it. Most men don’t plan much beyond their orgasm. So it’s rather remarkable that the male of our species was actually able to come up with a rendition of fatherhood that is passable enough that all the children on the earth are not permanently damaged.

My dad was quiet, somewhat self-involved, but deep in his heart wanted to be closer to his sons. But by the time he ended up with five of them, he was pretty well overwhelmed and decided to kick into survival mode. So he had favorites. And even though that sounds terrible, we are human beings and we do tend to favor one thing over another.

He also was older. He was gazing at his 50th birthday when I was born. Now that I’ve reached that age, I realize how terrified he must have been to start all over again with a new bambino. So he did what he could.

I don’t think he was always happy with my mother. One of the things that men need to realize is that children often evaluate Father based on how much Dad loves Mom. So I give him a pass. Not because he’s dead and gone and I want to speak good of his departing spirit, but because now that I’ve become a father, I realize the job is ill-suited to humans–especially men. Yet it is our job.”

G-Pop’s son sat and listened patiently and intently. There was a question brewing.

“So what does it mean to be a good dad?”

“There are three things that are involved in being a good dad–a trio of needs that every child has,” said G-Pop. “First, love the me you see. Secondly, work with the child–meek or wild; and finally, pray for the one he or she will become.

Yes, every kid born needs to believe they are loved–if not unconditionally, then mercifully. But every child needs to be worked with. Nobody comes out of the womb with any idea of what to do. And then, somewhere along the line, when they become adults, you need to pray for them, knowing that the work is done and most of the love they require will come from other sources.

It’s not that we ever stop loving our children–it’s just that our love will never be the only love they require. Instead, they need to become lovers and parents.

So you love, you work and you pray. You put each one in the right season, and then, finally, you hope that by some miracle all your mediocre efforts will pan out.”

G-Pop’s son nodded his head and smiled.

G-Pop felt good about the fact that he understood his dad’s weaknesses and had tried to improve upon them. But he did comprehend that his dad didn’t have much of a chance to find ways to be better.

Fatherhood is not a natural happening because one is a man with a sexual appetite. Fatherhood is finding the piece of God breathed within, mingling it with virility and adding the more gentle parts of the woman–in order to create a workable and helpful teacher.

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G-36: Present … August 8, 2014

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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bloody babyShame is what stalls us into believing that matters of the heart are not fair, and therefore, we check out of life instead of trying to understand how to overcome the malady.

So it was with the Creator.

He found Himself under the illusion that being one who creates, granting life, was sufficient to motivate the created being into pursuing excellence. It didn’t happen–and when it didn’t, the Creator felt shame, which turned to anger, and with it, a season of destruction.

Realizing that His creation was much more vulnerable than He had originally intended, He decided to learn to be a Father, a provider and then a protector–one who proffered prophecy and advice–and finally, to reflect on the magnitude of Fatherhood and discover purpose.

All of these revelations initiated highs and their lows, but ended with a chasm still affixed between the Creator and the created.

After four hundred years of waiting for the global climate to offer the possibility of total earthly understanding, the Creator made a decision to become one of the created.

  • For after all, in the human realm, how can you be a good father unless you first understand what it was like to be a son or a daughter?
  • How can you have compassion if you’ve never been the object of the discipline, but only the enactor?
  • How can you comprehend the instinct to rebel if you’ve always found yourself in the hierarchy?

The Creator decided to become part of the created.

Without asking for any favor or preference, He entered into the body of a woman as the seed of the promise of a child. He was born of blood and water. For the first time, when He looked to the heavens, He did so as a mere mortal instead of the King of Glory.

He went from being a Father to placing Himself into the role of a Son. He learned firsthand what it was like to be fathered. There were four immediate surprises:

1. Life is emotional, not ethereal.

2. Fear steals love from the heart of the hopeful.

3. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

4. Guilt makes human beings bastards.

Some of the lessons were painful; other discoveries were mind-blowing and earth-shaking.

He found Himself as a created being, sitting on the top of a mountain, talking to His fellow humans one-on-one about how to do it better. 

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Humbled, Aware, Empowered … September 7, 2012

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I AM:

Humbled by the beauty of our nation

Aware that beauty is only skin deep

Empowered to find the heart and soul of my countrymen

Humbled by the generosity of my new friends

Aware of the responsibility of their faith in me

Empowered by the uplift and confidence it provides

Humbled by the need around me

Aware of what I can do

Empowered to go ahead and do it

Humbled by the grace of grace

Aware that grace is given to the humble

Empowered to embrace productive humility

Humbled by my weakness

Aware of my gifts

Empowered by the balance granted me by my Creator

Humbled by the overwhelming need

Aware of the needs already met

Empowered to continue to pursue meeting needs

Humbled by fatherhood

Aware of the requirement for my children’s independence

Empowered to see them do greater things than me

Humbled by failure

Aware of teeming progress

Empowered by promising opportunity

Humbled by what I create

Aware that it was birthed through adversity

Empowered to persevere

Humbled by tomorrow

Aware of today

Empowered by yesterday

Or sometimes …

Humbled by yesterday

Aware of tomorrow

Empowered by today

Humbled, aware, empowered:

  • The balance of power for this important hour.

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It Took a While … June 10, 2012

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Realizing that Father’s Day is a full week away–NEXT Sunday–I wanted to take a moment with this particular jonathots to “warm up the oven,” as it were, on the subject.

I have the distinct honor of knowing six human beings who call me “Father,” “Dad” or “Pop.” Three of those individuals I had the pleasure of conceiving and three I had the great honor of enjoying. Along with those six young men, presently come four daughters-in-law, who graciously allow me to be included in the spectrum and vision of their desires for a father. Ten in all.

I think I was well into the process of being a father before I realized anything about the substance, value and importance of the process. First and foremost, above all else, if fatherhood is done correctly, it is not that much different from motherhood. I know this may upset some religious people (or folks who are trying to make a buck off of separate greeting cards) but once you understand what it means to be a parent, the vision for pursuing the project is not that dissimilar, whether you be male or female.

But what I never comprehended was that the logical linkage between human birthing of children and God‘s innovative creation of humans is identical. It’s why Jesus told us that the best way to understand God is to understand fatherhood. I go to churches and frequently see a banner displaying all the names for the Divine from the Old Testament–but honestly, folks, they’re irrelevant. God is a Father, and the minute you leave that perspective, you depart from understanding His true nature. So as I learn to understand my function as a parent, I really grow to comprehend the heart of the Almighty.

Fatherhood comes in three portions–like a three-act play, if you will. First is to conceive. It amazes me that something so pleasurable as sex can lead to the unearthing of another human being. The conception part of fatherhood is boisterous, exciting, boastful and intoxicating. I have one of my sons right now who is in the midst of this emotional inebriation. His chest has grown about six inches with pride, and he can basically think of nothing else but the fact that he and his dear wife have conceived a child and they are about to birth the little one. This spirit should never be dampened, quelled or even challenged. I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled that God is passing around cigars somewhere because He created me. It may be pure human vanity, but I do not think that I want to consider a Heavenly Father who is not a proud Papa. Yes, as fathers, first we conceive.

And then the second step is equally as pleasant as long as you do not argue with the results. A good father receives. With the factors of the genetics of two separate families colliding together, environment, climate, attitudes and training, gradually a human being emerges from the birthing ooze to become a voice. It is a voice that often has an opinion contrary to yours. Sometimes it’s purposefully antagonistic. But a very important part of fatherhood is to receive. Can I be candid with you? If God has created a natural order, and he honors His own system, He is often just as surprised with the results of His creation, as far as its make-up, preferences and pursuits, as they are. There is no power in preaching about an all-knowing God who is all-possessing and therefore, all-controlling. Good fathers don’t control. And God is the supreme example of a good father.

I have to receive all six of my sons as they are. Honestly, it was not easy. I wanted to reshape them and at times, wished that I had the power of do-overs. But that’s not what fatherhood is about. It’s about receiving what you’ve conceived, and doing your very best to instruct without manipulating, and to love without taking away free will. It IS the difficult part of parenting–which makes us grateful for the experience and honestly, jubilant when it’s finally over. God does not force Himself on His children. Why? Because He’s a good Father.

Which leads me to the third step in discovering the essence of fatherhood. Believe. The notion that “God has a wonderful plan for my life” is similar to me insisting that my six sons pursue a path of my liking. If I actually did that, people would condemn me, attack me, and insist that I receive counseling for being such a tyrant. So why would we attribute to the greatest Father in the Universe the attribute of being an interfering ninny?

No, the truth of the matter is that somewhere along the line, your children grow up and you have to believe in them. You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t have to stand back and endorse all of their choices. But you have to allow them the privilege of making them without your ever-present sense of disapproval or stoppage.

It is a step that is missing from parenting today. I think it came along with the baby-boomers. For some reason, my generation just seems incapable of letting go of their children and allowing them to be people. It is this notorious notion which is spoken aloud and now has become part of the brain process of our nation–“they will always be your kids.”

Not so, my friend. Somewhere along the line, they become their own people with their own dreams and their own children. You have to believe in what you’ve done, stand behind it and let them live. This is where religion fails to deliver the true promise of God. God is no respecter of persons–therefore what He conceives He receives, and then allows to live–with Him believing in them.

It’s perfect.

With six sons and four daughters-in-law, I have ten ongoing lifestyles bouncing around me all the time. I have to have faith that what I’ve conceived and received, I can now with confidence believe in. Without this, I create an atmosphere of tension and apprehension that makes me appear to be a dictator and them frightened to be themselves. It doesn’t mean that I do not continue to insert my opinions, and even desires. But they are just that–mine, and therefore, subject to dismissal by my offspring.

Conceive. Receive. Believe.

It took me a while, but I finally understood the make-up of a good father–actually, a good parent. But it is also the true nature of God. Our Father conceives, He receives and He believes.

That’s fatherhood to me. It demands that I be involved, but like John the Baptist, it also requires that I learn that “I must decrease and they must increase.”

   

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The Last Twenty… March 25, 2012

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I spent the first twenty years of my life more or less kicking my own tires and revving my engine to see what I had under the hood. I didn’t do anything to excess–except eating. I studied enough algebra to discover I would never use  it and I am always astounded that I actually received good marks in chemistry, despite a lack of any awareness of even attending class. I attempted to learn the Golden Rule but was never encouraged to believe it was plausible. I went from baby to child to young man to fully grown male of the species without breaking a bone, but spraining everything else available. I guess I was just normal.

That was my first twenty.

My second twenty was spent trying to learn how to eek out a living so people wouldn’t criticize me for being lazy and banks wouldn’t charge me overdraft fees. I also discovered sex, which opened the door to procreation, which forced me into a room–at gunpoint–of fatherhood. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy the experience. It’s just that I’ve never been so ill-prepared for anything since the day our teacher told us that we would ONLY be speaking Spanish in class for the entire period. Yes, in that second twenty years I tried to learn how to be a man, an artist, a husband, a provider and a father. Five things. (Something’s gotta give, right?) I did my best.

In the next twenty years, as my children launched out on their own, I decided to pursue my career. Normally one does that younger, but I saw no reason to be in step with society. In that twenty years period, I wrote three novels, eleven symphonies, seventeen screenplays, many songs, and traveled the country back and forth a couple dozen times. I also joined my dear business partner in starting a symphony, which ended up being both a creative and a philanthropic endeavor in our community. Exciting stuff.

But I woke up on Tuesday of this week and realized that I am probably in my last twenty. At first I tried to slide into some silly, melancholy sentiments–but then I realized how long twenty can be. Now I’m not saying that I have twenty more years left. God knows there are always little surprises for all of us. It may be only twenty minutes. Twenty days. Twenty weeks. Twenty months. Or I might win the jackpot and get the full twenty years. But whatever happens, I’d like to keep my mind on that idea of twenty.

Because I’ll tell you right now–if I only had twenty minutes to live, what I would do, knowing what I know about my heavenly Father, who will hopefully be my next innkeeper, I would be kind and smile at everyone.

If information was given to me that I had twenty days to linger on this planet, I would limit my projects, and instead of trying to look like “Mr. Busy Man,” I would finish them all instead of leaving a bunch of half-eaten doughnuts lying around.

How about if God whispered in my ear that I had twenty weeks to live? Well, I’ll tell you right now–I would make a weekly contact with everyone I know and love–with a special message from my heart.

If twenty months were graciously afforded me, I would be creative, making sure that in some way, shape or form, I left my own footprints in the sand.

And if by some stroke of mercy and grace, this old body of mine can muster up twenty more years, I would do everything aforementioned in great good cheer, without ever going to bed worrying.

I guess any way you look at it, at any age we are all in our last twenty of something. After all, what could be more sad than the last twenty potato chips in the bag?

We will never be judged on our longevity, nor honestly, on whether we were in perfect physical condition. But someone will bring up how we decided to use our time. Actually, they won’t even need to bring it up, now, will they? The evidence will remain–to either convict us … or make us free.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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