Jesonian … June 23rd, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3712)

“He turned the water into wine.”

Let’s just stop and think about that. Jesus had a cousin named John, who took a Nazarite vow. No liquor.

A very popular religious cult of the time, the Essenes, also were teetotalers.

Even though many historians will note that wine was a common drink of the masses, it was often considered forbidden–actually uncommon among those who deemed themselves religious–especially if you were just starting a movement.

What were you trying to communicate? After all, water is the symbol of life–to such an extent that we often refer to “the water of God’s word.”

Why would Jesus care that a young married couple ran out of wine during their reception? What was that to him?

To me, the message is clear. Water is what you drink when you’re thirsty. Wine is what you select when you want to get buzzed.

A transition was in order. A New Testament was about to be unleashed on the world. What better symbolism than to make it clear that water–in other words, our lives–was meant to be wine, thus intoxicating?

No longer were we to merely survive, but celebrate.

It wasn’t an issue of sustaining our beings, but rather, imbibe by getting drunk on the Spirit.

You don’t have to go any further than the commands he gave to the servants, who were to set the miracle in motion.

1. “Fill it to the brim.”

Six water pots in all, holding at least fifteen gallons each. So we’re talking about ninety gallons of wine. This was not a gift to “finish up the party.” Rather, it was an inclination to keep the party going.

2. “Pour it out.”

Get it into people’s cups. Don’t display it. Don’t revere it. Don’t call it “holy wine.” This is drinking vino. This wine is for the purpose of people “rejoicing and being exceedingly glad.” No longer are our lives supposed to be watered down, but instead, juiced up.

3. “Make it the best.”

Jesus told the servants to take the wine to the governor of the feast, who sardonically panned, “Usually at these weddings they bring out the crappy wine at the end. But you’ve saved the best for last.”

What is crappy wine? It’s wine that is either freshly-squeezed grape juice, or so old that it’s almost turned to vinegar.

There’s a message here–we need to stop acting like we’re grape juice–pure and without sin–or that we’re turning into vinegar in our pews because we’re so soured by our life and our experiences.

Taste good.

Inebriate.

It was the message of Cana of Galilee.

You don’t start a revolution by walking away from a wedding feast, refusing to make wine over spiritual pettiness.

You create an international revival by being the one who has the sense, at the right moment, to put the “juice on the loose.”

 

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Jesonian … April 7th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3635)

Every story is better told and more effective when the facts are allowed to line up in a reasonable order.

Such is true of the Gospel of Jesus.

Theologians spend so much time proclaiming him the Son of God that they lose the fragrance and uniqueness of the Son of Man. In an attempt to make the tale “super” they lose all of the “natural.”

The average person going to church is deluded by an array of facts which just don’t add up to a crucifixion.

One of those great misconceptions is that Jesus was extremely popular. There were certainly occasions when his crowd appeal spiked, but it always revolved around three stimuli:

A. Was he doing miracles?

B. Was he feeding people?

C. Did it look like he was the Jewish Messiah?

Whenever the populace became convinced through these three “signs and wonders” that God was going to save them from the Romans, they rallied around Jesus. Whenever it was obvious that he was intent on sharing a more universal message which included people that were not Jewish, they slipped away.

Let’s look at some facts:

1. Jesus was rejected by his home town, Nazareth, and never able to return again. Not only was he ignored, but threatened with death–dangled from the edge of a cliff.

2. Even though Jesus held a great revival in Samaria with the testimony from a woman at a well, when he returned to the city, he was forbidden to enter by the town fathers because they found out he also ministered to the Jews.

3. When he fed the 5,000 in Galilee, the hordes followed him for a while–until he told them this was not a food pantry, but rather, that his words and life were the message they were supposed to “eat.” They all departed–except for the twelve.

4. Over and over again, interest sparked with the Pharisees, but when Simon, one of their number, invited him to a special meal, the Pharisee snubbed Jesus and treated him like an outsider.

5. After the resurrection, it is recorded that over 500 people saw Jesus–witnesses of the miracle. But on the Day of Pentecost only 120 remained. Kind of a drastic drop-off.

I guess we feel the need to believe that Jesus was greatly appreciated by the people in his generation, and taken to be crucified only by a handful of powerful critics.

It’s just not true.

We are told that most of the time he dealt with twelve disciples–and he focused on three of them, to be the core leaders. We have some idea of the size of a normal following of Jesus when the scriptures let us know that he sent seventy out to share in his name.

If you are trying to give credence to the message of Jesus by pointing out how enthralled the Jewish community and the Roman oppressors were, then you will be sadly disappointed when you read the actual accounts of his mistreatment and the number of individuals who desperately tried to ignore him.

We’re even told that John the Baptist’s disciples did not believe in him.

Jesus had a model. It’s very simple: Develop a hot core of followers and let them radiate the message.

Nowadays we are so eager to build up numbers in the sanctuary that we fail to build up people. Jesus basically spent three-and-a-half years working on twelve human beings.

  • One of them betrayed him and killed himself.
  • Another denied him, and was prepared to leave the work.
  • Yet another one doubted that a resurrection was possible.

Do not despair–Jesus suffered the same slings and arrows of human apathy that you and I encounter every day. He just had a great system. So when he left the planet, there was a handful of people who knew what he taught, knew what he stood for and were prepared to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to give them the power and insight to take the Gospel to the whole world.

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G-Poppers … March 30th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3627)

He was anxiously looking forward to spending the weekend alone with his beautiful wife, Claudia, near the sea. The responsibilities of his position were unyielding, leaving him negotiating all sorts of foolish squabbles, bringing him home at night still reeling from the grumpy day.

Unfortunately, Claudia had been the victim of many of his temper tantrums, as he ranted and raged about the inflexibility of the people who dubbed themselves “the children of Abraham.” He just needed to get away.

Caesarea was perfect.

It had been built by the Roman occupiers as a little piece of home–and freedom–in the midst of this inflexible, dim-witted region. For a few days, he could pretend he was civilized again instead of trying to govern a pack of wolves who refused to accept the fact that they were caged.

Resting in his bed, he was awakened early on Friday morning with a request to meet with Caiaphas, the high priest of the Jewish people, to adjudicate a particularly difficult matter. Worse was that Caiaphas and his entourage refused to come into the Great Hall to see him because they were in the midst of their Passover celebration, and to be in the presence of him, a Gentile, made them unclean.

He shook his head, baffled by how foolish they were to make these contentions, for some reason thinking they were not offensive.

Arriving in the outer hall, he was surrounded by bearded, austere theologians, who ushered in a weary, wobbly man obviously suffering from punishment.

Within seconds, he realized that their request for his intervention was not needed. It was one of their pieces of fussiness–something about their God. A reference to a Messiah.

Realizing that the young, abused gentleman in front of him was from Galilee, he decided to pawn the situation off on Herod, whom he hated. As he went back to his chambers to tell his wife of his great solution, she appeared before him with terror in her eyes.

She’d had a dream. It was a dream about a man who would be brought to him, who was accused of great indignities, but was truly innocent.

He listened carefully to Claudia. She was not normally given to such outbursts. He trusted her. She advised him that he must avoid bringing any judgment on this man.

They had barely finished their conversation when Caiaphas and his entourage returned. Apparently Herod had passed the case back over to him.

A little spooked by Claudia’s dream, but even more, aggravated by being disturbed on the morning of his departure, he strolled onto the porch of the outer hallway to interview the young Galilean.

He was a little embarrassed. The religious leaders of the Jews seemed very intent on harming this man, while the fellow stood quietly by, offering no defense. Normally a man in this position, surrounded by accusers, would become defensive, agitated and sometimes even violent. But not this chap.

It was unnerving.

Accusation after witness after lie after deception were presented, with nothing congealing into an airtight complaint against the young man from Nazareth.

Then Caiaphas brought up Caesar. It was a name that terrified him. He considered the fact that he had been made governor of Judea to keep peace, and try to bring civilization to this backward nation. It was a formidable task. Of course, Caesar wouldn’t know that. He would only gauge results.

The religious leaders wanted the young man dead.

On this Friday morning, Governor Pontius Pilate was anxious to get away for the weekend. Who was he to challenge the contents of their oral law and practices?

So…he relented.

Symbolically washing his hands clean of the whole affair, he sentenced the quiet Nazarene to death. It was the quickest, simplest and seemingly most intelligent course of action.

In less than an hour, he had packed his things and by nightfall he was in Caesarea. He had a brief flashback about the morning’s activities, but it was quickly forgotten when Claudia cuddled up to him and they sipped delicious wine from the vineyards of Italy.

He had no idea that his Friday morning, seemingly insignificant encounter with Jesus of Nazareth would be the only remembrance that history would provide of him.

He was the one who gave permission to kill the Christ. He was in too big a hurry to consider any other possibility than ease.

G-Pop is thinking about that on this Good Friday.

What might he be ignoring?

 

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Catchy (Sitting 33) Too Many Meetings … January 28th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3566)

Prophet Morgan was dead.

But he was not a victim of his own hand by suicide. He was killed.

While the medical examiner was studying the body during the autopsy, she discovered a pinprick under his right armpit. A needle mark. It prompted her to investigate further. She found evidence of potassium chloride. Somebody wanted Morgan dead, and used a lethal cocktail to stop his heart.

It also became obvious that the suicide note, though written by Morgan’s hand, did not contain his thoughts. Checking his groin, they found that electrodes had been attached to his body to generate severe pain, causing him to submit to his assailant’s will.

For Morgan, character that he was, had purposely misspelled some words and used bad punctuation to let all of his friends know that the note did not come from him. Everyone in the organization knew that even though Prophet talked like a hillbilly, he was actually a grammar Nazi, and went off into fits of rage over a misplaced comma.

Matthew sat quietly during the Inquest as four or five dozen people listened to the medical examiner explain how a beautiful young man had landed in an untimely grave. It was too much.

In the midst of the Q & A with reporters, Matthew rose, left the building, climbed into his car and drove to the Sahara Casino, punching the elevator button for the ninth floor, where a suite of offices had been provided by the owners as a courtesy to Jubal Carlos and the movement.

Matthew was alone. He was quiet. He had some time to think. But it was one of those nasty occasions when having an opportunity to contemplate was a punishment, not a relief. There was just too much shit in the stall to appreciate the horse.

Matthew knew good things were going on–that the rallies were meeting great emotional and spiritual needs in the populace. Matter of fact, his partner in business, Landy, had recently attended a session in Las Vegas and had accepted Jesus as her personal savior. At least that’s how she phrased it.

She was a different person. She now hopped the plane, going from city to city to be part of the Gospel caravan. She sat for hours talking to the prostitutes who were new members of the staff, interviewing them about what it was like to be whores–and how the change in their lives had saved them from eradication.

Matthew envied her. It couldn’t be that easy. Mumbling a few words and a prayer, and promising allegiance to a two-thousand-year-old creed did not seem to have the energy for explaining away the hell that went on in the world, nor the power to curb the appetites in his own being, which often left him vanquished instead of victor.

As he sat in his office listening to the hum of the flourescent lights, sorting through the everyday process of his existence, he was suddenly interrupted by Soos, who raced through the door, shutting it quickly behind her.

She didn’t waste a moment. “Listen, Matthew, I don’t have much time. Here’s what I need you to know…” She glanced at her arm for a watch, but there was none there. “In a few minutes a man is going to come here. I want you to be cool. I want you to ignore me. I’m going to go over and hide in this closet. For God’s sake, don’t tell him I am here. Just carry on your conversation, listen to what he has to say, and please… be cool.” She paused. “Oh, I already said that.”

She didn’t wait for a reply, but opened the closet door, slithered in and shut it quietly behind her.

As soon as the closet door closed, the buzzer on Matthew’s desk sounded. Since there was no secretary, some visitor had discovered the large, red button on the reception wall and was asking entrance. Matthew strolled to the door and opened it.

Standing there was a man in his mid-thirties, about six-feet seven-inches tall, broad shoulders, long blond hair which fluttered down his back, a deep brown tan, and with the physique of a defensive lineman from the National Football League. Matthew was startled at his appearance. He was looking at a Viking in a suit.

The guest, aware of the reaction, stepped forward and held out his hand, which more resembled a southern smoked ham. “You must be Matthew. My name is Jackson Priestly, but my friends call me Joshua.”

A chill went down Matthew’s spine. The name Joshua had some special significance. He tried to remember. What was it? Yes–it was Jo-Jay’s warning. “Beware Joshua…”

Matthew placed his small hand inside the monster mitt, shook it and said, “Well, what can I do for you, Jackson?”

Jackson motioned to the office, inquiring, “Could we go in and sit down?”

Matthew nervously held his hand out, gesturing toward the door. “Sure. I can sit down.”

It was only a few steps from the reception area to the office, but it was awkward, with Matthew not knowing whether to let the giant go first, or whether he should precede him. He stalled at the doorway, deciding to go in first, so they both ended up trying to enter at the same time, bumping into one another.

Matthew made his way to his desk, glancing at the closet door, knowing that Soos was listening, and therefore, if there was going to be a murder, she would be a witness. Horrible thought. But keep in mind, he had just come from an inquest.

“So what can I do for you, Jackson?” Matthew repeated, trying to upload some of his business decorum.

“I’m a spokesman,” Jackson began, “for the CLO. Our organization is very simple. Our slogan is ‘Maintaining the faith, faithfully.'”

Matthew nodded without responding.

“I’m going to be honest with you, Matthew,” Jackson continued. “We’re concerned.”

Matthew didn’t even blink an eye.

Realizing he was being given space, Jackson explained, “We’re concerned about this campaign you’re conducting about Jesus Christ.”

He paused. Again, no response. He pushed on.

“What has us bothered is the trivializing of an age-old message with eternal values being marginalized to become a street-vendor philosophy. Yes, complete with hot dogs and hamburgers, pennants and hats.”

Matthew said nothing.

“It’s a mistake,” declared Jackson. “I know you may consider this a bit of short-sightedness–for us to critique any contribution that would bring focus to the Christ. But the Master needs more than focus. He needs honor. He needs glory. He needs respect. He needs position. And even though you may not agree, he needs to be showcased as ‘Lord of Lords and King of Kings.'”

Matthew took the moment to insert some shock value. “Well, then, you’ve got a helluva fuckin’ problem, don’t you?”

Jackson was visibly startled at the profanity. Matthew smiled internally, overjoyed that he had struck a blow against the armor of this pious knight of religion.

“What do you mean?” challenged Jackson.

“Well, Jackson, my man,” Matthew said, “all your attempts to elevate the resume of Jesus of Nazareth have only succeeded in making him inaccessible to the masses, and gradually turning him into a religious icon, which I think even you might agree, is contrary to his druthers.”

Jackson shook his head. “I would not presume to know the druthers of the only begotten Son of God…”

Matthew interrupted. “Honestly, big fellow, I’m just working off of his material. You see, people who talk like you were frightened by Jesus, so they ended up killing him. Isn’t that amazing? People who are spiritual think they do service to God by killing someone…”

Matthew probed into Jackson’s eyes, looking for a flit of weakness, but he stared straight ahead.

“Let me give you a little lesson,” Jackson said. “I will keep it brief because I know this school of thought is not necessarily to your liking. It’s about the Feast of Tabernacles.”

Matthew squinted.

Jackson chuckled. “It was a turning point in the ministry of Jesus. He was working in Galilee, he was blessing the people, he was healing. He spent an afternoon with his family, and they began to chide him, asking him why he didn’t go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, where the market would be larger for his message and he would have a chance to be more popular. Now let me explain this–we’re not sure what the family’s motivation was. Some theologians think there was a plot to kill Jesus, which was going to be executed on the road to Jerusalem, with his brothers being privy to the plan. But that’s neither here nor there. Jesus sees right through their pressure and decides not to go to the Feast of Tabernacles–but then later changes his mind. Arriving at the feast, he realizes it was not Galilee. It was not sitting around Peter’s house waiting for someone sick to arrive to get help. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he found himself like a little ant, running around a huge Temple.”

Jackson went on. “He stood in the middle of the square and screamed, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!’ He got attention. He created a stir. He became popular. But that popularity ended up jeopardizing his freedom to speak his mind and to save souls. It actually put him at the mercy of the Romans, who had no toleration for variety. So you see, a little trip to Jerusalem to gain popularity hastened his demise.”

Jackson paused.

Matthew sat, leery of him. This was a well-educated, intelligent, intuitive, well-rehearsed creature of knowledge. He was scary. He was dangerous. Matthew chose to play innocent.

“Honestly, Jackson,” he said, “I don’t know anything about the Bible. I wouldn’t even know how to spell it if it weren’t for that little Sunday School song about the B-I-B-L-E.”

Matthew laughed alone at his joke. “So let me ask you to take thirty seconds and sum up what you’re trying to communicate to me.”

Jackson stood to his feet, ready to exit after his closing comment. “You have lost a dynamic young man–Prophet Morgan. Now is an excellent time to reflect. How about ten days of mourning? Shut down the rallies, and take that time to realize the heat of the fire you’re trying to handle. You look smart enough. Use your brain to discover a better way.”

Jackson nodded, turned, walked to the door, and disappeared.

Matthew, in his chair, was shaking. He felt handled, out of his league and threatened.

Suddenly Soos burst out of the closet door, nearly scaring Matthew to death.

“Who was that? Who was that?” she questioned breathlessly.

Matthew sat, trying to gather his thoughts. “I don’t know, Soos. You heard the same thing I did.”

“I heard it,” said Soos, “but I didn’t really see him. What was he like? Was he a monster? Jo-Jay says he’s dangerous. He is Joshua, right?”

Matthew shook his head.

There had just been too many meetings.

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Jesonian … November 11th, 2017


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3487)

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Throughout the history of Christianity, a debate has raged over Jesus’ humanity and divinity.

Early in the 20th Century, a doctrine arose which found favor with many people because it stressed that Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine. The fact that this blending is ridiculous didn’t come to anybody’s mind at the time, and so the concept endures. If you study heresy and false teachings, you will find that most of the error centers in on trying to make Jesus too heavenly, instead of focusing on his humanity.

I think the clarifying statements are found in the Book of Hebrews. Allow me to give you three which center my mind on the fact that Jesus of Nazareth lived a completely human life, while filled with the Spirit:

1. “He was tempted in all ways like we are yet found without sin.”

2. “He was touched by our infirmities.”

3. “He learned obedience through the things he suffered.”

That list just describes a typical human life. After all, nobody talks about how grumpy Uncle Ed was after he’s dead; likewise, the notion that “Jesus was perfect” was not touted during his lifetime.

The truth is, Jesus’ actions were found to be perfect. In other words, after the passage of time and working out of circumstances, we can say that he lived a perfect life.

Needless to say, when we’re told he “learned obedience,” it is perfectly understandable that he did nor arrive with it. Like all of us, instruction was in order.

But if you go to the statement, “touched by our infirmities,” a definition is in order. What are the infirmities of all human beings?

A. We get physically sick.

B. We get emotionally depressed.

C. We get spiritually misguided.

D. We get mentally confused.

These are our infirmities.

And since Jesus was touched by them, if we would take the time to more carefully study his life instead of working so desperately to discover a new twist on communion, we might just welcome in a new generation that would be blessed and astounded by His choices.

Now, I will not bore you with my many rambling examples of how Jesus suffered under these infirmities. To me, that’s what church and your search should be about.

Christianity could advance its cause by studying Jesus.

Did Jesus become physically ill? There are numerous activities that have no explanations–like him slipping into the wilderness for seclusion, or the fact that he waited four days to come and tend to his friend, Lazarus. Was he sick? Under the weather? Fighting off the “Galilee bug?”

We can make a good case for him being depressed. After explaining to 5000 people that he was not going to be their caterer, but that they needed to come to “learn his ways,” the Bible says they all left him–except the twelve. In a moment of true humanity, he turned to those twelve and said, “Will you go away also?”

Was Jesus ever spiritually misguided? I think choosing Judas to be a disciple, and on top of that the treasurer of the troop, was at least spiritually optimistic. And the faith he put into the man at the Pool of Bethsaida, who didn’t really want help–but Jesus healed him anyway and then the fellow turned into a snitch and sided with the Pharisees–shows that he was a bit misguided.

Was he mentally confused? He certainly stayed too long in Nazareth–so long that they resented him and tried to kill him. And I think he was a little confused by his upbringing and prejudice, when he called the Syrophoenician woman “a gentile dog.”

The Gospel writers had no problem including the foibles of the personality of Jesus in their story lines–and he was apparently fully aware of some indiscretions, because he came to John to be baptized. Was it just pretense, or did he have things he regretted?

We are also told by Jesus that we would do greater things than he did–because he was going to the Father to cheer us on.

If the church wants to survive the present dispersion, it needs to bring the focus back onto Jesus–his style, his personality, and his humanity. In doing so, he can become the Elder Brother we so desperately need, and he can truly fulfill his mission … which was to show us the Father.

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Jesonian … October 7th, 2017


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3452)

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It is nearly impossible to be Jesonian–a true follower of the heart of Jesus–without fully comprehending that there are two Gospels. Shall we name them the “Galilee Gospel” and the “Jerusalem Journey?”

It is the reason theologians struggle with the message of Jesus, finding themselves complicating it so that the dual approaches can co-habitate within one faith. But it’s an error to do so.

Jesus had one message but two missions. His two missions were:

  1. To bring the message to fulfill the love
  2. To present himself as the doorway to fulfill the law

In Galilee he talked about life–abundant life. He lived with his disciples in joy–fully. He spoke of God as a Father and all of us as brothers and sisters. He explained the dangers of anger and lust. He clarified that the things we do to other people are recorded as actions performed to God. It was human–everyday fodder for feeling and believing.

But to fulfill the Law of Moses and welcome the Children of Abraham into his mission, he labored among the stringent, inflexible Jews, trying to reason with them and gather them together under a new understanding. These religionists had “jot-and-tittled” themselves into frantic insecurity about the purposes of God, and even, to a degree, agnosticism about the existence of Jehovah.

The Jerusalem Journey was filled with thinking, musing, mulling, wondering, questioning and attempts at compromise. It was a futile effort to afford political correctness to a manifesto meant for the whole world, and not merely designed for one hundred miles of landscape in the Middle East.

Did Jesus know that the Jews were going to reject him?

Did Jesus know it would end so badly, with his execution on a cross?

You can debate that all you want, but we are certainly aware that he reached a point where he had to relent to the conclusion that you can’t “put new wine into old wine skins.”

The problem in today’s church is that we focus too much on the Jerusalem Journey and don’t thunder the celebration of the Galilee Gospel.

Too much musing, too much debate, too much thinking and too much meditation.

It’s time for us to return to the Gospel of Galilee, when life was abundant and joy was full. It’s an easy message to remember: go, do, give, be.

  • Go unto all the world.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Give and it shall be given unto you.
  • Be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

Such a message offers redemption for failure, while simultaneously providing exhortation to challenge indifference.

There is a danger that we in the church will stall–trying to fulfill the law instead of fulfilling the love.

Stop thinking so much about it.

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Jesonian… May 13th, 2017


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3305)

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 Their minds and hearts drift back so readily to Galilee–to friends, family, loved ones and labors of love.

For the traveling is exhausting and drains the passion of purpose. Going from town to town, the folks they encounter are able to treat them as strangers, leaping to establish tribal superiority and regional domination. So there’s always a little bit of loneliness creeping into the corners of swelling doubt.

It threatens to extinguish the desire to speak peace to the perishing.

Each night they gather by the fire at the end of the day. Yes, devoted. But devoid of energetic will, not wanting to be too close to me.

After all, I am the teacher.

I am the messenger.

I am the reason, beckoning them from their safe memories of normalcy.

So in deference to their need for privacy, I excuse myself from the common fellowship. They require an opportunity to reminisce together, question their calling without condemnation, and whisper wishes across the embers.

I have a place I go.

After all, I have my own memories of childhood.

I, too, have a family that misunderstands my meaning. In that private space, I speak to God. He’s a good listener. Honestly, He doesn’t often contribute or elaborate, but in His own way, He helps me to clear my thoughts.

By the time I return, my brethren are asleep. I try to do so myself. Morning will soon be here.

Another day of wandering.

Another chance to fail.

And oh, yes–another opportunity to see the world born again.

 

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