Crossroads … May 28, 2012

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I was looking for a space

Within this earthly place

To wisely put my face

And gently make my case

To the surrounding human race.

Who isn’t?

But where does one begin?

Well, for me, it was school—more out of legality than desire. I showed up, did my mediocre best, and found after time that they did offer answers—but rarely to MY burning questions.

Graduating from that experience, I decided to take my little dab of talent and portfolio of songs and go to the bar to perform. Seemed right. They always needed music. They always wanted some troubadour to perform while the patrons enjoyed the fellowship of the dimly lit room. But every time I tried to sing one of my songs—or worse, speak between selections with a thought or two—I  was told by the management that the patrons wanted to hear Proud Mary and Mustang Sally—not one of my made-up ditties.  I was also informed that this was a drinking establishment, and people came here to escape their daily concerns, not rehash them. It became obvious that the bar was not for me. It was a venue to drink, not think.

It may sound unlikely, but for a brief season I thought maybe politics and public service was an opportunity for me to share my ideals and talents. But I soon discovered that supporting the party and making sure it was provided with adequate favors was the goal rather than the pursuit of truth. I was not discouraged.

There were still many possibilities dancing in the distance—such as the corporate world. I scoured the countryside for an organization that would have a product beneficial for the common good, and then I joined up with great enthusiasm, to change the world around me, one product at a time. But alas, I discovered that the business world was not about constantly improving the quality and increasing the value of the products, but rather, getting rid of the present inventory, even if it wasn’t as good as what we could do. Yes, the business world was tell and sell—and I was quickly unable to maintain the top of my game for its bottom line.

Then I thought maybe I could find a market for my music if I scheduled events in concert halls, where the audience would gather for the sole purpose of hearing my material. A brilliant thought. But always remember, there are two things that stand in the way of great ideas—weariness and apathy. They resemble each other in body language, but weariness usually comes after someone who is overly zealous encounters the indifference of the world around him. Concerts were scheduled, but no one came because no one knew my name. And those who did come always preferred that I play, not say.

First fruits of discouragement were beginning to etch across my features. I did have the wisdom to know that the greatest enemy of creativity was cynicism, so refusing to be jaded, I went to my local Chamber of Commerce and decided to get behind its efforts, to instill pride in its citizens. At first it was great fun. I felt a part of something. And then, as life does, the obvious need for change within our little burg became evident, and as people often do, the fear of such a maneuver is avoided at all costs. The Chamber of Commerce is a wonderful place to visit as long as you’re willing to repeat the mantra: “Our city is pretty.” But if you see where energy could be used to produce greater results, you could quickly become an annoyance to anyone who is determined to chant.

I will not lie to you. By this time I was so disappointed that I was flirting with giving up. I escaped into my own home and family. There was nobility to it—a sense that I was establishing my own personal Garden of Eden, with my own off-spring, giving something of quality to the world around me as I boldly proclaimed, in the spirit of Joshua: “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” Although I experienced many beautiful moments and was able to nurture fine souls, the world around me continued to age and wrinkle in its own boredom and I realized that our little personal utopia, built on top of a hill, was more or less just a “fuss about us.”

But infused from the success and the jubilance of being with my family, and having launched little ships onto the sea of possibility, I packed up my belongings and I headed off to find the last great possibility. I arrived there yesterday, in Grand Junction, Colorado—at Crossroads.

It’s a church. People there don’t drink, so there’s nothing to inebriate them, to keep them from thinking. They have a school that they hold on Sunday, but you’re still allowed to ask questions if the right answers have not been provided. Politics are discouraged, although, because they do have a board, there is an ongoing danger of too many votes. It’s not a concert hall, so you are allowed to play your music and still explain why it’s important to you. It’s not a business, even though they do collect money. It’s not exactly a Chamber of Commerce, where they insist that their particular conclave of believers is always the prettiest in town. And it is certainly not a home, because everybody who attends already has one of those.

It’s not perfect. Honestly, it’s not even close. But what it is, is a place that is so ill-defined by human terms that God still has a chance to offer an opinion. It is a building where people sit as far to the rear as possible but still have arrived with an opening in their hearts that proclaims, “We want more.”

What an apt name for that church I visited yesterday—Crossroads. Because that’s exactly what the church should be—a place where people gather without fear, without too much agenda, without a drink in their hands, without needing to vote, without requiring a certain level of beauty, without believing they have all the answers, and without making too much of a fuss about themselves—just allowing an hour to refresh the brain cells which have been bombarded by repetition.

I have tried all the doors into the household of humanity. Many are locked.  Some are doggedly guarded. Others, quite frankly, are rusted shut. Yet I found a stained-glass window in the back of the house that was left open and I’ve wiggled through it.

It’s called the church. It is a crossroads. And what is a crossroads, you might ask? It is a place to sit in the middle of an overly positive and terribly negative world and start believing, thinking and working … for something better.

 

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Mango-ology — September 14, 2011

12 23 OBOE THEME

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I basically refuse to buy one if they’re over a dollar.  I think I have purchased a particularly large specimen at $1.25.  But when they get down to eighty-eight cents or so I like to pick myself up a mango

Tricky business, though.  Because in the case of an orange, you can be pretty confident of a good product–if it’s orange.  And bananas are pretty obvious, too, with their skin color.  (Please don’t call me a bigot…)

Mangos are fussy.  Usually when you see them in the grocery store, they’re rock hard and not good for much of anything but practice at a softball tournament.  No–you have to have the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job.  You have to be willing to buy one of these little fellers, take him or her home, set it on the shelf and let it quietly do its maturing without your scrutiny.  Because if you come over and cut into it too soon, you’re gonna have a sour, hard mess.  If you get a bit over-anxious and go around squeezing it, you can bruise it, which will put brown spots on your otherwise delightfully golden and delicious treat.

It is a spiritual experience, to take custody of a mango.  Actually, about the time you forget you have one, you look over there and say, “Oh, my goodness, that thing must be rotten by now.”  But no–it’s just ready to be peeled and eaten.  You are rewarded for your patience and blessed by your forgetfulness.

You know, people are a lot like fruit.  (Please don’t read into that statement…) Some solid individuals are just downright “good apples”–it’s hard to lose, trustworthy and ready for you to take a good bite out of–even a second bite.  There are those folks, of course, who are sour grapes.  They don’t warn you of the bitterness and nastiness of their taste by the outer appearance, and you do rather regret partaking of them. 

But lots of people–especially younger humans–are like mangos.  You just have to buy into one and commit to it, keep your hands off of it a little bit, and let it sit on the shelf and soften up by natural processes.  If you don’t, you’ll expect too much too soon or you’ll handle it too roughly and end up leaving behind a few sore spots of your own making. 

It took me a while to learn this.  I’m not so sure I didn’t do a little damage as a human being, or even as a parent, in the process.  To all my fruity brethren and children, I apologize.

Because mango-ology involves understanding that some of God’s creations just need more time to get to a point so that they’re palatable.  You worrying about them, fussing over them, handling them or staring at them will not improve the situation.  Find a nice shelf where the sunshine can hit them just right and let them mature on their own. After all, you’re not a mango.  And if you are a mango, chances are you can’t sweeten one of your friends anyway. That takes time,  God and nature.

So for future consideration, when you run across some human being who just doesn’t ever seem to ripen up, have the wisdom to use mango-ology: give’em a perch and let’em learn on their own, so the next time you visit them, it will be a sweet and tasty reunion.

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