Not Long Tales … August 13th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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We are overjoyed to announce the initiation of our weekly segment on Jonathots Daily Blog, entitled Not Long Tales. Each and every Tuesday, we’ll be offering you a short story for your enjoyment.

Mrs. Windermoot

Loneliness is a confinement requiring solitude, a commitment without companion.

It had been one year since Mrs. Windermoot had lost her beloved husband of forty-three years, Baris. Even though she had two grown sons who loved her, she found herself very lonely, like a bride left behind on the dock of the honeymoon cruise.

Her sons, Benett and Burgess, were responsive and certainly concerned for her health, but fell short of touching the tender spots of her well-being.

She was alone, which left her lonely. She’d never anticipated being quite so submerged in the sense of absence, but since she had moved into the much smaller two-bedroom townhouse just west of the city, she was constantly battling the pangs of self-pity and the ache of separation.

She did not know any of her neighbors. Several of them had made a visit—but they were all so much younger—and though they promised to return, none did.

Mrs. Windermoot tried to plan activities for herself—making a special dinner, watching a movie. She even scheduled a weekly tea, where she set out all the fixings, including a dozen of her famous chocolate chip cookies. Although it was somewhat entertaining, in no time at all, she was just an old woman sitting in a room nibbling treats.

She never reached the point of desperation—that being sharing her complaint with others. Most of the time she sat very still in her home, wondering whether it was too soon to have another nap.

One day she noticed that a city bus stopped right in front of her house. She had never paid any attention before, but on this particular morning, maybe the sun was shining just right, or she just happened to look out at the correct moment.

But there it was—big as life. 9:31 A. M. It was back again the next day, and faithfully returned the third morning.

So Mrs. Windermoot made a plan. On the fourth morning when the bus appeared, she would get on the bus, and ride as far as it went through the town, and at least have the ability to see other scenery—and maybe even converse with new people.

She dressed for the occasion—one of her best Sunday frocks, and made two dozen chocolate chip cookies, which she tucked away in her purse. She eased her way out the door at 9:15 so as not to miss the arrival and was standing there patiently when the bus pulled up. Not familiar with the route or process, she carefully climbed on as the driver impatiently waited for her to place her money in the slot, allowing her the privilege of being toted about.

She was smart enough to know to bring exact change, but her fingers were not very fast, and finally the bus driver, heaving a huge sigh, took the coins from her hand and completed the job.

Once legally paid for, she inched her way back four rows and sat down. There were only two other people on the bus, and she was nowhere near them, and felt foolish to be on a journey with no apparent purpose.

After a couple of stops, with additional people arriving, she felt better. When someone sat in the seat next to her, she finally worked up the courage to greet the stranger. Her words were met with a bit of kindness, so she offered the young man (obviously on his way to work, because of the uniform he was wearing) … well, she offered him a chocolate chip cookie. He was so grateful, explaining that he hadn’t eaten breakfast, and usually didn’t take the time for it.

At the next stop, while people were getting on, the bus driver walked back to Mrs. Windermoot. He seemed huge. His nametag read, “Mickey.” He leaned down to Mrs. Windermoot and whispered, “Listen, lady. I can’t have you giving out food on the bus. I don’t know where it came from. You may be a nice lady and all—you certainly seem alright—but I could get in a helluva lot of trouble if you were poisoning people.”

When Mrs. Windermoot heard the word “poison,” she flinched—a reflex. The whole idea of her being a sinister murderer seemed absolutely ludicrous, if not offensive. The young man who was still chomping on his cookie interrupted. “Listen, they taste great. You should try one.”

Before Mickey could consider the idea, Mrs. Windermoot was holding one to his nose. Beautiful chocolate chip cookie.

Maybe it was a desire to salve the old girl’s ego, or maybe it was Mickey taking responsibility—taste testing to ensure there was no danger. Or maybe Mickey had missed a breakfast, too. But he grabbed the cookie and chomped away. His expression changed from austere to delight.

Realizing that the bus driver was now eating chocolate chip cookies, which seemed to be coming from the frail lady sitting in the seat, three or four people made their way up the aisle to receive a treat of their own. Everybody was grateful, and the bus driver (still maintaining a bit of his authority) told Mrs. Windermoot that if she brought them again, to “make sure he could check them out before they got passed around.”

Thus began a ritual. Four times a week—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—the lonely woman climbed on the bus with her chocolate chip cookies and rode around town, sharing treats and meeting new folks, turning Bus #572 into a friendly wagon of confection.

Once Mrs. Windermoot realized the chocolate chip cookies were a hit, she brought some little finger sandwiches, Rice Krispies treats—well, almost anything that came to her mind that she could make quickly for at least fifty people. Yes—it didn’t take long for the sweet old woman to gain a congregation of fifty admirers for all of her offerings.

A week passed. Two weeks. A month. Two months. Gradually, Mrs. Windermoot learned the story of Mickey, what the young man she originally met was hoping for his future, and the life stories of a dozen or more fellow travelers. It actually seemed that the bus was beginning to grow in attendance, if such a thing were possible. And everyone always seemed to be in a better mood once they boarded Bus #572 and headed off to pursue their responsibilities.

Then one morning, Mickey pulled the bus in front of her house and Mrs. Windermoot was not there. It was Wednesday. Mickey knew it was the right day. He was concerned, as were four or five other people, who stared out their windows, desperate to see the old lady emerge with her kindness and generosity.

But she was nowhere in sight.

Mickey was on a schedule, but his curiosity overwhelmed him. Where was she? Then his imagination went wild. Why wouldn’t she be out there? Was she alright? Did the old lady die?

It was right after this last question crossed his mind that Mickey decided to climb off the bus and go knock on her door. He did not notice that three or four other people joined him, apparently feeling a similar concern. Mickey knocked, and he knocked again. He peered in the window. There was no movement.

He reached over, tried the doorknob, and it opened. How foolish of the old lady not to lock her door, he thought.

But motioning to those who had trailed behind to “stay back!” he stepped into the house to investigate. Human nature being what it is, of course nobody listened to him, and they followed him through the door like a little train of detectives.

Inside there was an eerie silence. No sound.

There was one light on in the house, which appeared to be coming from the kitchen. Mickey inched toward the light, listening carefully for any movement. He was frightened—afraid of what he might find. He turned to those following, holding a finger to his lips, demanding that they remain quiet. He walked slowly to the opening of the kitchen, and as he rounded the corner he looked. There she was. It was Mrs. Windermoot.

She was sitting in a chair, peeling eggs.

She turned around, surprised to see Mickey in her home, and gasped. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

A good question. He didn’t know how to explain that he was expecting to find a body, not an egg peeler. “When you weren’t out there for the bus, I got scared, so I decided to check on you.”

Mrs. Windermoot glanced over at the clock that sat on the stove. “Well, you’re two hours early,” she explained.

Mickey looked at the same clock. It read 7:40. Leaning down and peering at it, he reported, “Ma’am, for some reason, the clock stopped. It’s 9:37,” he said, looking at his watch.

Mrs. Windermoot turned red with embarrassment. She looked behind Mickey and saw that there were six other people in the house, staring at her.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I thought I was ahead of my time! You see, I got up this morning deciding to boil eggs to make egg salad for our trip today. I wasn’t sure whether to hard boil them or soft boil them, so I decided to go in-between. But when I got to the in-between time, I thought how terrible it would be if they were runny, so I boiled them again.”

There was a pause, then everyone laughed.

Mrs. Windermoot was not certain why she was so hilarious, but she appreciated the affirmation. Mickey patted her on the shoulder and asked, “How long would it take you to finish your project?”

Mrs. Windermoot crinkled her brow, thinking intensely, as if pondering the national debt. “I should be ready in twenty minutes,” she said.

Mickey looked back at the passengers in the room, cleared his throat and said, “Well, I’ll tell you what. I shouldn’t do this, but there’s no reason why I can’t make four or five more stops, and then come back around on Johnson Street and pick you up—as long as NO ONE TELLS ON ME.” He raised his voice at the end.

Everybody nodded their heads in agreement. Mrs. Windermoot looked up at Mickey and said, “I’m sorry to have been so much trouble.”

Mickey patted her on the shoulder. “You’re no trouble at all. Matter of fact, a lot of trouble has left since you came along.”

Mickey corralled all the souls and they headed out the door. As they streamed back to the bus, Mickey realized he was taking a big chance by changing the schedule. What if someone noticed? What if there was a new customer who complained to the company about the delay? What if this was one of those weeks when there was a spy on the bus, evaluating his ability and performance?

As he reached the steps to climb into the bus, he scratched his head. He glanced back at the house, wondering if he should run and tell the old lady that he had changed his mind. Then…

Mickey shook his head and chuckled. “What the hell,” he said to himself. “No one’s gonna care. And I sure do love a good egg salad sandwich.”

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … November 16th, 2016

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pohymn-if-this-were

If This Were 

If this were your final year

After shedding a needful tear

What would quickly cross your mind,

And what purpose would you find?

To keep your precious cheer

Blessings have come your way

Fresh and fruitful every day

With your portion of common pain

Your faith and hope still remain

To confirm the words you say

A partner in love and devotion

To share the deep-rooted emotion

A treasured husband or wife

Your children come to life

A divinely inspired notion

Your work is your good news

The evidence of your views

Your belief has the energy you need

To take the time to plant your seed

For love is what you choose

Yes, someday it truly will all end

Maybe not this year, my friend

But when it is your time to go

The curtain falls, the final show

Take a bow, but just your head

Born of God, you’re never dead

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G-Poppers … November 4th, 2016

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G-Pop is insulted.

After six months of playground buffoonery passing itself off as a Presidential election, he finds himself feeling violated by the very same people who would solicit his support.

One of the candidates insults G-Pop’s intelligence and the other one insults his faith.

As Secretary Clinton touts her qualifications for the job of being the leader of the free world, listing numerous occupations which have prepared her for the position, she simultaneously pulls up lame, pretending that the technology of an email server is beyond her grasp.

She also has a litany of profiles to explain how four Americans in Libya–a very hostile environment–were lost on her watch.

On top of that, she continues to make excuses for a husband who certainly did his best to denigrate the gravitas of the job as Commander-in-Chief.

It seems that Hillary is incapable of comprehending that credentials need to be backed up with actions.

On the other hand, G-Pop’s faith is insulted by the lifestyle and urges of Donald J. Trump. Donald has taken one of the primary concepts of the Declaration of Independence–“all men are created equal”–and has whittled away, redefining the meaning of these words by placing special significance of one group over another.

He simultaneously has taken the respect, honor and equality that Jesus saw for women, attempting to turn our country back into a 1950’s philosophy, where it is assumed that men will step in to cover the inadequacies of the “ditzy female.”

But worst of all, Mr.Trump pretends to take on the mantle of faith in Jesus Christ, when three of the greatest principles in the teachings of the Nazarene are repentance, tolerance and forgiveness. By his own admission, he does not apologize, he does not view all humans as equals, and he would much rather attack those who cross his path and challenge him.

These two people are insulting.

If you have intelligence and a measure of faith, you will find their applications disheartening.

So what should we do?

Is it worse to have someone who insults your intelligence, or an individual who insults your faith?

Or is it more important for us to realize that as expected, no true transformation, revival or inspiration will ever come out of Washington, D. C.?

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G-Poppers … May 20th, 2016

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G-Pop has certainly made a religion out of avoiding being religious or political.

It’s not that he lacks faith or devotion to America–just that he is leery of any club that insists on making all the rules.

So when G-Pop was waiting for his son to join him for dinner at a restaurant, as he sipped some water and tried to avoid the breadsticks they had brought to the table, he listened in to a nearby conversation among two men and a woman.

Remarkably, the trio was split among the three remaining candidates who have a chance to be the President of the United States.

  • The woman was for Donald.
  • The younger man was for Bernie.
  • And the older man was for Hillary.

G-Pop chose to quietly monitor their conversation because it was so fascinating.

The woman who was for Donald was attracted to him because he is an Alpha male, angry over all the unfairness of government and the lack of protection seemingly being offered the American people.

The younger man was also incensed by the greed of Wall Street, the unfairness of wages and income distribution, as the older man tried to make the case that Hillary was the safe choice and at least has some background in the internal workings of the executive branch of the government.

G-Pop was keeping score in his mind.

Let’s see now: Two “angrys” and a safe choice.

He tried to remember the last President of the United States who came into office angry or as the safe choice, who ended up doing much to benefit the common good.

So G-Pop took a moment to examine the basic premises of each candidate.

Donald: America is too nice, we need to get tougher and also stop trying to please the whole world. Matter of fact, he lives this out personally by sharing that he doesn’t particularly favor apologizing.

Bernie: On the other hand, he is angry because Wall Street billionaires are hoarding all the profit, leaving the working class nearly destitute.

Hillary: She thinks her greatest appeal lies in trying to get the American people to go back to the 1990’s, when her husband was President, to restore that age of alleged optimism, balanced budgets and job security.

Always remember, every temporary solution looks better than a permanent one. That’s what makes it temporary.

Donald doesn’t want to apologize, yet we have a fellow who’s been around for two thousand years who tells us that as we forgive others, we will be forgiven.

Bernie wants to equalize the finance in the world, when that great thinker from two thousand years ago told us that those who have will get more and those who haven’t may very well lose what they have. That’s why we should be sensitive to the least of our brethren. It never equalizes.

And as far as Hillary’s contention regarding going back to the 1990’s, the same teacher instructed us that you can’t put new wine into old wineskins. 2016 is not 1995. Matter of fact, there’s little similarity anywhere in the mix.

So as G-Pop waited for his son to arrive, he thought to himself, two angry people and a safe choice will not prepare our nation for the problems we will be facing, which will demand strength mingled with diplomacy, force tenderized by forgiveness and devotion tempered by an evolution toward needful change.

Obviously, the three people at the table nearby were unable to come to any conclusions.

But G-Pop wants his children to know that unless one of these three candidates steps out of his or her present format and starts forgiving, being more realistic about wealth distribution and admits that we can’t live off a Presidency that is twenty years gone, we will have more problems than just a close election.

We will end up with leftovers in a world that demands main courses.

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Ask Jonathots … April 28th, 2016

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I am a “young married,” age 25 and my husband is 26. We both work, have student loans and other debt we’re trying to pay off. We’re working really hard to become financially solvent. It seems like all my friends are in this same boat. So I found myself wondering–what is the connection between money and happiness?

Let me start off by saying that money is a commodity and happiness is a state of contentment.

So it is difficult for me to answer this question unless I know how the commodity of money affects your state of contentment.

For some people it does and for others it does not. So I will answer briefly for both arenas.

{By the way, there are many people who counsel on financial matters and do it much better than I can. Just punch up on the Internet “Balancing Budgets” or “Creating a Family Budget” and you’ll be inundated.}

My answer will be more general: how much is money involved in your state of contentment?

Give yourself a quick test. Two questions:

1. When I have enough money for my needs, do I feel more grown-up and delighted?

2. Do I have an occasion when I haven’t had money and still felt delighted?

And I should probably add a third question:

3. What do I find that delights me most of the time?

If money gives you an aura of well-being, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it, but you must create a budget that is always achievable, because this will determine your peace of mind.

If money is something you can handle in small or large quantities, with equal affect on your psyche, then you can vary your budget, allowing yourself a week to splurge and a week to go without.

Feeling dependent on money is not a bad thing. After all, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Money itself is not only essential, but is quite pleasurable.

Now, keep in mind, though–you have a second person involved. Your husband. His sensations may be completely different.

So the first thing is for both of you to sit down and discuss what money means to you, what you feel about the pressure of bills, and whether you are more comfortable earning more money or trimming your budget.

These will be the two choices.

For magical checks don’t come in the mail, banking institutions don’t suddenly become generous and give you lower rates of interest and no pot of gold has ever been found at the end of the rainbow.

“Will we be more content earning additional money to satisfy our desires, or will we be equally happy with less money, trimming our budget and buying Brand X popcorn instead of Orville Redenbacher?”

There is only one thing to remember in life: if you try to live off somebody else’s experience, you will end up devastated.

  • What does money mean to you?
  • What do you really require to feel content?
  • And are there ways to achieve that magical amount of money by either working harder or cutting the budget?

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“Ifing” Way: Part 3… November 3, 2014

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

He called a family meeting.

Such gatherings are essential–otherwise misunderstandings will turn into squabbles which eventually spill out into the community as a whole. The dilemmas we now consider to be international were once mere unresolved conflicts between brothers and sisters.

Sitting before him was his wife and the surrogate mother of his other son. He had two boys.

For when his wife decided that she was too old to bear children, she offered her servant as a stand-in for the opportunity of procuring a lineage for her beloved husband. The young man was born, and everything seemed fine for about thirteen years–until the Mama of the house got pregnant.

After she birthed her son, she felt threatened by the presence of another male offspring, and also by the female who deemed herself important because she had contributed in such a personal way.

The two women fought.

At first it was what you would call “quibbling”–a nasty glance followed by exiting the room in a huff.

But eventually the wife made it an issue with her husband, that the other woman and her child must go. He was tempted. In a moment of weakness, he considered sending the surrogate away with a bit of cash and a heartfelt apology.

Then he stopped to think–one of the more powerful things that human beings do.

He made a decision–one he was about to share with the two dear ladies.

“We are having a problem,” he stated clearly. The two women looked at each other, feigning a bit of surprise. It was so phony he had to giggle.

“Oh, don’t try that with me. You both know what I’m talking about, and frankly, I am in no mood to discuss the specifics of your feelings or misgivings. Let me explain my position. I have two sons. I love them both. I also am deeply appreciative of the two women who bore these sons. I don’t care if anyone understands our relationship. And I am certainly not going to try to please one of you to destroy the other. Here’s what I know: if my two sons cannot grow up together and be at peace because their mothers are being silly, then what would make us believe that their children will get along with each other any better?

He paused, gazing into their eyes.

“In no time at all, a couple of generations pass, and the story of your little tiff with each other is completely blown out of proportion, and rather than being a family foible, it becomes a national offense, leading to war. For my dear ladies, all wars begin in the kitchen. They spread to the dining room, and are further inflamed in the bedroom before they head out the door and hurt the innocent.”

“So it would be unfair of me to call this a discussion. I am telling you that my name is Abraham, and for me and my house, we will have two sons, and we will serve the Lord together.”

Sarah and Hagar looked at each other, knowing the resolute will of the man before them. He would certainly follow through on his words.

They were not happy … but they knew they needed to learn how to be so.

 

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Reservations… December 16, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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angel light“Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord…”

These were the words uttered by the Virgin Mary of Nazareth upon hearing that she was to be the human incubator of the Messiah. Of course, she had no idea what the project entailed, nor exactly how God works with people to perform greatness.

  • Jesus was an idea.
  • God loves ideas.

The problem with our comprehension of the Divine is that we believe the “idea person” should jump in and do all the work. It doesn’t happen that way.

Actually, if you study the story carefully and put it into the context of Mary’s lifespan, it is a tale of unfulfillment, punctuated by obedience and highlighted by very brief moments of encouragement.

For after all, getting pregnant in a small town when you’re not married is not pleasant whatsoever–especially among people who consider stoning. Being a teenage girl going through morning sickness, swollen legs and a growing belly leaves little time for reflections on angels and promises.

And then to discover that your family is about to be taxed and you will have to leave town during your third trimester to journey over a hundred miles away–only to have your water break right outside the town of your destination, while your husband is unable to find any kind of lodging without situating you next to an animal–well, it certainly takes the glimmer off the original statement of acceptance and willingness.

But it didn’t stop there.

She was chased out of Israel, lived for at least five years in a foreign land, returned home to renewed gossip from non-forgiving-nor-forgetting townsfolk, and settled into what seemed to be a quiet life with a normal family, with no signs of her “miracle son” being particularly special, except for the one time when he was twelve years old and disobeyed her by hanging out in the temple.

When he was grown, she watched his erratic behavior as he lived among wild beasts and fasted, preached against religious intolerance and was rejected by his home town and nearly killed.

Shortly after that, his execution was completed on a hill–hung between two thieves and thrown into a tomb, where to her amazement, he was resurrected. But even at the point of her death, his movement and words had not traveled much beyond the borders of Judea. Hardly confirmation for a world-wide savior.

All of this was initiated by an angel’s proclamation and the only further confirmation she received to give strength to the original promise was an occasional dream, which she had to choose to believe was significant.

The Christmas story is a beautiful insight into the mind of God. It reminds us that everything which is eventually deemed heavenly is brought to pass … through earthly sacrifice.

 

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