Catchy (Sitting 56) The Quintets…. July 8th, 2018

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Jip, Cho, Bo, Jack and Sam were five young men from all over the world who got together, tried to learn each other’s full names, failed miserably, and so settled for shorter handles.

They shared two things in common.

Each member of the quintet was a trusted intern for an Ambassador to the United Nations.

Jip was from Japan; Cho, China; Bo, Russia; Jack, England, and Sam, the United States.

Their other commonality was a deep-rooted faith in Jesus, especially fresh since the recent awakening sweeping the world. Realizing they were just interns, they focused on what they could do to make a difference.

So every morning, a half-hour before going to work with their Ambassadors, they met in the pantry of the kitchen of the Bruxbury Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, where they lodged while in the Big Apple.

The purpose for the meeting was simple: the five young men chatted and conversed–calling it prayer and hoping their heavenly Father would give them insights on how to impact the more traditional and often vicious side of the United Nations.

They decided on kindness. Rituals were begun:

Jip walked into his boss every morning with fresh flowers.

Cho brought in an array of new teas from China to allure his superior.

Bo slipped a little vodka into the coffee, with a wink.

Jack ordered very expensive marmalade from England.

And Sam always stopped off to pick up a Nathan’s hot dog from down the street, which made his boss beam.

At the end of every session in the pantry, the gentlemen closed with a single thought:

“In kindness, beget kindness.”

They believed their purpose was to create a comfortable, gentle and merciful environment for their employer which just might cause him or her to go into the United Nations with a warmer heart.

It is difficult to know whether it was the vodka in the coffee or the ever-changing climate in the world, but matters of statehood were becoming more civil and less sectarian.

The quintet of interns took no credit for it. They just gave the glory to the Father.

*****

Matthew was dismissed from the hospital feeling a decade older and looking two. He sensed that he was becoming an old man before he had ever been an adequate young man. He felt sick. He looked sick. His skin was yellow from the liver infection and his eyes drooped, as if they were desperately preparing to leap from the perch on his face.

Matthew finally came to the conclusion that alcohol was a problem. In his crude way, he had decided that it was coming down to a choice between Jack Daniels or Jane Pussy. Knowing that he was not going to leave the latter alone, he chose to break his covenant of life-long affection for Mr. Daniels.

He sought some counseling and joined a couple of programs, and after a few weeks, he was a shaky non-drunk.

Refinement.

Yes, Matthew decided he needed some refinement to escape the smear of liquor, and also the goodness of the infernal revival.

So he went to a grand opening of an art display in one of the larger casinos. He was unaccustomed to attending such gala events and always felt lonely because it was required that he step forward and introduce himself, and he would rather frequent the darker corner.

So he found himself strolling around behind the displays when he heard a horrific sound–like a wounded animal. He followed it, turned and discovered a young woman with dark-brown hair adorned in a cocktail dress. She had her back to him and was holding some sort of horn. She was blowing into a reed.

“That was you?” he asked.

Without turning around, she responded, “I suppose you’re referring to the sound.”

Matthew stepped around so he could see her face. It was a sturdy, but beautiful one. “Are you calling ducks?”

She blew her reed again and replied, “No. Just any barnyard animal. And considering the pile of food on your plate, looks like I got me a hog.”

She looked up, her eyes twinkling. Matthew was instantly in love. He had forgotten he was carrying a plate full of food, favoring the shrimp puffs. But here was a woman with a biting sense of humor, unafraid of his advances.

She continued, “What I’m blowing is my reed, because I play the oboe. I play the oboe with a string quartet, which makes us a quintet. And you might think to yourself that being the only reed instrument in a quintet of strings, there would be a measure of alienation. And if by alienation, you mean incrimination, jealousy, anger, disdain and misery–well then, you would be right.”

Matthew eyed her for a moment, and then inquired, “You don’t like to play the oboe?”

“Uh, no,” she replied flatly. “No one likes to play the oboe. The oboe is like William the Conqueror going out to find a few innocent serfs who have not yet signed up for the clarinet. He captures them and imprisons them in double-reed bars.”

Matthew squinted. “Do you always talk this way?”

She paused as if in deep thought. “Yes, come to think of it. I do. Do you enjoy it? Or were you intending to be mean?”

Matthew held out his hand and said, “My name is Matthew Ransley.”

She reached across the short distance and shook only his fingers. “My name is Leonora Fenzi. But just go ahead and call me Leonora Fenzi.”

Matthew smirked. “But that’s your whole name.”

“No, there’s a middle one. Juniper. As a courtesy to you, I left that one out.”

“Fenzi,” said Matthew. “Is that… Well, I don’t know what to ask. What nationality is that?”

Leonora laughed. “Well, presently I’m attending a conservatory in Paris, but my nationality is Uncle Sam’s House. I grew up in Kewanee, Illinois.”

“I’ve never heard of that,” said Matthew.

“Oh, Paris? it’s right there in the middle of France,” mugged Leonora.

Matthew laughed out loud. “Paris I knew. It was the Illinois city that threw me.”

Leonora stood to her feet, blew a couple of notes on the oboe, and then said, “Do you know that I was the best oboe player in Kewanee, Illinois?”

“I know this one,” responded Matthew quickly. “You were the only player in Kewanee, Illinois, right?”

“No. There were two,” replied Leonora seriously.

“Really?” said Matthew.

“Yes,” Leonora responded. “The second player was a young girl with Down Syndrome, whose mother bought her a horn because the girl thought the keys were much shinier than on other instruments.”

“So…was she a close second?” asked Matthew, with a wry smile.

Leonora walked across the room to Matthew. “What brings you to this opening? You don’t look the type.”

“Is there a type that comes here?” asked Matthew.

“Yes,” said Leonora, reaching over and taking one of the shrimp puffs off his plate and popping it into her mouth. “Gay and rich. You’re not either one, are you?”

“Well, I’m not gay,” said Matthew. “I applied for years, but never got accepted to the club.”

He waited for her to laugh but she didn’t. “Anyway,” he continued, “I am fairly rich. Well… let me put it this way. I have money at my disposal.”

“Disposal?” questioned Leonora. “An interesting term for money.”

Matthew changed the subject. “What are you doing after you get done playing here?”

“Let me see,” she mused. “I’ll be going off with the string quartet to complain that the patrons didn’t listen to the music, and discuss how the shrimp puffs tasted like they were swimming on the bottom of the creek. And we’ll probably have a long discussion about how Wilhelm’s violin needs a new bridge. Yeah. That’s pretty much it.”

“Any of that you could avoid?” Matthew pursued.

“Only if I can get away.”

He steadied himself. “Would you like to go out to dinner with me?”

Leonora looked him up and down, glanced to her right and left, and posed. “Honestly, if you look at it from my perspective, you could be a serial killer. Many of them are quite charming, at least I hear. But you know, I’m going to say yes to the invitation–mainly because you’re so goofy, I don’t think you would know how to dispose of a body.”

Matthew furrowed his brow. “That was the most unusual yes I’ve ever heard, but I’m gonna take it. I thought we would go to an actual restaurant in Vegas instead of a buffet. What do you think?”

She suddenly turned and marched across the room quickly, speaking over her shoulder. “I think that would be fine because I don’t really care right now. I have to go play more Mozart.”

“I like Mozart,” shouted Matthew to her retreating frame.

Without turning, Leonora replied, “Oh, shut up. It’s the only name you know.”

Matthew stood and laughed. He threw aside his plate in a nearby trash can and thought to himself, “This could be good. This could be really good…”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 44) A Very Slow Fast … April 15th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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It was meant to be a very quiet arrival at Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, D. C. Over the weekend, Jubal had contacted Matthew, explaining that he planned on returning on Wednesday afternoon at 2:15, and would appreciate a pickup, so he could get right back into the hunt of things. He had briefly updated Matthew on his journey.

Jubal had only spent four days with the Dalai Lama before traveling on to Japan, China, India, and ending up at a conference of rabbis and mullahs in Jerusalem. He had many stories and much adventure but he wanted to come home.

Matthew agreed to meet him in Washington, and contacted Soos to put together the “on-the-ground-plan.” Perhaps that was his mistake–because Soos decided that the return of Brother Carlos was good reason to have a national festival.

First she put the word out on social media, so there were five thousand screaming fans at the airport when he taxied down the runway. She also got hold of Mother Rolinda, who was still pastoring up in Baltimore, even though her burned-out church was being repaired and the local congregation was meeting in the park. Rolinda suggested they hire “The Angels”–fifty motor-cycle-riding dudes and lasses for God, who used to be part of the Hell’s Angels. Soos loved the idea and also thought a local high school marching band would be wonderful once they arrived in the middle of Washington, D. C.

As Matthew arrived at the airport, he became aware that he was once again part of an event. The past few weeks had changed him from a mere curmudgeon to a full-blown people-hater. He had “jailed himself” in Las Vegas for nearly a month. He drank, he slept, he gambled a bit, and he discussed with several prostitute friends whether lemon was necessary to add to the butter for a “good lobster-eatin’.”

So when Matthew drove up and saw all the people with banners and damnably sweet faces, he was tempted to turn around and pretend he had been waylaid in Nebraska due to a storm. (You could always count on Nebraska to provide you such a cover.) But he figured there was some member of the press who would identify him and foil his deception.

A beleaguered Matthew greeted a surprised Jubal Carlos, as they both headed to the parking lot and Jubal was offered a Harley Davidson to ride into Washington. (Matthew opted for the chauffeured Lincoln Town Car.)

Fifty motor-cycle disciples with shiny helmets were escorted into town by the police department as the fans roared and Jubal Carlos waved his fist in the air as if leading a charge at Gettysburg. The five miles into town were quickly covered, since there was such a smooth passage. As soon as the high school band saw Jubal, they burst into what sounded like a John Phillips Sousa march dipped in salsa. Jubal rolled up with his cohorts, jumped off his motorcycle and danced his way to a set of congas which were waiting for him and joined the band in sweet revelry.

Soos estimated there were probably ten thousand waiting for them in the Capitol Square. She had set up a microphone so Jubal could address the crowd and share about his journey.

After about ten minutes of music and everybody getting their fill of Nathan’s hot dogs, Jubal stepped onto the stage and walked up to the microphone. Matthew pushed closer–he wanted to both see and hear. He was curious. He had missed Jubal Carlos. Even though Matthew had no intention of bowing to a divinity, he still had deep admiration for Jubal’s convictions.

Jubal stood quietly for a minute, letting the crowd have its will. All at once, everyone fell silent. Jubal took the moment, added his own pause, and then spoke.

“I have been with the Dalai Lama, to Japan, China, the Ganges River in India, and Jerusalem, where Jesus was glorified.”

The crowd cheered. Jubal looked across the mass as if gazing upon a beautiful horizon. Then he started to laugh, pretended to wipe some sweat from his brow, leaned into the microphone and shouted: “But it sure is damn fine to be home!”

What followed was a scream that could have awakened all the stone monuments in the fair city. Matthew laughed. Jubal was very corny, somewhat predictable, fairly ordinary, and loved by all. Deep in his heart Matthew believed that he was much more clever than Mr. Carlos. Yet it was difficult for Matthew to get any affection, even from the bell-boy if he gave a particularly good tip. Jubal continued.

“I’m not gonna hold you here long, but I am going to tell you what’s next. I’m going to leave this stage, and I’m going to head to that building–”

He turned and pointed to the Capitol.

“Here’s what I’m going to do. Yesterday morning I began a fast. Actually, it’s rather simple. I’m drinking water, some electrolytes, and bottled fruit and vegetable juices. I just wanted you to know the truth before the press calls me a liar because they smell asparagus on my breath.”

More uproarious laughter, leaving Matthew shaking his head. Jubal waited for the giggles to die down, and went on.

“I’m going to sit in the rotunda of that Capitol and stay there, fasting, until this country passes a bill. I think we should call it ‘The National Action of Kindness.’ I know people will say it’s meaningless, but it is time for the United States to lead the world forward by using kindness–before we bury each other in a grave of nuclear ash.”

A chorus of “amens” and a few “hallelujahs” skirted across the gathered. Jubal spoke on.

“I do not know if I will be allowed to stay in the Capitol, and I certainly don’t plan on being any trouble. In other words, I will find my own corner and brighten it. But until we Americans realize that everything we do–every law we pass, every decision we make–has to be run through the concept of kindness, we will continue to hurt one another, destroy our young people and fail to be the shining light to the world. I’m not asking you to join me in the fast. I’m not doing it because I feel like I’m special. No one likes to eat like your Brother Carlos. So pray with me that those fat-cat-politicians will hurry up and do something, so I can get back to continuing my burrito addiction.”

And yes…more laughter.

Jubal stepped away. He didn’t even stop to talk to Soos, Rolinda or Matthew. He slow-jogged his way toward the Capitol, where in a very few minutes, he came to the door and was refused entrance.

By this time, many from the crowd had followed, including all the staffers. They stood on the steps and shouted at the Capitol above them. “Let him in! Let him in!”

Jubal did not say anything at all, but stepped back four paces, crossed his arms and stood his ground. All at once the doors opened, and the guards moved to the side.

Ninety-year-old Medero Fairchild, the oldest sitting Senator, slowly stepped out and embraced Jubal. He put his arm around him and walked toward the guards. They stepped forward to prevent Jubal from entering the Capitol Building. The old man lifted his hand and spoke to them.

“This is my friend. He’s here at my request. You young gentlemen do a fine job guarding us, but now Mr. Jubal and I need to get inside and catch up on things.”

The austere protectors looked at one another and realized that it was foolishness for them to argue with the “Old Eagle of Liberty” (one of Fairchild’s nicknames).

Jubal Carlos stepped inside the Congress with his arm around a ninety-year-old senator from the state of Tennessee. The crowd went wild, and the guards broke form and style and waved at them.

Matthew shook his head. He raced to the car, hurried to the airport, and flew back as quickly as he could to his cave of protection.

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Populie: People Want to be Free … October 1, 2014

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Freedom's

Freedom is great. A very popular battle cry.

People want to be free. Hold on a second. We just stepped into a populie.

Even though entertainment, politics and religion love to tout the power of a struggle in which someone or some people who are oppressed gain independence from an oppressor, the truth of the matter is, most of the world is not free nor does it desire to be.

Even though since our inception, we evangelistically have preached the gospel of 1776 all over the world, we’ve had few takers.

Cuba, the Philippines, Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq have all felt a push from us to accept our form of government, only, in varying degrees, to opt for their own choice.

I think it’s important to understand what people do want:

1. People want to be free of responsibility.

It’s a garden-variety human error–and when I say “garden,” I mean Eden. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the devil. We’re just repelled by the notion of being held accountable for deeds.

Even though many countries do grumble about the King, the Parliament, the Magistrate or even the Dictator, the structure grants them a scapegoat between reality and their need to change.

2. People want to be rich.

I did not say that people want to work. People want to satisfy the passing whim, which in their minds means having obtuse amounts of cash to throw at the latest fancy. Even if the craving is just their daily bread, they would rather believe that they don’t have to bake it.

3. People want to be free of people.

We have come to the conclusion that the greatest interference in our lives is the competition from other human beings, which tends to split a pot, prohibiting us from becoming rich and independent.

So you can see, the American rendition pontificated by Jefferson by proclaiming, “all men are created equal,” immediately runs into a wall of resistance by those who are running from responsibility, seeking riches and always somewhat angry at their neighbors.

We must be honest, in 1861, we couldn’t get the North and South in America to agree that “people want to be free.”

So is there an answer?

First of all, let me say that I believe the true definition of imperialism is thinking that the joy, peace, contentment and direction you have found in your life can be transferred to other people by forcing them, or even by teaching them.

Frankly, I’m not so sure that we all evolved directly from the monkey–but we do like to ape the success we see, rather than having it legislated for us.

America will eventually have to let the countries of the  world find their own way instead of treating them like errant children who need to be punished.

I don’t mean to burst anyone’s balloon, but people don’t want to be free. So the best thing we can do to help our fellow-men is to:

A. Make things simpler

B. Make things more reasonable

C. And make sure our country, churches and entertainment are less judgmental.

 

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Justin and Angel, Jasson and Deahna, Daniel … June 16, 2012

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JUSTIN AND ANGEL

He came to live in my home when he was nine years old. It was a three-pack, he arriving with two brothers. He was extraordinarily intelligent, but also possessed the first fruits of a nature to take mischief to darker arenas. I loved him dearly. We fought and argued all through his adolescent years, more or less because such a predestination was upon us. When he went to college he made a decision to go to China to finish his studies and also to learn how to become a film-maker. While there, he met a beautiful woman named Angel, who not only possessed great intelligence but also came pre-packaged with an understanding of his American

Justin and Angel

culture and was fluent in English. His name was Justin. The pair have recently returned to the United States so that she can attain her MBA at UCLA and presently they are on their way to Chicago, Illinois, so she can perform her summer apprenticeship. When I requested that my sons and daughters-in-law use any money proposed for Father’s Day gifts to bless others, this is the note I received from them:

To give you our love and blessings on father’s day, here is how we want to spend the money:
In 2010, we watched a documentary called COVE, telling a story about how tons of dolphins get slaughtered every year in Japan and the official institutions so far can’t do anything about it because of all kinds of political complication. And here is One single man from US fighting to save them in Japan and all over the World one at a time. The movie helped him to establish the Foundation called Cove to fundraise and gather volunteers to continue such Mission and also hopefully make a change in Japan’s brutal practice one day. To support him and Cove was something we have been wanting to do and should have done 2 years ago. And thank you for reminding us that outside our life, there are things bigger that we should care about and be part of. We will be donating the fund for father’s day to this organization and help them carry the mission forward!  Love on the road, Angel and Justin

(In all candor, I used to be quite suspicious, if not critical, of those who pursued animal rights causes, fearing they were more interested in the beasts of the field than the least of those in their own human race. But as time has gone on and I have allowed myself to grow a brain, I realize that the sensitivity to the needs of the animal kingdom only enhances an awareness to have the same compassion on those around us. Yes, I think it’s possible to care about a dolphin and your brothers and sisters in trials nearby. Matter of fact, I think it’s possible to be concerned over a squirrel without being squirrelly, while helping a bum without it becoming a bummer. So thanks to Justin and Angel.)

JASSON AND DEAHNA

In June, 1986, my second-born son, Joshua, passed away after a painful six-year struggle of surviving a hit-and-run accident, which left him incapacitated. Almost three months to the date after Joshua’s death, we had a son born to us and we named him Jasson. Now, people do not replace one another like pictures on a wall, but what they do is provide a mural when the snapshot of joy has been removed from your life. And that Jasson was–talented, funny, possessing a soul and a heart along with his mind and strength, he has blessed me and our family over the years. Then to top everything off, he introduced us to Deahna,

Jasson and Deahna

who leaped into the experience of our family in full stride, and blessed every one of us with both her willingness and her independence. With her came a son named Justice, the budding delight needed at a time when all of our little ones had become big. When I made my request to have blessing given to others on my behalf for Father’s Day, I received the following:

My Dad asked me to not give him a gift this year for Father’s Day. Well, not a gift in the traditional sense. Instead of a tie rack,sunglasses that clip on to your regular glasses or some type of Edible Arrangement he requested that his sons honor him by giving to others. This is very much my Dad’s style – unending generosity and selflessness. My wife and I racked our brains trying to think of who to give to. We had landed on posting on Craigslist (since that is where we look for everything else) to find a family in need when it hit me. This is still Fathers Day and my Father has taught me how  and whom to give to my entire life. We rattled off a huge list of things that my Dad had taught me to love and revere and landed on a short list of ways to honor Jon Cring as a Father whilst giving to others.

My Dad always asks us to give money to him for his Birthday (instead of presents) so that he can bless everyone he can with the dollars we can accumulate. One of the main activities on these December 18ths is purchasing meals for people unbeknownst to them until they try to get their check. In an homage to this activity and working with our modest budget, we took the plan to a Popsicle shop (that we absolutely love) called Las Paletas. We purchased one Popsicle for my son (you cannot go to Las Paletas with a 3-year-old and deny him the pleasure of a chocolate-with mint chips treat) and then asked the associate who took our money to purchase the next 4 Popsicles for whomever came in after us to get frozen deliciousness. No one was currently behind us in line so we smiled and laughed while picturing the 4 perfect strangers who received a treat on this day because my Dad loves to bless. The young lady at the counter was incredibly giddy to take our request and particularly moved by the fact that it was in honor of my Father for Father’s day. She thanked us and my Dad for those who would not get the chance.

I was always instructed to give to the homeless. My Father instilled in me that these were human travelers in need that could use a couple of dollars far more than my judgment. They were in the throngs of the hardest of times and accusations of them being “lazy” or just “needing to get a job” were never allowed utterance in the household in which I was raised. Nashville no longer allows individuals to just request money/panhandle. If one needs to request funds they are to purchase newspapers entitled “the contributor” and then sell them for a dollar to people wherever they can. While looking for someone trying to sell one of these papers, we stopped at a grocery story. While walking in, I was stopped by an elderly gentleman leaning against the brick of the building. He explained that he was jobless and homeless and that on this special weekend he hoped to make a few bucks giving people Father’s Day cards. He had a handful of cards and envelopes and spoke of his, now passed, Father. I told him I love my Father very dearly and that he had asked me to not give him presents but rather to bless those around me for this Holiday. I took one of his cards and gave him far more cash than he requested. He said, “I don’t know your Daddy but I love him. God sent me a blessing and it was you.”

Finally, my Dad taught me that if you put a flower in a toilet it ceases to be a flower. The inner-city can be a rough place for children to be raised. They are not always given the best environment to succeed and I was taught that we should do all we can to help those dealt a more difficult hand to better their situation.  Also, Dad taught me to love the game of Football. He taught me how to play it with passion and discipline and his coaching of me in the sport helped mold me in many ways. That is why with the final few dollars I had left for this Father’s Day experiment I went to a local non-profit called Backfield in Motion. This center provides tutoring, camp, after-school-programs and football practice to the youth of the East Nashville inner city. I could not think of a place that more exemplified making a difference and that also dealt in the realms of what my Father had taught me was important. I crafted a short letter with the check I dropped off explaining why I was donating to the center and the man who inspired me to do so . It was a very fulfilling day thanks to a simple request from my pop, Jon Cring.

(It was so moving to me to receive this report. When Jasson was in high school, I always wondered if my escapades of charity and reaching out to the community were more embarrassing and confusing to him than enlightening. But as parents, we have to trust that ideas are like seeds–they rarely bloom immediately and may take years to gain root and blossom in the lives of our children. Just because apathy seems to be etched on the face of a young human, never assume that your efforts are meaningless. Thank you, Jasson and Deahna.)

DANIEL

The youngest of the three-pack who came into my home, as we absorbed them with our love and hopefully a bit of security, was Daniel.

Daniel

He was six years old, full of life, and already ornery enough to get himself in trouble if circumstances allowed. I watched him carefully over the years, discovering his tender side without being ashamed and also uncovering the value of truth in his heart. He sent me a quick note last night and told me of his joys and adventures, attending Bonaroo rock festival and even some encounters with young ladies he met. He politely asked me if it was all right if he went in with Jasson and Deahna on their project (since he was a single guy and all). Daniel, the answer is yes. And also, I want you to know how happy I am that you’re finding yourself, and that what you’re discovering is revealing and peeling back layers–unveiling a true person with true colors. I love you dearly.

Well, that’s what came in via my request to take Father’s Day funds and use them to enrich the lives of others. I hope you enjoyed it. I still have three little birds out there flying who may yet come in, and if they do, I will include them in tomorrow’s message. Always remember, if you were once a father, you can still enhance the lives of your children by changing things that need revision. And you also have the ability to stand on the good things you planted, allowing time the dignity and opportunity … to let them grow.

   

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