Catchy (Sitting 66) Please Remain Seated Until the Airplane Comes to a Halt… September 16th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3797)

Never had Matthew been so overjoyed to get to the company jet. He was exhausted.

Yet he was not plagued by the usual nagging doubts that accompanied such fatigue. Something had truly happened back at Milton’s house.

He refused to be one of those arrogant agnostics who, when confronted with the obvious power of faith, decide to turn to stone, bouncing testimonies off of hardened hearts.

What happened to him had nothing to do with Milton–or Jesus Christ, for that matter. It had erupted from inside his own being–a cry he had stifled for years and drenched in a baptism of alcohol.

Milton had succeeded in “undaming” Matthew’s own personal damnation. Once that was accomplished, the waters flowed. Matthew had no idea what any of it meant, but knew when the jet arrived in Las Vegas, he would need to do some soul cleaning, which would include his house.

But now all he wanted to do was sleep.

The jet had a lovely lounge area with four huge leather chairs which eased back to make wonderful surfaces for slumber. He asked the pilot if he had a small sleeping aid, to help him tone down of his jumpiness and hysteria. It was a bit unnerving that the pilot offered such a pill to Matthew.

Matthew inserted jokingly, as he popped the sleep aid into his mouth, “Now, it’s just me taking one of these, right?”

The pilot smiled politely, obviously having heard the joke many times before.

Taking a big gulp of tonic water–his new replacement for whiskey–he swallowed the pill, and before the plane taxied off the runway, he was gone. There were no dreams, just a blissful, cloudy darkness.

Matter of fact, Matthew didn’t move a single muscle until he slowly awoke, realizing that the plane had stopped. There was a presence in the lounge with him.

He opened his left eye by itself (which he was unaware he was able to do). In the blur of sleepiness, he saw the shadow of a person sitting across from him. He gradually teased the other eyeball to join the sight.

Without moving his head or flicking a muscle, he quietly intoned, “Is this heaven? Because I would swear that you look exactly like Michael Hinston.”

The “apparition” calmly replied, “Well, if it’s heaven that’ll be up to you, but I not only am stuck looking like Michael Hinston, I also am forced by birth to be him.”

Matthew jerked to attention, turned, and stared at his old friend. “I was pretty certain you were dead. Are you such a good politician that you found a way to cheat death?”

Michael laughed. “No, Matthew. There’s a lot to tell you. And they sent me aboard this plane so you wouldn’t be overwhelmed.”

This made Matthew burst into laughter. “Oh, I see,” he said. “Somebody coming back from the dead was supposed to be a calming influence.”

Michael stood to his feet, stepped over and gave his friend a hug. “Well,” he answered, “in the scheme of things that may be true.”

Matthew took a deep breath. “Well, I guess I should ask you how you survived not breathing.”

“The only way I know how to do that,” replied Michael, “is to escape not dying.”

Matthew just stared at him, perplexed.

“Let me give you the short version,” said Michael. “Maybe later on we can go into more detail. I was actually in the hospital, being prepared for surgery, when they discovered the pending indictments against me in Washington, D.C. A man walked into my room–you’ll meet him later–and explained my situation. He told me that I could give a piece of my liver to you, recuperate in the hospital and end up in a struggle over my Washington, D.C. indiscretions for the next five years until all of my credibility and the legacy of my life with my children was drug through the mud and hung up for everyone to see. Or…”

Michael paused.

Matthew jumped in. “You’re stopping the story now? Are you kidding me? Or what?”

“Or,” Michael continued, “I could come here. Fake my own death and continue my life, free of the obstruction and the criticism of those who were interested in bringing down the Jesonian movement.”

Matthew craned his neck and winced. “You can tell I’ve really been out of the cycle. I didn’t know we called it that.”

“It needed a name,” said Michael, “or it was going to become an orphan.”

Matthew, being an old advertising warhorse, nodded. After all, it was not nearly as important that gelatin taste good as it was for it to be forever referred to as Jello.

The two men sat for a moment, allowing the information to settle like dust in a storm.

Finally Matthew asked, “So how does one fake one’s death?”

“Well,” said Michael, “when they took the piece of liver from me for your recovery, they went ahead and removed my appendix, which gave them my DNA. They replicated that in a laboratory here on the grounds, and placed it in a cloned body, which ended up easily fooling the Las Vegas coroner.”

Matthew squinted. “So they made a clone of you, from your appendix, that was so good that they fooled the medical examiner?”

He sighed. “Is this going to get weirder?”

Michael thought for a moment. “No…but similar.”

Matthew reached over and downed the remaining tonic water. “Let’s start with where I am. Or is this Vegas?”

Michael shook his head. “No. This is not Vegas. This is… Well, there’s someone else here that wants to see you. I’m going to let her continue.”

Matthew turned his head to look behind him. It was Jo-Jay. He gasped.

He wasn’t just surprised to see her, but also to see her looking so well. The last time he had eyeballed her in Las Vegas, her countenance was ashen. But there she was–beautiful Jo-Jay–living and breathing.

She leaned down and hugged him, holding it for a long moment. Matthew began crying again, just like he had at Milton’s house. He was tired of holding it back. Hell, he was glad to see his friend.

But he was also growing impatient with being in the dark. Jo-Jay, as always, sensed his mood. She sat down in the leather chair across from him, took his hands and said, “You are sitting on the tarmac of a place called The Haven on the Mount. The description would be much too difficult, but let me just say that our benefactor bought four connecting mountains in the state of Montana, hollowed out the center and has constructed a small city. It’s on nobody’s radar. No GPS. No one knows it’s here. And I was allowed to come and be the beneficiary of research that is being conducted, which is in the final stages of finding a cure for cancer. I volunteered to be a guinea pig, and have been cancer free for thirty days. Not only cancer free, but rejuvenated–like I haven’t felt since I was nineteen years old.”

Jo-Jay burst into tears–not broken, but tears of gratitude for being given such an opportunity.

Then there was a third voice–another visitor.

“I guess that’s my cue.”

It was an older gentleman. He made his way into the compartment, holding out his hand. Matthew shook it, and the man sat down in another of the comfortable leather chairs. He was wearing a suit which had once been in style, and remained fashionable because it was so well-tailored. He carried a cane. He settled in and began.

“Mr. Ransley… May I call you Matthew?”

Matthew nodded.

“My name is Arthur Harts.”

Matthew laughed. “That’s odd. I once knew a billionaire who became my client after he died who had that very same name.”

The whole group joined in with a large chuckle.

Arthur continued. “You see, we had some experience with faking deaths because we had already done mine.”

“That’s right,” said Matthew. “I was there for your funeral. I thought it might help me get the money if I walked past your casket. You sure looked dead.”

Mr. Harts cleared his throat. “My scientists do wonders with cadavers.”

“Wow,” said Matthew. “I don’t even know what to say to that.”

“Let me explain it this way,” said the billionaire. “I was tired of being rich and not being able to make a difference. You see, as long as I was alive I was a business man–not taken seriously for anything else–and I was done with business. I was ready to try to make the world run more like Eden instead of doing its best impression of Hell.”

He took a breath. “So I decided to die. I found a place–this place–and I took my fortune, enjoyed some fruits for myself, but gave the abundance of the orchard into the hands of younger folks like you, who had a hunger and thirst to see the world become a more righteous place. Mr. Ransley–excuse me, Matthew–can I tell you? You have done an amazing job.”

Matthew was touched, befuddled and angry, all at the same time. Harts looked at him and continued.

“I built this complex–a city with about 20.000 people, and called it ‘Haven on the Mount.’ A place for researchers, scientists, musicians, artists, inventors and even prayer warriors, could come, free of harm, and work on one goal. It was the dream of Jesus–that God’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

Michael nodded his head. Jo-Jay welled up with tears. But Matthew cut to the chase.

“So why am I here today?” he asked.

“Well,” said Arthur, “you are here because you’ve done an outstanding job, as I said, and because you have found some peace in your own soul. At least, that’s what Brother Milton told me.”

Matthew leaned in. “You know Milton?”

“And he, me,” replied Arthur.

“So you know about our meeting yesterday?” Matthew inquired slowly.

Jo-Jay burst in joyfully. “We’re so happy for you, Matthew. You fought the good fight of faithlessness. Now, I guess the message for you is, you’re being given a chance to enter the joy of the Lord.”

Matthew leaned back in his chair, his eyes moving from one person to another, seeking sanity.

Harts laughed. “You are such a precious boy. I knew you would have doubts about this. We welcome those doubts here. Without doubts we would never have built this sanctuary for progress. It wasn’t constructed on faith–it was formed from our doubt.”

His eyes glinted. “We doubted the human race could survive much longer, wallowing in nothing but ignorance. We doubted our ability to change anything. We doubted that four mountains could be hollowed out to make living quarters for twenty thousand people to generate the electricity of renaissance. We’ve doubted every single thing, every step of the way.”

Matthew sat up in his chair. “But what about Jubal? Jasper? Sister Rolinda? And Soos?”

As he mentioned the last name, he glanced over at Jo-Jay.

Michael spoke up. “Matt–they are where they’re supposed to be. The world needs them right out there in the middle of the pot, making soup. Nothing could have happened without those four souls. If you remove them, perhaps nothing new will ever happen again.”

Matthew lightly smacked his head. “I almost forgot–Carlin. Where’s he?”

Jo-Jay giggled. “Oh, Carlin’s here. You see, Carlin is Mr. Harts’ grandson. He was…how shall I put it? He was this movement’s Paul of Tarsus…”

Michael interrupted. “I guess at that point, it would have been Saul of Tarsus…”

Matthew held up a hand. “You’re talkin’ Bible. I’m lost.”

Arthur patted Matthew’s knee. “Don’t worry about it, Matthew. God called Paul because the early church had begun to stagnate, and Paul came along to take the message outside the city of Jerusalem, venturing into the whole world. My grandson has a great ability to change the curtains in a room from blue to red without you ever seeing that he’s messed with the rods…”

Matthew nodded his head. “Damn. That’s a good description of Carlin. So he’s your grandson?”

“I have two grandchildren,” said Arthur. Matthew nodded, expecting to see pictures. But instead, stepping into the lounge was Leonora.

Matthew couldn’t breathe. His mind tried to gather fragments–thoughts that might provide some explanation. He stared, wide-eyed, as if struck by a bolt of lightning.

Leonora stepped up to him, bent down and tenderly kissed him on the lips. “I am Mr. Harts’ granddaughter. What I’m about to say will be confrusing at first, so listen all the way through.”

Matthew could only nod.

She continued. “I’m in charge of the Music Conservatory here. My grandpa asked me if I would go to Las Vegas to try to save your soul…”

“What the hell?” Matthew interrupted, in total disbelief. “You are the biggest, fat–well, not fattest–but largest atheist I’ve ever met.”

Jo-Jay stepped in and said, “They knew that if someone started attacking the work you had done in making Jesus popular again, you would defend it.”

Leonora continued. “That’s right. If I had tried to preach to you, you’d have run to the desert. You probably would have drunk yourself to death. But I was such an obnoxious disbeliever that it made you find the gold in your own movement.”

“Fuck,” said Matthew. “And I mean that as a prayer. You’re absolutely right–and I hate you for it. But you are right. So it was an act? Sleeping with me? Standing on our heads licking each other–that was all just a plan to get me to sign on the dotted line?”

Leonora moved forward and put her arms around his neck, kissing him. “No. Never. I never intended to fall in love with you. Just be an irritant to your spirit. But I did.”

“You did what?” asked Matthew, pulling away. “Are you saying you fell in love with me?”

He pushed Leonora away and looked her in the face. “You left me in agony–not knowing where you were–and that’s your way of expressing love?”

Harts interrupted. “What Leonora was trying to do…”

Matthew pointed a finger at the billionaire. “Shut the hell up, old man! This is between me and her.”

Matthew looked at her with hurt eyes. “If this whole damn setup here is just a plan to manipulate people’s lives, then God damn you all. Here’s what I tell you–I’d rather have a world filled with explosions, evil and demons than see goody-goody folks like you trying to control everybody by promoting a puppet empire of Jesus freaks.”

Arthur, not at all offended, clapped his hands slowly. “There you have it, Matthew. There’s the problem. When are we interfacing, interacting, and when are we interfering? It’s hard to know. That’s why we need you. You won’t let us become goody-goody puppet masters.”

Leonora couldn’t remain quiet any longer. “I don’t know where this is going to go. I’m not prepared to give up on us. If you stay, I will answer all your questions, and learn from your doubts. If you go, I will have to go with you.”

The billionaire sat up and said sharply, “I can’t let you do that, Leonora. I can only guarantee your safety here.”

She turned to her grandfather and said, “What part of ‘I love you, Matthew’ do you not understand? I already walked away from him once because you asked me to. I won’t do it again.”

Suddenly the room was still. No one moved. No one spoke. Everyone was waiting for Matthew to assimilate all the data. Arthur tried to speak, but stopped, realizing that it was ill-conceived.

Leonora held Matthew’s hands, looking into his eyes. Jo-Jay cuddled up next to Michael and closed her eyes in prayer.

At length Matthew spoke.

“Well, I never make a habit of landing somewhere without taking in a few tourist attractions. Is there a tour? And if there is, I demand a golf cart.”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 38) Tulips (Two Lips)… March 4th, 2018

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(3601)

Matthew awoke with a pounding headache, sore throat, a mushy brain and a hangover that seemed to have hung on for weeks. He was lying in a fancy circular bed covered with satin sheets, in a bedroom which looked like a tribute to the color red.

He tried to focus on where he was. After about thirty seconds of trimming away frustration, he uncovered the fact that he was in Amsterdam.

Suddenly it all came back to him. He had spent the night before sharing a bong with a young female Chinese capitalist–an oil speculator from the United Arab Emirates, and a Lutheran minister from Southern California. He vaguely remembered their discussion as one punctuated with verbosity, absent much profundity.

Then, leaving the gathering of the “three wise ones,” he headed into the street and found himself at the De Wallen–often referred to as the “Windows” street of Amsterdam, because in window after window, prostitutes posed, availble for purchase–a Christmas display of female flesh.

As he remembered more, he recalled coming upon a window with a tall blond girl with spiked hair and deep-set, dark eyes. For some reason, he had decided he had to have her. So he stepped into her room. She pulled the curtains for privacy and he made arrangements with her–with one stipulation. He wanted her to be with him all night.

It was an expensive necessity, for the last thing in the world Matthew wanted was to be kicked out of his bed of pleasure because his time was up.

And it was pleasurable. Perhaps a little predictable and unemotional, but the woman he chose was certainly adept at the craft of love, if not the feeling.

Still lying in his bed, he turned his head and saw her sleeping next to him. What was her name? He knew she told him, because he commented on it. All at once, he remembered his own joke.

“Did you say girdle?”

She didn’t find it funny, but since she was a hired employee, she choked out a giggle. Her real name was Gerta.

As he gazed at her, he wanted to wake her up. He wanted to talk to her. Actually, he wanted her to give a damn about him. He felt a bit feminine–like a young girl who gives away her cherry, hoping that her lover would want to hang around for the rest of the “Sunday.”

All at once she stirred. “Are you awake?” she asked in the most crackly, sexy voice he had ever heard.

“I am,” he whispered, trying to be equally as appealing. Unfortunately, his voice sounded more like he had bronchitis.

“Did you sleep well?” she asked with her thick German accent.

“I did,” Matthew replied. He realized the conversation would go nowhere unless he inserted greater input. “Gerta, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure,” she said, turning over and exposing her perfect breasts and beautifully bronzed skin.

Matthew gasped. Gerta laughed. She pulled the sheet up so as to take away the temptation to stall conversation.

Matthew took a deep breath and inquired, “Am I a good lover? And please–tell me the truth.”

Gerta burst into laughter. “This is always what the men want to know. Usually they want me to score them in comparison–sometimes even by nationalities.”

Matthew was quite offended. “Well, I don’t want anything like that. I’m just horribly insecure at this point in my life, and I would like to know, deep in my heart, that my penis is doing well.”

Gerta sat up with her arms dangling in front of her and asked, “Do you want the truth or do you want me to make you feel extra, extra, extra good?”

“Wow,” said Matthew. “That’s scary shit.”

Gerta frowned. “I’m not familiar with ‘scary shit.’ Would that be an unexpected bowel movement, or a discoloration?”

She was dead serious. Matthew had his own fit of laughter. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was so American. Scary shit just means it’s really, really, really scary.”

“I see,” said Gerta, as if cataloguing the phrase into her brain trust. “So, which is it, big boy? Do you want the truth, or do you want me to make it more padded and less, as you say, scary shit?”

She said it so cutely that he wanted to kiss her.

“I guess I want the truth,” said Matthew.

“The truth is, you’re average. Average looks. Average penis size. Average length of time it takes you to reach the top of your mountain. And average minutes for you to fall asleep afterwards.”

Matthew pretended to wipe sweat from his brown. “Phew… And here I thought I was a loser.”

There was a pause while both of them stared at a small shaft of light that had figured out how to wiggle through the dark curtains.

At length, Matthew said, “Thank you for staying all night.”

“Thank you for the money,” said Gerta.

“Why are you a prostitute?” he suddenly asked.

“Why do you ask foolish questions?” she countered, slinging her legs over the side of the bed, standing to her feet and scurrying into the bathroom for a quick pee.

“I’m sorry,” said Matthew, speaking through the wall. “I think being a prostitute is…unusual.”

She emerged, having donned panties, and slipping on his ragged t-shirt. She still looked beautiful.

“Listen, sir,” she said, sitting on the side of the bed. “Being a whore is unusual. Being a prostitute is a job. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m in my last two months.”

Matthew sat up, shocked. “Your last two months of what?”

She reached over, grabbed a cup of water and took a sip. “I am a contracted prostitute. You see, here in the Netherlands, everything is done by law, to keep things proper. So my contract is up in two months, and even though I’ve renewed three or four times, this is my last.”

“What will you do?” asked Matthew. “I’m not trying to be nosy, but since we’ve exchanged bodily fluids, I thought a little questioning might be permitted.”

She didn’t smile. It was obvious she did not find her work to be a matter of silliness. Her eyes suddenly lit up. It was like they began to dance across her face in jubilation.

“A month ago I went to Paris and participated in the Carlos Movement.”

Matthew nearly fainted. Never in his mind’s eye could he have envisioned laying in the bed of a prostitute in Amsterdam, trying to recover from a night of excessive marijuana, and hearing the name “Jubal Carlos.”

She proceeded on. “I went there on a lark. I was sure that since it was a religious movement, that once they found out I was a prostitute from Amsterdam, from the De Wallen, they would be condemning of me. So I walked up to one of the workers who appeared she might be the most prickly one, and I said, what do you think your Jesus feels about me? I’m a prostitute from Amsterdam.

“This worker took my hands and said, ‘Well, I know what he thinks. You’re the one he’s been waiting for.'”

Matthew closed his eyes. Had to be Sister Rolinda. No doubt about it. When he reopened his eyes, he saw that Gerta was crying.

“I don’t know why it struck me so,” she said, “and why it still moves my heart this morning, but the idea of Jesus waiting for me just overcame all my barriers. I danced, I ate, I embraced, I drank some wine and I listened to the message of Father Carlos. At the end I came back to the woman who said those words to me, and I told her, ‘I’m glad Jesus was waiting for me, because I have been waiting for him for a long time.’ She hugged me until I nearly broke and led me into a deeper understanding of a new beginning. So I came back here, gave my…notice? Is that what they say in America? Anyway, now I’m waiting.”

Matthew frowned. “You still didn’t answer my question. What will you do?”

“Oh,” she said. “I’m sorry. They asked me to join the team. They want me to fly around and share my story. I can’t think of anything more exciting.”

Matthew tried to lighten the moment. “So… Now you’ve been with Jesus. How would you rate him?”

Gerta stared at Matthew as if looking through his backbone all the way to his soul. It made him uncomfortable, so he tumbled out of the bed, searching unsuccessfully for his underwear. He slid on his pants and shoes, requested his shirt, plopped it on, and headed to the door.

He paused and turned back to Gerta, who was cradling her breasts. “What if telling your story is not as exciting as being a prostitute?”

Once again, she gave him that deep, all-knowing glance. “What if it’s not as painful?” she responded.

Matthew nodded his head, opened the door and entered the streets of Amsterdam, immediately hailing a cab. While waiting for his transportation to come to the curb, he was thinking.

How did this simple idea get all the way to De Wallen Street in Amsterdam?

The taxi rolled up, Matthew climbed in, and the young man sporting a big smile, who spoke in broken English, said, “Good morning, my brother.”

Matthew replied, “Take me to the airport.”

Seated in the back, Matthew looked up on the dashboard, where there would normally be a picture of the driver along with his license. In its place was a handbill with a photo of Jubal Carlos, and, in what appeared to be German, the words: “Live from Berlin.”

He glanced into the rearview mirror and saw the eyes of the cabbie.They were those eyes–bright, hopeful and mysteriously enlightened.

Matthew shook his head and whispered to himself, “Jesus Christ. He is everywhere.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 7) Accumulating … July 23rd, 2017

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(3377)

On May 8th, the largest blizzard in the history of meteorology in the state of Nebraska dumped nineteen inches of wet, slushy snow all over Lincoln, closing the freeways and the airport.

Matthew was at that airport.

He had cleverly put together a plan to meet up with three of his old college buddies from the “Leaven of Seven,” and explained to them in vivid detail some of his ideas about how to take the money from the eccentric billionaire and attempt to make Jesus not only the Christ, but popular again.

He had left messages with each, and they had successfully negotiated their air itineraries to have at least a two-hour layover at the Lincoln, Nebraska Airport–all at the same time. It was a feat of magic, only to be expected from those who had benefitted from higher education and had never had to be concerned about anybody but themselves.

When the announcement was made over the public address system that all flights were canceled and that the local motels were also filled, Joanna Lawrence (Jo-Jay) let out a tiny whimper that culminated in a miniscule scream. Yet it was loud enough to alarm people around her who already had experienced the danger of the sky falling.

“I can’t believe this,” said Jo-Jay. “I am going to need lots of alcohol.”

Matthew interrupted. “You always say that, Jo-Jay. You don’t need to be intoxicated. You just choose to be drunk. And if there isn’t a crisis, you’ll tip your glass to the threat of one.”

Jo-Jay paused and peered at Matthew with a surprised expression. “Wow. That was deep. I think you just changed my life. Why don’t we get a drink and celebrate?”

Paul Padwick thought that was hilarious. When he agreed to join them at the Lincoln airport, he requested they no longer use his college name, Pee Pee. (Matthew had texted him back and said, “If we call you Pee Pee, will it piss you off?”)

Michael was supposed to join them from Washington, D. C., but missed his flight, and in trying to catch a later one, discovered they were all canceled.

So after much inquiry and questioning, Matthew, Jo-Jay and Paul Padwick (never, ever to be known again as Pee Pee) discovered that they were going to be stuck overnight at the airport without the benefit of a shower.

Just moments later, poor Jo-Jay found out that the bar had closed at the establishment out of fear that cantankerous folks who were trapped in tight quarters might get along better without being totally sauced.

“I guess,” said Matthew, “we should find our corner in the airport, where we can bed down for the night.”

Bedding down had become possible because airport staffers had begun to circulate cushions and blankets, formerly the property of the “Cornhusker Airline” before it surprisingly went out of business. So the three of them, taking their cushions, blankets and a respectable supply of candy, chips and soft drinks, found a remote corner in the airport where the Cornhusker Airline had formerly dreamed of building a massive terminal.

It was quiet, it was pretty warm and it was just a little bit spooky–the kind of atmosphere which was ideal for old friends to catch up and discuss plans that might bring them together once again.

Jo-Jay had barely opened up her Doritos and begun to consume them like a starving woman when she croaked, “Can I get this straight? At least let me hear it from your mouth. Basically, from your message, you have an old man who died with some sort of religious compunction to leave behind money to make his God the Number One God in the world.”

Matthew corrected her. “Actually, it’s Jesus–but you are kind of close.”

“I guess I felt like the Jesus thing kind of maxed out a while ago. You know what I mean?” posed Paul, making his contribution. “Like, the ones who were really interested in it had already gotten on board and everybody else gave it a look-see and passed on it for their own reasons.”

“That is so true,” agreed Jo-Jay. “I mean, short of lying, cheating and fudging the figures, you either dig Jesus or you don’t.”

Matthew leaped in. “Well, I kind of dig Jesus, but I wouldn’t call myself religious–though I think it’s admirable to be Christian. So I might classify myself in that category…”

Paul laughed. “Well, it’s admirable to be a weight lifter, but don’t you have to actually lift something?”

Jo-Jay roared with laughter. “Yeah, God-guy. If you’re going to be a Christian, don’t you have to do a lot of Christian things?” She reflected. “Or maybe not, come to think of it. There seem to be a lot of those who claim the title who don’t pursue the agenda.”

At that point, they all just stopped speaking.

Maybe it was the darkness falling outside that left the room even more dismal. Perhaps it was the realization that the area they had selected for their resting space was a little chillier than they thought. Or maybe it was just the awkwardness of being back together.

But they didn’t hurry it. No one tried to make small chat or bring up the consistency of their candy bars. Just a moment to reflect on who they were, where they were and what the hell they were going to do about this “heavenly” issue.

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Save Your Village… March 6, 2014

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(2168)

puddle water

I like to go to public parks to work on my writings and stuff. The scenery, atmosphere and intrusive clatter–well, I find exhilarating. Yet you do have to share the space with every living creature who habitates within.

Such was the case yesterday when a guy named Bunky came into my three square feet.

He was thirty-one years old and just as slight as I am husky, and wiry as I am cumbersome. We shared very little in common, but since proximity dictated either conversation or further social distancing, I jumped in.

Once I made my preliminary inquiries about his well-being, Bunky launched into a thirty-minute discourse on his life. Here are the highlights:

He had a nineteen-year-old girlfriend who is a junkie and needed him to go to work every day to get the money for her fix, so that she would not become violent and attack him. (In alternating presentations, she was referred to by Bunky as “lover, friend, enemy and bitch.”)

He had once been in a gang–I think it was the Crips–and told me he had killed a man, although he eyeballed me carefully to see if I was questioning his credibility. I didn’t. I saw no reason to authenticate a tale in progress.

He talked to me about the use of marijuana being helpful in relieving his back pain, brought on by years of working on cars, lying flat down on the hard concrete.

I wasn’t sure how long he was going to share, or if there would be a stopping point whatsoever–until his friends showed up. And then what had been a very intimate exchange was terminated as he rose to his feet, accepting the invitation of one of his cohorts, to go to another bench where they could smoke.

As quickly as it began it was over.

Being raised in a spiritual climate, I incriminated myself that I had not more sufficiently impacted Bunky’s world. It’s what we do best, you know. As human beings, we often “strain at the gnat and swallow the camel.” We criticize ourselves for what we don’t accomplish, while simultaneously failing to achieve what is set before us as our daily bread.

Let me share with you candidly, which is always my goal:

  • You are not going to change the world.
  • Jesus Christ didn’t do that.
  • He was smart enough to leave behind an example of exactly how things work.
  • Start where you are.

For you see, Bunky is not my problem There are many more qualified people to share, care and be aware of him than me. Here’s what I’m supposed to do:

  1. Find my village.
  2. Teach my village.
  3. Save my village.
  4. Let it travel.

I raised six boys in my household. For a brief period of human time, these young men sat at my table and listened to me expound on life. They also watched carefully to see if I followed up with my own choices. They were my village.

Also within that village was a handful of friends and comrades. They, too, were exposed to my experience.

I didn’t worry about changing a whole town, state or country. I found my village, I taught my village, I saved my village and then I let it travel.

Those young men met women and now their influence spreads from Miami to China to New York to Nashville to Dallas to Los Angeles. with films, music, business, ministry, recording, procreating and acting.

While some folks encourage me to spread out my influence as far as I possibly can, I would much rather have a thick spreading of peanut butter on a cracker than a thin application on a four-foot-long piece of French bread.

It’s simple–stop trying to change the world. Stop criticizing yourself for being ineffective.

  • Find your village, teach your village, save your village–then let it travel.

And always remember–leave your image in the puddle provided.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Not So Much … February 19, 2013

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I was wearing an old pair of running pants and a stretched out T-shirt, certainly a bit askew of GQ.

I was sitting in my chair, waiting for the final tally of the groceries I had selected, when two young boys came walking by, one of the lads poking his friend in the ribs, pointing at my protruding belly and laughing. The other young man seemed completely uninterested, so they scampered on their way, with the first little guy maintaining his chuckle.

There was a time in my life when I was quite aggravated by such youthful assaults. But on this particular day I didn’t give it another thought. I realized that the reason I did not give it much attention was not that I had “grown in maturity,” but because it has lessened in occurrence. Yes, over the years, as a fat man, I have observed less giggling from bored youngsters than once was the case.

I was suddenly struck with a great wave of gratitude–because in this time, when people are complaining so ferociously about all the difficulties and “simmering pots,” it is nice every once in a while, to look back and realize that we have made some human progress.

For instance, it used to be in this country that people of different races couldn’t date, marry or be together without receiving ridicule and persecution. Not so much anymore.

In our history–quite recent, may I add–it was a favorable thing to segregate and even do harm to those who did not exactly match our skin hue. Not so much now.

Catholics and Protestants in Ireland massacred one another at one time, in the name of Jesus Christ, to establish the dominance of their spirituality. Not so much.

Water supplies in towns across America were questionable in their quality because there were no restrictions on certain contaminants. Not so much.

Litter filled the highways with trash as a scar on our nation’s landscape. Not so much.

Politicians were able to get by with numerous scams and scandals without ever being caught by a press corps that was often in the back pocket of big corporations. Not so much.

Religion was blindly accepted for all of its inadequacies instead of being questioned and challenged to be productive in the human environment. Not so much.

Children were to be “seen and not heard”–set aside and basically ignored unless they were extraordinarily accomplished or equally in the other direction, naughty. Not so much.

Catsup was considered to be a vegetable by national leaders, who were gradually turning all of our children into guinea pigs for commercial poison. Not so much.

I just paused as I sat there and waited for my groceries, which are now so easy to purchase and much simpler to carry in their bags than they used to be, and was grateful that the little boy who ran by me with his ridicule was in a minority. Somewhere along the line, we have taught our children to be more tolerant of human space.

That’s good.

So in the process of trying to change our lives and improve the lot of the American populace, let us occasionally stop off at an altar of gratitude and realize that much of the crankiness, bigotry and controlling attitudes that once permeated our adult culture have been decimated by mercy, knowledge and appreciation for one another.

Am I optimistic? Don’t push it. But today, I am grateful.

And I can say this about stupidity: not so much.

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

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