Reverend Meningsbee (Part 55) One More Look… May 21st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3313)

Reverend Meningsbee

There should be a certain age when a man or woman reaches the maturity to know of a certainty not to climb up on a wooden ladder purchased by the church shortly after World War II.

Whatever that age is, Meningsbee was short of it.

For weeks, he had asked several of the church deacons to unclog his gutters at the parsonage. He was reluctant to make the request–everybody knows it’s a horrible job. Not only does it involve climbing, but sticking your hands in unimaginable slop.

But drainage was becoming a problem so he found a wooden ladder in the storage room at the church, donned a pair of gloves and climbed. He noticed that the last step creaked just a little bit, and even felt a slight wiggle, but decided it was just adjusting to his weight.

He was in the midst of reaching for a particularly drippy mess when all at once, the ladder gave way. It cracked, tipped and he went flying through the air, landing on the concrete sidewalk.

He was in trouble, unable to get to his feet.

Fortunately Pas Carl was within shouting distance, and immediately came, called an ambulance, and in no time at all Meningsbee was at the county hospital, receiving the news that he had broken both legs–a tibia in his right and a femur in his left.

It was so serious that it was necessary to put him in a body cast up to his waist.

Meningsbee asked the physician if there were other options. The doctor laughed and said, “Yeah. You could have chosen not to break your legs.”

Meningsbee did not think it was funny. He found himself needing the kindness of strangers. Well, maybe not strangers, but the people he normally served were being drafted to be servants to him.

The good news was, he would only be in the cast about eight weeks, and in about four weeks they could change it over to what they referred to as a “walking cast.” Even though he thought that sounded a little like an oxymoron, it did grant some possibility. But for four weeks, he was going to need assistance.

This was especially troublesome since he was in the midst of his faith crisis and did not need to add on a physical one.

His life became very simple in a complex way. Pas Carl and a couple of men came to pick him up every morning to go to the church office, and people came to see him instead of him going to see them.

They retrieved him, took him home and served him lunch, and he spent the afternoon napping. He had never napped before, but as it turned out, it was the best part of the experience. Matter of fact, he was pretty darned sure he was committed to napping for life.

In the evening, a family from the church simply brought over their dinner, and the whole family sat and ate with him. It was a nice system. Annoying as hell, but nice.

It was about two weeks into the recovery that he was rummaging through some files in his office, when he came across a DVD. All that was printed on the label was “First Look.” Normally he wouldn’t give it another thought, but he was particularly bored and aggravated at the ambiguity of the disc.

So he popped it into a nearby computer and sat back to see what it had to offer. To his surprise, it was the first Sunday he was at the church, which had been videoed by one of the members and got stuck in the drawer. He decided to watch.

He laughed when he saw himself come in the church. He looked so out of place–not just a duck out of water, but a duck completely out of “duckdom.”

The congregation seemed rigid and cold compared to the group that gathered now. It felt more like an inquisition than a fellowship.

He listened as he boldly addressed them about the dream of having a “Jesus Church.” Since the video was shot from a distance, he could clearly hear the murmurs from the crowd when he made points that were not pleasing to their traditional sensibility.

Even though he had arrived less than three years ago, in the video he seemed so young, so idealistic, so ill-prepared.

All at once he found himself crying. How could something be both the most amazing and the most disappointing experience of your life?

Amazing because all the things Jesus said would make humans powerful and viable ended up being true. Meningsbee realized that when he relied on Jesus he was very effective.

But it was also very disappointing, because he found himself disillusioned, broken in spirit, and now broken in body as well.

He watched the DVD all the way to the end, and was so glad he did–because at the conclusion the family who had shot the video turned the camera on the father of the family, and the wife–or the woman Meningsbee assumed to be his wife–asked the question, “So what did you think of the new preacher?”

The father stood for a minute, thinking, posing for the camera, and said, “Well, they say he wrote a book called ‘The Jesus Church.’ If you ask me, he’s got too much Jesus and not enough church.”

There was a laugh and the camera was turned off.

Meningsbee’s heart grew in his chest. Suddenly a joy that had been absent for weeks came back inside his soul and took its rightful place. Even though the father in the video didn’t deem himself a prophet, he was one.

The goal that Reverend Richard Meningsbee set for himself driving up to the church that day was to make sure that after he was done in Garsonville, the people would have seen Jesus instead of just a church.

Everything clicked into place. His timepiece with God was reset. Things were good.

Things were really good.

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Untotaled: Stepping 46 (February 14th, 1969) The Pain in Pleasure… December 20, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

(2449)

(Transcript)

Her name was Belinda.

She was about two rungs down the ladder of popularity from me, promoted by the horrendous high school caste system.

She liked me a lot.

I liked her, but of course, I would never go against the feudal structure of High School U. S. A., to ask her out on a date. I would never survive the ridicule and humiliation.

But I got lonely around Valentine’s Day.

My dad was sick and dying. One of the guys in our music group quit because his girlfriend thought he was taking too much time with us, and I had no idea whatsoever on what geometry was all about.

So I quietly asked Belinda out on a date, hoping that because she was so devoted in my direction, there might be some necking involved. She was one of those farm girls, raised on Bible principles, but was willing to renegotiate some of the terms on a Saturday night.

I wanted to neck.

I had kissed girls, but had never sustained long sessions of smooching and my curiosity had overtaken me. So I selfishly decided to take advantage of poor Belinda.

She was thrilled and promised not to tell anybody about our date because I told her we “needed to see how it worked out.”

I took her to a drive-in movie, which in 1969 was code for “we’re gonna mess around.”

It took me nearly thirty minutes to work up the courage to put my arm around her, and then I was afraid to move it and therefore contracted some horrible cramps in my muscles, which continued through the entire evening.

It was easy to get her to start kissing. She had thin lips so the first couple of times I got mostly teeth. But after a minute or so we got the hang of it, and she started slipping her tongue in my mouth, which was relatively new to me.

Adapting the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” I concluded, “When in France do as the French do.”

We were about ten minutes into the session when I realized that one of us had really stale breath. It wasn’t really horrible–that dried smell of garlic baloney and over-chewed gum.

I persisted.

She really got into it–so much so that she unbuttoned her blouse, inviting me to see how “alive the hills really were.”

I thought about it. After all, I was a teenager. Morals were something to discuss at church and feverishly avoid in your everyday life.

But something stopped me.

Maybe it was the ache in my bicep. Or it could have been the halitosis.

But I backed out of the encounter, tongue first.

I took her home. She wondered what was wrong. She practically pleaded with me to see her again. And rat that I was, I went mousy and never spoke to her.

It was an odd night.

Rather than feeling fulfilled, I felt like I had used another human being, who would suffer some pangs from the experience.

It sucked.

I did learn, though, that there is some pain in pleasure.

The reason most people never pursue their goals is because along the way, there are some shards of glass strewn in the pathway which either need to be avoided or walked over.

If life was easy, dumb people would rule the world.

Well, maybe they do.

But life isn’t easy. With every pain comes some pleasure, and the pleasures that arrive our way do require that we survive a bit of discomfort.

 

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