Reverend Meningsbee (Part 50) Lights, Camera, Inaction … April 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3272)

Reverend Meningsbee

Russ and Tracy were the local and only filmmakers in Garsonville.

They referred to themselves as “cinemaniacs.” They loved movies. They loved making movies.

They could tell you the back story of every single Hollywood blockbuster that ever rolled across the silver screen. They spent hours discussing their preference on a particular type of electronic cord or the do’s and don’ts of good lighting.

They lived together, unmarried, in a small apartment above the downtown apothecary. Although such relationships were frowned on in the small town, the people accepted them and concluded in their minds that they must be brother and sister.

Russ and Tracy, along with Carl, came to see Meningsbee, possessing the excitement of three ten-year-old children who just discovered they had a snow day. They wanted to make a documentary–the story of the Garsonville Church since Meningsbee had arrived, including the controversy and also the burst of recent growth. For last Sunday, there had been 230 people in attendance at the church.

Meningsbee listened carefully to their plan, and was greatly surprised to discover they had already “townfunded” $4,223 from the citizens.

Meningsbee had his doubts. To him, it kind of felt the same way as the first time somebody described sushi. It sounded like a good idea, but something was a little fishy.

Actually, he had two major concerns, so he voiced them.

“Listen,” he said, “before I give my blessing to this project, I need to know, number 1, do I have to do anything different, weird, unusual or fakey?”

The three assured him that all he had to do was be his glorious self.

“Secondly,” he continued, “do I have to wear makeup? You see, about ten years ago, I did a talk show in Rhode Island and the girl at the studio insisted I wear makeup because she noticed that my lips were so thin that they crawled back into my face. Since she was the professional, I agreed to let her smear some stuff on my forehead, and then she took lipstick and put it on my mouth. It was kind of dark brown in color. Later on, when I caught a glimpse of myself on the TV monitor, I looked like one of those Old West gunslingers lying in the pine box before they carried him away to Boot Hill.”

Russ and Tracy assured Meningsbee there would be no need for him to wear makeup unless he really enjoyed it.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Meningsbee. “I think I can get the church to agree to take a $5,000 donation that’s just come in, and give it to you guys to make this idea come to life.”

Jubilation rocked the room.

Two weeks later there were cameras and lighting equipment in the streets of Garsonville, and the citizens were solicited for their opinions, insights and any stories they might like to share with the documentarians.

It took three months to shoot the whole thing. There was a complete sense of community–enthusiasm beyond measure–and with Russ and Tracy telling one and all there was a possibility that the little flick might be going to film festivals, everybody was preening and preparing for “bright lights and big city.”

Meningsbee gently but firmly warned the folks that they had been equally enthralled with USBN. But you see, this was different. This was “home town kids doing home town things to express the beauty of the home town.”

After three weeks of shooting, there was another forty days of editing, at which time it was decided there needed to be a premiere of the documentary at the local high school. They decided to call it “Looking for Eden,” and the premiere was only twenty-five days away.

The auditorium only seated 500 people, and the interest level seemed so strong that it was decided there would be two showings–one at 6:45 P.M. on Saturday, and one at 2:30 P.M. Sunday afternoon.

Posters were printed, the newspaper interviewed the filmmakers and all potential stars, and Meningsbee sat back and watched his congregation and community go just a little bit crazy one more time.

He, himself, had filmed two segments for the project. One was a question and answer session in his office, and another one had him sharing spontaneously from his heart as he walked slowly down the main street of Garsonville. Both scenes seemed a little bit contrived and incomplete to Meningsbee, but Russ and Tracy said the dailies looked great–the dailies being the footage they looked at each afternoon, to make sure quality was being maintained.

Watching the town prepare for the event was similar to eyeballing a seven-year-old boy in church who needs to pee. He’s not quite sure what to do with himself so he wiggles around, hoping a bathroom is in his near future.

Premiere night arrived. A couple of limousines were hired for the filmmakers and the more prominent dignitaries from the town, and the auditorium was packed all the way to the walls, with people who came to see a tribute to their town, which amazingly, included their mugs.

It started off all right. There was a song played by a local boy as the opening credits rolled.

But then the actual movie began. It wasn’t bad. The camera work was good, the sound was adequate.

But it was just boring.

What Russ and Tracy did not take into consideration was that Nebraskan folks sometimes take two minutes just to say hello. Slow paced life. Slow paced speech. Slow paced moving picture.

One of those just didn’t work.

People began getting fidgety, with lots of bathroom trips, several coughing fits, and some of the younger people couldn’t help but release agonizing yawns.

After two hours and thirteen minutes, the ordeal was over. Some folks hung around for a little while to express their appreciation, but most scurried out as quickly as possible, hoping and praying that this piece of cinema would never be seen anywhere else.

Matter of fact, on Sunday afternoon, the only people who came out to see the movie were Reverend Meningsbee, four or five close friends and two couples who had been out of town and just drove in, and were unaware of the reviews.

Russ, Tracy and Carl were discouraged. “I guess we’re just boring,” said Russ.

Meningsbee put one arm around Russ, the other around Tracy and drew them in close.

“No,” he said. “And you guys did a great job. Matter of fact, I was pleasantly surprised. Because let’s be honest, it could have been worse. When you put a close-up on our community, it’s like watching pudding cool and thicken. It’s not pretty, it’s not camera worthy, but it’s solid and you can count on it.”

Meningsbee took the three filmmakers out to an early dinner and they sat around and talked about life, dreams and love–and newer and better ways of looking for Eden.

 

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

Reverend Meningsbee (Part 46) Fussing … March 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3251)

Reverend Meningsbee

As the weeks had passed, most of the folks who had been attending the “Old Time Religion Church” returned to Garsonville Community, and settled in like eggs in a carton.

Matter of fact, Sammy only had fifteen faithful remaining.

But those fifteen suddenly became enraged when they discovered that yoga was being taught at the high school in the gym classes as a means of stretching and relaxation.

Sammy was convinced that yoga was “of the devil.” He had read somewhere that it was a gateway philosophy to Eastern religions.

So he and his fourteen constituents painted signs and were standing outside the high school, exercising their God-given right to annoyingly protest.

As is often the case, the more they protested against the yoga classes, the more the young people became interested in taking them–which meant the school had to bring in two teachers, which further inflamed Sammy Collins and his old-timers.

Sammy’s complaint was very simple: if you’re going to have yoga classes, you should put prayer back in school.

When the principal asked Sammy how he would suggest prayer be reinstated, Sammy explained that he would be more than happy to come over every morning and do a prayer for the children over the public address system. The situation was further complicated when the principal laughed, thinking he was joking.

Now Sammy was not only in a theological bubble-up, but also insulted, and determined to go to the next school board meeting for a showdown.

Of course, Sammy wanted reinforcements, so he called Meningsbee. Figuring that any man of God would be equally as distraught as he was over the issue, he asked the pastor to join him and spearhead a revolt against what he referred to as “the yogalization of Garsonville High.”

Sammy was rather proud of the slogan.

As was often the case with Meningsbee when dealing with his old buddy, Sammy, he found himself at a loss for words.

Meningsbee did not know exactly what he felt about yoga, except he was pretty positive he did not want to do it. (When living on the East coast, he had once been asked to attend a yoga class, to which he had replied, “Sorry. That’s a stretch for me.” When they didn’t laugh, he realized it was probably not his crowd.)

But overall, he saw no reason to prohibit young people from participating in yoga. He was pretty sure that once it became too religious, they would ignore it just like they did church.

But he also did not want to leave Sammy out in the cold, so he agreed to join him at the school board meeting–not as an ally, mind you, but as a soul arriving with an open mind. Sammy agreed, unsure of the meaning.

The night of the school board meeting arrived. It was well attended–mostly by parents who were deeply afraid that their children were going to be deprived of an exercise program because some stuffed shirt with a Bible was intolerant.

Yes, the younger couples of Garsonville, who had long ago decided to find their spirituality via the Internet, showed up to argue with Sammy Collins and his remnant.

Meningsbee sat in the back of the room trying to hide the best he could. Speaker after speaker came forward to testify of the wonders of yoga and the physical health benefits.

Then it was Sammy’s turn. He gave a ten-minute sermon about the dangers of false religion, mysticism and also the lack of God in the public school. Although his points were punctuated by some “amens” by his followers, there was a general sense of disbelief and superiority among the others listening. Realizing that yoga was going to be instituted and Sammy was going to lose, Meningsbee stood to make his way out the back door. But before he could make a clean getaway, one of the school board members noticed him and asked him to come forward and give his thoughts on the matter.

Meningsbee tried to decline, saying, “I think it’s been thoroughly discussed on both sides.”

But there seemed to be a general consensus that he should say something more. He came forward and stood behind the lectern, where people had been postulating all evening long. He took a deep breath and began.

“I don’t want the school teaching religion. I don’t think you know what you’re doing. I think you’re working real hard just to get the math scores up. I think Jonah and the whale would probably swallow you up. I don’t want anything to bother or torment our children. I don’t want anything pushed on them. And that goes for Bible reading or yoga.

“So when some of you talk about meditation and others refer to prayer, I’ve always found that such devotion is better done in one’s own closet instead of the public thoroughfare.

“I would neither pray nor would I chant in public. What I would suggest is that with all of our desire to expand the horizons of our children, that we remember the greatest lesson we can teach them. They have more in common with the other people on Earth than they think, and their goal is to get along with them.

“So if you want my vote, I’m for anything that’ll make us more pleasant.”

The room was silent. Meningsbee dared to take a glance over at Sammy. Collins was squinting as if he didn’t fully comprehend the message.

But the younger couples nodded their heads and seemed to realize there’s a lot more that goes into making a young person become an adult than yoga and prayer.

They need to learn how to get along.

 

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

Reverend Meningsbee (Part 44) Guilty By Association … March 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3237)

Reverend Meningsbee

It is a matter of common acceptance, if not perfectly proven, that a small town block is shorter than a city one. This may never have been confirmed, but certainly is taken for granted.

About a block-and-a-half from Meningsbee’s home was a brand-new coffeehouse called “The Garson-Fill.”

Even though Richard was not averse to making his own pot of brew, there was just someting fun about walking the short distance every morning to sit in a chair, lean back, drink his limit and order half a muffin.

Another attraction at The Garson-Fill was a lovely waitress named Carla. She was that mysterious age women often reach–where you can’t tell if they’re thirty-five or forty-five. She was beautiful in a rugged sort of way–the kind of well-traveled face that’s like a good map–easy to read.

She was also easy to talk to. After two or three visits, the preacher worked up the courage to do so. He found out that she had gotten married in her late teens, quickly had two children but had been divorced for seventeen years. Her offspring were both grown and on their own, and she had taken the job at The Garson-Fill because she had met the owner at a positive-thinking seminar. Carla seemed to like her work.

It was on visit five–or certainly by six–that Meningsbee realized he was attracted to her.

The idea of being drawn to another woman other than Doris was terrifying. It wasn’t so much that he felt unfaithful, but rather, paralyzed in awkwardness. He hadn’t flirted, dated or even considered mating with anyone else for decades.

But now here was Carla.

She seemed to like him, too–sometimes. It was rather odd. Some mornings he would come in and she would be bubbling and anxious to see him because she had a story to tell or a blessing to share. But when he had ventured to invite her to the church, she quickly changed the subject and started talking about her new duties of baking pastries.

He liked her. He knew deep in his heart that it would never go any further unless he let her know his sentiments, and set up something that didn’t involve playing the roles of customer and waitress.

It took about a month. One Wednesday morning, he cleaned up a little shinier, brushed his teeth a little harder, sprayed his cologne a little longer and headed off to have his usual morning repast–but this time, to finish with a tip and an invitation to dinner.

He was so excited. He was optimistic. He just knew she was going to say yes. There was a twinkle in her eye that let him know that in her private moments, she had considered the two of them together.

For the beauty of a woman is not in her ability to hide, but rather, in her great gift to reveal.

However, once he was at the cafe, some cowardice seeped in. So he took a long, long time chewing on his muffin, trying to work up the courage to ask Miss Carla for an evening of her company.

Finally, the little diner cleared out. She was busying herself cleaning off her last table when he called her to his side.

“Carla,” he said, “I know you know that I am a widower and that I’m the pastor of the church. I’ve really enjoyed our times together here…”

She suddenly interrupted him. “Oh, dear God, you’re not going to ask me out on a date, are you?”

Meningsbee’s left eye began to twitch uncontrollably. How should he respond?

Carla sat down in a chair near to him, patted his hand and said, “Listen. You’re fine and all. No, no. You’re probably better than fine. You just don’t understand.”

Meningsbee managed some speech. “What do you mean, I don’t understand? I don’t understand what?”

She quickly looked around the room to make sure nobody was listening. Assured that they were alone, she whispered, “I like you. I mean, I like you. But I can’t like you.”

Meningsbee must have looked very confused, because she inserted, “Oh, I don’t know how to explain it.”

She stood to her feet to walk away, and Meningsbee reached out and grabbed her apron, holding her in place. She pulled away as if struck by lightning.

A flash of fury came into her eyes. “Goddamnit, don’t you ever touch me!”

Meningsbee stood to comfort her and she pushed him back down. She pointed her finger in his face. “You have no right to touch someone! Do you understand that?”

He did, so he nodded.

She was obviously fighting back tears, and he realized he had unearthed some nasty piece of evil that bewitched her.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Don’t be sorry,” she replied. “I mean, don’t touch people unless they ask you to, but…Oh hell. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I just thought we could spend some time together,” said Meningsbee. “If that doesn’t work out, that’s fine.”

She sat back down and said, “But it might work out. And you see, it can’t. There’s a problem that exists between us that can’t be changed.”

“What is that?” said Meningsbee, making sure he maintained his distance.

“You’re a preacher, right?”

He nodded.

“You believe in God.”

He nodded again.

“Jesus?”

“Yeah,” Meningsbee said. “I guess it’s kind of a package deal.”

“You’re a Christian.”

“I am. Proudly.”

“Proudly.”

“Proudly,” she repeated louder. “You see, Reverend, that’s my problem. I’ll never be with a Christian. Because for four years, my husband proudly beat me every day … in Jesus’ name.”

 

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

Reverend Meningsbee (Part 43) Broad Shoulders… February 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3230)

Reverend Meningsbee

Even though spring was less than two weeks away, the Windy City was still frigid, with sporadic snow flurries careening through the air.

Meningsbee had spent too much time admiring and devouring his deep-dish pizza, and so found himself hurrying the short distance down the street, to “The Illinoian,” a downtown hotel which in its salad days was dressed lavishly, but with the wear chasing the tear, had somewhat lost its flair.

Meningsbee was late to deliver a speech in Ballroom Three, for the “Midwest Evangelical Mainline Church Convention.” It was an annual gathering in Chicago, usually drawing about 5,000 pastors, church leaders, music directors and congregation members who found such seminars to hold some interest. Matter of fact, Bob Harborhouse from the Garsonville Church, had come, and Monique Jennings, the church secretary.

Meningsbee had been invited to speak on the subject of “Innovation in the 21st Century Church.” His first inclination was to decline, but on second thought, was quite grateful for the opportunity to leave Nebraska for a few days.

He was a little concerned about whether anybody would show up in Ballroom Three. After all, Monique had already decided to go shopping and Bob had opted to attend a different seminar on church finance, entitled “The Power of the Shekel.”

So Meningsbee was on his own and a bit out of breath as he stepped off the elevator on the third floor, and was suddenly surrounded by cameras, with a reporter sticking a microphone to his mouth. It was Katrina Middlesex, who was no longer with USBN, but had now joined a conservative think tank from the blogosphere named “The American Way.”

Meningsbee tried to wiggle past the entourage, but Katrina positioned herself in front of the door, prohibiting him from entering. With bright lights in his face and cameras poised, she began to fire questions.

“Do you think its hypocritical for you to be here?”

“Do you think what happened in Garsonville is your fault?”

Then it was the third question that shocked Meningsbee.

“Is it true that you have a problem with pornography?”

He could not disguise his surprise.

So she asked him again, “Are you involved in pornography?”

Frustrated, angry and beginning to feel some indigestion from his lunch, he snapped, “No comment.”

Katrina smiled and slowly backed away, allowing him to enter the ballroom.

Safely inside, he immediately realized it was the wrong answer. He should at least have denied it. “No comment” was an admission that there might be some substance to the question and that he needed to consult an attorney.

It was so stupid.

Meningsbee lifted his eyes to look at the room, peering at a beautiful hall with 300 chairs–speckled with about forty human beings. Worse, they had spread themselves all over the place, as if trying to avoid a contagion.

He took a deep breath and walked to the front of the auditorium, placing his portfolio on the podium, As he did, he saw a note. It read: “Dear Reverend Meningsbee: I’m sorry I will not be there to introduce you. Got all tied up. Just feel free to start on your own, and may God bless you.”

Meningsbee didn’t read any further. Knowing who had left him out in the cold would not make him feel any warmer.

He tested the microphone, which whirred and whistled a bit, causing some of the congregated to giggle, and then began to speak from his prepared text. He wasn’t even five words into his spiel when a hand was raised in the audience. He stopped, acknowledged the individual, and she posed, “Why were all the reporters out in the lobby?”

Another man sitting three rows in front of her threw a comment over his shoulder in her direction. “There was some sort of scandal in his hometown and they wanted to ask him about his involvement.”

Meningsbee stepped in, objecting. “It wasn’t a scandal. It was just people stuff, which they made scandalous.”

A fellow four or five rows over piped in. “Was it sex stuff?”

A lady all the way in the back responded, projecting her voice to cover the distance. “Yes. I think so.”

Meningsbee interrupted. “I’ve come here today to talk about innovation in the 21st century church.”

Yet another hand went up. Meningsbee reluctantly acknowledged the inquisitor.

“Did you use the scandal to advertise the church? That’s pretty innovative. You know what they say–there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Meningsbee was lost. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what to do.

All at once, another voice. Male, younger–strong.

“If you don’t mind, Reverend Meningsbee,” said the young man, standing to his feet, “I would like to tell them what you did. If you folks are not familiar with the work that is going on in Garsonville, I’ve been keeping up with it through reading the blogs about the movement in the town, and also I have a cousin who lives there who fills me in on all the adventures.

“This gentleman, Reverend Meningsbee, wrote a book called ‘The Jesus Church.’ If you’ve never read it, you should. I know people always say that. In this case, it’s true. Basically, it asks the question, ‘What kind of church would Jesus run if Jesus was in the church running business?'”

People chuckled.

“So,” the young man continued, “the Reverend came to be a pastor in Garsonville, to see if he and the folks there can get together and form…well, I guess ‘form a more perfect union.’ But anyway, let me shut up, and let the parson tell us the whole story.”

The young man sat down, leaned back, crossed his legs and prepared to listen. The other people in the hall noted his position and followed suit.

Meningsbee was able to finish his speech. Afterward, he quickly found the young man, and thanked him for his kindness.

He replied, “Oh, you were fine. You didn’t need me. My dad used to tell me, ‘always travel with a little bit of grease, because most of the time you won’t be the wheel, but lots of times the wheel will need the grease.'”

Meningsbee found out that the young man’s name was Carl–Carl Ramenstein. He was a student at the Illinois Theological Seminary and was due to graduate in May.

“Come and see us,” said Meningsbee.

Carl smiled. “Why?”

The question took Meningsbee by surprise. He was just trying to be polite, but now the astute young man was calling him on it.

“Good question,” responded Meningsbee. “I guess because you’re young, good-looking, level-headed, humble and the Kingdom of God certainly wouldn’t suffer under your efforts.”

Carl feigned surprise. “Are you offering me a job?”

“No, no,” said Meningsbee. “Stale Danish, weak coffee–that’s our offer.”

Carl laughed, paused and considered. He reached out to shake the pastor’s hand, saying, “Well, I’ll tell you what. If I ever need stale Danish and coffee, you’ll be the first place I go.”

They shared a laugh. Meningsbee couldn’t help but be grateful for the intervention of the stranger.

Now all he had to do was figure out how to get out of Ballroom Three without seeing Katrina again. 

 

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

Reverend Meningsbee (Part 42) Rest Stop … February 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3223)

Reverend Meningsbee

2.3 miles east of Garsonville, on an old country road, was an abandoned roadside rest–long forgotten and unattended, with a broken picnic table, a dry pump and an eroded sign which had once explained the origins.

Over the past two months, every single week, Reverend Meningsbee made his way to that spot before attending church, to take ten or fifteen minutes, just to “get decent.”

Getting decent meant freeing himself of all the hardships, prejudice, bruised ego, disappointments and frustrations of the week, lest he arrive in front of the congregation and pour out his misgivings instead of sharing a parcel of hope.

It had been a strange week.

On top of languishing in memories of his beloved Doris, he also discovered that Jesse, Marty and Hector McDougal were moving from town. They had become the touchstone–the stopping off place–for all the publicity and turmoil that had risen up because of the little boy’s amazing healing.

The family had received notice from a mega church in Idaho which had been spreading its spiritual wings into making movies, and the three were invited to come and live free of charge for a year while the screenwriters, actors and production team shot a film entitled, “Hector’s Baptism.”

They were so excited.

They even had a copy of the screenplay, which Meningsbee perused, quickly realizing that the writers had taken some creative license.

Meningsbee felt sad.

He wasn’t sure it was the right thing for the family–but it’s hard to argue with a year’s worth of free room and board. So he kissed them all on the cheek, prayed for them and two days later they were gone.

That departure was followed by the information that Patrick Swanson, whose congregation had been involved in some sort of wife-swapping scandal, was also leaving and stopped off at Meningsbee’s house to say goodbye.

He and his wife were off to Utah, to a marriage clinic, to restore their vows and commitments.

Patrick had become a Mormon. He looked much different–fresh haircut, crisp white shirt and a sweater vest instead of jeans, shaggy locks and a t-shirt. He was, shall we say, very appropriate.

When Meningsbee reached to give him a hug, Patrick instead took his hand and offered a warning. “Beware the sins of the flesh, my friend. I think you teeter on too much secular input in your ministry, and therefore are robbing your congregation of the full impact of the whole Bible for the whole man.”

Meningsbee felt a flame of anger ignite in his gut but he realized that Patrick would soon be gone, and his advice with him.

Meningsbee was in the midst of these thoughts and many others when a car rolled up next to him.

It was Sammy Collins.

He got out of his car and tapped on the passenger window of Meningsbee’s vehicle, requesting permission to enter. Meningsbee popped his locks and Sammy scooted in, shut the door and took a deep breath.

“Let me get right to it. I’ve been doing a lot of praying. I know we haven’t always agreed, but I believe I’m supposed to come and be your assistant minister.”

He paused. Meningsbee was speechless.

Sammy jumped in. “Well, that’s it. What do you think?”

“How did you know I would be here?” asked Meningsbee.

“I followed you,” said Sammy with a smile. “You didn’t even know, did you?”

“Nope,” said Meningsbee quietly.

Sammy turned sideways in his seat, filled with energy. “So what do you think, Pastor? You sure could use the help.”

“You see, Sammy, the kind of help I need wouldn’t work because it’s inside me. I couldn’t get you in there. Or maybe I wouldn’t want you in there. Or maybe, it just seems to me, that if I needed an assistant minister, God would tell me before he told the assistant minister.”

“God works in mysterious ways,” said Sammy with a twinkle.

“Yeah, but usually not hyper-weird,” replied Meningsbee.

Sammy, undaunted by the rebuke and rejection, opened the car door and said, “Think it over. You’re never gonna find anyone quite like me.”

Meningsbee just nodded, holding his tongue over a variety of responses that immediatly popped into his brain.

Sammy jogged to his car, got in and took off. Meningsbee, fully disturbed and interrupted, decided to head off to church.

He wondered what he would find there. He had to admit to himself that his message last week about the rich young ruler and how the congregation needed to decide if they were going to keep the revival alive or go back to their old ways, was pretty strong. Matter of fact, he had even used the word “damn” right in the middle of the pews, flowers and pulpit furniture.

Arriving at the church, there was a hum in the room. No–a real hum. The organist was playing the prelude and the congregation, uncharacteristically, was humming along with the familiar tune.

There were two apple pies sitting on the fellowship table which were normally not present for coffee time.

Deacon Smitters shook Meningsbee’s hand and held it a little longer than normal.

The song service was more boisterous, the testimonies enlightened and the “amens” aplenty.

No one said a word about the previous week’s service nor whether they were offended, challenged or informed. They just did what people in Garsonville do. They took it all in, let it rattle around for a couple of days, and decided what their best path might be.

There’s a lot to be said for that.

 

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

Reverend Meningsbee (Part 41) There’s Always a Space … February 12th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3216)

Reverend Meningsbee

When Meningsbee’s wife, Doris, died, a minister friend counseled him to take some time and give himself the luxury of grieving.

So for six months, Richard permitted his heart, soul and mind to reminisce and dream delightful thoughts about his dear friend, Doris.

There seemed to be a healing. It got a little easier to consider her gone, though there was never any real “ease” in the notion.

After the six-month grieving period, Meningsbee decided to reenter his life of writing and pastoring, only to discover that the emotional stitching he had done on his internals busted loose, and he was flooded with a deluge of remorse.

He thought he was crazy. He even thought he heard Doris moving about the kitchen.

Sitting at breakfast, his mind wandered. He saw her perched in the chair across from him, with her feet tucked up under her butt, with her long, graceful fingers caressing a coffee cup–closing them around the handle, bringing it to her lips, sipping slowly and then giving a seductive little contented shiver. It was so beautiful.

Her peace of mind made him feel like a man.

Even one Sunday at church, during a communion service, his eyes filled with tears. The congregation thought he was moved by the experience with the Holy Meal, but actually it was the scent of the communion wine that brought a memory of a green lotion Doris once applied to her feet–to heal her corns. He giggled inside, remembering her smearing the fluid on her feet and quipping, “I was a girl. Now apparently I’m going to become a grandma with corny feet, and completely skip woman.”

Then, three weeks ago Matrisse’s sister from Chicago came to town, and a blind date of sorts was planned. She was an extraordinarily attractive woman–intelligent and the general manager of a corporation in the Windy City. But because she was just coming off a divorce, she ended up discussing her misgivings and in no time Meningsbee found himself counseling and consoling her instead of considering her. The movie was cancelled and she expressed her gratitude for his words of wisdom with a peck on the cheek.

Meningsbee realized there’s no such thing as “getting over” someone you loved.

There’s always a space–always something they did that was so unique that it couldn’t be duplicated by the actions of another.

Exactly three days before she passed away, Doris rose in the morning after they’d had a fussy tiff with each other the night before, bounced into the room, hugged his neck and said, “Reverend Richard Meningsbee, you are my favorite annoyance.”

How can you forget that?

Somewhere along the line, the preacher just decided to stop fighting the urges to love her.

People are not replaceable–we just learn to appreciate what other people have to offer.

There’s always a space–a space forever occupied with visions of Doris.

 

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

Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 24) The Unbroken Circle … October 9th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3089)

Reverend Meningsbee

It was Meningsbee’s style to arrive at the Garsonville church mere moments before the service was set to begin.

He chose this profile not because he had a flair for dramatics or wanted to bring attention to himself, but rather, desired to communicate that he was arriving with the congregation instead of waiting to greet them.

But a phone call from a very confused deacon, Mack Robbins, had summoned him immediately to the church because of “strange doings.”

Now, the term “strange doings” in a small Nebraska town could range from a fourteen-cent hike on the price of gasoline at the local pumps to somebody wanting to show off a two-by-four that had stuck itself in a tree during a tornado years ago.

But in this case, Deacon Mack was very concerned because fifteen young people from the high school had arrived at the church early with candles in hand and had slowly marched to the front of the sanctuary, sat down lotus style in the front, lit their candles and quietly hummed some unknown tune. (Mack did not recognize the melody, but felt it was not a common hymn.)

Those who were arriving for normal church did not know exactly what to do. Should they be seated? Should they ask the young people what they were up to? Or should they freak out, call their minister and plop the problem on him?

Being good religious folks, they chose the latter.

So when Meningsbee arrived, he saw his entire congregation standing in the vestibule, peering through the partially frosted windows, staring at the circle of adolescent candle-bearers. Collectively, his sheep turned to him, looking for direction from the shepherd.

He whispered, “Why don’t we just go sit down?”

Everyone nodded as if they had heard wisdom from the great King Solomon.

The ninety-five people tiptoed their way into the sanctuary, found seating places and then waited for the Reverend to take care of the bizarre predicament.

Meningsbee perched himself near the front, crossed his legs and then, as if he had sat on a cactus, leaped to his feet, stepped up onto the altar, found a candle, lit it and eased onto the floor with the students.

This was very baffling to the Nebraskans. Was the parson suggesting they do the same? Many of them had not been that close to the floor since the last time they fell and couldn’t get up. So they chose to sit quietly and see where the odd escapade would head.

After a few moments, the youngsters stopped their singing. When they did, Meningsbee took the opportunity to do a little singing himself.

“Michael row the boat ashore, alleluia…”

Meningsbee glanced at the congregation, encouraging them with his eyes to sing along. Some did.

The students listened through one or two passages, and then joined in to the best of their ability. When the song was done there was a moment of silence. Meningsbee spoke.

“It is very important for all of us to return to the last place we sensed something good. Although our questions will never be answered in full, we should remain full of questions. I want to thank you for coming today and giving us the soul of our service. It was Jesus who said that we are the light of the world. You have brought light into our presence. It was David who told us to sing a new song. You have brought us a new song. And it is every intelligent teacher and prophet throughout history who tells us to challenge ourselves. You have sat here, humbly offering your gratitude and expressing your desires. We welcome you. You have made our church today. You are our church today. We thank you. And we want you to know that you’re welcome here anytime–to bring anything you feel–to help us understand the depth of your soul and what’s important to you.”

One of the young men from the circle of visitors spoke up.

“We didn’t mean to interrupt. We thought you would just go ahead and have your service.”

Meningsbee replied, “You see, son, that’s the mistake we make in the church. We think you’re supposed to come in here, learn about what we do, follow the routine and develop a taste for it. That’s not really what church was meant to be. Church is the people coming, expressing what they need, and letting the opportunity of being with God supply it. Don’t ever forget that. And when you come back here again, it’ll be the same way. We don’t exactly have an order of service. We let the service that needs to be provided grant us order.”

The unbroken circle of young folks nodded in approval. The congregation smiled as some cried.

If church was supposed to be a series of beautiful moments of human interaction and revelation, then Garsonville was slowly on its way to becoming a church.

Donate Button

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


Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

Click here to get your copy now!

PoHymn cover jon

 
%d bloggers like this: