Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 21) Tied … September 18th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Really weird dreams.

Ever since Sunday, Meningsbee had been plagued by bizarre nighttime visions, each one nearly sensible and then suddenly making a left turn into Wackyville.

In one of these nightmares, he saw young Hapsy, trapped in a glass ball, rolling down the hill toward six-foot-tall bugs with hammers in their claws.

In another one, he dreamed that Patrick Swanson was water skiing on the Sea of Galilee, throwing fish at nearby peasants.

He also had one with Sammy Collins passing out candy bars shaped like Jesus for what he assumed was communion.

But the strangest one of all was seeing himself crawling on the dirty floors of the big city mall searching for pennies, which he then gingerly picked up and ran over and dropped into the tin cup of a blind man who greatly resembled Stevie Wonder.

Meningsbee recognized the problem. It had happened to him many times. Surrounded by people in need, he began to absorb their pain, feeling it was christ-like to express compassion. He was not only losing sleep, but also the hope and optimism necessary to share the power of faith with the living souls around him.

Opening up the Good Book, he happened upon the story of Jesus casting the demons out of a man who claimed the name “Legion.” On this particular reading, his focus was riveted on the closing exchange between Jesus and the man. The one who was once named Legion begged Jesus for permission to come along on the journey.

Meningsbee understood. You couldn’t blame him. The most exciting thing that had ever happened to this exorcised soul had come, and was now about to be gone. All he had left around him were people who thought of him as a crazy man, who certainly would not be quick to forget his gruntings, growlings and groanings.

The logical thing was to go with Jesus. Sit by the fire. Remember the miracle and attempt to resume his life in the midst of his benefactor.

But Jesus said no.

That’s right–Jesus turned him down. Jesus told him to go back to his own people and friends and tell them what good things God had done for him.

A noble answer for a noble cause. But there was something Jesus didn’t share–if you’re going to help people and continue to be a touchstone of gentle comfort to the world around you, learn how to be tied in without being tied up.

Truth was, Meningsbee knew he could spend his whole life just working with Hapsy, Matrisse and Kitty. He could cordon off the next six months to try to make peace with Sammy Collins and Patrick Swanson.

Yes, he could pick up pennies and try to enrich the prospects of the blind beggars around him, or he could take a tip from Jesus and be tied in but not tied up–allow himself to be human with the people but not swallow all their fears.

There is a point when a teacher needs to assume that the lesson has been taught, and open the door to new students.

Otherwise, he is no longer a teacher.

He is merely a caretaker for a handful of misfits he refuses to let graduate.

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Leotarded … May 30, 2013

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fairgroundsWe called it “Artist’s Haven.”

It was a gathering of local people in the Shreveport, Louisiana, area who deeply believed they had a creative itch to scratch and wanted to get together, if for no other reason, to have someone else listen to their poem, song–or just general speak-easy.

We met in a museum which had a small art gallery in it (see above picture). We were surrounded by lovely oil paintings and sat around a huge wooden table with large red-velvet chairs, which tried to insist they were still elegant, although age had taken its toll.

The weekly event lasted about an hour and consisted of me sharing some thoughts, followed by an open air to the entire room, allowing anyone to take three minutes to present an offering of inspiration. Considering how unorganized it was and how many of the community’s misfits found their way through the doors, it was really a magnificent melee.

Amazingly, we had only been meeting for about two months when I received a phone call from a young woman from the Arts Council telling me about a ballet troupe which had traveled to Shreveport from New York City. She took a moment to promo them to me –with their resume and accomplishments. I wasn’t sure why she was selling them so hard. Then came the closer.

The ballet troupe had received a grant to travel around the US to about thirty cities. It was required that they perform three times in each town in order to fulfill their obligation. Bottom line was that the agent had been unsuccessful in finding three different places in Shreveport willing to let people come in and “toe dance.” They had located one high school and a retirement center, which reluctantly allowed them thirty minutes of cavorting between tapioca and bingo.

The agent had gotten word that we were meeting at the art gallery and wondered if we would be willing to let the troupe come in and share during our meeting.

I couldn’t help myself. I giggled. I was trying to envision our group of human specimens being invaded by an avant-garde troupe from New York City. But on the other hand, it seemed rude to say no to such talent–AND I have enough of an ornery nature that I decided it would be wonderful to shake things up.

So I told her I would try to get at least forty people there–up from our usual twenty–and immediately launched on a phone campaign. It was rather successful. A couple of our young girls knew some fellows from the university who were involved in dance, and leaped at the opportunity to see these professionals.

All in all, we ended up with forty-two people gathered around six gorgeous. professional vessels of movement, watching them perform things that none of us understood. For me, it was just fun to look around the room–especially at the young girls who had never seen that much leotard live in concert. Also, the young men were quite enamored with the female form and balance.

Our Artist’s Haven was a rowdy group, so the dancers were overjoyed to be regaled with applause and hoots on every single maneuver. Just imagine if you blended an opera with a cock-fight–you pretty much have the atmosphere. The artists answered questions, accepted hugs, had conversation and a little refreshment followed.

I will never forget that night. It showed me that people do not have to be sophisticated to be willing. People do not have to be well-versed to be present. And people do not have to be liberal to avoid being conservative.

What you have to do is just love people–even if they’re leaping in the air in front of you and you don’t quite get it.

It was a wonderful time in my life. And from the Artist’s Haven, I learned that the reason we need art is that it reminds us that we are not yet whole.

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