Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 10) “Ketching-Up” … July 3rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Reverend Meningsbee

“Maybe it’s your job to go talk to them.”

These were the words of Kitty Carlson, as she sat on the patio at the Four Heads Motel, talking to a bewildered and bleary-eyed Richard Meningsbee.

The previous day he had driven two hours when he passed Chadron and decided to keep going, ending up in South Dakota, very near Mt. Rushmore. He found an outdated Mom and Pop motel and decided to spend the night instead of braving the drive back to Garsonville. He was in no hurry to go to a home that no longer felt homey.

Shortly after arrival there was a knock on his door. He opened it to a young girl in her twenties–blue-jean shorts, t-shirt, long brown hair pointing to the ground, barefoot. She held out a styrofoam cup and said, “I was wondering if you might have some ketchup I could use.”

Sensing Meningsbee’s oblivion, she continued. “My little daughter…well, I microwaved her some french fries for dinner and she’s desiring some ketchup for dipping.”

Since Meningsbee didn’t have any ketchup and still had shoes on, he offered to drive to a convenience store he had passed on his way to the motel, to see if some of the good stuff could be acquired.

Sure enough, the folks at the Jiffy Thrifty Mart were happy to sell him a small bottle of ketchup, at $5.63.

Upon returning, he handed the bottle to her and she started to walk back toward her room.

Meningsbee was nervous. After all, he was a stranger.

So he called after her. “Maybe I’ll see you at breakfast in the morning. Do they have breakfast here?”

Kitty turned around, walking backwards, and replied, “If you like stale Danish. By the way, my name is Kitty Carlson. I’m not from around here. I grew up in Crosstown, Kentucky.”

She continued her backward walking. “My daughter’s name is Hapsy. It’s a blending of Happy and Sassy. I liked it.”

Then she turned facing forward and headed off.

Meningsbee called after her. “Richard. That’s my name.”

Over her shoulder she replied, “Good night, Rick.” (Meningsbee hated being called Rick but chose not to be fussy.)

The next morning he went down to try one of those infamous Danish with some lukewarm coffee and sat down next to Kitty and her daughter. The little lass was frightened in that Southern-child way, connoting that all strangers need to run away or learn the customs more quickly.

Kitty told her story. She was married at seventeen, divorced at nineteen due to domestic violence, and couldn’t seem to get away from her oppressor. So she had moved to this little village, where she works at a diner during the day and does a desk shift at the motel in the early evenings, which covers her room. The managers were gracious enough to allow her to bring Hapsy along, who, by the way, appeared completely thrilled with stale pastry.

“No, really. You haven’t given these people a chance to get used to you, but instead, you came into their town like an unwelcome tornado.”

Meningsbee–or Rick, as she knew him–had shared his dilemma with her, careful not to mention too much “God stuff,” to scare her away.

“No one wants to hear from me,” he droned in self-pity.

“Well, if that’s the case, then they probably don’t want to hear you preach either.”

The statement stung Meningsbee. She of course was right. Since preaching was the last thing most people wanted to hear, it might be good to learn how to chat them up.

She rose to her feet, determined to leave. She stuck out her hand, with a piece of Danish dangling from her teeth, and mumbled, “Nice to have met you, Rick.”

He shook her hand and then reached in his pocket to retrieve the twenty-dollar bill he had set aside as a gift for Kitty and Hapsy. She shook her head.

“No, thanks. We’ve got enough. If I start taking twenty-dollar bills, it just makes me think about what else I don’t have.”

She smiled, waved, took Hapsy’s hand and walked away.

Meningsbee watched them as they headed back to their room. How much had he taken–and still wanted more?

He turned in his key, grabbed a cup of coffee for the road and headed for his car. He pulled out onto the highway and began his drive back to the source of his struggle.

He had a lot to do.

This time, the drive seemed longer.

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Sprained… October 21, 2012


Live from October 1st filming

I was thirty-eight years old, traveling on the road with my family, staying at a Mom-and-Pop motel with mis-matched towels, decor from the Nixon Administration and parking spaces set apart with a paint job that looked like it was done by a drunken sailor from the Caribbean.

We were late to our gig. I was trying to be the mature, energetic father leading his family out the door as efficiently as possible ( and consider–I was traveling with an eighteen-year-old, a fourteen-year-old and a four-year-old. As I stepped out the door of our room, I forgot that the drop to the sidewalk to the sidewalk was a little lower than I had recalled, so I did one of those stupid things we often do by trying to address my step-down. In the attempt to adjust my step, I slipped and sprained my ankle–very severely.

I sat on the ground for a moment and finally my two sons were able to pull me to my feet. I went in and sat on the bed. It was time to make a decision. Was I going to call the church and cancel the date? Was I going to go to the doctor and find out some form of bad news? Was I going to put my foot up on a pillow, ice it down and watch television? Or was I going to get to my feet, find a way to get to that church and do the gig?

That particular scenario–in diverse forms, areas and situations–has been the story of my life. I have no criticism for anyone who decides to cancel a date, go to the doctor or ease on a pillow and watch television. It’s just not me.

I got to my feet and with the help of my children and my wife, I hobbled to my car and made it over to the church, only to discover that the sanctuary was 125 years old and was up two flights of solid oak wooden stairs. I was looking for a break and instead got broken by new challenges. It took me nearly twenty minutes to get up those stairs. My children went ahead of me, unloaded the equipment and kept passing me over and over again as they carried things up the stairs with their youthful zeal. I inched my way along like I was crawling on razor blades.

I got to the top of the stairs and sat down on the back pew, allowed my family to put together all the equipment, putting my foot up on the pew in front of me. Gradually, I was given a sense of relief. My leg actually went numb. I was completely free of pain–that is, as long as I agreed not to walk on it.

But walk I did. Matter of fact, I stood on it for two hours while I played piano, sang, taught and then, during a particularly sweet time of fellowship, prayed for about thirty-five or forty people who came up seeking wisdom, guidance and a touch from God.

As the evening wore on, my leg occasionally fell asleep, so I had to bounce it against the floor to wake it up so I wouldn’t accidentally fall over. There are two things I remember from that evening: First was the amazing grace that was imparted to me, allowing me to finish out my responsibilities and make it back to my room for a beautiful night of rest. The second thing that sticks in my mind from that night was that even though I was hobbling around, none of the congregation seemed to be aware of my affliction or terribly concerned about my limping. They were focused.

Yes–they were focused on their own needs. I know there are some people who would find that horrible or insensitive. I disagree. God gave me the ability, the tenacity and the mercy to do that show so I could help someone.

Ever since then I have used that night to remind myself that life is always a decision–and usually there are three choices: you can decide to wait, you can decide to ignore, or you can decide to do.

Some people think that waiting is smart, and it might seem that way if there was a guarantee that opportunity actually knocks more than once.

Other folks will insist that variety and possibility just don’t ever come their way, when what they have really done is establish a lifestyle which filters out anything that is foreign to their simple experience.

I have been a person who decides to do. Even though I’ve had failures and experienced set-backs, I have never regretted setting into practice what I preach instead of just printing a book or sharing a sermon about my theories.

It took me six weeks for my leg to heal from the injury that happened that evening so many years ago. I didn’t miss a date. Most of them were done in pain, but today I don’t remember the pain, only the fact that something was accomplished and adversity was overcome.

Most of our lives are sprained. Just like my leg, we have plenty of reason to call ahead and cancel our plans. Yet, life is just too short a span to be spent wondering what you missed. Yes, life is brief, so you might as well use all the space available, because there are no guarantees that you will ever get another crack.

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