Untotaled: Stepping 61 (October 3rd, 1970) Kentucky Reign… April 4, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2551)

(Transcript)

The generosity did not stop.

The dime’s worth of grace extended to us by the toll-keeper as we crossed the bridge into the little town was further enhanced when a lovely woman from the local church bought us four nights in a motel, so we could have privacy and a honeymoon.

My friend and his wife, who had just come to the local church, were ecstatic that we were joining them to reach this community with a message of hope and the heart of Jesus.

We no longer had any excuse for being alienated or persecuted. Even though a phone call had been made to our new friends, warning that we might be “trouble,” they chose to ignore the foretelling, and accept us as we were.

We both flourished under this new covenant of mercy.

I immediately went to the local school and told the students that we were going to start a coffee-house in town. There was some pretty good buzz.

I was even invited to come to the City Council to explain the venture to the grown-up types. I wouldn’t say they were excited, but they didn’t lodge any formal complaints.

But the most amazing thing that happened was that we located a deserted, small night club right outside the town. We went to the aged owner of the property, and he was so impressed with our proposal of starting a positive hangout for the teenagers that he said he would rent us the facility for a mere fifty dollars a month.

Everyone was thrilled.

We were so pumped that we went out immediately with three cans of paint that we found stuck in a garage, and commenced painting the walls of the night club.

We were in the midst of this activity when the door to the night club opened, and in walked a Kentucky Highway Patrolman. He asked us what we were doing, and I joyfully recited our mission, goals and hopes about having a coffee-house where the kids from the community could come and interact in a positive environment.

I thought he was receptive, but as he turned to leave, he paused and then pivoted on his shoes. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You are not welcome here. We don’t want this. And you need to leave town.”

I thought he was kidding, so I started joking with him. He leaned in closer to emphasize his point.

“The people of our community don’t want your sort coming here and sharing any new ideas.”

He scared me.

I think he realized he did–because he just finished his words, walked out the door, started his car and pulled away with the full confidence that his mission had been achieved.

I was so shaken by the experience that I started to cry.

I went back to the house where our friends had graciously allowed us to stay while beginning the work and told them about the incident. They were incensed–but also thrilled with an opportunity to make a stand and do something that would be truly significant.

I pretended to agree with them.

But in the middle of the night, my wife and I gathered our things, climbed into our car and drove away.

I ran.

We ran.

We didn’t have any place to go … except back to Ohio.

 Donate Button

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

click above for information on 567!

click above for information on 567!

Boiler plate 

Workman… December 15, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2094)

toiletPictured is the toilet that greeted me as I arrived in my motel room this past week. It had a bolt missing, of which I was extremely sympathetic, since I, too, have a screw or two loose.

I called the front desk and requested some attention to adjustments on my throne. In about fifteen minutes, the maintenance man arrived at my door. His name was Booger (I’m sure not the given name by his mother following the exertion of birth pangs).

I noticed that this gentleman, who had come to take care of my bathroom situation, was not very happy. To confirm that fact, in less than fifteen seconds, he began to explain why the management at this motel treated him poorly, cut corners and therefore was doomed to a godless hell.

It made me think of an old saying from the Good Book: “Study to show yourself approved … a workman that does not need to be ashamed…”

Even with all of Booger’s objections to other people’s frailties, he was unable, during his visit, to repair my toilet. It does not mean he didn’t spend time attempting to accomplish the task, but most of his visitation was encompassed by complaint.

It made me consider a simple question. When do we become workmen who are shameful?

  • If we find that we’re complaining more than we’re praising.
  • If we discover that somebody has stolen our “glad”
  • If we’re overwhelmed by a feeling of being trapped.

Each of these situations are unpleasant enough by themselves, but the action of generating them also damns us to unfulfilled emotion, vacant spirituality, zero mental progress and an awareness of every physical ache and pain.

I really try to like everybody I meet, but in short moments I found myself despising Booger, wishing he would leave and find a bitching post elsewhere. I felt bad about being so uncaring, but then I realized that none of us want to be surrounded by feelings of inadequacy and sensations of dissatisfaction. We get tempted to join into the pity party, becoming part of the problem instead of a pathway to solution.

What does make a good workman? What will cause me, at the end of the day, to feel fulfilled instead of shamed?

1. I’m always glad to be here.

This does not mean that “here” is always pleasant–it just means that not being “here” means that I’ve ceased to exist.

2. I’m always “here instead of far away.

The key to life is finding joy in where you are instead of believing you have to travel somewhere to retrieve it.

3. I’m always staying away from what steals my “glad.”

Yes, life is filled with suckers and drainers–more than willing to enter your space and deprive you of any potential for glee or jubilation. To survive, you must find a way to avoid these people and situations as much as possible.

Booger and I probably will never be friends. I am not so naive as to believe that my mere presence, personality or input would be salvation to his soul. I am not a savior, I am a fellow-traveler. If you’re in the mood to travel, I can be great fun.

If you need a savior … I can offer a recommendation.

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

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

In Secret … December 9, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1089)

desk clerkIt happens every once in a while.

As we tour across the country, it becomes necessary to have a single overnight stay in some town for the sole purpose of resting, relaxing and getting ready for the next day’s drive. We refer to it as a “sleep stop.” There are three goals:

  1. Find a comfortable motel
  2. Carry in as little as necessary, since you’re not setting up for an entire week.
  3. Make it as reasonable a location as feasible so as not to bust the piggy bank.

So when we arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee, at our sleep stop, Jan was confronted by the innkeeper, who explained that the room would be more expensive than originally stated. Jan, being an excellent business woman, lodged a complaint and asked the lady at the front desk to honor her original quote.

It wasn’t a big deal–no large argument. But a negotiation ensued, and as with most compromises, both parties were dissatisfied.

So as we were unloading into our room, I handed Jan the money to cover the extra price our host felt was needed for our occupancy. It wasn’t necessary. The room was already ours, legitimately.

But it wasn’t ours righteously.

Let me tell you, my friends, there are three ways to believe.

There is the belief we proclaim to others. This is what we call “church”–quoting the Good Book and tried and true hymns, to inform our neighbors that we are good folk and excellent Americans.

Secondly, there’s the belief we apply. This is a convoluted mixture of what God says, what we think, what Mom and Dad taught us, and the pressure put on us by society to conform to the present norm.

But last, there is the belief we allow to reach into our “secret place.” This is the room within the house of our faith, where we spend most of our time, closet our fears, and determine our future–based upon our own thoughts and feelings, many of which we would never be able to share with others.

I have learned over the years that Christianity does not work unless it reaches into this private compartment.

For some of the rudest and meanest people I have ever met have just come from church, proclaiming the goodness of God.

Likewise, many of the more confused, frustrated and mentally unstable individuals I’ve encountered over the years seem to have a terrific testimony about their relationship with the Almighty.

But I’ve never met anyone who allows their philosophy to reach their “secret place” who isn’t humbly satisfied with the experience.

I didn’t need to give that lady at the front desk any more money to satisfy her requirements.

I needed to give her the money to satisfy the yearning … in my secret soul.

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

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

Terkel… February 23, 2013

(1,800)

On the third day I decided to stop.

Sprawled on the gravel near the dumpster behind the convenience store, sitting out in front of my motel, was a man who certainly conveyed that he had lots of time on his hands and not too many places to go. I guess that’s a quaint way of saying–homeless.

I passed by him in my van the first two days, waving and smiling. On my first passage, he seemed a bit bewildered by my friendliness but on the second day he returned my greeting with the vigor of a long-lost friend watching his confidante fly off to Siberia on a secret mission.

But on the third day I decided to stop. I rolled up, eased my window down and said, “How ya’ doin’?”

Stumbling to his feet, staring into the distance and refusing eye contact, he replied, “Zeus has given me the light.”

I paused, recollecting my Greek mythology. Zeus was the top-dog god on Mount Olympus. I continued. “Zeus, huh? How’d you get an appointment with him?”

The question obviously baffled him so he continued his runaway train of thought. “Mercury gave me wings,” he proclaimed, still staring off into the distance.

It seemed we were going to run the entire roster of Hellenistic deities.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

There was a long pause. I decided not to repeat my question. I felt it would seem as if I were insensitive or impertinent. I just waited. At length, he responded.

“Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” Each letter grew in pitch of volume and intensity.

“I would have guessed Brian or Kenneth based on your age,” I replied.

For the first time the trance was broken and he glanced at me with a crinkled brow. Noting his coherency, I asked, “So what are you doing out here behind the convenience store?”

He yelled, ‘The policeman said I could be here as long as I didn’t lean against the building and sat on the gravel. It’s public property.”

I obviously had struck a nerve.

“You misunderstood my question,” I explained. “What I’m asking you is, what’s your story?”

“Zeus gave me…” he began.

I interrupted. “Listen, Terkel. I don’t know whether you believe in Zeus or not, but let’s just pretend for a second that you don’t. If you’d like me to stop bothering you, I get it. But really, it’s quite simple. I have passed by you for two days and waved, and I thought i would stop this time–just to see if there was anything human that could happen between us.”

This time he paused, recollecting human manners. “Do you have any money?” he asked.

“You know I do,” I replied. “You see, they don’t let you leave the back end of the convenience store and roam around if you don’t have it.”

I think he smiled, which led me to believe there was a little bit more inside of him than just a supernal messenger from Zeus.

“Do you have any money you can give me?” he asked more pointedly.

I reached for my wallet, pulled out two one dollar bills, and as I was beginning to hand them to him he added, eyeing the cash, “Breakfast tacos are three dollars.”

“You  mean Zeus left you out here without breakfast?” I probed with a smile.

He smiled back, as if mirroring my image. I reached into my wallet and added an additional one to my offering. “Breakfast tacos it is, then.”

He took the money and inquired, “What’s your name?”

“This is gonna be weird,” I said. “My name is also Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” I mimicked his previous bravado.

He chuckled in spite of himself. “You’re not Terkel,” he said.

“Neither are you.”

He chuckled again.

“You see, this wasn’t so bad. We talked for a minute, we got past the lineage of the Greek gods and you ended up with money for breakfast tacos.”

I reached down to close my window, finishing up the conversation. He stepped forward, and for the first time, looked me in the eyes.

“Thank you, Terkel,” he said. Then he stepped back and stared in the distance as if perched on the deck of the Santa Maria, peering for the north star. He mumbled something about Zeuss and collapsed onto the gravel in a giant heap.

I drove away. I do not know if I did a good thing or a bad thing. Such determinations, in my mind, are deliberated by foolish souls who pursue levels of divinity instead of acquiring the true depths of their humanity.

What I did was something different. And without difference, we are stuck with what and who we are … believing that nothing can change.

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

The Big Tow… December 27, 2012

(1,742)

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Yesterday at 2:46 PM I walked out of my motel and into the parking lot to discover that my van had been towed away. Let me share the three steps that led to this dispersion:

1. The motel was painting the floor where I usually go to my room via the wheelchair ramp.

2. I had to find a parking place in the back near another ramp.

3. As it turns out, my selection of parking places was their tow-away zone, and rather than calling me on the phone and asking me to move my vehicle, they apparently took some glee in punishing me.

Let me make a long story short. Both Jan and I went to the front desk and explained our situation as calmly as we could, considering the fact that we were battling a bit of anger, and they corrected the mistake, took us to pick up the van and it ended up costing us nothing but a bit of time.

But it did get me thinking. (I guess if you’re going to write a daily column on the Internet, you should think occasionally. Otherwise you get boring not only to yourself, but also end up disappointing your readers.)

You see, what happened here was that a simple error was overly punished because no grace was given. We talk about grace a lot in religious institutions, and I have never been satisfied with anyone’s definition of this magnificent virtue. The classic definition for grace is unmerited favor.” Whether a church is liberal or conservative, they all contend that human beings are a lost cause and God tolerates us by offering us salvation because we’re helpless.

I don’t think that’s what grace is. If those people at the front desk of my motel had just picked up the phone and given me the opportunity to change my own circumstances by moving my van, I would have been more than happy to do so. But to trap me in my accidental mistake and to follow through with swift judgment, with little regard for my feelings, does not make me very appreciative, even when the outcome is to my favor.

See what I mean? Telling me that God thinks I am a miserable, despicable individual who Jesus came to die for on a cross, and that without accepting his gift of blood atonement, I am destined for a hell-of-an-ending to my journey doesn’t make me particularly glad that I believe in God.

If that is the way you view our heavenly Father, you are welcome to continue to pursue that theology. I find it repulsive. I, being a father, certainly would not treat my children in that way–and I expect God to exceed my efforts.

Here’s what I think about grace, in the form of what I needed from the front desk people at my motel:

1. This person with the big black van is a guest of ours. I don’t know why he ended up parking back there–maybe he was ignorant of the rule. Let’s give him a chance to make it right.

2. Let’s not assume our guest is helpless, and let’s not believe he’s hopeless. Let’s take a moment and just believe that he made a bad choice.

3. Give him an opportunity to do better work.

You see, I don’t think God believes I am a depraved sinner. Why? Because God, for a while, wore a human body when his name was Jesus, so He knows what it’s like. He understands that it often is not an issue of temptation, but rather, too quickly choosing convenience over being smart. He doesn’t want to trap us in our moments of dumbness. He believes there is better in us. If He doesn’t, He’s a lousy Father.

Grace is giving people a chance to realize their error and do it again before any punishment has a chance to arrive. Therefore my life isn’t over when God saves my soul. I’m just given a clean sheet of paper to do better scribbling.

Because the people at the front desk decided to be judgmental instead of generous, they ended up paying for a tow that they thought would be levied on me. Such is the end of all vindictiveness.

Let’s learn grace. Grace is when we believe that people still have a chance to do good… because they came from good stock.

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

Neurotic … September 4, 2012

(1,628)

I am fairly healthy. Of course, these could be the classic “famous last words” of the guy about to receive his final delivery of carnations … graveside.  But barring some unforeseen bus with my name on it, I persevere. Yet there are little twinges, pains, losses, discrepancies and weaknesses that have crept onto my path to make me aware that I am probably on my way to Grandma’s house. Or in my case, Grandpa’s.

Arriving at my lodging last Thursday, I came up to the front door and realized that the step into the room was fairly high. This wouldn’t be an obstacle to most of you, but I have a bad right knee that doesn’t like to step up and certainly cringes at the necessity of stepping down. So I got myself into the room at a fairly awkward, if not comical, angle, and the first time I left the room I experienced quite a bit of discomfort. Therefore I was intimidated by both entering and leaving my own quarters.

Here’s what I knew immediately–if I kept the situation to myself, it would quickly grow into a fear inside my being. Fear is not unusual to any of us. The trouble with fear is that it is a lousy roommate for other, more congenial tenants. The first thing fear likes to do is cast out love. Then it likes to get confidence evicted. It sits around and debates with faith and chides and criticizes talent. Fear sucks. That may be a rather blatant way of explaining it, but it’s true.

So if I kept my apprehension about this step coming in and out of my door to myself, I would soon be looking at ways to avoid leaving my room and therefore, place myself in a sedentary position, which is not particularly beneficial to me for maintaining my first statement, which was, “I am fairly healthy.”

I was on the verge of becoming neurotic.

Now, I know “neurotic” is relegated to a psychological condition, but it is really so common to all of us that it should be talked about more often and explored like daily bread instead of viewed as a psycho-babble croissant. Here’s what makes us neurotic: a fear unexpressed is the seed of distress.

Whenever we find ourselves in the position where we choose, refrain, refuse or avoid sharing our fears, we plant a seed of distress in our souls. Distress grows into suspicion. Suspicion sprouts some isolation and isolation is what produces rage in us, and turns us into emotional ticking time-bombs.

In my case, if I was not prepared to admit that I was intimidated by a step up into my lodging, I was certainly going to become distressed by my own foolish pride and weakness. This would make me suspicious of any attempt to come and go or avenues that might be achieved in overcoming the situation. That suspicion would isolate me. Instead of moving around–going and doing things–I would look for reasons to stay in the room, and once isolated in that condition, my grumpiness would soon turn into a picky attitude, which could explode into rage if someone challenged me.

We meet neurotic people every day–even after we leave the mirror. Inside them is a fear that they are too intimidated to express. Even as I sat down to write this jonathots to you, I wondered how I would look to my readers, having such a weak knee that I was unable to climb twelve inches without discomfort. Actually, I came inches–or may I say, sentences–from backing away from the whole idea of being so transparent. But because I shared my fear of the step with my traveling partner, Janet, and have now voiced it to you fine folks, I not only have a renewed sense of vigor, but also a comforting presence of good cheer which will not only get me out the door and back in again, but will allow me to do it without feeling shame.

There is only one thing that stops each and every one of us from finding the platform from which we can voice our ability to the world around us: we’re afraid. We share that in common. Not all of us are beautiful. Not all of us are white. Not all of us are black. Not all of us are talented. Not all of us are intelligent.

But all God’s children are afraid.

And if we want to avoid becoming neurotic–gripped by suspicion, isolating ourselves until we become inexplicably enraged with stupid little things that come our way–we must find a way to express our fears. Let me tell you some of mine:

  • I have a fear of small talk with new people, even though my occupation requires it.
  • I have a fear that my obesity will eventually keep me from doing something very important in my life.
  • I have a fear that my children don’t completely understand my mission nor embrace my message.
  • I have a fear …

You see, I could go on and on.

But each time I write one down, I am just a little less afraid. Having the ability to verbalize our trepidation allows us to receive a hug from the love that had been chased away.

I don’t want to be neurotic. It makes me suspicious. It makes me isolate myself. And then, at the wrong moment I can become enraged, with nobody around me understanding the source for the burst of anger.

It doesn’t hurt less to climb the step into my room, or to step down to depart. I know two things–there is one other person, and now a bunch more, who comprehend a little piece of my displeasure. And on Thursday I get to check out and go somewhere else. I just thought I would share this with you. After all, it doesn’t do any good to be intelligent or spiritual if you allow your life to become neurotic.

And neurotic is a fear unexpressed that plants the seed of distress.

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

Peeking at the Moon … June 9, 2012

(1,540)

A small motel room–so tiny that the bed is jammed up against the outer wall.

Saturday night … I always find it difficult to sleep on Saturday night. After all these years, I believe I am still the little boy who dreamed of traveling and sharing his message, and I still become giddy in my spirit over the notion that I actually get to do it. I never get tired of it. Sometimes, though, it causes my internal childhood giggle to wake me up from sleep, to play. I don’t want to play. It’s time to slumber and get my much-needed rest.

But the little fellow won’t leave me alone. So after a few minutes, I stop resisting the inevitable and allow my mind to wander. At first the room is dark around me, and gradually lightens as my eyes adjust to the surroundings.

Memories of other sleepless nights … I recall writing a novel and for four straight evenings I woke up at exactly 3:33 A.M. It was cool and spooky, all at the same time. Am I crazy? I think we need cool and spooky. Otherwise, we start believing our lives are the sub-total of our debt and intake.

All at once I noticed the curtain dangling down the window, right at my fingertips. It was one of those thick motel types, made of some polyester and plastic blend–the fumes would certainly kill you if it ever caught on fire. Absent-mindedly, I reached over to pull back the curtain and looked out.

Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois)....

Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois). Français : Pleine Lune vue de la Terre en Belgique à Hamois. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And there it was. The moon–surrounded by a great corona of haze–not high in the sky, but directly at my eye level. It surprised me so much that I chuckled. What was the moon doing so low? It looked like it was about fourteen inches from my nose. For some reason it had a Christmas appearance to it–like viewing a Christmas tree and its lights through a frosty window pane. It gave me a chill down to my soul. It was so special.

I don’t know why it struck me with such an intense emotion–but it was so close, so low in the sky–as if it were perched there waiting for me to pull back the veil and gaze. Yes, I am one of those odd birds who believes there are natural phenomenon that happen just for my pleasure. I guess it’s a strange mingling of vanity, faith, hope and childishness. But whatever it is, it’s magnificent.

If you will allow me, it’s like a great game of pretend. When we become grown-ups, we think that the word “pretend” is an immature or even nasty concept. But not so when we’re young.

My Aunt Mary used to come over every Sunday afternoon to visit, and we’d have some sort of meal spread out and she continually brought Brussel sprouts. I was told that I must try Aunt Mary’s Brussel sprouts, so I did. It crossed my mind to tuck them in my pocket or dump them in a nearby waste basket, but I was twelve years old, and by that age you pretty well know when you can get by with things and when you are destined to get caught. So I sampled her Brussel sprouts. I pretended to eat them, though what I actually did was chew a couple of times and then swallow them whole with a big gulp of cold water.

Aunt Mary asked me if I liked her Brussel sprouts, and then she smirked at me and said, “You didn’t try them, did you?”

“Yes, I did,” I replied. “But they were kind of hard … and bitter.”

My mother looked at me, angry. But Aunt Mary just nodded her head and walked away. The next Sunday she showed up with Brussel sprouts again, so I grabbed my cup of ice water and headed off to the table to get my portion of nastiness. But they looked different — the Brussel sprouts, that is. They weren’t as green and they had some sort of sauce on them. It was butter. They were softer, and with the butter, they tasted sweet. I actually liked them. I didn’t need my ice-cold water to swallow them whole–I was able to chew them up.

I glanced over at my Aunt Mary and she gave me a sheepish grin. I smiled back. That day I learned to kind of like Aunt Mary AND Brussel sprouts, and I also learned the power of honestly pretending.

Without pretending, we begin to believe that we can decipher this whole puzzle of life just with the pieces provided. And without honesty, we quickly become deceivers and liars, trying to escape the anger and nastiness of the scrutiny around us. It’s when you blend them.

Because when I was peeking at the moon, enjoying my own personal lunar expedition, I realized that the moon was probably there for everybody, but there was no power in my believing that. There was no exhilaration in my soul if some scientist walked into the room and explained the reason for my close encounter with that face in the sky.

Intelligence is a wonderful thing–until it stands in the way of joy. Then it becomes like your grandma at Chuck E. Cheese, who constantly complains about how loud it is, while noting that the salad bar is only “passable.”

I eventually did go back to sleep — I think. But I always enjoy those moments when I am awakened from the world of sleep to spend a few moments with myself and my desires. What is the greatest atrocity in life? To be absent of any evidence to confirm your dreams.

The moon was waiting for me that night. I believe that. Why? Because it doesn’t do me any good in my life to explain away all the blessings as coincidence.

Maybe we’ve found the definition for faith–to honestly pretend–to dare to continue to pursue a child’s dreams while offering a man’s feelings. I can do that; I can really do that.

I’m looking forward to the next time I’m awakened. Maybe it will be a clock with excellent timing–or a curtain that unveils the moon. I don’t know. But it will give me a chance to honestly pretend, which is the only true reason to continue on.

   

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

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: