Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 16) Matrisse … August 14th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

The Garsonville church congregation came ricocheting out of the sanctuary, bouncing off the walls like a red rubber ball tossed by a naughty toddler.

They were so pleased with themselves.

Those who had participated in the “Group Sermonette” reprised their roles to the delight of listeners, as the individuals who were passed over by the lottery of numbers sat with a blending of jealousy over being left out and excitement over when they, too, would be asked to be leaders in the Reverend’s Round Robin.

Meningsbee had barely made his way out the door when he was greeted by Matrisse. She asked to see him for a moment, so the good reverend followed her over to a secluded alcove and sat down on a bench.

Now…Matrisse had not been one of the early encouragers to Reverend Meningsbee. She did not criticize him, nor did she leave and join the “Express” congregation. She just watched–carefully.

Although only fifty years old, she had a depth of soul and a rigidity of countenance which reminded him of a giant eagle perched on a high mountain, peering down at the flightless mortals below.

One day she just called and asked if she could come over and see the preacher. She brought chicory and sticky buns, and for three hours the two souls enjoined.

Meningsbee learned much.

Matrisse was the only human of color in the Garsonville community. Her father was a Cherokee chief–retired–and her mother was a Creole dame from New Orleans who dabbled in the “dark arts.” So Matrisse grew up learning the smoking end of a peace pipe and on rainy evenings, found herself digging in the muddy soil to retrieve night crawlers and crickets for her mother to use in favored potions.

Matrisse was a delicious milky-brown color, which in a normal city would render her nearly invisible, but in Garsonville made her appear like she was fresh off the boat from Africa. In her lifetime she had gone from being called “nigger” to more recently being referred to as a “treasure of our community with a colorful personality.”

Meningsbee knew one thing about Matrisse–she was the kind of woman to listen to because she had spent much of her life hearing nonsense, and was able to pull out nuggets of gold from the rubble.

Once they sat down in the alcove, she wasted no time. “Who is this woman you have brought to our church?”

Meningsbee replied, “Kitty? She’s just a girl.”

Matrisse fired back, “Girls do not have boobies and babies.”

The pastor had no reply. He knew it was time to listen.

Matrisse colored in the picture. “I will not take much of your time. I know because you’re a man who has a generous heart, but often a clumsy understanding of pioneer people, that you probably plan to lodge the girl and her baby in your home as an act of Christian charity.”

Actually, Meningsbee didn’t know what his intentions were, but had no reason to argue with the assertion.

Matrisse marched on. “You cannot do this. You are a man, even though you think you are of God. I mean, you know you’re of God, but you’re also a man. What I’m saying is, a man of God is still more man than God. Even if you would never lay a hand on this young girl, everybody would have visions of you fondling her, making wild passionate love to her, and never give you the benefit of the doubt, even if you were remaining pure and chaste.”

Meningsbee hadn’t even thought about it. Any of it. He started to object, but Matrisse interrupted.

“I’m not asking your opinion on this. I am telling you that I will take this woman into my home for two weeks and treat her as my daughter. And her little child will become my pappoose. That’s fourteen days. In that fourteen days, you should talk to her, find out what she wants to do–but make sure that she does not accidentally turn into a Jezebel who comes and destroys this work of God. Do you understand me?”

Meningsbee did.

Matrisse disappeared, and he sat for a moment, thinking about her words. Perhaps they were crude, but they were true to the understanding she possessed of the locals based upon the abundance of experience she had with their tongue-wagging.

At length, he emerged from the alcove and saw her with Kitty and Hapsy, heading toward the door, with Kitty turning helplessly to wave as the juggernaut of activity known as Matrisse pushed them toward home.

Meningsbee smiled.

Sometimes every human being needs to have saints who come along to help make dreams lose their cloudiness…and offer clearer skies.

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Hunting for Worms … March 20, 2012

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When I was ten years old, I lived across the street from Marky Messner, who became my daily playmate once our parents deemed us mature enough to leave the front porch to pursue neighborhood adventures. One hot July evening, Marky asked me if I wanted to go out and hunt for night crawlers–big, fat worms we could use for our hooks when we went fishing at the local reservoir. He explained that since we’d had a real soaking of rain earlier in the day, that the wigglers would be anxious to get out of their flooded apartments in the earth and escape into the night air, where we would grab ’em, stick ’em in an old mason jar, to later turn ’em into fish food. He told me to bring along a flashlight and a shovel, and so that night we scurried down my back yard towards a nearby vacant lot.

It was really dark. There was no moon, and street lights were at least two decades in the future in the mind of some city planner. As we were walking through the vacant lot, looking for good clumps of earth to locate our wiggly friends, Marky told me to be careful because there were possums in the field and I might need to chase them away. This startled me a little bit. I didn’t know much about possums, but I had an inclination that I would find them unfavorable. We walked a few more feet and Marky stopped again and told me that Mrs. Satterfield’s dog sometimes came out to bother him when he was looking for worms–and if the dog came near us I should hit him with my shovel.

You can see, this was digressing by the moment. I had signed on to hunt for worms and now had the added chores of chasing possums and possibly killing a neighborhood dog. Even though I was just a young boy, I realized there was something wrong here, so I dropped my shovel and my flashlight and ran home, spooked. This incident changed my relationship with Marky. We didn’t see each other much after that. You see, Marky thought I was a sniveling, little yellow-bellied coward–and I was pretty sure Marky was nuts.

This is the same way I feel about what’s going on in our society today with the conservatives and liberals. I don’t want to fight with either side.

A conservative will come along and tell me that he thinks President Obama was inexperienced when elected and failed to deliver the promise of all the hopes and dreams of his campaign. You see, I don’t have any problem with that. I don’t even know if Barack Obama would object to that observation. It’s just like that night with Marky. If we had actually gone out and hunted for worms and gotten worms, it would have been okay. But a conservative can’t just leave it there. He has to add that the reason Barack Obama is so bad is that he’s a socialist and doesn’t have a birth certificate. At this point, the conservative will pause to check my reaction. You see, in my opinion, we just started chasing possums. In other words, they’re not really there, but we’re already making plans on what to do if they bother us. Not satisfied that the President’s character has been sufficiently derailed, the conservative will conclude with: “After all, Obama is a Muslim terrorist.” To me we just started killing neighborhood dogs.

The same thing is true with my liberal friends. Some Republican candidate starts speaking out against contraception and interfering in a woman’s right to make choices concerning the birth of her children. It’s easy to agree that this is interfering, fussy and unnecessary. I would even be willing to tell the Pope that in this matter he needs to loosen up his Basilica a bit. But the liberal can’t stop there. No … he or she must point out that this Republican is also against abortion, which they insist is the same thing as contraception. You see, I get a little lost here. Doesn’t a woman use contraception so she DOESN’T have to abort? That would not make them the same–it nearly creates an opposite. You see, I get the feeling I’m with Marky again, chasing possums. And then to cap it off, I heard some liberal pundits criticize the same candidate because he came out against pornography. Are we really going to defend pornography as if it is similar to abortion and therefore parallels contraception? Isn’t pornography the exact enemy of women’s rights? Because the nature of that medium is the exploitation of the female of the species and the taking away of dignity?  You get my drift? We’re killing dogs, here.

We have a lot of worms in our society. There’s nothing wrong with shining the light on them, exposing them and removing them from the earth. But when you’re on a worm hunt, I don’t think you have to chase possums. And my God, please–let’s avoid killing Mrs. Satterfield’s dog.

I could never be a conservative or a liberal, because they both continue to insist on destroying the character of their opponent, when all you have to do is point out the worms.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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