Confessing … September 12th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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XIX.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

When I was twenty-four years old, our fledgling music group was invited to Hamilton County Catholic Youth Conference to share our tunes.

The event was spear-headed by a guy named Patrick Daniels, who was the owner and proprietor of the huge, aptly named Patrick Daniels Car Dealership of Hamilton County.

Even though our rough-and-tumble style of music was not well-suited for all the Fathers and Sisters of the order, Mr. Daniels took a liking to us.

Matter of fact, he said if we ever needed assistance in any way, to give him a call.

We did. Need assistance, that is, and also, gave him a call.

I explained to Mr. Daniels that we wanted to rent a car at a very reasonable flat rate so we could do more traveling outside our little circle of influence.

He graciously agreed to do so, and we drew up a simple contract that stated that we would pay $150 a month, or whatever we could afford.

As it turned out, we never were able to afford $150. One month we paid $40, and I think on a particularly good thirty-day period, we once paid as much as $80.

Mr. Daniels didn’t seem to care.

Along the journey, we had a bizarre little accident. A cyclist ran into the driver’s front door, leaving a dent. The gentleman on the bicycle was not hurt, but the door was obviously damaged.

So we continued to drive the car with a blemished exterior, unashamed, but never informed Mr. Daniels of the damage, figuring that somewhere along the line, God, in His infinite mercy, would grant us enough money to fix the mistake.

Before that could happen, Mr. Daniels suddenly called us and told us he wanted his car back. When I asked him why, he became infuriated, talking to me about our lack of payment and also explaining that he was no longer attending church and wasn’t interested in continuing his benevolence.

So I brought the car back and walked out to show him the damage. Upon seeing it, he became enraged, asked me why we hadn’t shared about the situation sooner, and then told me that he had decided to charge us ten cents a mile for every jot and tittle we had placed on his odometer.

We couldn’t afford to pay the monthly lease, so obviously, we could not cough up the money for the door or the added charges for mileage.

I should have told him this. I didn’t.

I led him to believe that I was going to go back home and raise the money from family members.

Perhaps a little part of me thought I might do that–a teensy-weensy portion.

I really just wanted to get out of there, escaping the fiasco.

I never contacted him again.

I heard from a friend that he was criticizing us for being phonies. I figured it would blow over.

It did.

I suppose I could tell you that he went back on the deal and therefore he was partially at fault–but that would just be another lie piled onto the transgression.

Mr. Daniels needed us to be trustworthy at a time in his life when he was doubting everything he once held dear.

We ended up giving him more reasons…to shake his fist at the heavens.

 

Confessing Monte Carlo

 

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Mason … August 13, 2012

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I went on a journey, or perhaps better stated, an odyssey. (Only a boorish, sanctimonious wordsmith would ponder the difference). Although my odometer only registered twenty-one miles, it seemed I had traveled much further. Was it backwards, forwards or sideways (whatever that means…)? No, it was more enduring–a persevering place of purpose.

They call it Mason. There I met a family which decided to work together for my good instead of using the sanctioned beauty of the union of people to sit on their island and throw coconuts across the pond at strangers. I was in a town among people who were living with their circumstances and abiding with their possibilities instead of acting over-perplexed or disheartened. There were children singing, adequately nervous over being in front of the community, as they offered their voices, ringing out in praise to something still beyond their comprehension. There was an audience of human beings looking for a reason to applaud instead of sitting on their hands, stubbornly refusing to respond to the beauty around them. There was excitement over money collected in small tin cans by tiny tots, to buy mosquito nets to prevent malaria in other young children a world away. The proceedings were gentle, possessing some purpose, but comically infused with a sweet clumsiness. Fire hats were used to tell stories of gospel truth, to try to pass on information to children who fidgeted at the notion of paying attention. Greetings of “peace” that possessed a warmth and tenderness instead of being over-complicated by duty and presumed religious significance.

And then, a kind introduction. A welcoming. Permission for the two of us to offer our sacrifice of praise and initiate the calling of our hearts. Good cheer. Five loaves and two fishes put to good purpose. Time–the relentless master. The Rose. Concluding with the holy concept of “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

And then the overwhelming joy of being face-to-face, celebrating stories of grandchildren, admissions of revelation, courtesy–and just enough rejection to confirm that the message given was divine and not prepared to please.

People lined up to buy t-shirts identifying them as comrades-in-arms. Laughter. Children running through a hall of fellowship without fear or correction, in wild abandon. Cookies offered as nutritional snacks without apology.

Stranger in a strange land … without feeling strange.

And then–packed away, preparing to exit, when the shepherd appeared, offering his card and promise that if I ever needed anything, I was invited to return and sample similar hospitality.

I drove away, wondering. If I circled the globe and returned to this same spot, would Mason still be there? Would it remain the little burg suspended in animation, living out its own dream instead of absorbing the poison around it? I decided that such an escapade, even if it was “around the world in eighty days,” was unnecessary.

As long as I was willing to take a portion of the people and the environment with me, it might be possible to plant the seeds of such an adventure and a delight everywhere I went.

Yes, perhaps that was the significance of my odyssey–to take seedlings of the spirit of Mason … and scatter them everywhere I go.

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