Confessing … October 3rd, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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XXII.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

One of the dangers of doing noble deeds is the human tendency to desire to be treated with some nobility for doing so.

Of course, it doesn’t work that way.

During my years of living in Tennessee, I was party to beginning an orchestra in our hometown. It went well. Matter of fact, doors were opened so that we could offer an entertaining and enlightening musical program to the local elementary schools using a small ensemble from the larger body.

This project was so successful that we were invited to present these programs at ten elementary schools in the Roanoke, Virginia, school district.

We were thrilled.

The first day we did four schools and everything went well. At the end of the second day, we were finishing up our program when a teacher in the back of the auditorium began to gather up her children like little chickadees in preparation to take them out to the bus for departure.

We were at the height of the most important part of our communication with the students, and in my pridefulness, I became incensed at her insensitivity. So as soon as we finished our last note and took our bows, I immediately stomped over to the young woman and confronted her over what I considered to be an egregious error on her part–ignoring our work merely to prepare her children.

I was not foul or mean, but very confrontational–and I did it in front of the students.

She was shocked, offended, and immediately went to her principal to “tell on me.”

So by the end of the day, the principal of the school had contacted our sponsor and informed him of my breach,. Meanwhile, I was being reinforced by my own team, who told me I was being “honest and brave, sticking up for myself,” in dealing with this lady.

So long story short, the sponsor of our event was so thrilled with what was going on that he forgave my indiscretion and we continued the school concerts without any further furor.

Matter of fact, to this day those closest to me would consider me to be justified. That young teacher probably marks it as the day she was accosted by an asshole.

What is the truth?

The truth of the matter is, true beauty does not need praise.

Excellence can continue to thrive minus applause.

And the message will get through without us over-promoting it.

I was wrong.

I was wrong to accost a young woman, no matter what her motivations were. My job is to work on my own motivations.

I was wrong to do it in front of her students, and I was wrong to take a pass simply because I have enough talent that people are afraid to confront me.

Have I ever been so overwhelmingly egotistical and defensive again?

I suppose I have.

But I have taken the time to put a hole in that tank of ego and let it gradually drain out onto the ground–where it belongs.

 

confessing teacher

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Crazy Larry… February 24, 2013

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Living a Legendary LifeI think it was about eight years ago. I had begun to write screenplays for independent movies, was composing some symphonic works for a regional orchestra, was working on a couple of novels and traveling across the country doing my presentation in churches.

It was an excitingly varied life, which brought one piece of information to the forefront of my mind: everyone is basically looking for a central mission in their journey, but are often reluctant to name that yearning by using one of the conventional terms for God or spirituality.

I found that both intriguing and comical. The thought in my mind is, once you find out where faith has its nexus, the name you come up with for this precious sense of peace of mind is not nearly as important as remaining passionate and fervent.

So I wrote a book called Living a Legendary Life, and in a very tongue-in-cheek style I proposed that rather than fighting over religious vernacular, we should just go ahead and call God–Larry.

I thought it was quite funny. I wasn’t actually suggesting that we start the First Church of Larry or the Holy Order of Larry. What I failed to realize was that I was trying to be humorous, off-the-cuff and clever in a world that does not particularly favor those presentations.

I immediately ran into the conservatives and the liberals. The conservatives were upset because I suggested that the name of the Divine God of the Universe was one of the Three Stooges. The liberals, on the other hand, were dismayed because I portrayed a God named Larry (which they didn’t have much problem with) but that this Deity expected people to be involved in their own lives and not cop out on their responsibilities.

Little did I know that I had placed myself directly in the center between these two houses of philosophy, and was in danger of being shot by both sides.

It made me think of the words of Larry’s son, Jesus, who once noted that he was very happy that truth is “hidden from the wise and prudent.” The wise consist of those more liberal individuals, who contend that they’re more intellectual and scientific than their backwoods brethren. And the prudent are the conservatives, who think the only way to be acceptable is to retreat into former times, when everything was supposedly just hunky-dory, and you could actually say “hunky-dory.”

This experience has not deterred my effort to maintain an autonomy from both camps. The wise are too smart to learn and the prudent are too careful to be blessed.

So both of them thought my idea was a rather “crazy Larry” concept–and my satire escaped them. But for those who are not bound by the restrictions of either world, who still believe that God loves us all, and keep good cheer in their lives because it is their favorite survival tool, my writings are still appreciated–and even occasionally comprehended.

After all, faith needs two very important parts: (1) it needs function. It’s got to be practical enough to be of some earthly good. (2) And it requires fervor. If it doesn’t energize you, it is a faith without works … which is dead on arrival..

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

Symphony 150 … March 15, 2012

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The Book of Psalms.

It is a collection of songs and poems depicting the victories and struggles of human life, punctuated by the pursuit of God. Its closing stanzas are reserved for an explanation—no, more than that—an orchestration of what truly is praise and worship. Yes, it is a symphony in four movements, carefully constructed, sensitive to the needs of mankind and seductive to the ear of the Divine.

It begins with the trumpet—a fanfare. I envision four measures of our brass in unison—a clarion. “Wake up! Life is good! Notice the beauty of God and join the chorus.”

In the fifth measure, a second part is added, introducing diversity but still maintaining the integrity of tone. In the ninth through the sixteenth measures, the trumpets blare a quartet of harmonies, announcing the beginnings of well-deserved appreciation.

 And then suddenly, the brass are replaced by the lute and harp, establishing our melody—a recurring theme of sweetness and gentleness that accentuates our deep sense of awe and wonder over creation. It is genuine, pure and simple. “Be still. Know. Relax. It is time to exude the unity of your internal orchestra—heart, soul and mind—and let it come forth in the jubilation of your strength.”

An ascending arpeggio and our first movement ends—with the awareness that all is well.

It is quickly followed by the second movement, which explodes with rhythm—tambourines, hand-held noise makers, stimulating the dance—like a Chopin Polonaise—the affirmation that human life not only is functional, but also fruitful, because there is no reason to believe that God would do anything to stop us from achieving our best. It is time to rise, to move to the music. “Produce a visual for your joy. Reject stagnation. Pound the tambourines. Dance.”

Then, at the peak of this exaltation, the strings are introduced, blended with the organ. We hear the first fruits of our original theme from the lute and harp, now played with greater intensity and flow from our orchestra. It is time to take the jubilance of our dance and find the tunefulness of our heart’s desire and express it freely, without fear. The strings and organ give us the freedom to be unashamed of our humanity—to be willing to let all of our parts connect in a joyous repentance, absent of sadness, but filled with the expectation that God is forgiving, God is light and God is love.

Our second movement ends with this reassurance.

Fully absolved of our insecurities, frustrations and sins, the third movement begins with loud cymbals. It is a chorus, flirting with cacophony but still maintaining a control over intensity. It is a time to confirm that we are salvaged. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! Trumpet the conviction true spirituality is not escaping human life, but rather, finally confirming its dynamic. Don’t be afraid.”

Our loud cymbals are joined by high-sounding cymbals, producing a fevered pitch. Our worship has now entered into a thrilling lack of intimidation. We are in awe of God, which gives us permission to honor of ourselves. We are surrounded by sound without complaining about the volume. We are lost in the moment without shame.

This ends movement three.

Suddenly … stillness—a two measure rest. Recreation—and then we begin movement four, the finale, where everything that has breath joins the orchestra to bring praise to the Lord. The brass, the woodwinds and even a chorus of voices blend, revisiting that original melody by the lute and the harp, exploring it as an anthem—a victorious march to triumph. Breath unites with breath, building in volume, the pace picking up to a glorious climax, a place where the sopranos can find their highest note. The tenors join just beneath as the altos gloriously bellow their second and the basses resound the bottom.

The ending is held, vibrating the sound waves through the room with such an intensity that chills run down the body, when all at once the conductor stops the orchestra. Another two measure rest, when …

The entire ensemble culminates in a lower inversion C chord. Peace, be still.

Thus ends our fourth movement—and our symphony.

It is how the Psalmist describes what true praise and worship of life and God should be—not merely the droning of well-rehearsed, “special music,” but a fresh, burgeoning composition extolling the great potential of being alive.

Symphony 150, in four movements—always available, always beautiful—always penetrating the heart of God.

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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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