Dudley … January 26th, 2017

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 17) Parking Lotsa… August 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

It was apparently the Sunday that would never end.

As Meningsbee headed out the door of the church, evicted from the House of God by Sister Matrisse, standing next to his car was a smiling Sammy Collins, with all the jovial attributes of a freshly pardoned Thanksgiving turkey.

Sammy rushed toward him, vigorously shook the pastor’s hand, and gave him a huge “Day of Pentecost” bear hug–the kind that leaves you torn between appreciation and embarrassment.

Releasing his grip, Sammy blurted, “Are you prepared to take in about fifty ready-to-go souls who already know where the exits are and the location of the bathrooms?”

With this he laughed–very pleased with his joke, which he obviously had rehearsed.

Meningsbee crinkled his face. This gave Brother Collins permission to continue.

“Whoo-ee! We had a big blow-up this morning down at the church at the Holiday Inn Express–so much so that the front desk lady came and told us to tone it down. We were bothering the other guests who were still enjoying their continental breakfast.”

“What was the problem?” said Meningsbee, concerned.

“I confronted him,” said Sammy. “Yes, I confronted Patrick Swanson about what he said to you in my living room the night I invited you over to fellowship in my home.”

“You heard?” asked Meningsbee.

“Yes. I snuck in the dark room where my kids keep their toys–nearly tripped over a Tonka truck–but I was curious why Patrick wanted to talk to you. Never one to be shy, I decided that since it was my home, I had the right to know.”

“So you’re the one who told everybody in the church about our conversation.”

“Absolutely.”

“Well, he thought it was me,” cited Meningsbee.

“Sorry about that, but I had to let him think that way until I could get all the friends and neighbors organized for the revolt, and the opportunity to return to the Garsonville Church–our home church. Preacher, most of my kin is buried out there in the back section of the property. I could show you their gravestones. This is my church. This is where I want to live. This is where I want to die. So we’re comin’ back.”

Meningsbee stood quietly. The joy on Sammy’s face had disappeared quickly as he told his tale of dissension and vengeance. He was now flushed and also a bit bewildered about why the good reverend was not jumping up and down for the chance to include more sheep and coffer stuffing.

Meningsbee realized he had to say something. “Sammy, Sammy, Sammy. I love ya’. But the church is not a club, though it might seem that way since we collect weekly dues. It’s not a game. The choices we make are often life and death. You must believe me when I tell you that the church also is not a family reunion, though we are all part of the same bloodline. God knows, it’s not a political party. We’ve already chosen our leader. Sammy, well…it’s an adventure. Or maybe a competition. Yes, it’s an adventurous competition, to see who can love their neighbor as themselves the most and still remain deliriously happy.”

Sammy’s dark cloud burst. “Listen, Meningsbee, I didn’t come for a sermon.”

“Oh, you’ve gotta forgive me,” said the pastor. “I didn’t get to preach one today so I guess I felt a little cheated.”

Sammy frowned like a frowning man frowns when frowning is in order. “So you don’t want us?”

“I don’t get to choose,” said Meningsbee. “I was just explaining to you how we view the kingdom of God.”

So … Sammy Collins turned on his heel and walked back to his car sadly because he was very religious.

 

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Light a Candle, Set a Fire… November 10, 2012

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I thought I was in a good mood.

Matter of fact, I was pretty certain I was Mr. Mellow Yellow. Sitting in the parking lot of a Kroger

grocery store in Dayton, Ohio, I had even taken the time to jot down some lyrics for a new song and a couple of thoughts for upcoming essays for jonathots. The sun was shining, I had just enough money in my pocket to keep me from poverty, and life seemed to be heading in a direction away from the fiscal cliff.

Jan returned and informed me that the red raspberries that had been on sale were marked up and too expensive to buy. I thought I was fine with that. She had substituted strawberries, which were certainly to my liking. So I started up my van and headed out, when suddenly, to my right, a car came barreling through, moving very fast and forcing me to slam on my brakes. I honked my horn and said aloud, “What an idiot!”

It surprised me. I was alarmed by my own outburst, assuming that such a little misfortune should be taken in stride and handled with more grace. Was I more upset about the raspberries than I thought? Was my level of contentment peppered with a bit of arrogant pride? Did I feel good simply because everything was going well, and the minute an intrusion came on my path I reverted to a more carnal reaction? I don’t know. It got me thinking.

I asked myself a question: When should I light a candle and at what point is it appropriate to set a fire?

That’s pretty important.  If you don’t ever think about it, then reactions can come upon you which might seem foreign–but you feel like you have to support them, like unwanted, illegitimate children–because lighting a candle is a decision to trust your faith; setting a fire is the opportunity for you to” kick into doing.” Quite different.

I feel one of the reasons our nation is experiencing so much anger, frustration and accusation is because we have a waning of faith in the populace. When you don’t have faith in anything, it’s hard to trust–and when you don’t trust, you feel you must always defend yourself because no one else is on your side. When you get into that mindset, you protect your hunk of meat like a wild lion.

So even if there wasn’t a God, we certainly would need one in order for us to have faith in something other than circumstances, and trust in life to occasionally work out–instead of setting every situation on fire.

Yes, sometimes you need only to light a candle, so that on those other occasions, you can set a fire. It is necessary to choose moments to trust your faith so that you will know when it is time to “kick into doing.”

A car nearly hits me in a Kroger parking lot. Should I light a candle? Or set a fire? Should I shake my head and quietly say, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do?” Or should I honk my horn and chase them to the next stop sign? Should I turn to my friend and traveling companion and curse them for their stupidity?

Children are bored in church. Should I light a candle and say a prayer that things get better? Or should I set a fire and question why religion has become so irrelevant to the youth?

I can’t eat bologna and pizza and lose weight. Should I trust my faith and light a candle? Or set a fire of injustice in my soul that lends itself to further gluttony?

  • My legs hurt when I walk.
  • Syrians are dying in the street.
  • Someone took my parking space.

What do you think? Light a candle? Set a fire? Should I trust my faith? Or kick into doing? Should I be an observer of what God is about to do? Or a doer, and watch my heavenly Father observe?

  • I’m too fat, too bald, too old.
  • Atheism is on the rise.
  • I often lack money.
  • I cut myself shaving.
  • I need to drop pounds.
  • I want to use my talent.
  • I feel lonely.
  • I feel cheated.

They mount up, you know. Maybe hundreds in a day–moments when we have to decide what to do with our flame–that bit of passion within us that determines our light in the human family. If you have no faith, it’s hard to trust. If you feel without strength, it’s difficult to move.

That’s why some people burn on the inside–the fires of hell in their bellies.

What should I do? Light a candle? Set a fire?

My mate is losing interest in me. Should I reach for the candle? Or set a fire to change the direction?

I am losing my faith. If I lose it, my trust goes out the window. If my trust is gone, I have to lean to my own understanding. And if I’m devoid of understanding, I am constantly on the verge of being angry.

America has problems. I am part of America. Do I light a candle and trust my faith? Or set a fire and “kick into doing?”

This is probably the most important question you will ever ask yourself. If you ignore it, you might just discover that you’re infuriated over an indiscretion by a poor driver in a Kroger parking lot, and because you couldn’t get them, you give life the raspberries.

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Dissatisfaction… October 7, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

The unknown.People who believe they understand the unknown are plagued with the curse of arrogance instead of blessed with the abundance of faith. For after all, faith gently permits hope but fiercely avoids certainty. It is what causes us to be faithful instead of self-assured.

I have many unknowns. I occasionally will awaken with a pain–and at my age, the mind races towards more dismal possibilities. If I take a moment to regain my sanity, I can laugh at my own jumping to conclusions and merely move on, realizing that most discomfort is temporary.

I don’t like to join into conversations about heaven–not because I lack a desire to go there or because I am secretly agnostic about its existence. It’s just that when I hear folks trumpet their testimony and support for the supernal, it rings of a bit of insincerity and maybe even hidden anxiety about the presence of eternity. Yes, it’s true–often the louder we talk, the less we truly believe.

Again–the unknown.

For instance, I don’t know what you’re going to do next. I neither control it nor do I particularly affect it. Anticipation is what we do when we have decided what people should be pursuing, audaciously making out a “things to do today” list for them and become quite disappointed when they wad it up and throw it away. Most arguments between friends are not based upon an actual occurrence, but rather, a general feeling of disapproval over the failure of one person to comply with the other person’s demands.

I heard someone once say that there’s a “world of the unknown” out there. Actually that’s not true. The world is something that we CAN understand–we are able to discern the face of the sky and pretty well forecast what will fall from above. But strangely enough, we often become the most pompous about the things that are NOT of this world, and fuss with those who disagree with our conclusions. For instance, those of the Hindu faith would be greatly disappointed if they discovered they were not returning to earth again in some new incarnation. On the other hand, most Christians would be very surprised if they came back as a fox instead of walking streets of gold.

So we stomp, argue and insist. But no one really knows. No matter how much you try to point to testimonials of those who claim to have come back from the dead, the fact of the matter is, they always tend to share a rendition of what they saw in the afterlife that is very similar to what they were taught here. We know that can’t be true. The Bible says that “eye hath not seen nor ear heard” what God has prepared for those who believe in Him. So if it ends up being an exact replica of what has already been written, it certainly would smack of the mediocre.

There are so many unknowns. What will be the next virus to invade our world? Will Iran and Israel make peace, or continue to throw rocks at each other over a poorly constructed fence?

This subject came to my attention the other day when I was backing out of a parking lot in my van, and in my blind spot was a pick-up truck which was perched behind me–double parked and awaiting another available space. Honestly, I did not see the truck, so as I backed up, there was a long blast from his horn. I quickly stopped.

I didn’t think anything more about it, until I began to leave the parking lot and an older gentleman stepped in front of my van. He was angry. I glanced over and realized that he was the owner of the pick-up truck which had just honked. He demanded that I roll down my window. So I did, and with a red-jowled, angry face, he challenged my driving skills and wondered “what the hell I was trying to do.”

I was not expecting this. I did not know why he was so angry. But you see, I had been spending some time with myself, which is the most important “known” factor you can actually deal with in life. In the past, I would have been angry that HE was angry and we would have exchanged an unfulfilling conversation ending in rage. He explained to me the obvious, which was that I almost backed into him.

I replied, “I’m so glad you were paying attention. We needed ONE of us to! Thank you for doing that.”

He was completely disarmed. I don’t know what he wanted; I don’t know what he envisioned. His motivations are completely unknown to me. Therefore, honestly, I don’t care. Maybe he had a bad morning. Maybe he just came from the doctor’s office and was diagnosed with cancer. Maybe his wife burned his eggs and for the forty-fifth time this year he had to eat them without saying a word. I have no idea and once again–it doesn’t make any difference.

Because I will tell you truthfully–there are only two knowns that I make my concern: my space, my face.

After all, if there ends up being no God and just a grave, I will only be remembered for how I handled my space and what disposition I selected to display on my face.

I can’t control your space and when I do, I am always made to look foolish, and liberty wins the day and curses my interference.

I certainly have no authority over your face and if I suggest that you may be offering a disconsolate countenance to the world around you, you will not only consider that an intrusion, but actually may deepen the furrows on your brow.

After all the unknowns are set aside and placed intelligently into the hands of more divine ability, I am left with my space and my face.

I surprised myself a little bit when I had this encounter with the frustrated gentleman in the parking lot. I was amazed that I felt no wrath or desire to hurt him. I just wanted to move on.  I wanted to quickly admit that I was unable to see him, he did a good thing–and because of that, we were not exchanging the numbers of our insurance companies.

My space. My face.

Here’s what I do know:

My space is peace. I will not fight with you. I will not try to hurt you. I will not try to impart anything to you that hasn’t been tested and proven in my own soul to be beneficial. Then, when I do share it, I will do so as an offering instead of a demand.

My face is joy. Joy is a resolute happiness that continues in a desired path, even when others have abandoned it for the latest craze.

You may continue to debate the unknown and contend that you have some sort of authority over things beyond your fingertips. I would rather indulge in the power of dissatisfaction about the supernatural and instead, take care of my space and my face.

And in case you didn’t hear me the first time, and for all my lifetime to come:

May it be clear to one and all–my space is peace and my face is joy.

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Motelin Just What … May 29, 2012

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Somewhere between $35.95 cents and $169.99 is the average cost of a motel room in this country for one night. Of course, there are places where you can pay much more for a room based upon locale, special events or some little extra accommodation advertised. But generally speaking, most motels will blush with embarrassment once they go above that top dollar.

It is probably one of the most diversely priced items in this country. For instance, if I told you that a gallon of milk ranged between $1.23 and $18.55, you would be up in arms and ready to lynch some dairy farmer in Wisconsin. Yet the motel industry seems to get by with it by maintaining some dubious rationale in its advertising.

I will tell you right now, after having traveled nearly forty years staying in these establishments, which the top fifty dollars of every price is paying for the name, the location, or the privilege of eyeballing staff wearing coats and ties rather than t-shirts and jeans. If that is relatively important to you, then you should pull out that money and spend it heartily.

Thirty dollars of the price of a motel room in the higher range is for the privilege of being with clientele of your particular social ilk. Yes, I am saying it out loud—cheaper motels tend to draw people who don’t have as much money and unfortunately, in this country we contend that those souls are the source of our crime and violence. (Obviously, not so.)

Motels that charge you a lot of money for the rooms refer to these cheaper establishments as “flea bags–infested with bugs, or dens of drugs and prostitution. Of course, once again, very little truth in the matter (although I would not recommend taking out a motel room adjacent to an adult bookstore.)

If you will allow me to put it into perspective for you, a motel room is a simulation of a master bedroom.  Bed, dresser, closet, television set and adjoining bathroom. And nowadays, most of them have microwaves and refrigerators for convenience, which is a consideration we all might have in the future for our own home unit.

There are really three questions you must ask yourself about your motel room for the night that are essential for a good stay:

1. How much room in the room? Unless you have become very familiar with your traveling companion or don’t mind cramped quarters, being able to walk around your room without running into walls or furniture is a plus.

2. Can I park in front of the door or near to my room? One of the biggest misconceptions is that motel rooms that are enclosed, with a parking lost adjoining are safer than those where you can pull up to your door with your car. Honestly, if I were a criminal, I would not want to rob from cars that are right next to the windows of the owner. I would find a nice, large parking lot far from the front desk–and take my pick.

3. Now, this may surprise you. Staying in a motel room is all about the bathroom. You should be careful of those establishments that miniaturize everything in the toilet area so as to condense space so the room can look larger—because all of the plumbing may look Snow White, but it is best suited for the seven dwarves. Especially beware of toilet seats that are round instead of oblong. They tend to be very uncomfortable and are usually encased by a wall on either side, giving you the feeling that you are being wedged into your experience. The bathroom is the key to a motel room. Good lighting, double sinks a plus–or even a sink in the bathroom and one outside the bathroom is really handy. The shower should be easy to get in and out of and have good pressure.

Once you discover these pieces of information, you understand that the most you should probably pay for a motel room is about $75 a night. Everything above that is advertising name, location, staff or a hot breakfast which is offered to you, including eggs, bacon and sausage (which, by the way, is completely unnecessary unless you’re a lumberjack felling trees in the Yukon.)

As you find with everything else in life, there are ways to save money without losing quality. That seems to stymie a lot of folks, including the U.S. government and Congress–because at least half of what people refer to as quality is name-brand assurance that you will be taken care of if something goes wrong.

So the Holiday Inn wants you to pay extra money for their good name over “Bob and Mary’s Motel” down the street–because in the case of some unforeseen difficulty, they want you to believe they would handle it better than Bob and Mary. But since we don’t know what that unforeseen difficulty would be, and no one knows what anyone would do, you end up spending a lot of money for absolutely nothing–similar to buying extra insurance coverage on a car rental.

So I pulled into Denver yesterday and went to my motel, and as always, it ends up being a mixed bag. The room is small but has a lovely bathroom with an accessible shower AND throne. The air conditioning unit needs some work, but we’ve already met the maintenance man and he seems congenial and willing to try. The television set is too big for the room, but that hardly seems like something one should complain about after simply noting it. And the furniture is not made of oak or covered with leather, but instead, looks like your Uncle Charlie made it out in the garage because he’s hoping to someday leave his job at the factory and start a business.

I feel very good every week upon discovering a diamond in the rough and saving money that people have given me so that I can travel—to use it wisely to buy quality instead of merely a name or false assurance. If we could teach the financiers of our nation the same concept and we would begin to barter once again for better pricing on items instead of signing lifelong contracts with companies based on their previous reputations, we could begin to emerge from this dark cloud of indebtedness and arrogant spending with some dignity–and even have a little fun in the process.

Fortunately for me, I have a traveling companion who enjoys cutting a corner here and there as long as she doesn’t lose and arm or a leg. If we could just find people to elect to be our representatives who had similar mindsets, we would be all set.

So those are my discoveries about moteling. To sum it up, if you need a name, or if you are afraid of being next door to someone who makes less than 50K a year, then you will probably end up paying for the higher priced institutions, for the powdered eggs in the morning, convincing yourself it was worth it. But if you realize that buying a name doesn’t mean guaranteeing quality, or sharing the neighborhood with people who don’t have late-model cars but do have contemporary standards and morals–then you can shop around and save yourself upwards to fifty or sixty dollars a night.

Last week I met some of the most interesting people at the swimming pool where we were staying in Grand Junction, Colorado. They were young enough to be my children or grandchildren, and I befriended them, loved them and enjoyed them, discovering many twists and turns in their ever-evolving lives. It was fascinating.

So “motelin’ just what you’re looking for,” as you stay overnight somewhere, realize that money can be easily spent pursuing a security–that is never pre-ordained.

 

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