Catchy (Sitting 26) Amaze On … December 10th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3517)

She struggled to regain consciousness as the sweat poured off of her forehead into her lids, burning her eyes. She closed them tightly, trying to think, which was virtually impossible because her head was throbbing.

Where was she? Who was she, for that matter? What was going on?

Her whole body stung with a variety of wounds. Gradually she opened her eyes, blinking away the perspiration, to stare down at herself. She was lying flat on her back, wearing a bra and what appeared to be cargo shorts, pinned to the ground by a very heavy snake.

Horrified, she resisted the inclination to stand up screaming. As the snake crawled across her belly, she felt the undulations of its skin against hers, propelling itself forward.

She nearly went crazy. Instead, she forced herself to wait. She waited until the snake had stilled itself, and then, in one swift motion, she grabbed it with her hands, leaped to her feet and threw it into the air. She hadn’t realized how heavy the snake was, so it didn’t go very far. She scurried quickly away to what she hoped was a safe place.

Looking around frantically, she realized she was in a jungle. She had never been in a jungle before, but from everything she had heard or read, this appeared to be a rain forest. The heat was suffocating and the humidity so high that water was dripping from the leaves. The ground beneath her was teeming with life, giving an eerie sense of continual movement.

As she looked down, she saw that her legs were covered with little black bugs, which she tried to remove and as she did, tiny red welts remained as residue. But she patiently pursued the task.

On her left, she noticed a small pile of supplies. She rummaged through a knapsack and found two large canteens, which she opened and discovered held water. There were also power bars, a flashlight, matches and a map. On the map was a note, scrawled in magic marker, which read: “Compass in front pocket of knapsack. Walk north. You will find civilization.”

Stunned, terrified, abandoned, Jo-Jay burst into tears. How did she get here? She thought back to the last thing she remembered. She had gone to a Thai restaurant to meet up with an informant, who was supposed to give her a contact on the CLO and a fellow named Joshua.

Arriving at the restaurant, she was greeted by a lovely woman of Eastern extract, who motioned Jo-Jay to follow her down a narrow hallway, through a door and some hanging beads. Jo-Jay recalled pulling back the beads.

And then… well, now waking up with a snake on her chest.

As she stood, convinced she was doomed to die, she conjured the words of her Grandma, who explained that the only truly priceless gift in life was in all circumstances finding a reason to be grateful. This gave Jo-Jay a blessed laugh, considering how little there was to be grateful for out in this wilderness.

But she did have water. And apparently her abductor possessed some sort of conscience, to spare her life and give her a fighting chance to become suburban again.

It then occurred to her that the longer she stood there, the more the communication in the animal kingdom would view her as a target instead of a participant. So she grabbed the compass and knapsack, located north and started walking.

Three hours. Five hours. Was it seven hours? It seemed like even more. She trudged through the jungle.

At first she was totally horrified by the tiny stings on her legs and swatting at the creatures that tried to suck the moisture from her eyeballs. But she finally calmed her spirit and energized her body. She stopped every hour or so to eat a bite and drink a little.

When it occurred to her that evening was coming, she realized she could not survive a night in the jungle.

Suddenly she had an instinct to stop and listen. Over the sounds of chirps, squeaks, hisses and howls, there was another vibration–actually kind of a mumble.

She thought it resembled human voices.

She quickly turned in the direction of what she hoped was life. As she stumbled forward, she emerged and found herself in a clearing. Fifty yards across the expanse stood a man, woman and two children.

Jo-Jay screamed, “My God, my God! I need help!”

The man turned and ran toward her as the woman followed and the children trailed. When they arrived, she related her story–as much as she knew.

They listened intently, and then explained they were the Paulsons from Winterset, Iowa, missionaries to the local tribe, and were clearing off this section of jungle to build a church.

Jo-Jay tried to explain her situation and her own mission, which seemed to confuse the provincial Paulsons. She calmed down and then simplified. “I need to get back to America as quickly as possible.”

Reverend Paulson explained that four times a year, he drove their big truck three hundred miles into Brasilia, the capital, to get supplies, but that he had just completed the journey last week and there was no fuel for the truck.

Jo-Jay asked about other transportation. None.

Airplane. None.

Boat. No water that would take her anywhere she wanted to go.

She felt hopeless. She couldn’t stay with these missionaries until the next supply run. She needed to get back.

Something was very wrong–some danger in the air, which she needed to relate to her friends.

Questions cluttered her mind and suffocated her thinking. Why did they spare her? Why did they abduct her? Why did they feel it necessary to take such drastic measures for such a silly little thing as a bunch of Jesus rallies in the United States?

Then one of the children spoke up. “Papa, we do have fuel.”

Jo-Jay pursued. “Do you? Do you have fuel?”

The reverend nodded his head. “Yes, but it’s for us to survive for the next three months.”

Jo-Jay giggled, baffling the family. “Tell you what,” she said. “If you will drive me to Brasilia, I will guarantee you all the fuel you want, and as a donation, will pay for you to make another run of special supplies for your congregation.”

Reverend Paulson stared at the woman before him, adorned only in a bra and cargo shorts, with a doubtful, furrowed brow.

Jo-Jay looked down at herself and laughed. “Listen–I usually dress better than this. I have the money, if you can give me the time.”

Right in the middle of the clearing, the Paulsons knelt in prayer, as a family, as Jo-Jay, slow to join in, caught the idea and knelt down herself.

Papa prayed. “There are no accidents, God the Father. We know this. So meeting our friend today has to have some meaning. You told me that I cannot take that which was given for your work and give it away for others. So I come to You and ask which is more important–this woman’s request, or taking care of those you have commissioned to us.”

He kept his eyes closed and remained silent. The family joined in the profile. As Jo-Jay listened, she assumed he was going to take care of his own. It was only logical. After all, some crazy woman comes out of the jungle, you don’t follow her like she’s a freakin’ Pied Piper.

After a few moments, the reverend opened his eyes. The family peeked out to see if it was time to stop. Reverend Paulson looked at his wife and children, and said not a word. One by one, a smile appeared on each face and they nodded. He, the last of the four, smiled and nodded also.

He turned to Jo-Jay and said, “God wants us to go to Brasilia.”

They wasted no time. They hiked three miles to their camp, climbed into an old truck and drove through the jungle, making their own road as they went.

Jo-Jay became quiet, thinking to herself.

For heaven’s sake, what the hell is going on? 

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Morse Code… September 28, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2020)

sausageWhat an absolutely magical and simultaneously bizarre sensation it was last night as I turned onto Morse Road and headed to my gig at Ascension Lutheran. From the 3-C Highway to High Street is about a three or four mile stretch of pavement which explodes with memories from my childhood. I breathed them all in, smiled, heading off toward my evening’s activities.

Right on the corner was the location of Stan’s Restaurant, a place where, as a young boy, my parents would stop to eat dinner after their weekly excursion of puttering around at the Northern Lights Shopping Center. We children were always instructed to order the “chicken in a basket” while my dad had a T-bone steak. We didn’t care. It was eating out.

Right next door was the Lion’s Den Gentlemen’s Store. There was one church in town that didn’t think it was an establishment for gentlemen. They picketed against the pornography and made the newspaper for a season, but as the years have passed, the church is long-gone and the Lion’s Den, prosperous.

Just  down that road was the Northland Shopping Center, one of the first places I took my music group to perform in front of bustling patrons more interested in sales than in a rag-tag music group attempting to gain their attention. We were oblivious. The mall gave us fifty dollars for doing two shows, and we thought we had struck oil.

At that mall I also played the part of Santa Claus, which was suited both to my body type and my financial needs.

Just a few blocks down was a place called Schmidt’s Sausage House. The company still exists, though they long ago moved from the original location. Mr. Schmidt (or whoever the owner was) encountered our music group at a Catholic church, and he liked us so much he asked us to come in and perform on Monday nights, in the hopes of building his crowd by having live entertainment. (I’m not so sure we ever did that for him, but I do have great memories of a “Bahama Mama,” which, by the way, is a sausage, not an exotic dancer.)

And not too far down the road was a place called Lowe’s Theater. It was one of the closest movie-going places to my hometown. It was also the site of my first date with a girl at age sixteen. I can remember that I was so glad when the movie started, so we didn’t have to keep coming up with things to talk about. After much consternation, about three-quarters of the way through the film, I worked up the courage to reach over and hold her hand. I was surprised at how wet it was. I don’t know whether it was my perspiration or hers, but it was the first time I shared sweat with another human being.

And finally, down on the corner of High Street, there used to be a Frisch’s Restaurant. When I was twenty-four years old I sat in that restaurant with a friend and made one of the major decisions of my life. I decided to take my family, in our beat-up van, along with my music group, and move to Nashville, Tennessee and try to make a go of it. I was tired of being a local singer, pretty well-respected for my talent, but completely disdained and criticized for having no money.

That move to Nashville was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my young existence–and changed everything from a dream to a pathway of reality.

So when I went in concert last night at Ascension Lutheran and only fourteen people showed up for the “local boy who’s done good,” I had to laugh. It was another piece of my own personal Morse Code from Morse Road–another memory to add to the scrapbook.

And I guess I’ll just keep adding them–good, bad and ugly–until there are just no more pictures to be taken … because I’m gone.

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5:02 A.M. … August 15, 2012

  • Loser — Part 2
    (1,608)

Death stinks–the smell of dried blood, perspiration and urine, scents that rattle the consciousness to a new awareness of mortality.

Fifty-seven minutes to complete the job. For after all, if we’re going to be good little Jewish boys and girls, we must get this body off the cross, wrap it up and place it in the tomb before six o’clock or somebody will be mad. It seems that the religious system is not satisfied to merely, try, convict, condemn and execute. They also want to make sure there’s not enough time for a decent burial.

A decent burial–what does that mean?

He’s dead. How? Why does the healer lose to the executioner?

It took us thirty minutes to get the nails out of his hands and feet. Even though he was stone cold, respect for his body made us do the labor gingerly, so as to not further tear the flesh. So broken. Nearly drained of blood, yet still his legs are purple and bruised. Wrapped in a cloth, to be thrown in a tomb for future consideration.

I just don’t understand. Why didn’t “love your neighbor” work? Why did it all come down to the masses, who benefited so much from his love, and the disciples, who were so enriched by his life, standing up for him instead of proclaiming openly that “they didn’t know him?”

Sitting here thinking about “blessed are the meek” when it is so obvious that the strong, willful and arrogant have won the day. He warned us not to judge others, yet he, himself, was judged and killed. He proclaimed that he was Lord of the Sabbath. Now he is “lorded over” by the approaching Sabbath, crowding out any moments for reflection and dignity.

Is it wrong of me to say I didn’t want to lose? Can I tell you that I’m disappointed? That I thought I had backed a winner? And now here I am, covered in his blood.

But I have no place to go. I have nothing to believe in. You see, what I have is a God who appears to be without love. I have a religion without mercy, a country without a leader and I am a follower … without a friend.

I try to remember better times in Galilee. I think about the conversations we had while fishing. It was so rich with humanity and tenderness, and now it’s relegated to a thirty-minute race to drop the body off in a cave and head back home–supposedly to honor Jehovah.

But I do remember he told us that a prophet “has no honor in his own country and amongst his own kindred.” Just last night he told us he was going “to prepare a place for us.” And even though our ears were not tuned to the message, on many occasions he warned that he would be delivered into the hands of evil men, but on the third day…

The third day. When would that be? Was he counting today? Or does it begin with the morning? What did he say would happen on the third day?

He would rise again. A quick glance down at the corpse removes any inkling of that possibility.

So who am I without him? Are we all losers? Is losing inevitable? Can I afford to give three more days to find out what his message might have meant?

Interesting. Maybe I could use the time wisely.

So what is this loser from Capernaum supposed to do when his best friend, Jesus,  is brutally murdered and jeered at–as a loser?

I guess, on Day One, I should just sit and heal. What does that mean? Healing is always when we cease to consider our pain and we start to believe in our restitution.

Day Two. Maybe I could just take time to rediscover my vision. If Jesus is dead forever and I am still alive, what can I take of Jesus into my life? Do I just want to go back to fishing? Or am I curious enough to find out what he meant by me becoming a “fisher of men?”

And on Day Three, it will either be disappointment or perhaps … resurrection. Why do they spend so much time in life instructing us on how to win when most of the time we need to know what to do with a losing situation–to turn it around to better ends?  Am I prepared to go to Day Three if it holds disappointment instead of resurrection?

Yes. Because even having the blessing of believing for two days that there might be more to come is well worth surviving the disappointment.

When did we become losers? For a brief time it seemed like we were going to rule the world. And now we don’t even have enough control to bury the dead.

Loser. I never associated that word with my friend. But maybe if he didn’t make himself vulnerable enough to be cast away from success, he would never have truly been one of us.

  • I will heal.
  • I will restore my vision.
  • And I will prepare for resurrection.

My name is John. And I have decided–believing is always preferable to self-pity.

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