Not Long Tales … December 3rd, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4441)

17.

The Man Who Would Be…

Santa Claus.

A complicated simplification.

For he is a homebody with a flair for adventure and a generous soul with a mission to “nice up the naughty.”

A lowly toymaker with a vision for all the children of the world.

Reginald Carlson was a fan of Santa Claus. He was obsessed with the good saint from the North. It was usually the second thing he shared with any person he met, right after saying, “Fine. How are you?”

For twenty years, Reggie (as they called him at work) found his station in life in the backroom of the local post office, sorting letters that he hoped found correct destinations. But all day long, he would share, with whomever would listen, whatever he had recently learned about Father Christmas.

He studied books.

He read all the legends.

He had over two thousand pictures of Old Saint Nick in his personal possession.

For Reggie, rather than reaching an age when he ceased to believe in Santa Claus, not only continued to keep his faith in the icon but developed a hero worship—an everlasting sensation of sympathetic connection.

He wanted to be Santa Claus. There were three problems:

First, Reggie couldn’t get any skinnier if he were to fast for ten days. No, not an ounce of fat on Mr. Carlson’s frame.

He was also not bestowed with hundreds and hundreds of elfin assistants to aid him in his quest to bring a toy and joy to every girl and boy.

And finally, the traditional marshmallow-white skin envisioned for the toy-giver—well, Reggie’s was a bit more toasted.

But in the midst of one of his musings about trying to do something to become more “Clausian,” he came up with his idea:

North Poling.

It was a rather plain concept. Reggie envisioned selecting twenty small towns in his home state and finding a group of grown-ups in each locale who would become Santa Claus to their community by taking all the families in their little village who were unable to provide a solid Christmas for their children—and not only provide the toys and extras, but deliver them, wearing costumes, on Christmas Eve.

Reggie was so excited he could barely contain himself.

He shared the dream with everyone he knew, and though it seemed a bit farfetched to them, it had a bit of sparkle and nobility, which made each one promise to support and even participate.

Counting his hometown of Baskerville, Missouri, Reggie lined up twelve other communities within a hundred-mile radius and started writing letters. City councils, mayors, preachers, store owners…

He contacted charities and pursued government grants to procure the money for the yuletide venture.

Word of his efforts spread quickly, and some pictures of the first fruits of his gathering in Baskerville even went viral on the Internet.

He received an invitation from the television show, “Invest or Bust.” The program featured entrepreneurs with reasonable ideas, who presented their plans, trying to get money for their causes from the star of the show, who dubbed himself “Snarky.”

Snarky was hard to convince. He was prideful, cynical and had left many people in tears, walking away feeling foolish for having uttered their visions.

Things were going so well with North Poling and there was such a great level of intrigue that when Reggie received the invitation from “Invest or Bust,” he was reluctant to appear. But everybody circled around him, hounding him, for a whole week, until he nodded his head, called back on the phone and set a date for taping.

Meanwhile, Reggie had no illusions of grandeur. He didn’t need some billionaire from New York City to feed his hopes with cash. He kept promoting. He kept sharing. He kept believing and even started his initial planning.

By the time he headed off to tape “Invest or Bust,” there were ten communities which had agreed to be part of North Poling, with over a hundred volunteers. He was ecstatic. His faith in becoming Santa Claus was materializing right before his eyes.

So he took the trip to New York more or less as a lark. He imagined himself being the bearer of great news and receiving—well, overall, a vote of confidence.

But when the show was taped, Snarky, being particularly surly that night, attacked Reggie for his presumption, explaining that it was not only foolish and a waste of time and money, but that in a sense he was discouraging poor people from improving their situation. Reggie tried to defend himself, but Snarky kept up his attack, viciously snarling rebukes and repudiation.

At length, Reggie explained that he wasn’t looking for any money and really didn’t need Snarky’s approval. In doing so, he feared that he had come off angry and defensive.

Reggie was so disappointed with his appearance on “Invest or Bust” that he took an early flight home, only to discover that apparently the whole world had been watching.

The phone started ringing.

One after another, the small towns that had signed up for the project pulled out, stating that they lacked the money or some other lame excuse.

Snarky’s prophesy about the adventure being doomed was being fulfilled.

There seemed to be no encouragement coming in from the appearance in New York except one tailor from Los Angeles, who donated a red and white pinstripe Santa suit for Reggie to wear. When the garment arrived three days later, Reggie looked at the beautiful costume with a deep sense of futility. All that was left was Baskerville, which had shrunk to a staff of only five—to deliver toys to thirty-two households.

Then a sneaky, sinister statement began to circle through the community.

Reggie was trying to make money off the idea.

One of the volunteers asked him why he had so much money in his checking account. Reggie was shocked. How did this fellow know how much money he had bank? It was outlined to Reggie that “someone knew someone” who worked at the bank.

Reggie explained that he had no place to put the donation money that was coming in, or the few grants that had been afforded his way.

But it didn’t really matter what story he offered. The five Baskerville volunteers were really just looking for a reason to escape. They all deserted.

It was three days before Christmas, and all through the town, all the creatures were stirring, but no support was around.

Reggie was depressed. His wife and oldest son had cautiously stepped away. Oh, they still spoke their support, but whenever he brought up new ideas or asked if they would help him find more volunteers, they gently changed the subject.

The question hanging in the air all over Baskerville was:

What is Reggie going to do on Christmas Eve with what he’s begun if he has no one to help him. What will become of the money? What will happen with the toys? What will he do with the huge truck he rented for the evening?

The answer was simple: Reggie had no idea.

By five o’clock Christmas Eve afternoon, he sat alone in a rented warehouse, staring at presents which were already wrapped—with no place to go.

He was alone. Darkness was falling. The warehouse was chilly, with shadows were lingering across the walls. Reggie sat on a big box containing five bicycles—and started to cry.

After about a half an hour, weary of his own tears, he spoke aloud.

“I am not a religious man. I have nothing against God (if You’re listening). I just don’t like church—sitting for so long and ending up doing nothing. I don’t get it. I mean, if there is anything supernatural—if there is a spirit that causes Santa Claus to be real, why in the hell didn’t it show up? Is it because of me? Am I so stinky and dumb and meaningless that the idea has to wait for a better person to carry it? What did I do wrong?”

He continued. “Was it prideful for me to go to New York? Why couldn’t North Poling work? Even if it is a dumb idea, other dumb ideas work. Putting cinnamon on cereal kind of worked. I think it’s stupid, but it’s still out there. They messed up Coca Cola for a while, but people are still drinking Coke. And even when we have really bad politicians, no one gives up on the government. What happened?”

All at once Reggie raised his voice with a mighty thunder. “What in the hell happened?”

He heard a sound behind him and whirled around.

Standing there was Kathy Gillespie. She was one of the teenagers from the high school—a cheerleader. Reggie knew her because the school often sent her down to the post office to pick up specific packages that the principal wanted as soon as possible.

There she was, standing in the darkened room, frightened and shivering. Reggie foolishly stepped toward her. She jerked back, terrified. “I’m sorry,” she said sheepishly. “I didn’t know you were crazy.”

She burst into tears, turned on her heel and ran out of the warehouse. Reggie thought about chasing her but the image of a grown man tracking down a teenage girl in the night didn’t seem very promising. So instead, the middle-aged post office laborer loaded a few things into the truck, not certain what he would do once everything was in place. All he knew was that he needed to make a go of it.

And if he couldn’t finish it, he still needed to begin.

The truck was nearly loaded. He stepped out and walked down the ramp, and there before him was Kathy again—but this time, she had brought seven teenage boys and five teenage girls with her. Standing alongside them were what appeared to be six younger brothers and three little sisters.

Reggie didn’t know whether to defend his angry speech to Kathy or to simply allow her to share why she had returned. Was she going to try to get him in trouble? Had she brought friends to make fun of him?

Kathy, sensing his nervousness, spoke up. “I’m sorry I bothered you the first time,” she said sweetly. “I ran away because—well, because you seemed kinda nuts.”

One of the boys laughed but then covered his mouth. Reggie was about ready to speak when the girl continued. “The reason we came was that all of us here—felt that you got treated, well…you got treated…”

The biggest boy of the group jumped in. “Like shit,” he said in a basal tone. This caused everybody to laugh. Reggie even chuckled through his depression.

“Well, anyway,” said Kathy, “we thought it was terrible. I mean, all you wanted was to be Santa Claus to a bunch of kids who need one. If we’re gonna wait for answers to fly out of the sky, then a lot of people are going to go without.”

Reggie’s eyes filled with tears. He was sensing that something beautiful was about to happen. He needed to just be still.

Kathy, who apparently had been assigned as a spokesperson, went on. “Well, anyway, there’s only…”

She looked around at the gathered friends. “…about a dozen of us. Maybe more. But we’ve come out—by the way, with our parents’ permission…”

More laughter.

Kathy cleared her throat. “We’ve come out to help you deliver all the stuff in your truck.”

Reggie was beside himself with joy.

It wasn’t the army of toy givers he had envisioned.

It wasn’t the march of twelve communities in unison, providing for the needs of the less fortunate.

It was not the triumph of his childhood dream to become Santa Claus.

But it was something. It was something good.

Maybe the towns should have done better. Maybe Snarky could have been kinder. Maybe…

But this Christmas, it would be the children doing the leading.

It would be those who were young caring for their young friends who didn’t have enough.

There was something heavenly about it.

It took the better part of the night. Some households were happy to see the truck arrive. Others felt put out because of the lateness of the hour.

It didn’t matter.

At exactly 4:02 A. M., they delivered the final wrapped present—this one was for the McCaultry children.

They were done.

Reggie put all his helpers, his elfin assistants, into the back of the truck and drove to a restaurant about ten miles away and treated the whole entourage to breakfast.

Stories, laughter, tears, jubilance.

The owner of the restaurant was so impressed by what this quickly-put-together committee had accomplished that he gave them their morning eats for free. Reggie was speechless.

In its simplicity, North Poling worked.

Maybe trying to do something big was the opposite of Santa Claus.

Maybe trying to get the whole world involved and failing was why we needed a Santa Claus in the first place.

When Reggie arrived back at the warehouse and parked the truck, the kids all got out, hugged, and then turned to head home.

Reggie watched them walk away. They probably always had been good kids—but now they were good kids who had done something good.

Reggie learned a lot that Christmas.

Mainly, Reggie learned that being Santa is a hard row to ho-ho-ho.

 

 

Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4154)

Sitting Thirty-Five

Karin found it difficult to discover what to do with herself on the Wednesday before the rally. An uneasy sense of doom and gloom had settled in her soul and was gnawing at the corners of her mind.

She could not shake it.

She resorted to one of her favorite solutions. She purchased a pint of Mackie’s Cherries Fairies ice cream and ate it in one sitting. It had been known to soothe many an aching need. But on this day, even the delicious confection couldn’t aid her in dispelling the sensation that something very idiotic might happen on Thursday.

Karin was not given to depression, but optimism was certainly not one of her strong suits. Her faith in humanity had been shaken early and hard. She found it difficult to believe there were people who could muster either the mercy or the wisdom to bring about a happy ending to any tale, especially one involving two young men in the desert who were defying the structure of their rickety culture.

She actually considered praying for rain. But she always felt funny when she prayed—she could never figure out which parts of faith were childish dreams and what portions might be linked to some divine order. It was difficult for her to imagine why the God of the Universe would take time commiserating with bitching mortals.

But she decided to go ahead and pursue a prayer life one more time—just maybe for an earthquake to come along. A tiny one. Not to hurt anyone. Just strong enough to knock over some file cabinets at City Hall and overturn a few chairs in people’s homes. A convenient earthquake—something to distract the hysterical masses.

The prayer actually made her feel better. For about an hour she grew content with the notion that things might just work out. But for Karin, praying was like Chinese food. It got inside, but an hour later she was fretting all over again.

Scouring her brain for anything resembling an idea that might contribute to sanity, she decided to go and meet the families of the two boys. After all, she had heard Iz and Pal’s side of the story but had never given their fathers a chance to clarify their position or make their case.

Her mind was eased simply by pursuing the research which she so loved chasing down. Today it took her to the hall of records, where she discovered that Amir’s (Pal) mother had died three years earlier from breast cancer. Amir had only one brother, older—Talsan, who attended the university with aspirations of becoming a doctor.

A fascinating piece of information turned up when she perused data on Iz’s parents. There were two parents, but with separate addresses. Karin could find no evidence of a divorce decree or any other children.

It gave her a place to start. She set out into the city on a quest to uncover some truth. Yet a short two hours later, she returned to her apartment, deflated and even more perplexed. The plan, the visit and the result turned out to be a wasteland.

Amir’s father refused to see her, speaking through the door, “I am in prayer. I cannot view a woman at this time.”

Pada was not at home and Talsan was unavailable, attending class. The only person she was able to meet face-to-face was Shelah, Iz’s mother, who lived in a small apartment just down the street and around the corner from where Iz and his father dwelled.

Shelah explained to Karin that although there was no divorce, she and Iz’s father had separated over financial disagreements and contentious arguments concerning raising the boy. She didn’t even know that Jubal was gone. Pada hadn’t told her.

Karin did not know what to do with Shelah. She possessed that Middle Eastern woman surface submission, masking a dark cloud of rage. Karin invited the mother to the rally but Shelah declined, saying she feared a confrontation of great magnitude would occur if she made an appearance. At no time did Shelah ask about Jubal’s well-being. She did not inquire as to his status, his health or his heart.

Karin was desolate. No one really cared for these two boys, just as people. They were viewed as either burdens or bedlam—bothersome or brats. But certainly forsaken and forgotten.

She was exhausted. Sitting down on her bed, slipping off her sandals and swinging her legs around, she lay down flat on her back—but her mind was actively trying to save the world.

She closed her eyes, hoping for relief. Rest was needed—for it would be necessary for her to be alive, sharp and prepared for tomorrow’s foolishness.

 

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1 Thing to Always Remember

 

Patience is Planting

It isn’t sitting around, waiting for your life to begin, continue or change.

You can’t wait for what you didn’t order.

If you roll through the drive-through at McDonald’s and don’t stop off to speak into the box and tell them what you want, you can’t ease up to the window and think you’ll end up with a bag of goodies.

You won’t reap what you haven’t sown.

Patience is making it clear what you desire, and then stepping away from the prayer, the proclamation or the meeting, and going out to find a way to imitate, to the best of your ability, exactly what you hope to have fulfilled one day.

If you want to be in business, start selling something.

If you want to be a minister, share a story and help someone.

If you want to be a singer, go down to the old folks’ home. Perform a couple of songs and see if they throw tapioca at you.

Life is very simple: Find your seed, cast it, forget it. Then cast more, forget more.

If something can grow, it will.

That is the way of the Earth.

But nothing grows from nothing. Nothing grows from just prayer. Nothing grows from a request.

And certainly, nothing ever grew from a complaint.

 

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Jesonian … July 7th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3726)

Truthfully, I am very cautious when coining a word or phrase. Even though it may have its charm, it walks a fine line along the cliff of silliness, threatening to fall and be dashed on the rocks of criticism below.

That being said, I felt today’s Jesonian message required the introduction of a word–mainly because in “minting” it, the union of the parts brings to mind the purpose of the action.

So having survived my overly elongated explanation, let me talk to you about “Prayerapy.”

It is a blending of prayer and therapy, which is exactly what prayer was intended to be. Although we envision bowed heads in regal circumstances, offering well-rehearsed soliloquys of devotion and requests to God, Jesus had an entirely different perspective on prayer.

He said it should be free of “much speaking,” should never use “vain repetition,” and certainly was not to be performed “to be seen by others.”

He said it was nurtured by a few simple ingredients:

1. A private closet

2. Shut the door

3. Keep it simple

4. Say secret things to a God who hears in secret

5. Use the kingdom of God within you

6. Speak your heart

7. Leave rejuvenated

Therapists are successful because they get us to talk. We can listen to our own ideas coming out of our own mouths. And faith comes by hearing.

Therefore, healing begins when we hear our thoughts, our concerns, our wishes and our fears spoken aloud from our own lips, announced to our ears.

It is the perfect time to talk out loud, knowing that you’re being heard by your soul, your heart and your Father in heaven.

Then every prayer is answered–because the Bible makes it clear that God is willing to give wisdom and strength to anyone who asks, without questioning the beseecher.

So emerging from that closet, you will have a better understanding of what your heart sounds like, and will come forth with new wisdom and strength.

Prayerapy does not guarantee that a check will come in the mail, your rent will be paid, or that you’ll be healed of your disease. But it will certainly set in motion the awareness, the clear-headedness and the joy which makes the solutions appear more plausible.

*****

If you like the mind of Jesus without religion, buy the book!

                $7.99 plus S&H

*******

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Catchy (Sitting 45) Preyor … April 22nd, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3650)

Matthew was pissed off, even more than his normal level of perpetual pissed.

He loved Las Vegas, but more the seedy side than the commercial side. So every once in a while, one of the large casinos would bring in some new pop star who was breaking records on the charts, out-doing the last new pop star who had outdone her predecessor.

The latest one was named “Loozeal.” She was all of seventeen years old, with more attitude than talent, but the young humans loved her–especially the girls.

Las Vegas was infested with females who had women’s bodies and child’s minds. It was annoying on so many fronts that Matthew tried to avoid the strip, hanging out in his room, drinking and experimenting with delicacies yet untried from the well-traveled room service menu.

But on Saturday night, he had a meeting at one of the casinos, so he was forced to drive into the middle of the melee known as the “Loozeal Appeal.”

Kids were everywhere.

Matthew hated children. Even though most grownups were childish, at least they occasionally made the effort to think about something other than their cell phone and own desires. He planned his meeting to get into town and out of town before the crazed hordes of little girls headed for the concert.

There was the smell of youth in the air. He despised it–a blending of cheap perfume, bubble-gum and just a hint of halitosis. Yuk. Gone was the true sniff of Las Vegas–fishy-smelling buffets with that whiff of urine and whiskey in the aroma.

He decided to take a short-cut. It was twilight, and he turned down an alley which was familiar to him–a way he escaped the strip without encountering so many tourists. He pressed on the gas pedal to zoom to safety.

About halfway down the narrow thoroughfare, he saw a huge garbage dumpster, and just as he was upon it–about to pass it–a young girl stepped out from behind it. He smacked her with his car, throwing her into the air. She landed on the hood, cracking his windshield.

Every kind of horror he’d ever experienced in his life descended on his soul as he realized what he had done. She lay bleeding, her face pressed onto his windshield.

For a brief second he thought about trying to escape. After all, that’s what he did best. When things became too difficult or uncomfortable, Matthew always became an emotional Houdini, disappearing at will.

His thoughts were brief, but long enough that he was ashamed of himself as he grabbed his phone and dialed 911. It took about four minutes for help to arrive, but it seemed like an hour. The girl was motionless. He was afraid to reach across the windshield to take her pulse, assist in any way, or even to move her. So he just stared at her face, which was gashed and bloody.

The EMT’s arrived and carefully removed her from the hood as the police began to take his statement. Matthew was so incoherent that they decided to take a breathalyzer, and even though he had taken one drink at his meeting, he was still well beneath the intoxicated number.

Matthew answered questions for what seemed like a solid hour as the girl was hurried away to the local hospital. His car was impounded as evidence, and Matthew was checked over by the EMT’s, to make sure he was sound.

The police reassured him that it seemed to be an accident, but told him to stay close in case they required additional input.

It was surreal.

All of a sudden he was standing alone in the alley, staring down at a tiny puddle of blood which had not yet congealed.

He walked back up to the strip, hailed a taxi and asked the driver what hospital was nearest to them. He asked him to take him there.

Arriving at the emergency parking lot, Matthew got out, paid the man and then stepped inside. He knew nothing at all about the girl, so he questioned the lady at the emergency room desk. She recalled the young lady coming through, but refused to give Matthew any information since he was not related to the patient.

Glancing down at her computer, Matthew saw that the young woman had been taken to surgery on the fourth floor. He made his way there–to the surgical waiting room, and charmed the nurse at the desk. He said he had witnessed the accident, and wanted to make sure the girl was going to be fine and would she keep him updated on the details?

Matthew sat for hours. Every once in a while he dozed off, then shook himself back to attention, ashamed that sleep would try to relieve his guilt.

What in the hell was she doing in that alley?

What in the hell was he doing in that alley?

Why was he driving so fast?

He realized he would never be able to say he was driving fast again, lest he be charged with reckless endangerment.

He looked at his watch and saw that three hours had elapsed. Simultaneously, a doctor came out of the operating room and whispered to the nurse. She motioned to Matthew to come over. The doctor apparently assumed that Matthew was a member of the family, and spoke to him.

“How are you related to Carrissa?”

Matthew paused for just a moment, then said, “I’m her uncle.”

The surgeon nodded his head. “So are you Mr. Jones?”

Matthew wasn’t sure if the surgeon was testing him or tricking him, but quickly responded, “Yes. Matthew Jones.”

The surgeon awkwardly shook his hand and said, “Well, Mr. Jones, here’s the situation. Carrissa has numerous broken bones, but that is secondary to the fact that being tossed in the air and landing on the windshield has given her severe brain trauma. We’ve drilled a hole in her skull to relieve the pressure, but she’s presently in a coma. And before you ask, I don’t know how long she’ll be in that state, or if she’ll ever recover. But I can tell you that the next 48 hours will speak volumes. If you have any other questions, my name is Dr. Zendquist.”

Matthew nodded his head and patted the surgeon on the shoulder. “Thank you for all you’ve done,” he said, his voice choking with tears.

Matthew got the room number for Carrissa, and headed down the hall, arriving at the door of 313. The room was still. Encircled by a curtain was a hospital bed. Matthew looked right and left, then pulled back the curtain. Lying on the bed was a damaged young girl, who looked even smaller than she had appeared sprawled on his windshield. She was covered in gauze and bandages, tubes coming out of her arms, legs and nose, and a ventilator nearby was noisily inhaling and exhaling her life. It was so ugly.

Realizing he was still alone, with no one anywhere in earshot, Matthew did something he had not done since he was a boy.

He prayed.

Not a polite prayer. Not a memorized one from a book of religious order. No.

One from his heart.

“God. The God of Jubal, Soos, Jo-Jay and Jesus. This is just screwed. I need your help. This girl needs your help. Please do something.”

Matthew left the room, stopping off at the nurses station to establish his “uncle” routine, and discovered that Carrissa Jones was from Iowa, and that her parents had been contacted, but wouldn’t be there until the next day.

Out of the clear blue sky, Matthew asked if he could stay in the room with Carrissa until they arrived.

“All night?” asked the nurse.

“If you wouldn’t mind,” Matthew replied.

She provided a small cot, blankets and a pillow. Matthew settled himself in for a vigil, waiting to see what his prayer would summon.

He stayed awake for a long time, taking the opportunity to examine life. What had brought him to this silent room, watching over a very damaged little girl?

He realized he wasn’t technically at fault. At the scene the police had surmised that Carrissa had come to the trash dumpster behind the casino where her pop idol had performed, hoping to find cups, discarded posters or anything that she could take as a souvenir of her time in Vegas, seeing Loozeal. It was a bizarre series of events ending in a tragedy.

About four o’clock in the morning, Matthew, having dozed off, was awakened by the arrival of nurses and a doctor. He was sent out of the room as these agents of mercy tried to revive Carrissa, who had gone into heart failure.

After ten or fifteen minutes, they came out of the room, a couple of them in tears. The doctor took Matthew’s hands and said, “She’s gone.”

He patted Matthew on the shoulder and said, “I know this is hard to understand, but maybe it’s better this way.”

As they walked away, he stared at the lifeless body of a little girl who just wanted a souvenir.

Maybe it’s better this way?

He turned and ran down the hallway, startling the staff, jumped into the open elevator, down to the main lobby and out the door, not stopping for a second to speak to anyone. He ran into the street and hailed a cab.

He took the cab back to his lodging, raced to his room, slammed the door, turned out the lights and whispered across the dark room, “Fucking shit. My prayer killed her.”

He turned on the light next to his bed, grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels he kept nearby, and guzzled until he passed out.

The next morning, he awoke to a knock at his door. He thought he was dreaming, still under the influence of his old friend, Jack. The knocking persisted, so he struggled to his feet, stumbled to the door and opened it.

Standing before him was a well-dressed man in his early forties, his face exuding neither joy nor displeasure. He reached out to stabilize Matthew, who was wobbling.

“You must be Matthew Ransley,” he said matter-of-factly.

Matthew suddenly was engulfed by the memories of the previous day’s horror.

“I would give anything not to be,” he replied.

The gentleman helped Matthew walk back into the room and find a seat on the bed.

“My name is Carlin Canaby,” he said. “And you are in trouble.”

“What do you mean?” asked Matthew.

Carlin sat down on the bed next to him, put his arm around his shoulder and said, “You killed a girl with your car. And even though it wasn’t your fault, your life is so screwed up that it wouldn’t take an attorney much effort at all to prove that you’re responsible.”

“I am responsible,” said Matthew.

“Hush,” said Carlin. “Don’t be talking that way. You do your confessing to God. But you and I need to work on your story.”

Matthew leaned back and took another look at the stranger, disconcerted. “Who are you again?”

“I’m Carlin Canaby. I’m head of an organization called ‘Liary.’”

Liary?” questioned Matthew.

“Yes,” said Carlin. “Let’s take it one step at a time.”

“Are you an attorney?” inquired Matthew.

“Hell, no,” said Carlin. “I’m a consultant.”

Matthew struggled to his feet and walked to the other side of the room. “A consultant? I don’t think I need a consultant. I need an attorney.”

Carlin stood up and came over to Matthew’s side. “You will require an attorney, but you need to consult with someone before you ever go to one.”

“Do I know you?” asked Matthew.

“No,” answered Carlin. “I was sent here by a friend. And before you ask, I’ll tell you about the friend later. What I want to know is what you think about the accident.”

Matthew sank to his knees and said, “I killed a young girl. Twice. Once with my car, and the second time, with my prayer.”

 

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Jesonian … March 10th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3607)

Not every morning supplies a miracle. Weeks can go by without walking on water–or water turning into wine, for that matter.

Truthfully, life is more like dry cereal looking for milk–not much to be excited about unless you brought along your own thrills.

This was true in the life of Jesus, too.

Fortunately, the Gospel writers tell us about the good moments and also the bad ones. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John share that sometimes Jesus just hung out, to “tarry” with his friends. And just like us, often his activities were dictated by the whim, intensity and preoccupation of his audience or critics.

In the Good Book, Matthew 19, there is such a situation. Jesus is minding his own business when he is confronted by the Pharisees, who seem to spend a lot of time worrying about things that don’t matter to anyone else. They were especially distressed over the issue of divorce–not because they were against it. The Law of Moses and also the Oral Law, which had been constructed by religious leaders over many centuries, allowed men to divorce their wives simply by leaving a note on the pillow.

The Pharisees felt that Jesus had a different outlook on the subject, so they confronted him about the dilemma.

Jesus made it clear that he believed divorce to be chauvinism. He explained that marriage is meant to be an experience between people of equality, who decide to leave their families to form their own union.

They were very upset.

Yet escaping their probing, Jesus arrives back in camp to discover that his disciples, who had been cut from the same homespun philosophies and bigotry as the Pharisees, were chasing away the women and children. After all, they thought, Jesus was too important to have time for women, who were lesser, and children, who were insignificant.

The feminist in Jesus comes to the forefront. He rebukes his disciples. He tells them to bring the children–which meant the women, also–to him, and he lays hands on the tykes, blesses and enjoys them.

Often we wonder how miracles occur. Miracles happen because people who know how to treat women and children humbly ask for them.

It isn’t about extended periods of prayer, nor ministers on Sabbatical studying the original Greek. Rather, miracles are about people who know how to play with children–people who are aware that a woman is not a “weaker vessel.” When these people pray, God listens.

Jesus treated women as humans. On this week, with “International Women’s Day,” we need to consider what this entails.

Jesus gave women empathy, but not sympathy: You are as good as men, but don’t pull up lame and fall back on femininity when you think it’s to your advantage.

So even though Jesus showed compassion on the woman caught in adultery, he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Go and sin no more.”

He relished a conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria, but when she said she “had no husband,” he reminded her that she had married five husbands, and was now living with another man.

When his mother tried to interfere with his work, he spoke to her as an equal, not as a son, and said, Back off. It’s not my time.

And when busy Martha was doing all the housework, using the “gift of helps” to feed the disciples and Jesus, he stopped her and said, Your sister Mary has decided to listen to the teaching instead of playing “Harriet Homemaker. Follow suit.”

Life is not about what we do when we’re trying to be spiritual or contemplative. Life is lived in the cracks–those moments that seem insignificant when the world around us has cast a negative vibe and it is our job to bring the light.

Jesus believes that spirit begins with how women and children are treated.

I, for one, think he’s right.

 

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Jesonian … January 27th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3565)

Considering what a contrarian Jesus of Nazareth was to structure, practices, piety and legalism, it is sometimes difficult to understand how he ended up bleeding out a religion.

It’s not just his own words, which abhor the strict nature of religiosity, but also the reaction of those who were the faithful partakers–how they deemed him ignorant, a drunkard, a glutton, an evil man who was demon possessed, and a friend of sinners.

Not a rousing recommendation.

Let us start on the basis that all religions have one similar goal–to promote the notion that there is some sort of Supreme Being(s) or enlightenment which prompts us to worship.

Also, when you put the religions of the world in the order of their inception, you gain an interesting insight.

Buddhism and Hinduism preceded Christ, as did Judaism. Then came Jesus. But the only religion that had the benefit of eyeballing the fallacies of following faith without rhyme and reason was Mohammed. Yet the Muslim faith is riddled with the misleading trap doors that open up to fanaticism.

What is the difference between Jesus and Mohammed?

Mohammed wanted to start a cliqué.  Jesus was avoiding one.

Let’s look at specifics.

When it comes to the basics of spiritual expression–prayer–Jesus constantly warned his followers to make their overtures to God as practical and personal as possible. He said that prayer was necessary but should never be done in public to be seen by others, using vain repetition, or at a wailing wall or on a rug, but instead initiated behind a closed closet door.

When the subject of fasting came up, Jesus said there was nothing wrong with it as long as nobody knew you were doing it. In other words, put on a happy face, wash up and look energized by the experience instead of depleted.

How about worship? When he talked to the woman at the well, she was worried about where to do it and the style of doing it. Just like today–should it be contemporary or traditional? Jesus pointedly informed her that location and style were irrelevant. Worship was to be unfolded “in spirit and in truth.”

Seems like we’re on a roll. How about giving? Jesus claimed that giving was the key to getting. He once again wanted to make sure that generosity was not expressed to impress others, but instead, to instill in our hearts the knowledge that every little bit helps, and someday those we assist might come back our way and be our angels of blessing.

And then there’s the Law. Judaism and the Muslims are intent on maintaining a code of ethics, conduct and social interaction that was conceived more than two thousand years ago, with no respect for the power of freedom and the necessity of evolution.

For you see, Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the Law. And what is that fulfillment? Two fold: “He has come to give us life and it more abundantly, and also come that our joy might be full.”

By no means should we condemn or even critique those of the Muslim faith for adhering to their rendition of God. But we must question whether the faith that is promoted has sufficient warnings to scare away all the rascals, fanatics and self-righteous rabble which can try to hurt others by using the words of the Prophets.

  • Jesus told his disciples to worship God by being as normal as possible.
  • He told them to blend in.
  • He told them to honor Caesar instead of hating Caesar.
  • He told them they were the light of the world, not the scourge of the Earth.
  • And most of all, he told them that they had no right to judge. (He even sealed this point by saying that he–Jesus–could judge and it would be righteous and fair, but he refused to do so.)

Christianity works because we know how to isolate our idiots and make sure it’s clear that they are not really part of the faith.

The Muslims talk a big game, but after decades and decades of terrorism, they are still represented by those who kill women and children.

 

 

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