Things I Learned from R. B.

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 26

I purchased an old-time gazebo for the front yard of my home on Bayshore Drive. I envisoned it as a place where time could slip away, as two or three friends perched in the gilded cage and talked about important matters of life.

After three treatments of chemotherapy, R. B. requested one of our private sessions—so I suggested we meet in that gazebo, to give us a different perspective, a surrounding of antiquity.

He sat before me with his yellow legal pad and pen in hand. His fingers seemed longer because they were free of flesh—suspended by bone.

He began the discussion by telling me that he had gone from 193 pounds before the cancer to his present weight of 118. I asked him about his chemo and he told me that the doctors were not certain how much shrinkage had occurred in the rectal tumor, but they would take X-rays next week, to gauge whether an operation could provide more Earthly time.

He was amazingly coherent and free of self-pity. Matter of fact, if I had met him the way he was that day in the gazebo, we probably would have been lifelong friends, bonded with mutual respect and devotion.

Everything went well until he brought up the subject of the meeting. He was worried about his bills.

Now, he had not expressed any such concern over the past two years, but all of a sudden, the spirit of a quite-dead father had tormented him from the grave, into fretting over credit rating and propriety.

I was incensed—not mad at R. B., but rather, angry at the human race, because for some reason, we launch out on our teen rebellion and then circle back as old people, defeated, to scrounge at the table of our parents.

Yet I saw a door.

For you see, I did not want to be there for R. B.’s last breath. I did not want to make the funeral arrangements for this man, who was so close, yet so far away.

I suggested that considering his condition, it might be time for him to go back to Rhode Island, to be closer to his family. As I heard myself explain the suggestion, I thought how rational it sounded—almost compassionate.

But R. B.’s reaction was quite different. He was astounded, hurt. He challenged me, asking why I didn’t understand that he had no relationship with his kin—the only family he had was right here and right now.

I was stunned but wanted to be careful. R. B. was a child of God. He deserved a dignified answer and an appropriate ending.

I paused, took a deep breath and replied, “I’m sorry. Of course, we want you to remain here. I just wanted to let you know that if you did feel the urge or the compulsion to return to your loved ones in Rhode Island, we would not be offended.”

His eyes, which had been filled with tears and rage, dried and softened.

We continued our talk. I soon realized that he had no intention of paying his bills. He just wanted me to know that he had a conscience for them. I suggested we take care of these responsibilities after he got on his feet, gained some weight and was on the way to healing.

We only talked about an hour-and-a-half, but he was exhausted. Matter of fact, I asked my son, Jasson, to walk with him to his car, to make sure he wouldn’t fall.

I sat alone in the gazebo as nightfall was creeping its way down our home-town street.

I didn’t know what I thought.

I didn’t know what I felt.

Fortunately for me, it was not an unusual sensation.

 

Populie: The Holy Land … October 29, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2396)

Isis, Jew and Crusader

Land: a retreating of the waters, leaving behind soil which is available for living and planting.

Holy: promoting, initiating and welcoming a sense of wholeness.

These are truths.

So what is the populie? Calling some region in Mesopotamia “The Holy Land.”

It is neither conducive to growing much of anything or welcoming wholeness. Even though it’s only the size of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, it has fostered more death, destruction, bigotry, selfishness, greed and lunacy than any other location on the face of the earth.

Yet the entertainment industry loves to make movies about the Crusades and supposedly deep insightful, flicks focusing on the conflicts between the Jews and the Arabs.

Politics certainly enjoys spouting the term “Holy Land” because it welcomes certain constituencies into the mix for large donations.

And religion adores the idea that this space of property has magical powers or is ordained by God to be the prophetic source of spiritual renewal.

The Holy Land is not. I have never had a desire to go there, nor will I ever, of my own volition.

It is occupied by inflexible souls who mysteriously continue to fight a battle among each other to honor their traditions instead of dealing with the realities of our time.

It is evil in the sense that it pulls down the rest of our brothers and sisters living with us on this planet, because supposedly Abraham said something thousands of years ago, which Moses confirmed and Mohammed contradicted.

They are quarreling brothers who bang on our door in the middle of the night because they’re fighting again, and somebody punched somebody in the nose, and we’re supposed to decide if we’re going to call the cops or just make a big pot of coffee.

I must tell you:

  • Jesus found nothing holy about that land.
  • Matter of fact, he prophesied that it would be left desolate.
  • He told them that even though they believed they were the “children of Abraham,” that he existed before Abraham, and therefore trumped the patriarch.
  • He warned them that their holy temple would be torn down.
  • He told his disciples to begin their work in Jerusalem but to get out of there as quickly as possible and take the mission to the more receptive parts of the world.
  • He explained that true worship of God would not be in Jerusalem, but would be achieved through spirit and truth.
  • And even though we try to make Jesus Jewish and connect him to the Holy Land, he made it clear that he wasn’t called to those who thought they were righteous, but instead, to those whom the righteous considered to be sinners.

We must begin to call this desolate, angry, self-righteous location the dark place it truly is, and stop trying to revere it as a special piece of turf. If not, we will perpetuate the myth that if we just send one more army in there on a crusade, we can finally win back God’s holy land.

For if Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut suddenly decided to start squabbling over land and spiritual heritage, we would go in there and tell them to shut the hell up, get it right or we would close off all supplies and sanction them from our country.

But even though we contend that God is no respecter of persons, we in the United States continue to treat Israel preferentially and look at the Arabs with a jaundiced eye. They probably won’t be ignored, but we need to stop giving them so much of the human stage.

It is not a Holy Land. Stop planning trips there, thinking you’re going to “walk where Jesus walked.”

Because true holiness is where God is.

And the Spirit of God always dwells where there is liberty. There is no liberty in the Holy Land. Even Israel, which claims to be democratic, has restrictions on spiritual expression and prejudice against their neighbors.

Go where there’s liberty, and there you’ll find the Spirit of God. Forgive me for a little bit of flag waving–but that’s why I’m glad to be an American.

And for me, today, as I travel, the Holy Land … is Roanoke, Virginia.

 

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