Not Long Tales … August 13th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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We are overjoyed to announce the initiation of our weekly segment on Jonathots Daily Blog, entitled Not Long Tales. Each and every Tuesday, we’ll be offering you a short story for your enjoyment.

Mrs. Windermoot

Loneliness is a confinement requiring solitude, a commitment without companion.

It had been one year since Mrs. Windermoot had lost her beloved husband of forty-three years, Baris. Even though she had two grown sons who loved her, she found herself very lonely, like a bride left behind on the dock of the honeymoon cruise.

Her sons, Benett and Burgess, were responsive and certainly concerned for her health, but fell short of touching the tender spots of her well-being.

She was alone, which left her lonely. She’d never anticipated being quite so submerged in the sense of absence, but since she had moved into the much smaller two-bedroom townhouse just west of the city, she was constantly battling the pangs of self-pity and the ache of separation.

She did not know any of her neighbors. Several of them had made a visit—but they were all so much younger—and though they promised to return, none did.

Mrs. Windermoot tried to plan activities for herself—making a special dinner, watching a movie. She even scheduled a weekly tea, where she set out all the fixings, including a dozen of her famous chocolate chip cookies. Although it was somewhat entertaining, in no time at all, she was just an old woman sitting in a room nibbling treats.

She never reached the point of desperation—that being sharing her complaint with others. Most of the time she sat very still in her home, wondering whether it was too soon to have another nap.

One day she noticed that a city bus stopped right in front of her house. She had never paid any attention before, but on this particular morning, maybe the sun was shining just right, or she just happened to look out at the correct moment.

But there it was—big as life. 9:31 A. M. It was back again the next day, and faithfully returned the third morning.

So Mrs. Windermoot made a plan. On the fourth morning when the bus appeared, she would get on the bus, and ride as far as it went through the town, and at least have the ability to see other scenery—and maybe even converse with new people.

She dressed for the occasion—one of her best Sunday frocks, and made two dozen chocolate chip cookies, which she tucked away in her purse. She eased her way out the door at 9:15 so as not to miss the arrival and was standing there patiently when the bus pulled up. Not familiar with the route or process, she carefully climbed on as the driver impatiently waited for her to place her money in the slot, allowing her the privilege of being toted about.

She was smart enough to know to bring exact change, but her fingers were not very fast, and finally the bus driver, heaving a huge sigh, took the coins from her hand and completed the job.

Once legally paid for, she inched her way back four rows and sat down. There were only two other people on the bus, and she was nowhere near them, and felt foolish to be on a journey with no apparent purpose.

After a couple of stops, with additional people arriving, she felt better. When someone sat in the seat next to her, she finally worked up the courage to greet the stranger. Her words were met with a bit of kindness, so she offered the young man (obviously on his way to work, because of the uniform he was wearing) … well, she offered him a chocolate chip cookie. He was so grateful, explaining that he hadn’t eaten breakfast, and usually didn’t take the time for it.

At the next stop, while people were getting on, the bus driver walked back to Mrs. Windermoot. He seemed huge. His nametag read, “Mickey.” He leaned down to Mrs. Windermoot and whispered, “Listen, lady. I can’t have you giving out food on the bus. I don’t know where it came from. You may be a nice lady and all—you certainly seem alright—but I could get in a helluva lot of trouble if you were poisoning people.”

When Mrs. Windermoot heard the word “poison,” she flinched—a reflex. The whole idea of her being a sinister murderer seemed absolutely ludicrous, if not offensive. The young man who was still chomping on his cookie interrupted. “Listen, they taste great. You should try one.”

Before Mickey could consider the idea, Mrs. Windermoot was holding one to his nose. Beautiful chocolate chip cookie.

Maybe it was a desire to salve the old girl’s ego, or maybe it was Mickey taking responsibility—taste testing to ensure there was no danger. Or maybe Mickey had missed a breakfast, too. But he grabbed the cookie and chomped away. His expression changed from austere to delight.

Realizing that the bus driver was now eating chocolate chip cookies, which seemed to be coming from the frail lady sitting in the seat, three or four people made their way up the aisle to receive a treat of their own. Everybody was grateful, and the bus driver (still maintaining a bit of his authority) told Mrs. Windermoot that if she brought them again, to “make sure he could check them out before they got passed around.”

Thus began a ritual. Four times a week—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—the lonely woman climbed on the bus with her chocolate chip cookies and rode around town, sharing treats and meeting new folks, turning Bus #572 into a friendly wagon of confection.

Once Mrs. Windermoot realized the chocolate chip cookies were a hit, she brought some little finger sandwiches, Rice Krispies treats—well, almost anything that came to her mind that she could make quickly for at least fifty people. Yes—it didn’t take long for the sweet old woman to gain a congregation of fifty admirers for all of her offerings.

A week passed. Two weeks. A month. Two months. Gradually, Mrs. Windermoot learned the story of Mickey, what the young man she originally met was hoping for his future, and the life stories of a dozen or more fellow travelers. It actually seemed that the bus was beginning to grow in attendance, if such a thing were possible. And everyone always seemed to be in a better mood once they boarded Bus #572 and headed off to pursue their responsibilities.

Then one morning, Mickey pulled the bus in front of her house and Mrs. Windermoot was not there. It was Wednesday. Mickey knew it was the right day. He was concerned, as were four or five other people, who stared out their windows, desperate to see the old lady emerge with her kindness and generosity.

But she was nowhere in sight.

Mickey was on a schedule, but his curiosity overwhelmed him. Where was she? Then his imagination went wild. Why wouldn’t she be out there? Was she alright? Did the old lady die?

It was right after this last question crossed his mind that Mickey decided to climb off the bus and go knock on her door. He did not notice that three or four other people joined him, apparently feeling a similar concern. Mickey knocked, and he knocked again. He peered in the window. There was no movement.

He reached over, tried the doorknob, and it opened. How foolish of the old lady not to lock her door, he thought.

But motioning to those who had trailed behind to “stay back!” he stepped into the house to investigate. Human nature being what it is, of course nobody listened to him, and they followed him through the door like a little train of detectives.

Inside there was an eerie silence. No sound.

There was one light on in the house, which appeared to be coming from the kitchen. Mickey inched toward the light, listening carefully for any movement. He was frightened—afraid of what he might find. He turned to those following, holding a finger to his lips, demanding that they remain quiet. He walked slowly to the opening of the kitchen, and as he rounded the corner he looked. There she was. It was Mrs. Windermoot.

She was sitting in a chair, peeling eggs.

She turned around, surprised to see Mickey in her home, and gasped. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

A good question. He didn’t know how to explain that he was expecting to find a body, not an egg peeler. “When you weren’t out there for the bus, I got scared, so I decided to check on you.”

Mrs. Windermoot glanced over at the clock that sat on the stove. “Well, you’re two hours early,” she explained.

Mickey looked at the same clock. It read 7:40. Leaning down and peering at it, he reported, “Ma’am, for some reason, the clock stopped. It’s 9:37,” he said, looking at his watch.

Mrs. Windermoot turned red with embarrassment. She looked behind Mickey and saw that there were six other people in the house, staring at her.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I thought I was ahead of my time! You see, I got up this morning deciding to boil eggs to make egg salad for our trip today. I wasn’t sure whether to hard boil them or soft boil them, so I decided to go in-between. But when I got to the in-between time, I thought how terrible it would be if they were runny, so I boiled them again.”

There was a pause, then everyone laughed.

Mrs. Windermoot was not certain why she was so hilarious, but she appreciated the affirmation. Mickey patted her on the shoulder and asked, “How long would it take you to finish your project?”

Mrs. Windermoot crinkled her brow, thinking intensely, as if pondering the national debt. “I should be ready in twenty minutes,” she said.

Mickey looked back at the passengers in the room, cleared his throat and said, “Well, I’ll tell you what. I shouldn’t do this, but there’s no reason why I can’t make four or five more stops, and then come back around on Johnson Street and pick you up—as long as NO ONE TELLS ON ME.” He raised his voice at the end.

Everybody nodded their heads in agreement. Mrs. Windermoot looked up at Mickey and said, “I’m sorry to have been so much trouble.”

Mickey patted her on the shoulder. “You’re no trouble at all. Matter of fact, a lot of trouble has left since you came along.”

Mickey corralled all the souls and they headed out the door. As they streamed back to the bus, Mickey realized he was taking a big chance by changing the schedule. What if someone noticed? What if there was a new customer who complained to the company about the delay? What if this was one of those weeks when there was a spy on the bus, evaluating his ability and performance?

As he reached the steps to climb into the bus, he scratched his head. He glanced back at the house, wondering if he should run and tell the old lady that he had changed his mind. Then…

Mickey shook his head and chuckled. “What the hell,” he said to himself. “No one’s gonna care. And I sure do love a good egg salad sandwich.”

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Drawing Attention … August 29th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Here’s a video of the upcoming schedule for Jonathots.

Press or click the middle of the screen and enjoy.

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Published in: on August 29, 2018 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Good News and Better News… November 28th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-man-thanksgiving

Yesterday–for the first time all year–I did not go to a church and share my heart for a Sunday morning worship service.

I am officially on hiatus for the Christmas season. I think the obvious questions would be, how do I feel about not ministering and performing. Did I miss it?

Actually what I felt was nothing.

Although some people would consider that to be a negative statement, “nothing” is the most positive position in which we can find ourselves.

Several years ago I was prompted in my spirit to close letters I wrote to a friend with the phrase, “without nothing.” I think she was a bit confused by this departing phrase, but it’s quite simple. Without nothing, something has no chance of happening.

The best way to ensure that you will not pursue anything of new value or creativity is to constantly claim, “I’m busy.”

Busy smothers the better parts of our soul

Busy convinces us that we have no time.

And busy shuts out others in preference to a pre-arranged party-goers.

When we finally stop being busy, we can arrive at nothing, which then offers the possibility of something.

If we don’t have enough time on our hands to be nearly frustrated by the time on our hands, then we’ll never use the time on our hands to take our hands to create.

  • Without nothing, there is no something.
  • Without a void, there is no filling.
  • Without loneliness, no new relationships.
  • Without grumbling over the absence of a feeling, there is no seeking innovation.

So as I sat in my chair Sunday morning, thinking for a moment what song I might be singing or story I might be telling under normal conditions, I was suddenly flooded with the assurance that God uses nothing to get my attention to do something.

That’s the good news.

The better news is: I found something.

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Waiting for the Load… October 13, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

Swimming pools have water. May I follow that revelation with the admission that I enjoy water? Baptism, baths, splish or splash–the wet stuff is nice.

That’s why it’s difficult to believe that until I was twenty-seven years old, I never put on a suit, went to a swimming pool and jumped in the water with my friends. I was fat. I was that “adolescent obese,” where as a man, you have muscle and strength but you’re also covered with enough loose skin and blubber to make it appear, from a distance, that your sex is ambiguous. At least that’s the way I felt.

I actually sat by the pool with my companions, dressed in long pants, shirt and shoes and pretended I was having a good time while they all acted “cool in the pool.” They pleaded with me to come in but I always told them, “Next time.”

As you well know, next time never comes.

Matter of fact, as I look back on it, I’m not quite sure what finally prompted me to slide on a pair of short pants, take off my shirt and flop my way into the refreshing tide. I think I finally just got tired of being tired. I got weary of being the one who had explanations for all my insecurities, which were generally accepted by those around me.

I bring this up to you because the first time I did go in a pool without a shirt, wearing trunks, was probably one of the more horrible experiences of my life. I  succeeded in finding a time when there was no one at the pool and slid into the water without being eyeballed. But lo and behold, before I was able to make my departure, a kid’s party invaded the establishment, with balloons and about twenty of the brattiest children I have ever met. So I dunked myself under the water to hide my obvious thighs, but the time of the party extended beyond my available pool time. In other words, I had to get out of the pool in front of the kids.

I put it off and I put it off. Finally, it was beginning to look like I might be a little odd or checking out the children for hanging around so long, so I headed for the exit steps and ascended. As I came out of the pool, I noticed that the children, who had been screaming and playing behind me, suddenly fell silent. All at once, one of the boys started to laugh, which caused all the other children to burst into hooting and hollering.

I was humiliated and angry–and in my haste to try to grab my shirt, I tripped over a chair and fell against the fence. This only increased the enjoyment of my little rabble-rousers. I stomped away, saying some nasty little piece of nothing in their direction. It was months before I attempted to be courageous again.

But I learned that day. Well, maybe it was weeks after that I learned. But eventually, a lesson did land in my spirit. Here it is. No matter what we attempt, no matter how we try, no matter how much we plan–every day life is going to arrive with a load.

It isn’t there to aggravate us. It isn’t Satan tracking us down so he can poke us with his pointy tail. It isn’t because we are full of evil and depravity. And it isn’t because we “forgot to do something” and next time we need to be more careful. It’s just that God allows Mother Nature to mix things, up so all the big boys and girls don’t grab all the big marbles and go into the big house and make their big plans and look out of their big windows–and laugh at all the little people. In other words, all of us take a turn at losing our marbles.

This week, as I have launched on this faith-mission with my health, the realization about the “Load” has been prevalent in my mind and present in my reality. Take yesterday. I love Fridays on the road because I have an extra writing session–a letter I write to 350-plus pastors across the nation who have become my acquaintances and friends. It is also laundry day. Without fear of losing my macho portion, I love the smell of clean clothes. It is a day to plan for my weekend, when I will get to meet wonderful, dynamic human beings and share my dribble of talent and insight.  Yesterday was no different. I had all those blessings, but mingled in was the realization that I am struggling in my walk.

So what is the key to life when we’re all “waiting for the load”–that unexpected punch of possible problems that comes our way, ignoring both our wishes and our pre-packaged purpose? It’s a two-step process:

1. Plan simple so complications won’t frustrate you. If you look at what you decide to do on any given day and you’re already exasperated, take four things off the list. Because four things will get added on later without your permission, and if you have kept your list intact, you will not only be overwhelmed, you will become infuriated.

2. Budget in time for rest. You may not get it, but if you don’t budget it, you can guarantee yourself that you’ll never find a moment to take a breath during the day.

There’s the magic. I woke up yesterday morning knowing that I am still having pain in my legs, with some difficulty in standing to my feet without a grimace or two. So what became my load?

Well, because I have been working so hard to try to walk, I had to overcome a muscle ache in my right leg. But I did have a great bathroom stop which, for some reason or another, seemed to alleviate some of the discomfort.

I made my way down to the pool in the wheelchair and lowered myself into the water and it felt so good–but walking around in the pool was a bit painful and caused climbing the steps and getting back into the chair to have a bit of a Herculean effect.

It was completely balanced–but I did not begin the day setting any anticipations that did not seem reasonable. I was waiting for the load.

It is coming. There is no temptation that is not common to all of us. Please do not think you are going to escape making tough decisions in faith, simply because you have padded a bank account, paid into Social Security, done an oil change on your car or saw the doctor a month ago. There is one certainty for all of humanity–there will eventually be something that comes our way that we did not plan for that will jettison us from this earth.

So, what did I learn yesterday while I was “waiting for the load?” I once again praised my heavenly Father for such an articulate and meticulous organizational creation, available to us mortals if we will allow ourselves to be human instead of insisting that we’re gods.

Here is a four-stanza little verse that I pass on to you, which you may want to absorb into your everyday thinking:

No more than we can bear

Not less than we can share

Not easy to make us lazy

Not hard to make us crazy.

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