Untotaled: Stepping 47 (April 20th, 1969) Demise… December 27, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Even though I only lived a few blocks from the high school, I drove my car there–because I could.

I also went home for lunch even though it was basically against policy. Once again, because I could.

On April 20th, I decided to drive to my abode to raid the refrigerator, avoiding the cafeteria surprises. On my way I stopped off at my mom and dad’s little loan company and there was a note on the door. It read:

Closed. Family Emergency.

I knew what that meant.

My dad was in failing health. More accurately stated, he was dying. Forty-five years of cigarette smoking had caught up with him, riddling his body with cancer. So desperate was his situation that there was a quiet celebration among the family when it was discovered that the disease had spread to his brain and in doing so, had closed off the pain centers, making him less of the suffering soul.

I didn’t want to go to the house but I knew it was expected. I pulled up in the driveway and was climbing the steps to the porch when I first heard it: from the upstairs, through the walls, was the hideous volume of my dad gasping for air.

It was a death rattle.

I could not bring myself to go in. I turned around, headed back to school and was so angry–at my dad and at myself–that I skipped the next two classes.

I was furious at myself for being so cowardly, and a rotten person because I didn’t want to be near my father in his last moments.

And I was infuriated with him for destroying his body with smoke instead of dealing with his inadequacies.

I arrived back at school for the last hour of classes. After the session was over for the day I headed to a friend’s house and hung out for the rest of the evening.

Nobody knew where I was. I liked it that way.

I arrived home at ten o’clock. My older brother was waiting for me. He told me that our dad had passed away a couple of hours earlier.

I didn’t feel much, barely even noticing how pissed off my brother was that I hadn’t been there for the death-bed.

He was my dad–but I never knew him. And in like manner, he didn’t know that much about me.

Now he was dead. His ashes of ashes would turn to dust.

I cried.

Honestly, it was not for my lost parent. I cried, feeling sorry for myself.

He deserved a better son. But he should have been wise enough to realize that teenage sons don’t get better.

That is the duty and the mission … of a father.

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Three Ways to Enjoy Family… December 25, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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family

Sitting around a delightful Christmas Eve gathering with the members of my family, I was blessed and enlightened.

Family has provided some of the most treasured moments in my journey, and also a good parcel of the frustrations that have come my way.

Let us never forget that the sweet little family in Bethlehem, which birthed the Savior of the World, turned into a fussy, argumentative clan, which was part of the reason that Jesus was run out of his hometown of Nazareth.

Balance.

It is important for us to know how to deal with our families, or we will end up giving either too much emphasis or too little value to these kinsmen.

Let me give you three ways to always enjoy your brood:

1. Avoid too much reliving and instead, work on restocking.

There is a peril in sitting around reminiscing about the past because it makes us tend to live there. For every time you remember a special occasion, you should simultaneously work on creating a new one. Reliving can be beautiful, filled with tenderness, and is especially effective if you’re in the midst of creating new memories.

2. Honor boundaries.

Once I was Dad. Now I have sons and daughters who are performing their own task of parenting.

I need to find my place–pass the torch. Honor the boundaries.

For instance, my children do not believe everything I believe. I can spend time focusing on our differences or I can revel in our similarities.

My son is no longer my son. He is someone else’s dad. As long as I remember that I can continue a relationship with him which is rich, adult and free.

3. And finally, don’t stay too long.

Every family has a length of time which is perfect for peaceful co-existence. If you exceed this barricade, you will begin to try to heal old wounds but instead, open them up, creating pain and bleeding.

Stay long enough that you’re still enjoying yourself, disappointed to leave, but ready to commence your life, to return again.

Have a great Christmas, but do so by enjoying your family.

Restock your memories, honor each other’s beliefs and boundaries and have the wisdom of making a beautiful exit.

 

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“Ifing” Way: Part 2… October 27, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

Dad arrived just in time.

His youngest son was already primed and ready to run out the door to go see his older brother to try to reconcile hurt feelings. The siblings had never really been close, yet the bond of family had always meshed them with a sense of loyalty. But recent events had exacerbated the tenuous feelings, generating a volatile situation. A simple misunderstanding had turned into a sense of rejection, culminating in a looming burst of rage.

When the incident happened, Dad stepped between them to prevent violence, but the younger son, having a more optimistic nature, believed all that was needed was a good conversation. So he had privately decided to go off on his own, without any counsel, to see his brother at the work site so they could “rummage through their feelings” and arrive at resolution.

Fortunately, Dad came on the scene–just in time.

“Where are you going?” Dad asked.

The young man paused for a second, wondering if he could possibly deceive his father and achieve his own purposes, but then realized that was contrary to his heart.

“You know where I’m going. I’m going to make peace with my brother.”

The father smiled. “I know that seems like a good idea to you, and far be it from me to be against peace, but your brother is a complicated man and his emotions and thoughts are not privy to you, and therefore not available.”

The young man frowned.

Sensing his son’s disagreement, the father continued. “We could talk about this all day and we wouldn’t agree. What I would like you to do is trust me. If I end up being wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. But I would like you to leave your brother alone for a while, until you and I agree on a better time. Because if you go and see him now, all you’re going to do is remind him of the pain of the conflict, and perhaps incense him over the idea that you appear to be the better brother because you’re trying to make things right. I want you to promise me–based upon our friendship and bond–that you will stay away from him until things are better.”

The young man objected. “But how can things get better if we don’t make them better?”

The father patted him on the shoulder and said, “Son, sometimes things don’t get better. But if we interfere, we can make them worse.”

He gave his younger son a hug. The boy agreed to stay away from his older brother until such time as was deemed appropriate.

As it turned out, the conversation never actually happened. The two brothers, who had never been particularly close, maintained a distance throughout their lives. They learned how to be appropriate during family gatherings, and gave each other proper respect and space.

Cain and Abel never became close friends.

But because Adam took his position as a father and intervened in a dangerous situation … no one had to die.

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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G-10: Surrender or Defender … February 7, 2014

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dad and johannPictured is my son, Jasson, mercifully and tenderly holding his ailing boy, Johann.

When the photograph arrived, I was not only moved because of the closeness of family connection, but also in the fact that I realized that it was a snapshot of humanity.

For to become a complete person, you must understand that you will play both roles at one time or another. You will need to be the comforting father, concerned for a struggling friend, holding him close to infuse strength. Yet you also need to be prepared to become the tired, limp, struggling child, who collapses into the arms of a heavenly Father, or an earthly surrogate.

I believe the reason that many people fail in their human journey is because they become reticent, determined not to move freely between these stations. It is a truth that I will find myself needing to be a defender of others–protecting them from the onslaught of the angry horde, but it is equally as powerful to understand that at times, through my own weaknesses, I need to be protected, sheltered and isolated from the avenging crowd.

The world tells me to be strong and never show weakness. In doing so, I am unable to overcome my demons, but merely discuss wrestling with them until they pin me to the ground and destroy me.

Religion promotes the doctrine of weakness, hoping to magnify the strength of God by displaying the useless efforts of our human talent.

Damn them both.

Damn them to the hell they have created for our species. Because sometimes I am a defender; other times I must surrender.

I consider three ideas:

  1. Do I have anything to contribute or offer, other than my opinion or ego? If not, then please, let me sheath my sword and step back, allowing others to lead the charge.
  2. Can the acknowledgment of my weakness end up making me stronger? Yes, do I gain credibility in the earth family by being honest, and therefore worthy of being considered a defender of the truth?
  3. Can I move freely between surrender and defender without feeling lessened or overly self-important?

As life moves, so must I.

At times the blowing of the wind will fill my sails and push me forward. At other times, the same wind will just be a storm.

What a beautiful picture of us as people, as my son tears up over his fragile offspring and the little boy, equally as intelligent, gives over all need for resistance to protective arms.

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Thanks for Giving … November 28, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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First comes the blade

And the stalk with ear

Time brings the heat

As the harvest draws near

The trees with root

Blossom into fruit

We gather in

His bounty again

Thanks for giving

This sweet life we’re living

Hands held unite

Our hearts in joy ignite

Yes, praise with reason

For this blessed season

We gather, Spirit One

To honor Father and Son.

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Trinity to the Third Power … September 29, 2013

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A Father who loves us.Circleville

A son who is our elder brother, to explain things in “people terms.”

And a Holy Spirit, to remind us about good things–and forgive us when we slip-slide away into the bad.

It’s a great system … unless you happen to teach that the father in question is really an abusive step-dad who hates you because you aren’t his kid. Or that the son is a jealous older brother, who constantly reminds you of the sacrifices he’s made for you. Or that Holy Spirit follows you around, critical of your every move, reminding you of only one thing–your inadequacy.

I guess it’s all how you teach it, right? Or maybe it’s how you view it.

I would not be interested in a God who was not my Father. As my Father, I ask Him to take responsibility for His part in creating me.

I would not be interested in a Jesus who was a son who suffered from a persecution complex and hung around the cross all day, just to punctuate the point about his martyrdom.

And I really cannot be interested in a Holy Spirit that IS more of a ghost sent to scare us away from a devil’s hell.

I go to Trinity Lutheran Church in Circleville, Ohio, tomorrow morning. I’ll be curious to see if they use the trinity to its third power–or if they have drained the juice and merely have a trinity by name.

But I will tell them about a loving Father, a friend who sticks closer than a brother and a Spirit that gives us wisdom in our hour of need.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll be interested.

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Triumphant … May 4, 2013

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lutheran church

Triumphant.

Let us all rejoice.

Triumphant.

Make a righteous choice.

Triumphant.

Speak with one strong voice.

Triumphant.

Share the hopeful Word.

Triumphant.

Let our praise be heard.

Triumphant.

Love one another.

Triumphant.

Sister and brother.

Triumphant.

The kingdom is near.

Triumphant.

Reject the death of fear.

Triumphant.

Gather–be as one.

Triumphant.

Father, Spirit, Son.

Triumphant.

Practice what we preach.

Triumphant.

Apply what we teach.

Triumphant.

Ready to receive.

Triumphant.

Desire to believe.

Triumphant.

More than just a place.

Triumphant.

Comfort the human race.

Triumphant.

Now is the season.

Triumphant.

Love is the reason.

Triumphant.

Using what we know.

Triumphant.

Come and watch us grow.

Yes, triumphant.

NoOne is better than anyone else.

Truly, triumphant.

The door is open for you to find yourself.

(This weekend I will be at Triumphant Lutheran in San Antonio, Texas. May we gently add to the verse.)

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*****

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