My Little Improv… January 5, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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masksSome rules are good.

They help people understand better ways to do things to welcome success and happiness.

On the other hand, some rules are bad. They’re put in place–sometimes in stone–to control folks, eliminating the creative passion that allows us mere mortals to touch the face of God.

I’ve tried to figure out which one is which for most of my life.

When I was a kid, they had a rule in our church that young students in junior high school couldn’t be on the Bible League competition team until they got into the ninth grade. I suppose somebody who originally came up with the idea imagined it was a good thing–to make being on the team a reward, and also that probably most youngsters in seventh and eighth grade were not mature enough for such an endeavor.

It was a bad rule. I objected, complained, lobbied, got it changed and was the first thirteen-year-old on the team.

It doesn’t matter where you go. There are people who enjoy their work so they try to make it more accessible to themselves and others, and then there are those who are a bit miserable, who feel it is their duty to pass on the sullen attitude.

Music, religion, politics, corporations, clubs, schools–all of them have their share of “grumpy grumpers” who really hate their lives and want to make sure that everybody hates equally.

So when I sat down to plan what I wanted to do in my sharing this year–and also how I wanted to expand–I came up with three very important criteria:

  1. I need more time at every stop-off to spend with the audience, to make a greater connection.
  2. I need to work on defining the message instead of allowing the confusion of present philosophy and theology to leave people devoid of feeling.
  3. I need to purposefully break some bad rules.

So yesterday, as I thought about what I’m going to be doing Sunday night–a drama entitled Front Porch U.S.A.–I realized that I was truly blessed with a piece of great improv.

I call it a “three-active play.” By that term I mean that each and every time I perform it, the message, the pursuit and even much of the plot will remain the same. But the words, stories, conflict and resolution will be different each and every time.

There is no script.

I’m going to allow myself to be led of the Spirit, to share what’s on my heart in the moment, as will my fellow-thespian, Janet.

It’s breaking the rules. In theater, you’re not supposed to be too improvisational. You’re not supposed to interact with the audience too much. Blocking, staging and scenery are to remain the same.

I plan on breaking all these rules. Why?

Because I think the three greatest things we possess as human beings are often buried under form and tradition.

  • We have a story.
  • We have a spirit.
  • And we have an imagination.

So every Sunday night, I’m going to trust my journey, my faith and my heart to give an audience, at the conclusion of my weekend, a fresh piece of myself that no other gathered congregation has ever heard.

I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to follow good rules that help people discover their humanity and the breath of God inside them. But don’t be timid in using your improv, and challenge rules that were put in place to stifle and foster “fussy fussers.”

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Lolly Dee … April 25, 2012

Question 1: Do I understand where I am?

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Lolly Dee Sanders.

That was her name. I do not know if it was her Christian name (mainly because I’m not really certain what “Christian name” actually means.) But it is how we high schoolers of the junior class knew her–our English teacher, speech teacher, junior class advisor and also director, producer and promoter of the class play. She had the energy level and the frenetic presence of a monkey who had been away from bananas for weeks. She was well-liked by the students, appreciated by her fellow-teachers and tolerated by the administration. They were not so sure they actually liked her because she allowed the students to refer to her as Lolly Dee (unless grown-ups were around, when we reverted to “Mrs. Sanders.”) It was amazing how mature it made us feel–just being able to call our teacher Lolly Dee–almost the same sensation you feel as a young child when you goes into your back yard, hide behind a pine tree and scream, Goddammit!” You know you shouldn’t be doing it–and you don’t feel any irreverence toward the Almighty. It just takes you out of the chicken-noodle-soup-and-tuna-salad-sandwich brigade and into the realm of black coffee and glazed doughnuts.

That’s what Lolly Dee did. She understood.

For instance, when I tried out for the junior class play, she came to me privately and said, “Listen, you’re really good. You can have whatever part you want.” Now, honestly, I probably wasn’t very good. I was possibly just the only male who auditioned who could make sentences without leaving the punctuation in doubt at the end. But it empowered me. Even as I write this to you, I still feel bolstered by that moment–when this really intelligent, cool and energetic woman gave me carte blanche over my choice.

Later, when my father died just before premiere, she called me into her office. She didn’t ask me anything, just sat there not saying a word, waiting for me to decide what I wanted to do. She was as silent as an Episcopalian watching the offering plate pass. I was moved by such freedom–I decided to go ahead and be in the production.

Likewise, she was magnificent in the meetings of the class officers (where I was president of the class, although candidly, I never did anything, viewing it more as an honorary title).

She taught me something very important, though. Because one day I saw her at the Presbyterian Church sitting around with a bunch of older women who were working on a quilt. Lolly Dee was not energetic; she was not bouncing around the room. She just sat there with those old chickens and clucked out conversation, sewing away. I didn’t even recognize her. She blended in, looking just like one of the older women. Yet that night, as we rehearsed the play at the school, she was supercharged with energy–hugging everyone and encouraging us to do our mediocre best.

She was remarkable. She taught me that the first and most important thing to do in life is to understand where I am.

Yes. Do I understand where I am?

Instead of walking into situations with an agenda, touting my resume or making it clear to everybody how young or old I am by my speech patterns, Lolly Dee taught me to eyeball a situation, find out where I fit in and bring everything I’ve got.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday a minister asked me if I could offer any thoughts in a service in his church–which was very, very traditional, the people steeped in preferences. I said, “Of course.” And the reason I could say “of course” is because I met Lolly Dee. Her life told me how to react to what was already going on instead of insisting on placing my imprint on every situation and my doctrine into every theology.

By the way, I returned to the school the year after I graduated, just to walk the halls, see the teachers and–I don’t know–maybe boast a little bit about how well I thought I was doing. I saw Lolly Dee. She was kind and courteous to me, but then she was off and away to tutor her present crop of chickadees. I smiled. Lolly Dee wasn’t mine anymore. She was intelligent enough to know when I needed her and brilliant in recognizing when to bow out and exit, stage right.

I will never forget her. I don’t know whether she is still alive or has passed on. But she taught me to always understand where I am instead of stomping my feet and demanding place. Because of that, I don’t need special circumstances to do special things.

I just need to be ready.

**************

Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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