Confessing … September 26th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2704)

XXI.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

  • He was 69 years old and I was counting down the days to my 18th birthday.
  • He was slender and I was fat.
  • He was a veteran of World War II and I was trying to figure out how to get out from under the Vietnam draft.
  • He was an agnostic and I was “Little Charlie Church Chum.”
  • He was a psychiatrist and I, on the other hand, was impatient.
  • He loved his daughter and I was having a high school affair with her.

This man and myself shared absolutely nothing in common, which became obvious whenever we were left in a room alone together.

But despite all these differences and the fact that he did have a reputation for being a curmudgeon, he allowed the two of us to take his Corvette convertible to the prom. He gave me about three minutes of instruction, and with that exhaustive training, I went out in the middle of the night on the 3-C Highway to see how fast the car would go. When it hit 105 miles per hour, I chickened out, slowed down and went home.

I think he felt fairly confident in being supportive of his daughter’s present romantic choice because he knew that in a couple of months, he was retiring to Mexico to live by the ocean, taking his little family with him.

What he didn’t know was that his daughter was pregnant.

I wish I had been man enough to sit down with him and own up to the situation, but I was frightened over my actions and also feared that he would send her away to New York to get an abortion.

So instead, we plotted against him. And just a month and a half later, when my girlfriend was supposedly safe at the University of Arizona, learning how to be a freshman, I flew out, grabbed her and we took off to start a life together.

He was furious.

He was so upset that he called the Tucson, Arizona, police department to stop us, but of course, there was nothing they could do.

He disowned her.

Being a young foolish boy, I cast him into the role of the villain, easily fitting him with the required black hat.

I wish I could tell you that things worked out.

They didn’t.

Seven years later, he died of cancer in Mexico, having never reestablished contact with my wife nor having ever seen his three grandchildren.

I suppose I could tell you the reasons for my action or convince you of her father’s more sinister side.

But you see, that’s not what Confessing is about. It is not being apologetic while simultaneously trying to explain away your motivations.

I was young, dumb, careless and unappreciative to a man who could have used the image of a responsible Christian fellow.

I failed him.

Whatever he’s doing, wherever he is, I want him to know today that I’m very sorry that I interrupted his plans.

 

Confessing Leonard

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Untotaled: Stepping 57 (September 6th, 1970) Leavin’ on a Jet Plane … March 7, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2524)

(Transcript)

I had never flown on an airplane.

Matter of fact, the only time I had been to the airport was when I got lost in Gahanna and ended up with the front end of my car staring at a fence, at the end of a runway.

So when a friend dropped me off at the Columbus International Airport Terminal (an unfortunate choice of names) I was scared to death and inched my way through the door and up to the ticket counter, where a lovely young woman assisted me to purchase a stand-by student ticket for Tucson, Arizona, which was due to leave at 10:44 that morning.

She asked me if this was my first flight. I lied and said no.

I don’t know why I lied–I guess I didn’t want to come off like a rube, but it was a huge mistake. Because after I acquired my ticket, I sat in the lobby at the front of the terminal, and when 10:44 came and went, I found the courage to ask the lady who had sold me the ticket why the plane was late.

She, realizing now that I was a liar about travel experience, explained that it was necessary to go to the gate to depart on the airplane–not stay in the lobby of the airport.

It was a good tip.

She graciously found a way to transfer my ticket to the next flight, and at 2:23 that afternoon, I flew out to Arizona.

Rube, as it turns out I was, I had not considered what I was going to do when I landed in Tucson. The airport ended up being quite a distance from the university and a taxi was out of the question.

I decided to walk through the desert to get to town. Fortunately, I was rescued by a long-haired young gentleman driving a green Volkswagon bug with a peace sign on it. He drove me to the college, took me to a motel, where I did actually acquire a room for the night–for five dollars.

Being insanely optimistic and young, I felt that the worst part of my journey was over, never realizing that back home in Ohio, somebody had gotten wind of my plans and had called my girlfriend’s father, warning him that I was on my way to get her.

So I took a short nap at the motel, walked out of my room towards the college, being trailed by a Tucson police car, which obviously couldn’t interrupt my plans, but certainly spooked me.

It was at that point that I realized that the adventure had just begun,

I found the dormitory my girlfriend stayed in, confirmed that she was going to be there and waited for her to get back with her friends.

It had just begun to rain in Tucson (which is usually a local holiday) when my girlfriend walked in the door with her pretty little raincoat and saw me for the first time.

I would not describe her look as glee; nor was it disgust.

How about horrified surprise?

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The Difference… July 7, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1936)

huntington pianoOften the difference between success and failure is the voice within that gains our full attention.

I was twelve years old. A traveling gospel quartet came to our church and sang, with a pot luck dinner following. Everybody went to the fellowship hall–except I grabbed three of my friends, went into a nearby Sunday School classroom which had an old Huntington upright piano, and I tried to get the four of us to sing like the quartet we had just observed.

After a while we became loud and boisterous, so one of the deacons popped his head in and rebuked us for failing to be part of the church family through enjoying an “afterglow” with the gospel singers. My three friends slunk away with the avenging deacon and I pretended to follow–but then slipped back to the room and just played the piano more quietly, so as not to be heard.

That night made a difference to me.

Several years later, a minister and counselor told me I should forget my girlfriend, who had gone away to college in Arizona. He said she obviously did not love me,  and was afraid I was going to make a fool of myself by continuing to contact her. Little did he know that I had already purchased a student/standby airplane ticket to Tucson, Arizona, He was also completely unaware that my girlfriend was pregnant with our child. That was forty-three years and four sons ago.

I chose a different path. It made all the difference.

Up until the time I was eighteen years old I had never even thought about composing a song. Matter of fact, some of my friends chided me because I was always singing the hits of my favorite groups over and over again. But one day, in the back room of a loan office, where there was a piano, I perched myself, and in less than three hours I wrote two songs of my own making.

That was many writing sessions ago, and hundreds of songs. But that day made the difference.

I borrowed twenty dollars one night to go to a contest in West Virginia with my singing group. Everybody said we wouldn’t have a chance. We went down there and won. They were wrong.

That trip made a difference.

I wiggled my way around to get my group, Soul Purpose, an appearance on a Nashville, Tennessee, television program called the Teddy Bart Show. No gospel group had ever been on, but we worked at it and worked at it until we finally got invited. Afterwards I received a phone call which led to a beautiful working relationship with Marijohn Wilkin, leading to my first national album.

The difference.

I have never achieved anything in my life by playing it safe. I honestly have never found any lasting peace or purpose by pursuing the consensus of those who always seek the higher ground for fear of a flood of creativity.

Of course, I have left out the tales of woe and pain caused by such a flamboyant philosophy. Not every escapade into the unknown was a striking of gold. But it didn’t keep me from going. It didn’t keep me from trying. And it didn’t keep me from believing that life is short–and the only way we elongate it is by playing it too safe and making it so boring that it’s interminable.

It’s the difference.

It’s the ability to hear the voice within you and the confidence to believe that somehow that messenger has been with God and has come to bring a special-delivery mission your way.

It is audacious, it is often over-bearing, it is occasionally lonely–and it is certainly bizarre to those who choose a safer path.

But it isthe difference.

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Dwelling… April 17, 2012

(1,487) 

A house for comfort.

A habitat for happiness.

A resting place for relaxation.

A spot within a cubicle placed strategically in a world not our own, where we can rejuvenate, regroup and rediscover.

It’s a good thing, right? Yes, I would have to agree that under normal conditions, finding a sanctuary of sabbatical for the purpose of sanity is sumptuous. Yes, it actually brings flavor to our lives, cools the brain off from over-heating, takes the soul off simmer and the emoting from emotions. But something I discovered recently was a bit of a shock to my system, while being a great revelation to my spirit. A dwelling can also be an escape from the reality encouraging us towards excellence.

I woke up this morning after having journeyed to Los Angeles, California, on my tour. I was tired. Over the weekend, I had driven nearly 450 miles–from Tucson, Arizona, to San Diego–set up my equipment, did a show, picked up a few hours of sleep and found myself back on the road, pointing to LA.

Before me was a task. We needed to go out and purchase food supplies for the week–a simple endeavor. But my weary body was not only reluctant, but resentful over such an energetic undertaking. I almost decided to go into my “comfortable, happy and relaxed” mode, putting off this responsibility until later. It would have felt good–I mean, it would have been comfortable, made me happy and certainly promoted relaxation. It was a dwelling place where my mind wanted to go in sympathy to my body.

I almost did it. But then I realized that when inevitable things are avoided in the moment of their best application, the season we select to be involved in is rarely as fruitful. Bluntly, life comes with opportunity when it’s needed–and putting it off leaves us with the arduous pursuit but often with less reward. For example, by midday it would have been hotter, more crowded at the store, and we would have a room lacking provisions. My dwelling place of comfort, happiness and relaxation was robbing me of my potential. I realized then and there that what we are comfortable with–or even what brings us happiness and relaxes us–can often be just a cop-out from getting what we truly need and deserve. A dwelling place can be a trap if it has no way of letting in the light, windows for fresh air and doors to escape when we require further expansion.

For after all, there are three things that want to settle into each of our souls and find dwelling:

(1) Prejudice. Of course, we don’t call it prejudice. Each one of us refers to our own personal prejudice as “experience.” Nonetheless, any idea that disincludes other people from having their own liberty is prejudice.

(2) We are often happy with our own insecurity.

  •  “I don’t want to go to that party–I don’t know anyone.”
  • “I don’t want to get a new job. You have to fill out all those applications and meet all those new people.”
  • “I don’t feel well, but I sure don’t want to go to the doctor. They give me the creeps.” 

Each one of us can be happy in our own insecurities, never realizing that these fears are keeping us from our better selves.

(3) And unfortunately, we can become very relaxed with failure. Here’s a definition: Failure is settling back into a position because we’re tired of trying. Failure is an old friend who makes an agreement to not criticize us if we won’t criticize him. Attempting to do new things and improve life for ourselves can be quite exhausting but to become relaxed with our failure, assuming that it’s our lot–or even worse, God’s will–is a dwelling place which becomes a cave, absent of light.

It was a good morning. I went to the store and overcame my prejudice, insecurity and failure. To do that, for a moment I had to relinquish my comfort, jeopardize my happiness and certainly give up my relaxation. The end result was that I got what I needed, I have what I want and my new dwelling place is the confidence in my soul that when choices are given to me–to remain the same or to improve my plight–I am capable of choosing righteously.

Beware of dwelling places that keep the air stale and the confines enclosed. They may make you comfortable, happy and even relaxed, but ultimately, a dwelling place can just become a prison.

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

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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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