Café

 

Ca: (n) a small restaurant selling light meals and drinks.

All of my life I have been surrounded by friends who enjoy discovering out-of-the-way, little cafes.

I won’t even mention the fact that these establishments usually last about six months before someone finds one down the street that’s
“cuter.”

I am a big person. (By big, I’m referring to the size of my body, not necessarily my soul.)

So these little places are tedious, if not arduous, for me to negotiate. The tables are tiny and the chairs provide a landing area for only one of my butt-cheeks.

Then there are the toy meals:

Croissants–which can be consumed with three bites.

A Danish–which doesn’t really taste that much better than the one I once ate at a flea-bag motel off their free Continental breakfast.

And of course, the over-emphasis on the coffee and tea.

My friends sit there, cross their legs and chat with one another, munching on the tiny provisions as if they have found a precursor to heavenly bliss.

I am uncomfortable. I am misplaced. I am a dog at a cat rodeo. I am an apolitical advocate who finds himself at a get-out-the-vote rally.

Over the years, I have learned ways to excuse myself from such awkward pretense.

So now when I hear the word “café ,” my brain just naturally translates it into “caf-nay.

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Caesar

Caesar: (n) a title used by Roman emperors

There are certain words that just should not be associated with human beings: king, queen, pope, master, lord, dictator, supreme ruler,
emperor and the general title of Caesar.

We are people. We just do too many fruitless, ridiculous, repetitive and common things to ever believe that any backside was polished by the Divine.

Yet when you get in the presence of someone who deems him or herself to be superior, and has come up with a matching handle to enhance the claim, it is fruitless to attempt to chide them to some sanity and awareness of their human roots.

So Caesars fight Caesars to be the Caesar above all Caesars.

Now that’s a tossed salad.

Yet how wonderful it is to walk around with the simple desire to enjoy life and bless other people and casually quip, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

 

 

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Cadre

Cadre: (n) a small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose or profession.

“I’ve gotta be me.”

It’s a sentiment I’ve never found particularly worthy of my attention. I’ve never been so certain of myself that I did not yearn to have the
fellowship and input of others.

I have found that the word “solo” is a great synonym for “alone.” I don’t like to be alone.

I don’t need other folks to make me feel valuable, or to surround me with a sense of inclusion. It’s just divinely remarkable to encounter individuals who share common anything with one another.

  • Common taste.
  • Common talent.
  • Common faith.
  • Common appetites.
  • Or even common foibles.

Human beings were never intended to be perfect and can be quite obnoxious when pursuing it. We’re at our best when we hang around with each other, admit our weaknesses and garner energy off the cadre of souls huddled in our corner.

When I have attempted to be autonomous, it was like I found myself standing naked in a room full of doctors. It was inevitable they would find something wrong with me.

Am I hiding? Perhaps.

Am I weak? Most certainly.

Am I benefitting from interaction with others?

Always.

 

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Cadge

Cadge: (v) to ask for or obtain something to which one is not strictly entitled.

I did not know this word.

Sometimes when I run across a word I don’t know, I pursue it no further, figuring that if I’ve survived to this point, I will probably be safe to
ignore it for my lifespan.

But for some reason, “cadge” piqued my curiosity. I’m glad I looked it up. I probably will never use it–because people will look at me with that wrinkly face which communicates, “You’re just showing off.”

But to cadge–or cadging–is an infection in our society.

It is a mental illness, leading us to believe that we are to get something before we give something.

All of nature contradicts this assertion:

  • Seed comes before harvest.
  • Consideration breeds love.
  • And we must do unto others if we expect them to do back to us.

But somewhere along the line, we’ve begun to honor the social interaction of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

We wait to see what is available, what people are willing to give, and then we decide how open and kind we will be to them.

Case in point: People who live in the inner city, who often have darker skin, are not able to make large contributions to their congressman. Therefore, it is unlikely that they will get the potholes fixed on their streets. For after all, the politician is cadging to acquire money to re-elect him or her, and since nickels and dimes rarely add up to dollars, the poor will have to wait until someone who is not elected, elects to help them.

We tout ourselves a Christian nation while promoting a social “take and give” which is Jewish or Muslim. It is a philosophy of retaliation–an attempt to get something before we give something, so we can decide how little we have to give for what we got.

It is nasty business.

And it is doomed to failure because there are certainly people who are better at the game of “cadge” than we are.

 

 

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Cadet

Cadet: (n) a young trainee in the armed services.

When I was a teenager, we hated soldiers–mainly because we hated the war. (Well actually, the real reason was that we were all afraid we were going to be drafted into that war to be soldiers.)

Nowadays, we revere the armed services.

We not only “support the troops,” but we’re “grateful for their service” and laud their efforts.

Risking being controversial, may I say that somewhere between deeming the military despicable and granting them sainthood lies the truth.

All of us should be a little embarrassed that it’s necessary for us to have an army. We should pray for a world where such regulation and violent alternatives either decrease or cease to be.

Since that is not our present situation, we should teach our cadets to be war-ready but peace-loving.

In so doing, we will have our first line of defense prepared but not eager.

Well-gunned but not trigger happy.

And provided for without being over-stated.

I salute those who are willing to take up arms to defend the defenseless.

But I warn my country that every time we put a young man or woman in uniform, placing them in harm’s way, we risk losing the abundance of energy and power they could give us by living for their country rather than dying for it.

 

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Cadenza

Cadenza: (n) a virtuoso solo passage inserted into a musical work

When I attended my first musical jam session in Nashville, Tennessee, and I was sitting behind the piano, terrified that I would not know any of the songs floating through the air, suggested by my fellow-musicians, I was rather delighted that I turned out to be somewhat able to keep up–grabbing a chord here and there and playing along.

It went along real well until one of the musicians shouted out, “Take it, Jon!”

It was time for me to express my solo soul, in context with the mutual band experience.

I needed a cadenza. I needed some sort of passage I could play for about eight bars that showed that I was worthy to be part of such a musical combo.

The first time this was shouted out, I brought things to a complete halt by turning to the room–having stopped playing altogether–and saying, “What?”

They found this hilarious, explaining that all they wanted was for me to take a “ride.”

After giggling because I didn’t know what “ride” meant, I then was informed that I was supposed to improvise.

God, I wanted to do good. I wanted these fellow-troubadours to be impressed with me.

So the next time they said, “Take it, Jon!” I did.

I took it so much that I over-played, lost the rhythm and brought the whole musical experience to a screeching halt. One of them counseled me, “Maybe just a few less notes…”

Therefore, the next time I was afforded the opportunity, I played so few notes that they thought I had missed my cue.

After that they were rather reluctant to have me “take it.”

Honestly, I think everybody walked out of the room that night thinking, “He seems to know the chords … but he sure can’t do a cadenza.”

Or some Nashville way of saying that.

 

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Cadence

 

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Cadence:
(n) the flow or rhythm of events

I remember the first time I heard the phrase. I was a young man sitting in a church with a white shirt collar that was too small for me, wearing a colorful tie which
had to be tucked into my pants because it was perniciously uneven.

The phrase was “decency and order.”

The minister was pretty sure he knew understood. He preached a sermon offering a cadence of commitment to form and reason. He contended that Godly ways had to be morally correct and follow a sequence which left no doubt of the purity of the intention.

For instance: sin–but not too much, to where it leaves a lasting mark. Come to your senses, find God, repent, get a job, marry, have children and donate adequate sums to your local congregation.

I hated it.

It’s not that I favored immorality nor was an anarchist. Even though I had an immature young mind, I understood that this was not the true cadence of life. Life arrives in chaos and requires triage.

What do I take care of first? How can I keep this together? What can I seek out to keep from freaking out?

It just seemed to me that sometimes there isn’t enough time and space available to consider the ultimate morality or the best way to stack up possibilities.

I don’t know what the original author of these words was trying to convey, but human beings are rarely “decent” and never “in order.”

If God Almighty is waiting for us to transform into a dutiful and meticulous creation, He certainly failed to provide the raw material. We are erratic. We are uncertain. And our greatest mission in life is to make sure we’re not afraid of who we are.

Sometimes the best we can do is slow things down and use what we’ve got. I suppose that doesn’t sound quite as officious as “decency and order,” but it is more accurate.

Over the years I have tried to become more adept at organization and goodness–but when I fail, I have chosen to laugh at the frailty instead of weeping over my insufficiency.

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