Broad

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Broad: (adj) an ample distance from side to side; wide.

We are a peculiar people.Dictionary B

Every July 3rd in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, we commemorate Pickett’s Charge, where thousands of Southern gentlemen attacked a wall of cannon at the bequest of an aging general who was in the midst of having a minor heart attack due to the summer’s heat.

But for some reason we call that brave.

We paint the picture of humanity with broad strokes.

We weep over acts of patriotism or occasions in which hundreds of thousands of us merge into a common trough.

But I am personally stalled by the warning from a Nazarene from two thousand years ago, who stated, “Broad is the way to destruction.”

It is shoulder-to-shoulder that we march to hell–unaware of our destination, but satisfied that we are right…because we are not alone.

What foolishness.

The best decisions of my life always happen absent human hovering.

When I’m on the “strait and narrow” of my passion, angels of authenticity are prompted to whisper in my ear.

If not, I am inundated by the bad breath of baffled Bohemians.

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Breeze

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Breeze: (n) a gentle wind.

I had absolutely no right or wisdom in hopping into a brown Dodge van and heading off from Ohio to Oregon.Dictionary B

I was twenty-one years old, had a music group and was convinced that the only way to prove to myself or anyone else that this was a viable occupational choice was to go out and try to make money doing it.

In my not-yet-formed brain, the logical step was to drive to Oregon, where two people had promised us a place to perform–as long as we understood there would not be much money.

Who could pass up such a bonanza?

I have mercifully had most of the trip wiped from my memory and relegated to oblivion–but I do remember driving through South Dakota, where the temperature had soared well over 100 degrees, and being so hot in our un-air-conditioned confines that we stopped in a small town at a public pool to cool off.

Even though the sun was blistering and scorched our skin, the water was ice cold, so we were a little deceived by the fact that we were actually being poached.

I got the worst sunburn of my life.

It was so bad that when we went to the drug store and bought one of those spray treatments, my hot skin turned the liquid into little scraps of paper.

I was miserable.

On top of that we had no money–procuring lodging in a motel was completely impossible.

So we found a park just outside that little town, pulled the van over, opened up all the doors, perched on some bean bag chairs we carried with us, and lay there, broiling in our burnt flesh, surrounded by humid air.

I was so miserable that I prayed.

I didn’t know if I wanted God to kill me or peel me like an orange.

About twenty minutes after I finished my little supplication, a breeze came up.

I will never forget it.

Because my skin was ablaze, the air was chilly–and felt so good. That breeze stayed with us all night long, so we didn’t swelter in our van or die of sunburn.

Now, some people probably would say that wind was a natural phenomenon of the South Dakota wilderness.

Others might insist there were three exhausted angels blowing in our direction all night long.

It doesn’t really matter what you believe, because God made the breeze … just as surely as He made the angels.

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Beatific

Beatific: (adj) blissfully happy; imparting holy bliss.Dictionary B

He probably smelled like sweat, grain and farts.

I’m talking about Jesus.

Since he was always on the move in an arid climate and there were no ways to prevent body odor, he reeked.

There was also no halo around his head to let you know that he was special, divine or even beatific.

  • What you had was an encounter.
  • What you possessed was your sense of wonder.
  • And what you had to decide for yourself was whether what you heard could contradict what you were seeing and smelling.

I supposed it would be easier if angels came with a glow. But actually, angels just come with truth. And even though the truth makes us free, we are not always in a hurry to discover our freedom, but are literally captivated by our error.

What tells us that the experience in front of us has eternal possibilities?

How can we know that we’re in the presence of greatness?

And how can we allow words and ideas which may seem contradictory to our training to come and soothe us with mercy and tenderness?

I don’t know the answer.

It is the way of mankind to ignore true value in favor of cheap exchange.

But we can take hope in the notion that beauty can often be identified by the presence of genuine humility.

 

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Barometer

Barometer: (n) an instrument measuring atmospheric pressureDictionary B

Sometimes a barometer is just a barometer.

In other words, it is some sort of instrument that measures the pressure in the atmosphere, to let us know when it’s going to rain or whether we have at least the possibility for some sunshine (even though I am both perplexed and perturbed when the forecast reads, “partly cloudy.” Dammit, make up your mind.)

But in the passing of time, the word “barometer” has been abducted and held for ransom by writers as a term to punctuate any change that happens in society.

In other words, “the barometer of consideration on the Internet lets us know…”

Or the pollsters took some numbers, and “the barometer of the reaction was…”

So tempted as I may be to waddle down that chicken trail of pop culture jargon to make some point about humanity and our times, I will refrain, and allow the barometer to have its space and distinction.

But if I were to add any insight on the issue, I would tell you that the atmospheric pressure of our times is a pair of contentions: humanity is either all animal or is intended to be angelic.

No one seems to want to let people be human–a little classier than Monkeyville, and on the other side of the tracks from Gabriel and the angels.

 

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Antipsychotic

dictionary with letter A

Antipsychotic: (n) a type of drug used to treat psychotic disorders.

I believe the old saying is that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

I don’t know if that means that fools are careless, or angels are chicken shit.

But I do know that ever once in a while, it’s important to risk appearing foolish in an attempt to focus on something that’s important.

So playing the part of the fool, let me state bluntly that America is nuts.

I know that’s not a clinical word normally used by psychiatrists, but it does describe the mishap of activity that is being presently performed under adult supervision.

Religion, politics, entertainment and corporations have lost all sense of morality and even any compass for productivity, chasing down either imaginary dragons or unicorns in the enchanted forest.

There seems to be a national sense of neurotic.

Now, what is the difference between being neurotic and psychotic?

  • Neurotic is when you’re afraid that you’re going to go out on the street and get robbed, so you end up staying at home.
  • Psychotic is when you stay at home and have a visceral experience of being robbed by imaginary thieves named Imogene and Darnell.

Here’s my concern: neurotic people can become psychotic if their neurosis is not talked out.

I believe we’re already on the verge of finding imaginary enemies that are chasing us down instead of having the good cheer and wisdom to tackle simple problems in our everyday lives. So more than ever, people are being prescribed medication for conditions that should be handled among our peers with comedy and conversation.

Yes, if we stop talking to each other, only texting and posting on Facebook, the little demons will start crawling out of the closet and begin to gnaw on our ankles.

So let me be foolhardy and tell you that social networking, the Internet and cynicism are tempting us as a nation to leap from neurotic to psychotic. Then we scratch our heads and wonder why somebody would ever go into a school and shoot a couple dozen little kids.

I know we’re concerned about tragedies like this, but I’m much more worried about the loss of humanity, the missing link in our species that creates brotherhood instead of culture wars, and the rejection of a gregarious nature, forcing us back into our caves, where we scrawl on the walls, admiring only our own artwork.

We will become psychotic, and then will probably become so alarmed that we’ll prescribe a national antipsychotic for the water system if we don’t learn to deal with the neurotic notions that make us feel superior to each other and afraid to merely use our abilities the best we can.

 

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Antinomy

dictionary with letter A

Antinomy: (a) a contradiction between two beliefs or conclusions; an oxymoron.

It really doesn’t matter whether someone is intellectual, spiritual or hedonistic.

There is one antinomy that plagues our race with such ambiguity that it causes us to become overly zealous in our certainty or nearly suicidal in our despair.

We just can’t make up our minds whether life is based on freewill or providence.

By “providence” I am speaking of destiny, or a pre-determined course for our life.

Even though we exert great independence about our choices, we also, at the same time, continue to insist that our lives are guided by forces beyond our control.

It’s what causes an atheist to ask, after viewing a horrible disaster, “Why didn’t God do something?”

And at the same time, it motivates a person of faith to proclaim that some irrelevant and maybe even preventable piece of anarchy “must have been God’s will.”

So as different as we may consider ourselves to be, we are trapped in the same flypaper as hapless insects, at the mercy of universal stickiness.

It’s utterly ridiculous.

Yet it is difficult to find anyone who will take a stand and admit they are solely “freewill” in their belief, or that they contend that everything for our lives.has been pre-destined.

When you persist in promoting this oxymoron of “freewill/destiny,” you always end up with a conclusion that nothing could have been done and that the purposes–divine or secular–were just enacted.

So let me be bold:

I am a freewill creature.

99% of my problems are caused by my poor choices, ignorance or stubbornness.

Even those things I deem to be accidents, when later reflected upon, were quite avoidable. For I would much rather take responsibility for the sum total of the additions of my life than superstitiously gaze into a crystal ball, wondering what the gods have devised for me.

Life clears up really quickly when you understand the concept of freewill. You don’t fear devils, you don’t summon angels, and you can alleviate most of your finger-pointing.

For after all, the only way to empower human beings is to let them know that their destiny is forged … one decision at a time.

 

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Annunciation, The

dictionary with letter A

Annuciation, The: (n) announcement of the Incarnation by the angel Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:26-38)

Angels have personalities.

I suppose one has to believe in angels or accept the concept of personality.

We know they have some sort of thinking process– one-third of them decided to rebel against management and ended up earth-bound. (Sometimes I think we fail to realize that losing a third of your personnel is a pretty heavy indictment against the employer.)

So I wonder what Gabriel, an angel in good standing, felt like when he was instructed to go to Earth and tell a young, teenage girl that the Holy Spirit was going to overshadow her and that she would bear a child, and even though the offspring would be the Savior of the world, for the first nine months, it would be a much-unwanted pregnancy.

I’m not so sure that a young, Jewish girl in that time would have been aware of the procreative process. So did Gabriel get stuck explaining sex and God–in the same visit?

Or were young girls of the time so confined within tiny, stone huts that actually, Mama and Papa’s evening groanings needed to be explained earlier than usual?

But I will tell you three positive things:

  1. Only a teenage girl would think it was cool to have a baby. If God had caught her any older, she would have been more rational.
  2. Only a young lass would have the faith of a child and the optimism to think that God really saw her personally and wanted to bless her uniquely.
  3. And only Mary stands out singularly as the woman that God chose, to birth the promise of the ages.

What a difficult assignment it was for an angel to annnunciate the heart of God into the fragile mind of a superstitious, adolescent and poverty-stricken little girl.

It is so much the story of humanity–with all of our technology, intellect, pursuit of knowledge, political maneuvers and theological profundities, it is still one single person believing in the unbelievable … marching us forward.

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