Cross

Cross: (n) the structure on which Jesus was executed.

Word has it the angels appeared at his birth.

There were doves flying about as he was baptized.

He certainly favored his time with children.

His whole message about life began with the word, “Happy.”

He wanted us to consider lilies.

He told stories about sparrows.

He fed five thousand people with bread and fish.

His hands possessed some healing.

It says that he wept.

He marveled.

He talked about seeds, planting, fishing.

He favored the second mile.

They claim he personally emptied a tomb—more than once.

People walked after they met him. They hadn’t done that before.

People could see after an encounter with him—some of them born blind.

He was moved with compassion.

And he had the ability of looking at the world around him and discerning how things work—without bitching.

Yet with all this symbolism—all this imagery—all this amazing storytelling, he is known for a cross.

Unfair.


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Cosmic

Cosmic: (adj) of or relating to the cosmos

When I was in the first grade and they presented math problems for addition—like 4 + 3 and 2 + 7—I did them, believing that when I finished, I would know everything about mathematics.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

They didn’t tell me that subtraction was next.

They might have scared me off if they had talked about multiplication.

And, well, division is so divisive.

If they had shared that by the time I was in high school I would be studying something called calculus, which is mathematics taken almost to the realm of ethereal religion, I might have lost heart in the whole process—or stupidly, tried to jump ahead and take on “the big one.”

That’s the way I feel about people who are involved in religion, spirituality and the cosmic.

Here we have a beautiful Earth to learn, add up, subtract, multiply and even occasionally divide up into parts, and we are still tempted to study the heavens, the gods, the stars and the universal spectrum.

It doesn’t make us better people.

It sometimes makes us too high-minded about things instead of practical.

It certainly can make us self-righteous.

And in the long run, it pushes others away, who might like to have a conversation with us if it weren’t laced with “angels, planets and demons.”

There certainly is a cosmos.

But it seems to me that we should eat the plate that is set before us before we start ordering other things off the menu.

For our Earth is in great need of being befriended by those with bigger brains than the creatures who live in the jungle.

If we spend too much time looking at the stars, the Earth might turn into dust at our feet.


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Clobber

Clobber: (v) to hit someone hard

The quotation is attributed to Teddy Roosevelt: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

An admirable thought, but in a world filled with wack-a-doodle-dandies and nutzoids, there is always someone who eventually tries to make you use your stick.

So if you don’t plan to use the stick, or if you’re against that type of violent behavior, then carrying it around may seem intimidating, especially when you run across someone who has an assault rifle.

I must be honest–I have never actually been in a fist fight with anyone. I have tackled people and used my girth to lay on them, to make them submit to my will–but I have never chosen to clobber them.

The only time clobbering has come into my life was when I was in the middle of a football game and I was running down to cover a kickoff, when all of a sudden, something hit me like a meteor from space. For the next five minutes, I went to visit the Lilliputians on Mars. I was babbling, incoherent and obviously damaged–from being clobbered. To this day I don’t know which player found the correct angle to block me without me seeing it coming, but I came about three-and-a-half angels from meeting Jesus.

On that day I decided that if this were the by-product of clobbering, then I no longer wished to partake, participate or initiate such endeavors.

Even though there is some sort of vague concept in our society that we need to “stand up for ourselves” or otherwise, the bullies will take over, my preferable experience is to learn how to send out really good reconnaissance and find out if there are any bullies on the road ahead, and set my GPS for milder paths.

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Clap

Clap: (v) to applaud

I have spent much of my human journey with two little toes in heaven and the rest of my footage on Earth.

Those two little toes did not go to market. They went to church.

It’s where I sang my first song.

It’s where I met my first girlfriend.

And it’s still one of my favorite spots for spontaneous dozing.

One of the things I discovered about the experience of “church attendance ” is that there is a wide range of opinions on many subjects.

Clapping would be one.

Some churches believe it’s sacrilegious to express appreciation, worship or excitement by striking palms. They find it Biblically and spiritually unsound.

Other churches clap so much that you can’t hear anything else going on. They clap for everything. It’s kind of a “clapping without ceasing.”

As a person who shares his talent in a church, I have to admit to myself that I am also a performer and an artist. (Although I think the word “artist” is overused–even by me.)

As a performer, I do have an ego. Ego is not a bad thing–it’s that little “Nancy-cheerleader” who keeps us from jumping off a cliff just because we had a bad day. (“It might get better tomorrow. Yea, team!”)

When you perform a song, come to the end, and receive silence, it is not golden.

It’s rather moldy.

Ashen.

Empty.

I’m told I’m supposed to sing to the glory of God. But it was God who said, “Clap your hands, all ye people.”

If you’re afraid I’ll get the big-head if you applaud my efforts, then you should pray for me. Don’t snub me.

Until we understand that the Universe pushes energy one direction and there is supposed to be a push coming back from the other way, or else something is afoul, we may just continue to believe that God is so insecure that He is frustrated with anyone else receiving adequate appreciation for his efforts.

Since I wouldn’t even have lunch with someone who’s cantankerous, I choose to believe that when I perform, God applauds, the angels screech…and the congregation should follow suit.

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Burrow

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Burrow: (n) a hole or tunnel

In the great “Wheel of Fortune” of the calendar, this particular essay happens to fall on Easter Sunday morning.

So when I saw the word “burrow,” I realized that throughout history–and especially that fateful weekend two thousand years ago in Mesopotamia–mankind has always tried to dig holes and bury things we don’t wish to pursue.

The interesting fact is that in saner moments, we may even acknowledge we might be better off if the truth we burrow away could come to light and function in our everyday lives.

It’s the process that bothers us.

It’s the loss of our lazy determination that annoys us.

We have grown accustomed to the face of blandness–and even though the consideration of adding make-up to improve our overall countenance is tempting, it seems both unnecessary and exhausting.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Our response? “We’re halfway there.”

We love our own ass. Trying to transfuse and transfer that same energy to our respect for others appears overwrought.

So since he was unwilling to shut his damn mouth, we attempted to shut it for him.

It wasn’t good enough to merely kill him.

We also stabbed him with a spear.

We quickly stuck him in a grave.

We rolled a stone in front of it for fear that any of his dangerous organs might try to dribble out.

And then we hired guards to secure the location just in case somebody was interested in collecting the corpse of a beaten and broken man.

Thorough we were–but sometimes the angels our efficiency do mock.

They rolled the stone away and resurrected the “love your neighbor” boy.

So now we are stuck using our selfishness–but having to do so with a clump of guilt.

 

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Broad

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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

j-r-practix-with-border-2

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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