Contain

Contain: (v) to control

This will be over-simplistic.

I know this.

Often, in an attempt to take away the complications of life, there are individuals who will rise up in horror and accuse those who are trying to break down life into funny wisdom on words that begin with a Cnuts and bolts, and attack them for such a foolish endeavor.

With that in mind, I offer this silly premise:

Great life is about avoiding frustration.

Frustration is caused by trying to do something that doesn’t want to be done. Maybe it rejects your efforts now, or it’s containment is denied to anyone, at any time.

But further effort will only produce frustration, which eventually promotes cynicism, leading to the emotional desert of faithlessness.

I do not know what I can contain.

I try to contain myself within a diet. Even when I’m successful at following a regimen, sometimes my body feels affronted and refuses to shed pounds, in order to protect me from starvation.

I try to contain my belief into a quaint explanation of my hopes only to discover that when inspiration wants to crack through the atmosphere of Earth, it will often contradict my theories.

I try to contain prejudice and racism from permeating the society in which I live, only to discover that my best chance is to focus solely on my own quirk.

We become boggled because we begin to believe we have enough answers accumulated to solve all the equations. We are soon frustrated. And frustration is what brings us our worst…

Oh, I already said that.

 

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Conducive

Conducive: (adj) making a certain situation or outcome likely or possible.

There is a rumor that’s been going around for almost two thousand years–that the three greatest forces on Earth are faith, hope and love.

It persists.

There have been extravagant attempts to extinguish this trio and replace them with work, money and power, but in the end, there they are–standing tall.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Faith, hope and love.

But there are certain things that are conducive for these three to thrive. If you don’t have them, then it may certainly seem that they’ve gone away, at least for a season.

Faith requires a questioning love. That’s what is conducive to its growth. Questioning because that’s the only way we can put our faith to a true test, to see if it will hold the water necessary to contain the hope we all need.

But faith does not work without love, and I’m talking about the kind of love that appreciates those who launch out and try new things without fear.

Now, hope needs to have a chance to be acted out with a good plan. This is what is conducive to its well-being. Too many committees snuff hope out simply because a cynical spirit refuses to believe that either God or human beings can give their very best in the crunch. I guess we’re stuck with “us” and Him.

Finally, love requires that balance of affection and commitment to be conducive to our real lives. Too much affection and we become overly dependent on the appreciation of others. Too much commitment and we soon forget what it’s like to be inflamed and engorged in passion.

So as you can see, simply extolling faith, hope and love does not help much if we’re not willing to create an atmosphere which is conducive to their breathing.

 

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Clouds

Clouds: (n) a visible mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the ground.

Clouds are what make us Earth–a planet unto ourselves.

Without the clouds, the sky continues on, seemingly forever. The clouds come to bring us needed seclusion–and rain.

As a human being, there are times that my mind needs to soar to include the entire cosmos. Even though I’m incapable of comprehending eternity, every once in a while it is a great mental and spiritual exercise to at least try.

But most of the time I need the clouds.

I need a cloud cover to remind me that I’m living with other human beings on a planet where it’s necessary for us to get along, take care of our reserves and develop kindness as the law of the land.

Do clouds hold my warmth?

Do clouds hold in my mortality?

Do clouds give me an atmosphere?

A reminder that darkened skies bring moisture for things to grow.

We over-complicate.

We are a moody sort of creature, who in one moment complains about the drought and the next, curses the rain.

For that reason, we must all be grateful that the weather is out of our hands and under the meticulous attention of Mother Nature. She may frighten us with sharp turns and stormy conditions, but when the clouds clear and we’re able to see the heavens again, we are reassured that nothing can separate us from the love of our Creator.

 

 

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Chlorinate

Chlorinate: (v) to impregnate or treat with chlorine.

Sometimes I don’t know if things have improved since I was a boy–or if I was just a little wimp-ass. In other words, I have memories of
some activities being very difficult, odd or unusual, which in my life today, are common.

One of those would be a swimming pool.

When I was a boy of ten years, I went to the local pool in my Central Ohio area, and when I got near the water, I couldn’t breathe. The odor, the chlorine, the mixture of too many people–I don’t know what it was. But my head spun and I thought I was going to faint. (For God’s sakes, you can’t faint when you’re ten years old–unless you plan on being the kicking post in your school for the rest of your life.)

Stupidly, I reached out, thinking it was my brother’s arm, and grabbed onto a thirteen-year-old girl, who immediately screamed. When the lifeguard came running up, she explained that I had accosted her, and with my head still spinning, I was unable to contradict her story.

I looked loopy.

The lifeguard came close to my mouth and insisted he could smell cigarettes, so it was assumed I had become dopey and out-of-control by smoking, and had attacked this young girl at the pool.

The worst part was, as my punishment, the lifeguard made me sit on a chair next to the pool for a full hour, as I breathed in the fumes and became weaker and weaker.

But eventually I got used to the atmosphere and it no longer felt like I was sniffing the air on Venus.

Chlorination seems to have improved over the years.

Or I have just stopped being a flag girl for the marching band.

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Atmosphere

Atmosphere: (n) the pervading tone or mood of a place, situation, or work of art.dictionary with letter A

As our earth cannot exist and sustain life without oxygen and water, so the following ideas, organizations and gatherings require a certain atmosphere in order to generate life:

  • Movies–inspired entertainment
  • Government–cooperation and service
  • School–a focused relaxation
  • Church–a joyful noise
  • Business–eager integrity
  • Parenting–detached awareness
  • Sexuality–mutual respect
  • Racial relations–no one is better than anyone else
  • Conversation–breathing and speaking
  • Exercise–to one’s ability
  • Creativity–simple and daily
  • Eating–tasty fuel
  • Friendship–encouraging confrontation
  • Laughter–frequently and often at oneself
  • Confidence–inside more than outside
  • Music–heart journeying to soul
  • Sports–fair-minded competition
  • Religion–humbly helpful

These are the necessary atmospheres.

When you don’t provide the atmosphere for the challenge … you suck the air out of the room.

 

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Agoraphobia

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAgoraphobia: (n) extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places.

I think I have claustrophobia.

I didn’t used to–even though the brief time that I played football, I didn’t particularly care for pileups, where people would be on top of me.

But agoraphobia‘s different. Within the spectrum of being frightened of experiencing a lack of room and oxygen is also a fear of people. Matter of fact, we start it pretty young, don’t we?

  • We tell our children not to talk to strangers.
  • Within the first few years of their lives, we cloister them in an atmosphere with no more than five to seven people, making a trip to the grocery store seem like a perilous journey through the jungle.
  • We coddle our offspring and project our apprehension into them upon entering school–so much so that many of them do not recover from their agonizing trepidation of interacting with people their own age. They can become misfits.

I guess what concerns me is that a little bit of agoraphobia is inhabiting everybody in this country. Statistics tell me that about 34% of the people who walk down the street holding a phone are pretending they have a phone call, so as to not have to interact with others.

Not only is it annoying to text when other people are around, but it may leave you totally debilitated and vacant of the desire to be close.

I admit, it can be frightening to make eye contact with other humans, but the absence of that gesture of openness neither alleviates danger nor promotes congeniality.

There are probably people who suffer from this condition, but I do think we are changing the definition of the word “fellowship” in our society. It is now a keystroke on Facebook, with twenty-four characters expressing how handsome we think some child is or how pretty a new little dress may be. In fact, my oldest son told me that Facebook is the new church of America. He said it with certainty and a bit of resignation.

If it’s a church, I’m curious about where God is, where love is, where hope is and where faith can grow. Because to merely admire someone’s new bowling ball is not to strike up a new friendship.

I know I’ve veered off the subject a bit, and perhaps the condition of “agoraphobia” is a worthy topic for a writer and thinker much brighter than myself.

But I do believe we can avoid becoming frightened of each other by choice. To do so, we will have to come away from our computer screens, our smart phones and actually look into each other’s eyes again … and risk what we see.

Aggravate

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAggravate: (v) 1. to make a problem injury, offense or situation worse 2. to annoy or exasperate

It takes two sticks rubbed together to create a fire.

At least, that’s what I hear. Having never actually used that method to generate the friction, I’m not certain it’s true, but I have no reason to question it.

I do get aggravated. When I calm myself down and think about what caused my aggravation, I realize it’s always one stick that I brought and another stick brought by somebody else.

The main stick I bring to create aggravation is always insecurity. It would be difficult for me to notice when I was being mistreated unless there’s a part of me that’s looking for it.

The people who aggravate me are individuals who bring their own insecurity my direction, and I begin to rub my stick of inferiority against them, resulting in fiery disagreement.

Why am I insecure? Here are three reasons:

1. I need too much. I have plenty, but rather than reveling in my abundance, I look over the shoulder of my benefactor to see if there’s more coming. What an idiot.

2. Part of me is not happy unless others have less. It hurts me to even write these words down–but there is a childish little boy inside me, who sometimes hopes that I end up with one more than my friends.

3. I believe in a God I don’t always trust. My prayers of politeness are not stimulated from my soul of belief. I am not always convinced that my “Father which art in Heaven” is willing to get off His throne and come to my house.

You put these three together and you have a stick up your rear that’s ready to be rubbed against somebody else’s inconsistency to create aggravation. And aggravation is the siphon that sucks all the fuel and potential out of human talent.

How can I stop feeling insecure? There is an old hymn which affords us an answer:

Count your blessings                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Name them one by one…”

Every time I do this, I am nearly embarrassed by the bounty provided for me–by God, life, my friends and my own abilities. It chases away my insecurity.

At that point, it is very difficult for me to become aggravated because I have no stick to rub.

May I remind myself of this today … and begin the count.