Cranium

Cranium: (n) the part of the skull that encloses the brain.

 After nearly six years of living in a vegetative state, unable to communicate, in what appeared to be constant discomfort and pain, my son, Joshua, died of pneumonia.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

We were traveling at the time, and found ourselves in the state of Washington. The state law required an autopsy. I was in no mood to object. I certainly did not want to interrupt my grieving by arguing over a body that had long ago lost its impetus, and now was finally granted rest.

After a couple of days, the coroner called me on the phone and told me I could come in and meet with him to go over the results of his findings. We had a lovely chat.

When I arrived at the surprisingly small facility, he invited me back to the morgue where he was working on a murder victim who had just come in. I don’t know whether I was supposed to be there—if it was legal or proper, but I think from our conversation on the phone, the coroner had developed some tenderness and empathy, and felt like we could talk.

Shortly after I arrived in the room, where there was a body covered with a sheet, the coroner was beckoned to take a phone call.  I sat in a chair, waiting for his return, trying to mentally gain perspective on the past few days.

I was peering around the room when my eyes suddenly fell on a skull sitting on a shelf. A cranium.

For some reason, even though there was plenty of light in the room, I felt all alone and frightened. I wanted to run away. I had no business being in that room, and certainly not in my present broken condition.

When the coroner didn’t return, I stared at that skull. That cranium. A bony case which once held a brain—a mind filled with millions of thoughts, feelings, connections, purposes and perhaps a poem memorized at age five.

It was surreal.

How could we humans be so alive, so full of wonder, inspiration and creativity, and then, with the removal of blood and oxygen, turn into what appeared to be a cheap prop from a horror flick?

I cried.

Part of me was crying for my lost son. But some of me was weeping for us, as humans.

How noble our creation.

How fragile our pose.

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Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi: (n) the body of Christ

I suppose they thought it was extremely clever, to manufacture a rubber bodysuit—bruised, beaten and bloodied.

When they made the movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” they had their actor don this monstrosity of an outfit, believing it would convey the suffering of Jesus on the cross.

It is a classic case of over-kill.

To understand the true indignity of the sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth, you must step into an operating room in a hospital and breathe in deeply. The smell of funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
blood will rattle your nostrils. It is a nasty odor, meant to be foreign to our consciousness.

Perhaps you want to go on the scene of a horrible car wreck and see the blood still pouring out of the wounds of dying people to understand his situation—there was no time for clotting because the beating continued and the blood was pouring forth, dangerously leaving the body and threatening death long before he was nailed in the hands and feet.

Perhaps if you were around someone bleeding to death and you heard their screams of thirst and realized they were in agony just from the lack of water…

As always, Hollywood dramatizes but never actually captures the drama.

The most tender, gentle man who ever lived, who healed lepers, hugged children, granted women equality and offered love as an alternative to the futility of fear, was beat to a pulp by religious people who thought they were acting in the name of God.

May we learn from that image: Corpus Christi—the body of Christ—which was ravaged by the self-righteous.

May we quietly, humbly and reverently realize how the stupidity of hatred, lying, cheating and self-promotion continues to murder him today.


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Conjecture

Conjecture: (n) an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information

The young man disagreed with me.

I gave a college concert years ago, opening it up to a Q & A with the audience afterwards. One of the male students asked me, “Since you’re afunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
Christian, when did ‘turn the other cheek’ actually ever work?”

I think he expected some sort of conjecture on my part–about the value of pursuing lost causes, even though it might not seem that they possessed immediate merit.

Maybe he just wanted to justify his passion for revenge–or his girlfriend, sitting next to him, might be greatly impressed by him challenging the guest artist.

Wanting to make sure the audience understood his question, I asked him to repeat it. He rolled his eyes to communicate that I was apparently old and deaf, and posed the question again.

“What I asked you,” he said, “was, when did ‘turn the other cheek’ ever work in history?”

“I see,” I responded. “So let me ask you a question. When did gouging out eyes, pulling teeth and counterpunching ever exactly work in history?”

He stood tall and patriotic and replied, “Well, at least we went to war and beat the shit out of them.”

A small piddling of applause.

“Well,” I objected, “apparently we left some shit in them–because they’re back again. You see, my friend, turning the other cheek is not an attempt to bring flowers to a gun fight, but rather, to buy some time to see what can be done to change the fight from guns to conversation. And that, historically, has proven, over and over again, to be effective.”

Feeling the need to be justified, he spat, “Well, that’s just your opinion.”

“That it is,” I replied. “Actually, it’s my conjecture–a conviction I hold because pursuing anything else leaves blood all over my hands.”


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Mr. Kringle's Tales...26 Stories 'Til Christmas

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Clay

Clay: (n) a stiff, sticky fine-grained earth that can be molded

We don’t know anything.

Our science books, a hundred years from now, will be comedy club routines.

Our religions will cause people in the next generation to blush in embarrassment. We are perniciously ignorant because we insist that our
discoveries are so significant that it will be difficult to surpass them.

Yet we are plagued by hypocrisy because simultaneously I-phone 8 immediately needs I-phone 9.

So when you read the ancient text that “God formed man from the dust of the ground,” the poetic nature of the sentiment–and also the significance of understanding how limited our time on “Maple Street” will end up being–leaves out the fact that dust does not cling.

It does not form.

It blows, scatters and crumbles.

So although we may end up being dust somewhere along the line, the story should have informed us that the Creator obviously added his spit.

It was “Daddy spit.” (I know it’s not as famous as Mommy spit.) But it changed dust to clay, which could cling together and form flesh, blood and persons.

So even though I am made of the dust of the Earth, I am emotionally and spiritually held in place by the Saliva of the Most High God.

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Circulation

Circulation: (n) movement to and fro or around something, especially that of blood in the body.

“If da blood don’t get der, you be dead.”

It’s not exactly a quote from a medical journal, but it’s still true.

At one time I had poor circulation in my left foot, which made it impossible for the blood to get down there and clean out an infection
through medication.

So I lost two toes.

I’m not looking for sympathy–just a realistic appreciation that circulation has to happen.

In the body it’s blood. If the blood doesn’t get there, it turns gray and dies.

The same thing is true with life in general. When the circulation of newness, freshness, open thinking, forgiveness and compassion does not reach our soul parts, we just turn gray and die.

Just as it takes a good bit of exercise to keep some pink in the old man’s cheeks, it requires a lot of awareness, gentleness and even humor to keep each of us in the pink with our brothers and sisters–especially those younger ones who assume that as soon as we creak, we’re ready to croak.

Circulation of blood requires movement.

Circulation of spirit means that we need to move toward solution instead of taking our cemented ideas and building really, really, really big walls.

 

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Cell

Cell: (n) the smallest structural and functional unit of an organism

Mind boggling.

The human body is nearly beyond our comprehension. A great poet once said, “How fearfully and wonderfully we are made.”

Just the notion of getting all the tiny cells in the body to work in cooperation with the cells surrounding them means that the Universe was meant to be harmonious instead of disengaged.

Yet once all of our cells–the billions–the make up our singular body grant us a unity of purpose by providing blood, oxygen, nourishment and life, we decide to take the people next to us and act like they’re aliens.

Cosmic order seems to stop at the human race.

Is it the inclusion of a brain that causes us to be brainless?

Is it an emotional make-up that turns us cold?

Is it the theological notion of possessing a soul that causes us to be soulless?

I’m not sure.

But it would do us well to imitate a cell in a kidney, which does not suddenly decide to stop participating in urine expulsion, but instead, grants us the blessing … of being pissed off.

 

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Celestial

Celestial: (adj) belonging or relating to heaven.

Did you ever realize that all the descriptions we have of eternal life are related to us via ancient manuscripts, from people who lived in the first century A. D.? And then we’re working under the trust that he or she actually had a vision of the supernal location.

Other writers have tried to parallel the existing insights, but we are pretty well stuck with an ancient history about our future history.

Do you find that a bit disheartening?

To me, the celestial realm is already a trifle bizarre. Since my physical body is made up of the same stuff as a bear and moose–flesh, blood, veins, arteries–it does seem a bit presumptuous to think that my wilderness friends turn into dust and I live forever.

It’s because I have a soul. Which means they don’t. Yet there is a certain amount of arrogance mingled with ignorance in the presumption of walking on streets of gold.

So where does that leave me? It certainly places me in the category of believers who yearn for a heaven someday. Yes, I have enough arrogance and ignorance to line up with those masses.

But it does give me pause to appreciate, generate and evaluate my earthly lifespan with greater tenderness and passion.

 

 

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