Cyrene

Cyrene: (n) an ancient Greek city and colony in N Africa

He was desperately trying to remain invisible.

If not invisible, at least unnoticed.

Although he had arrived in Jerusalem to be part of the Passover celebration, driven there by his deep, abiding faith, he was a black man.

Some people believed he was the offspring of Cain, the punished murderer of his brother, Abel.

Others seemed blind to his dark complexion.

It was confusing to know what to do.

Should he be apologetic for his skin color?

Bold, assuming equality? Or defiant, to scare away the bigoted and cynical?

It was constantly on his mind. Would there be more scrutiny from the religious Jews or the self-important Roman soldiers?

Beyond his will, interrupting his progress, he was swept away by a crowd moving swiftly along the Via Dolorosa, forcing him to change his direction and move with the will of the throng.

It was a procession—a death march to the crucifixion of condemned men, heading up the long hill to die. One was struggling. He was carrying his crossbeam on his back yet finding it impossible to stand under its weight.

He fell and they beat him. He stood and they beat him.

The black man had a spontaneous urge to step forward and do something. He regretted it immediately, because one of the nearby soldiers grabbed him by the arm, asking him who he was and what the hell he thought he was doing.

“I am Simon, the Cyrene, and I was just being foolish.”

The soldier pushed him toward the beaten stranger lying in the street. “Since you give a damn, why don’t you carry his fuckin’ cross?” spat the legionnaire.

At that moment, the man, who had been lying flat down in the street, rose on his haunches and turned to look at Simon. His face was grotesque, bruised and bloody, but his eyes maintained a focus. A warmth, a purpose.

Not wanting to be crucified himself, Simon chose to heed the command. He picked up the broad beam and put it on his back as the soldier helped the weakened victim to his feet.

Trying to regain his balance, the beaten-up stranger hooked his arm with Simon’s. They were linked.

Together they made the journey the rest of the way, to the “Place of The Skull.” It seemed right to all those standing around, staring at the scene, that this black man, condemned by his color, should perform such a duty for the wicked traveler on his way to death.

Simon was stilled in his confusion. He had been black all his life. He rarely left his home in Cyrene because he never knew what level of bigotry awaited him in the outside world.

He covered the distance to the top of the hill, breaking a sweat but still able to support the battered frame of the convict. Before he knew it, they lifted the beam off of him and busied themselves nailing the man to the cross.

Simon had an instinct to stand and watch, but his better sense told him that he could easily be mistaken for one of the criminals and end up slain.

He quietly left.

As he was coming down the hill, a young man, no more than twenty years of age, approached him. “Thank you for carrying the Master’s cross,” he said.

Simon nodded. The young man continued. “His name is Jesus and we believe him to be the Son of God.”

Simon smiled. He felt pity. Or was it respect to a childish dream? He didn’t know.

Matter of fact, for almost five years, he never thought about it again. He never heard the name—until one day, back in his home of Cyrene, a young preacher—an itinerant man bronzed by the heat of the sun—said the name again.

“Jesus.”

He told a story. He filled in details that Simon could not possibly have known. He burst into tears.

“What is wrong?” the messenger asked him.

Simon shook his head. “I know that man. I carried his cross. I just didn’t know that it was the cross he was carrying for me.”

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crux

Crux: (n) a vital or decisive element (often in the phrase “the crux of the matter”)

Tossed off as a comment by a pundit on any one of a hundred new shows:

“This needs to be taken care of. It is the crux of the matter.”

I don’t know whether the word “crux” is a current one or not. Sometimes I am sympathetic to the younger generation’s unwillingness to adopt language from the past. Other times I want to scream at them to buy a history book or a dictionary.

But I, for one, am very careful about using the word.

Crux is one of those odd terms that is lifted directly from the Latin and placed into our lingo.

In Latin, the word “crux” means cross. And cross is normally associated with one situation and a single individual. It was the form of execution used by the Romans at the behest of the Jewish Council, to kill off Jesus of Nazareth.

So even though the young Nazarene spent his life healing, loving, challenging, organizing and believing, he has become known for the “crux (cross) of his matter.”

A man of peace reflected upon as a criminal hanging on a tree.

So as I look at the climate of our society today—considering the crux of the matter—I wonder what our cross is. What will we be known for?

We certainly want to be recognized for our skill in changing the oil in our car or our delicious recipe for the potato salad we bring to the family reunion each year.

But do we get to choose?

Would Jesus of Nazareth actually have chosen a cross as a symbol of his life?

The crux of America is three-fold:

  1. We allowed slavery to exist for 350 years and bigotry for another century and a half.
  2. We stole our country from the Native Americans, who didn’t own it either, but certainly had squatter’s rights.

And finally:

  1. What will be the crux of our matter going forward? Will it be world domination or the inability to manage our own affairs with grace and aplomb, stumbling our way off the historical stage?

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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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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Consort

Consort: (v) to habitually associate with someone

It took me a little while to realize that I am not a savior.

I was not particularly arrogant or self-righteous, but I felt it was my job to carry a cross–and if there wasn’t one available, to build one.

During this season of misconception, I lived in Louisiana and consorted with other agencies to help people who were in prison or the county jail.

It was my full intention to be an intermediary. They had attorneys to get them through the court portions of their difficulties, but I thought they needed a guide funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
to get them somewhere near the “strait and narrow.” For some ridiculous reason I fancied myself to be motivated and perhaps even qualified to perform this function.

What did I learned through the process? When life sends people in need your way, into your own environment and your own field of control, you should do everything you can to help them.

But if you’re going to the lion’s den, or in this case, the prison, to be of assistance, you must realize that this arena is not your home.

For I will tell you as a fact: I heard so many stories and listened to so much self-pity and poured out my heart in empathy so many times that I began to actually side with those who were behind bars.

For some reason it totally escaped me that they were criminals and that was why they had been detained. It wasn’t because they needed a hundred dollars as start-up money to begin a car repair shop–or that they desperately required someone to pay their bail, giving them freedom to be out of the clink, working on their cases.

I learned that when you consort with the sinner, you sin.

When you consort with liars, you start finding sneaky ways to fib.

And when you consort with the ungodly, your counsel begins to suffer and your own veracity is soon shaken.

I gave myself a gift.

I now make it clear that I love people and I care about them–but I have no intention of chasing them to the gates of hell to make sure their britches don’t catch on fire.

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Communion

Communion: (n) the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.

I get the same sensation when I go to Red Lobster with a friend and he or she insists, with a giggle, as the cheddar bay biscuits arrive, and they gleefully take one from the basket, that, “This is what Red Lobster is all about!”

I nod (knowing that soon I will probably nod off.)

Red Lobster is not about the cheddar bay biscuits. It’s about the seafood.

Just like baseball games are not about the peanuts and the Cracker Jacks. There’s a ball, a bat and a game.

And marriage is not about starting a family. It’s really about how much you enjoy having sex with this one person and hope you can keep it up for the rest of your life while you have a family.

I find myself going to church from time to time–reluctantly.

I don’t like that about me. It seems jaded. In this season of agnosticism it smacks of the predictable.

But you see, in church there’s just too much emphasis on the cheddar bay biscuits, the Cracker Jacks and the family.

Many of them center their whole agenda around communion–a symbolistic representation of the blood and body of Jesus Christ, which he gave for the sins of mankind.

It’s disconcerting to me.

First there’s the thought that I am such a piece of shit that God had to kill His own kid to try to make up for my buffoonery.

Then there’s the notion that a dynamic spirit which walked in the flesh among us for thirty-three years only gained significance in the last few hours that he hung, as an alleged criminal, on a cross.

What an insult to all things loving and eternal.

Yet if you lodge an objection, somehow or another you become apostate–which, if you don’t know what that means, is the religious system’s way of telling you that you don’t belong.

The truth of the matter is, I admire the hell out of Jesus.

Long before he bled, he led me into an understanding of how we might begin to see God’s will done on Earth as it is in heaven.

 

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Christian

Christian: (n) a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.

Montanian.

Please describe. Yes, take a moment and grant me your visual interpretation of a typical person who lives in Montana. Here come the
stereotypes:

  • Cowboy hats.
  • Rodeos
  • A slight drawl in speech
  • Independent thinking
  • Might even carry a gun or two

That is what we think about Montana. If we encountered someone who lived in Montana who did NOT fit any of those stereotypes, we might feel a little irritable, wondering why they insisted on living in our Montana.

Christian.

As long as we cling to the typical stereotypical definition of what this creature seems to be, we quickly will find out that Jesus, himself, would not make a very
good Christian.

  • He did not favor ceremony.
  • He didn’t like being called “good.”
  • He didn’t seek the praise of people, but rather, encouraged them to prosper in their own faith.
  • He certainly wanted to be known for his teachings instead of the time he spent on a cross.
  • And it was his habit to rebel against any tradition and formality which took away the intimacy of personal belief.

So the truth is, when Jesus is presented the way he really was, we get irritable.

How dare he be a Jewish Messiah, fulfilling Old Testament prophesy as the “Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world,” and instead, present himself as the Good Shepherd, who welcomes everybody and does not think that judging others is a legitimate practice.

 

 

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Accomplish

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Accomplish: (v.) to achieve or complete successfully.

Is it permissible for me to slightly disagree with a definition?

Because I have to be honest with you–I feel like I have accomplished things in my life without being successful. I think placing the term “success,” tying that word to every endeavor, is a great way of discouraging people from launching into activities that might fall short of expectation.

Sometimes I accomplish what I am able to do, but I don’t think anybody would brand it a success. When you take away my sense of accomplishment because I don’t meet our culture’s definition of achievement, you not only rob me of personal satisfaction, but you also greatly tempt me to avoid taking on anything that is risky enough to fall short of the “glory road.”

Sometimes we accomplish without ever seeing success.

Every once in a while, we find ourselves in a garden of despair, praying alone, fully cognizant that we are exactly where we need to be, even though it seems that running away would be a better alternative.

Every once in a while, the criticism nails us to the cross, as it were, where we declare that our work is finished, even though it looks like we are on our last legs.

Not everything is as simple as people make it, or even as Webster dictates. There is a season when ideas must be pursued, even when the prejudice and anger of the world around us dooms them to obscurity. There is a certain amount of bravery necessary to accomplish your mission, without receiving any badge of merit.

No, in this case I have to disagree with the dictionary. It is very possible to accomplish an intricate and essential task without ever being rewarded.

  • It is completely plausible to be a good parent and have lousy children.
  • It is possible to take care of your car and accomplish all maintenance requirements and still break down,
  • And it is certainly in the realm of reasonability to be a good husband or wife and end up in a divorced situation.

If we’re going to use superficial qualifications to have joy in our lives, or if we’re only truly happy when accolades are sent our way, we will eventually steer our ship toward safe, still waters.

Maybe that’s why mediocrity is now accepted as normal–and our world suffers in the malaise.