Coulter

Coulter: (n) a surname

I have made it a practice to never insert someone’s real name into one of my essays or articles. Whatever that person and I chose to do in our adult moments of living shouldn’t be regaled for all the world to read. At least I owe them that.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

But I could not help myself when I rolled across the name Coulter, and realized that a very dear friend by that name once strolled into my life and took me from a status of nearly homeless to a position in which my music and art was given the chance to be considered as viable.

Coulter was my friend. He was part of a music group I joined, and in no time at all they had me singing his vocal parts. Rather than being angry or jealous, Coulter was appreciative and supportive.

He tried many things. Coulter’s problem was that he was good at everything he attempted.

For instance, he started working at a doughnut shop and within two months, they made him manager. (I benefited from that experience, because my wife and I were without an actual place to sleep at night, nor regular food.) Coulter always provided a big box of day-old doughnuts, which he set outside the back door of the establishment with his blessing)

He always believed that underneath my neediness—and sometimes grubbiness—there was someone worthy to be heard. Eventually, because of his love of the entertainment business, he started his own agency to book acts. Completely in line with his employment history, in no time at all he had a stable of artists and was scheduling them into everything from conventions to churches to county fairs.

He helped our fledgling group along, throwing us work every now and then, and when I wrote my first musical theater piece, he became so excited that he found ten investors, who gave a thousand dollars each to fund the effort.

He not only helped me put together the cast for the production, but also got on the phone and scheduled dates in twenty-five cities around the country, so we could go and perform it.

He was so enthralled with the music from the play that he wanted to promote to large publishing concerns. All he needed from me were lead sheets and chord charts. Unfortunately, my technical knowledge of music was limited, and I ended up handing him materials which were pitiful and comical at the same time.

But he never held it against me. He never became enraged or upset about anything.

Even when we were in the midst of promoting our musical play, and a minister who believed he possessed both the knowledge of God’s will and the right to judge others who didn’t understand, attacked Coulter because he heard rumors that my friend was a homosexual (that’s back when they were homosexuals instead of gay) Coulter refused to retaliate.

Even though I was a stupid kid with a gnat’s worth of sense, I defended him and stood up against the Pharisee. It’s one of the better things I ever did in my life.

I don’t know where Coulter is today—or even if he is today.

But wherever he may be, I want him to know that his good buddy turned out okay—due in large part to a friend who arrived in the early days with a box of doughnut—just at the right time.


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Commend

Commend: (v) to praise formally or officially.

A face that is not tired of still trying to offer a smile.

A childlike silliness, even when you aren’t with children.

A hope that opportunity will provide finance.

A notion that even though people try to be different, it’s more fun to discover how we’re the same.

Being satisfied with beans and wieners.

Trying a new recipe, blowing it, but still eating a little.

Having it cross your mind to say “I love you” and doing it instead of choking it back.

Noticing someone who’s lonely and simply touching their shoulder as you go by.

Giving a dollar–or maybe two–to the homeless without wondering what they’re going to do with it.

Choosing to take action instead of just praying.

Listening instead of quoting a scripture.

Laughing when it’s time to stop crying.

Giving without thinking.

Caring without worrying.

Living fully without requiring a heavenly reward.

These are some things I commend.

 

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Clientele

Clientele: (n) the customers

Long ago in a universe that was far-out, but not far away, there existed a gathering of human souls called “church.”

Like every idea which is acted out by human beings, it was flawed from inception.

But at the root was a watering hole, where people could get together, rub up against each other, feel uncomfortable and blessed at the same
time, and walk out at the end of an hour inspired and also entertained because the children’s choir broke rank and failed to deliver the perfect performance that the young director from college had envisioned.

It was elegantly imperfect–which made it adorable.

The laughing was equal to the crying.

The “amens” were matched by groans of conviction.

It might have continued in that format as a great, uplifting experience had the accountants and the fanatics stayed away.

The church treasurers became very concerned that all bills be paid and money set aside for the carpet that would need to be purchased three years from now.

And then there were the fanatics–those who discovered that if they could get people to be afraid or nervous, they could stimulate attendance and keep people “fired up.”

Somewhere along the line, this organism called “the church” welcomed in nasty clientele.

These individuals were pious, knowing more about Bible verses than life, caring more about the vestibule than the hungry and homeless in the community, and were determined to maintain purity instead of welcoming the stained.

The innocent were targeted.

Races were rejected.

Preferences were labeled “abominable.”

The church became a repellent to anyone who wanted to find a location for a soul-stirring, emotional rejuvenation–a penitentiary full of guards with nobody willing to be prisoners.

Procedure became more important than salvation.

So the more humble folk, who knew they were sinners but prayed for God’s grace, gradually slipped out the front door, to never return again, leaving behind a quorum of quasi-religious critics.

Is it possible that the clientele could be changed and we could return to an assembly that was meant for humans instead of one that tries to gear its programming only to an Almighty God?

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Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart: (n) a person considered to be dangerously softhearted

Dictionary B

Human understanding might be possible if we would just come to the conclusion that it’s not our right to decide for others.

As a conservative might be willing to explain how certain types of people have cultural differences which cause them to react in unacceptable ways, a liberal will turn around and decide that the same people are victims of a greedy culture which does not care for them at all.

Here’s the truth: human beings are not nearly as organized, sinister or motivated as we would like to believe.

If I were comparing the average person to a substance, I contend that Play-Doh would be most appropriate. It sits on its can and does nothing until somebody frees it.

Free, it then becomes part of the playtime experience and is able to be molded into something that at least resembles a possibility.

I find myself at a disadvantage when I am in a roomful of conservatives because they are too damn sure of themselves to be smart.

And I am equally as uncomfortable when the bleeding-heart liberals target the rich as the offenders of the unfortunate poor.

Here’s what I know:

If I found myself extremely wealth, I would have to learn how to use my wealth productively, intelligently and generously–or else I would end up feeling like a big pile of rhinoceros poop.

Likewise, if I were suddenly homeless, I would have to tap the same initiative to find the best soup kitchens, odd jobs and warm, inexpensive places to sleep–to ensure that I didn’t turn into a belligerent mental case.

We will make progress when we realize that people do better when they are neither judged nor pitied.

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Blanket

Blanket: (n) a large piece of material used as a covering for warmth.

Dictionary B

Having met my share of homeless brothers and sisters, I became very curious. What was it like to be homeless?

So I made a decision to don the uniform of the street and attempt to walk in the shoes of those without gainful employment, hearth and home.

I decided I would do it for a week, but must tell you that I abandoned it after twenty-four hours.

The daytime found me in a situation in which I constantly needed to be on the move so as not to annoy the “civilized” people who passed by. I got hungry very quickly and didn’t have any money, so had to figure out where to go for a free luncheon, or beg off of my neighbors.

It was humiliating.

But the most difficult part was when nighttime fell, and my mission was to locate a place to sleep that was both comfortable and safe.

I discovered that such a utopia does not exist for the street person.

I hid behind a huge bush and laid down several cardboard boxes I had broken up to use as my mattress. Several problems leaped to the forefront:

1. Every sound spooked me.

2. Sleeping on the ground means sharing the turf with things that creep and crawl.

3. I was uncomfortable not having my head elevated (pillow).

4. But the most annoying part was the lack of a blanket.

I was so accustomed to being covered, protected, swaddled by that piece of cloth that gave warmth and the sense of cocooning.

It made me bitchy, frustrated, cold, and caused me to wake up the next morning antagonistic toward the world around me–in a season when I was most vulnerable.

A blanket is a sense of well-being.

When you remove it, it takes away a gentle reassurance that all is well … and you are coddled.

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Beseech

Beseech: (v) to ask someone urgently and fervently to do something

Dictionary B

I beseech politicians to answer the question and then offer explanation instead of the other way around.

I beseech women to stop thinking they are smarter by treating men like they’re dumb.

I beseech men to stop acting dumb while secretly relegating women to a secondary position.

I beseech religion to start believing that God is our Father and therefore does not want to hurt us.

I beseech business to perfect the product before inflating the price.

I beseech parents to create a balance of responsibility and blessing for their children.

I beseech the military to be so prepared and so powerful that they don’t ever have to actually prove their worth.

I beseech educators to teach a balance of humility with information, since we are constantly learning things that contradict our arrogance.

I beseech those who are blessed to imagine what it is like to be without such a courtesy before deciding to judge weaker brothers.

I beseech the homeless to organize and simplify their lives to match their financial intake.

I beseech those who offer counsel to do so with an eye on their own weaknesses instead of merely poring over the philosophies of psychologists.

I beseech humanity to step far enough out of the jungle to plant a garden.

I beseech myself to remember all these things that I have beseeched from others.

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Beggar

Dictionary B

Beggar: (n) a person, typically a homeless one, who lives by asking for money or food.

I was always curious what was meant by the word “chooser.”

You know–the classic closer on the phrase, “beggars can’t be…” culminating with the object, “…choosers.”

So much is made of choice.

We extol it as a symbol of our control, prowess and independence. But an amazing percentage of the events that transpire in our lives provide us no opportunity to choose, and often make us look like beggars.

People diagnosed with cancer have certainly not been given a chance to select a disease, and suddenly find themselves beggars to the doctor–and if they happen to be individuals of faith, on their knees, begging the heavens.

I guess we’re afraid of the word beggar, because no one wants to be beggarly. As Webster has proven in the definition provided for us today, we relegate being a beggar to the bedraggled homeless element in our society, who should be grateful for our pocket change, while no real change is ever offered to them.

Are they just destined to be poor?

I don’t think anyone is a beggar unless we treat him like a beggar.

If you have a five-year-old child and you take him to the store, and you haven’t provided a plan to give him a treat, you will end up with a little beggar on your hands.

If you’re a well-employed, successful individual who wants to purchase a house, but find yourself a few points deficient in your credit score, you may very well turn into a beggar in front of your loan officer.

So perhaps a beggar is not a position, but rather, a judgment we lay on each other when we want to feel superior and make another feel inferior.

For instance, my children will still come to me, asking for money. I have a choice. I can roll my eyes and be disgusted that they have the audacity to request finance from me, or I can make sure to remove all the elements of “beggar” from their consciousness, and let them know how delighted I am to be of assistance.

Last week I gave five dollars to a gentleman sitting alongside the road. Feeling he had a role to play, he began to grovel and feign tears in an attempt to prove to me that I was his superior and he, the dependent.

I refused to be part of the play.

I told him it was my blessing–that I hoped that in some small way he would be able to use it to brighten his day.

I took the “beggar” out of the definition … and gave him the chance to just be a man who I was able to assist.

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Bag Lady

Bag lady: (n) a homeless woman who carries her possessions in shopping bags.Dictionary B

Our society has become obsessed with converse thinking.

In other words, if you have the boldness to make a statement or take a stand on an issue which you feel is particularly important, there is always some cynical, perhaps even jaded, passerby, who will pull an obscure point of reference to disprove your contention and try to show it to be ridiculous or foolish idealism.

I mean, you can walk in a room and say to the gathered that we all should learn to love one another, and at the end of half an hour, the denouncing voices will explain that this kind of general affection among humans is impossible because of the dangers of crime and even terrorism.

Never is this more true than on the subject of the homeless.

I have often presented the theory to those around me that it doesn’t hurt one little bit to pull a dollar out to help folks on the street, without feeling the need to inquire of their intentions or plans on using your 100 pennies.

I am frequently argued to the mat by those who present a contrary view, insisting that I am emboldening these individuals to remain without solvency.

Sometimes I am informed how crazy they are.

A certain handful of detractors cite statistics concerning the criminal records of those without a place to sleep.

They will also point out that the homeless and the bag ladies are a blight on the community and needn’t be so because there are agencies to assist them in finding their place in society.

Yes, I will tell you, we live in a converse world.

Those who have decided to become our leaders feel it is essential to present the darker side of every issue as a precautionary tale, lest we become too open to one another and end up with messy conflicts through our generosity.

I am weary of it.

I don’t want to know what the bag lady is going to do with my dollar. If she needs a cheap bottle of wine to get her through the day, then God bless her.

And God damn me if I forbid it out of my self-righteous, superior attitude.

If we don’t get out of our converse thinking, we’re going to begin to believe that there are no absolutes which lead us to goodness.

Instead, in trying to find the potholes… we will cease to build roads. 

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Appendage

dictionary with letter A

Appendage (n.): a thing attached to or projecting from something larger or more important.

After writing for more years than I dare remember, I often find myself guilty of becoming either too introspective or a bit boggled with silliness.

Not that I have any problem with introspection or silliness for that matter, but as a writer, your goal is to have readers and not just accumulation of work.

One school of thought is that most people want to read something deep and profound while another clown college contends that everything must be giggly and entertaining.

I have come to the conclusion that the true test of writing is working from an idea that is important, and using the best tools possible to carve out a message.

Maybe that’s the problem in our society today–we’ve forgotten what’s important. So what we have is a bunch of dangling appendages seeking homes on which to attach.

If all the ideas proffered in our time were traced back to an origin, they would often be considered homeless.

Therefore everything I write, feel and try to do is grounded in three central principles, and then I allow the ideas to grow like appendages from them:

  1. People are the closest thing to God we have on Earth.
  2. God is the closest thing to hope that we can muster.
  3. So we must muster the ability to get along with people so that we better understand God.

Everything else I do ends up being appendages to these three central themes. Sometimes it’s funny; sometimes it’s serious. Sometimes it’s confrontational, but it is never jaded.

For after all, the day I cease to believe in these three ideas that are important, everything I do will be a mere appendage–unattached to my own reality.

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Alms

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alms: (n) money or food given to poor people

Unless you’re wearing a robe and walking around Galilee with a message of eternal life, the word “alms” will probably never come to play.

But I do think it’s important to understand what an alm truly is.

We live in a society where charitable giving is funneled through organizations which take their own hunk out of the generosity for office expenses and personnel.

We like this system. We enjoy it because paper is passed on to people who do the work and we don’t have to worry about it.

We never find out the destination of our alms; we never actually have a visual of the individuals who are helped. In some strange way we think this makes it even better, so our personal prejudices or time limitations are not involved in the distribution of the wealth.

But you see–that’s not really what an alm is.

An alm is a desire to find someone every day who needs something you have, and making sure that person has a name, a face and a smell–someone directly in front of you who is given the chance to do whatever he or she decides with your contribution.

Some people have a problem giving money to the homeless because they’re afraid they’ll use it for alcohol. They might. But think how angry you would be if your employer demanded a list of purchases from you which had to be approved by the main office before you were granted a paycheck.

Occasionally someone will comment that they think I am a generous soul. I just laugh. I’m just as selfish as the next bastard–so inwardly involved that I’m greedy for the sensation that I receive when I personally impart a gift to someone, see their face light up, and realize that for that moment they believe I am not only blessed of God, but have descended like an angel to bring good cheer from supernal heights.

Yes, I lust for an opportunity to “play god”–to stand face-to-face next to folks in need, granting them a piece of their missing puzzle.

We lose something when we write a check to a mega-organization which earns its grits and gravy by collecting funds from people who would rather not make physical contact.

  • I want to be the alm-giver.
  • I want to see, smell, hear and feel the sensations of those who receive the alms.
  • I want to give–not so people around me will notice–but so I notice, and for that moment, I feel there is more God in me than ghoul.