Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘Cause I’d Rather Daydream My Days Away

A tremendous blog from Jonathon Brooks!

jonathonbrooks

Hope changes our views of the world and the world itself. It takes courage to have hope! Hope takes moxie. It calls for a positive attitude and perseverance. In our life stories we are offered the choice to shine light or to cower in darkness. I stopped living in fear long ago. Hope offered me light and a way away from darkness and fear. Pessimism can take the next one way ticket to anywhere but my place. Courage to rebel against myself and the crowd and the noise and my own folly and all that would harm me is a virtue I’ve been practicing all of my adult life. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been rewarding.

I encourage you to persevere in hope now and always. If you are in the habit of praying then keep the prayers coming through the sunshine and the storms. If…

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Peace In Our 2020 Storm

Peace In Our 2020 Storm

The Jazz Man

Mary Jane told me this morning that she had received the nicest email from our friend, Ro.  As she shared the kind note with me, my heart was made light and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The efficacy of a few well placed words can make an important difference in your perception of the storm clouds.

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Heroes are all around us.  Our nurses and doctors are the front lines of our defense against the coronavirus.  They deserve our admiration…and they, especially, deserve all of the Personal Protective Equipment that they need.  They are mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and sons and daughters.  They are risking their lives to help the rest of us.

I spent my career in custodial services at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale.  I quickly discovered that the precious members of the Building Services staff were not only vital…

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Love Conquers Pandemic

We do not have to look far for an account of fear or panic or greed surrounding the current pandemic.  However, the more that I look, the more love that I witness.  Jonathon and I attended our Session meeting, earlier this week, and I was overwhelmed with the love and concern that each member of the group had for their fellow church members.  They had to make some difficult decisions, due to the Coronavirus, and they did so with only the health and well being and, continued spiritual growth of their brothers and sisters in mind.

I read, with much sorrow, that our friends at S and B’s Burger Joint, that is housed in the mall here in Carbondale, are out of work.  Nikki wrote of her love for her colleagues and the camaraderie that they shared.  She always made Aaron and Jonathon and Mary Jane and I, so welcome and at home, with her charismatic personality and kindness. We must step up and help our waitresses and waiters in this time of economic devastation, that they are experiencing.

I was proceeding to the check-out line at Kroger’s Supermarket when a lady, who did not appear to be much younger than I, invited me to go before her and in turn did the same for the gentleman that was behind me.  She did not have an abundance of groceries…she had love.

Italy has been devastated by COVID-19.  This morning I rejoiced when I saw a photo of two men on their separate balconies and one was reaching over with his coffee pot to pour the other person, a cup of coffee into his waiting mug.

We are separated, for a short while, by health necessity…but we are united in our love for our human family.

‘Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does. not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

‘Love never fails…’   I Corinthians 13: 4-8.   NKJV

Caution and Common Sense

via Caution and Common Sense

Sad Eyes

A meditation for our time.

The Jazz Man

Fear is a terrible and mind numbing force.  Fear leads to panic which leads to irrational emotions and actions.  I had been reading, on social media, that there was a shortage of toilet paper at stores throughout the country.  I thought that it was a joke.  Yes we are in the beginning of a pandemic…but toilet paper?  What about beans, or peanut butter, or coffee, or flour…or rib eye steaks?  Today, Jonathon and I traveled to our nearest Sam’s Box store and discovered that, indeed they did not have a square of toilet paper.  Also there were displayed many empty areas in the massive freezers sections illustrating a general run on food…and especially…paper!  I engaged in the great toilet paper search last evening.  As I walked the aisle of our local Wal-Mart I saw the barest  shelfs that I had ever seen.  I asked a friend who was working in…

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Preparedness Dissipates Fear And Calms Panic

I am 62 years old, and I have not witnessed a pandemic  the scope of COVID – 19.  World wide there are currently documented; 134,235 Coronavirus cases.  Of the virus cases there are 4,965 deaths.  Thus far, 68,898 have recovered.

All of us live in our own little bubble.  We know and are close to what our friends and family and colleagues, tell us.  Perhaps we have no, current, illness or discomfort…now.  Some of our friends tell us that COVID – 19 is overblown.  Others assure us that it is a political plot.  While many more are certain that the virus could be no worse than a bad case of the flu, and that they have lived through more than one case of this type of illness.

I would point to the famous and political leaders who have already tested positive for the virus.  These are people from both political parties.

Within the past 24 hours we have witnessed many more bold measures regarding, social distancing.  All problems and illnesses and catastrophes are not real to us…until it is us…or our loved ones.  ‘A former Homeland Security adviser, Tom Bossert,  warned that the US is just over a week away from the nation’s hospitals ‘getting creamed’ by the rapidly spreading coronavirus.’    New York Post

Italy is currently triaging patients for eligibility for treatment according to who physicians believe have the best chance of surviving.

Yes, COVID – 19 will finally become normalized.  Medical professionals tell us that once 40% of humanity contracts the disease there will develop a ‘herd immunity.’

The markets are falling off a cliff, daily, due to the absence of a coherent plan to deal with a concrete…invisible…reality.

Now is the time for all of our political leaders to, ‘beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks,’

photo of man standing while holding pickaxe

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

‘And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.’   (Isaiah 2:4)

‘The Lend-Lease policy, formally titled An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States, was a program under which the United States supplied the United Kingdom, Free France, the Republic of China, and later the Soviet Union and other Allied nations with food, oil, and material between 1941 and August 1945.’    Wikipedia

We need a plan that is as bold as the Lend-Lease policy to equip our hospitals and medical professionals with the equipment, such as ventilators and beds and rooms for the beds, to facilitate, not only the current health crisis, but the next one that will certainly come our way.

It is amazing the progress that can be accomplished when we do not care who gets the credit.

 

The Writer’s Club — The Jazz Man

The sun was shinning brilliantly. The birds were twittering and the pond was placid and serene. Billy B. had walked campus this morning and had not seen a soul. He had felt, lonely. During his stroll, Billy Bump had not observed anything frightening, but rather an insidious beauty and preparedness for the serious job of […]

via The Writer’s Club — The Jazz Man

The Fragility of Expectations/The Strength of Hope

There are many uncertainties in this life.  We roll along through our days and believe that our many plans for the future will be realized.  Wether it is the next job promotion or a new home or this years, dream vacation…we are relatively certain that if we work hard and play by the rules that we will achieve our plans.

I began life in Chicago, Illinois in a happy, ‘Leave It To Beaver,’ type existence.  My mother enjoyed dancing to, Chubby Checker’s, latest song, The Twist.  My dad would place me on his shoulders, when he arrived home from work…and I thought that I was the king of the world.  Little did I realize that in a short time, we would be moving to Eldorado, Illinois and we would be living in a ghost house that had a fireplace in each room…and a rat in the bathtub.  Soon mom and dad were divorced and mom did not have the twenty cents per day for me to enjoy a hot lunch at school.  I was the only person in class that brought my lunch.  As the years went by I decided that I was going to hope for something better and work toward that goal.

My good friend, Jeff, was a homeless orphan on the streets of Chicago.  When I met him he was part of a commune of hippies living in Elkville, Illinois.  Jeff had nothing and no one…but he had hope for a better life.  Jeff had come from a loving home, but economic reversals and emotional stresses had dissolved his childhood abode. Jeff, along with the other, Jewish hippies, began attending our little non-denominational church in Elkville.  I personally witnessed the strength of hope in Jeff’s life.  Jeff has been a successful businessman for many years and owns his own business in the United Kingdom.  It was my pleasure, in 2016, to attend one of his opportunity meetings…where he spoke to a room of 100 people who were hungry for the same hope that had transformed Jeff…nearly 50 years ago.  As I observed the attentive audience, as Jeff spoke to them, I saw my friend of 50 years…and marveled at the strength of hope!

We saw the great movie, The Invisible Man, recently.  Fighting an adversary that you cannot see…is scary.  It is vital that we follow all precautions that are suggested by our health experts.  It is essential that we do not yield to…magical thinking…or some of the untruths that are being promulgated by leaders who should no better.  But, it is essential and vital that we do not give over to panic.  Our world has suffered pandemics before…and there will be others after COVID19.

‘So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.’   President Franklin D. Roosevelt

The renown PBS star of many decades, Mr. Rodgers, told us what to do when we are facing a frightening time that is filled with both seen and unseen adversaries: ‘When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’

 

Good Things Are Coming

In a world that increasingly seems like the dystopian reality of George Orwell’s famous book, 1984, the Sun still rises in the East and sets in the West.  The shakiness of unrealized expectations and the incremental nature of progress, can leave you disillusioned, without a clear-eyed vision of what verdant valley you will find at the foot of the mountain that you are descending.

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Life is composed of chapters.  A chapter change can be disorientating.  It is easy to believe that doing the same things will achieve the same results throughout life…when often it is time for a new methodology and empirical study.  A great lesson, for me, was to realize that others are not  primarily responsible for my happiness and well being.  Happiness comes from within.  It does not emanate from a geographical location, or an abundance of finance, or a beautiful residence.  Peace of mind comes from a peaceful heart.

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I have heard it said that, ‘worry is like a rocking chair…you rock and rock and get nowhere.’  But, spring is upon us!  I am sitting on my porch and writing a blog in 2020 and have, finally begun to lose weight.  Now, I am a person who can speak with some experience as regarding the vacillating vicissitudes of weight loss.  Around 2003 I lost almost 100 pounds.  I felt like a new version of Jay.  A happier version and a lighter model.  Having lost, as of this morning, 18 pounds, I already feel better.

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Positive change….Requires…change.  To continue to do things as you have always done them, and expect different results than you have previously achieved…is folly.  Often the change that you need to make is minor, with a major result.  Perhaps you are engaged in behavior that, really, does not give you joy or peace of mind…but is an, ongoing,  habit that you developed because it brought you pleasure on a few occasions.  I wonder if this is not how people become addicted to smoking?  They smoke a few, pleasurable, times…and then seek to replicate the heightened endorphin experience on a regular basis.

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The Campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale is preparing for its spring splendor.  If there is a more lovely physical location in the state of Illinois…I am not aware of it.  Each time that I see our wonderful students I know that good things are coming, and that there is a reason for a bright outlook and hope for our future.

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What Matters

Our modern world provides us with countless diversions.  There is television and movies, as well as iPhones and tablets to occupy our mind and engage our emotions.  It is easier than ever to either shut the world out or to create your own reality.  Of late, there seems to be a heightened belief or sensitivity to things being not what they appear to be.  A hidden hand or a ‘Deep State’ causing the rationale to become irrational, and the factual to become fake news.

My favorite science fiction character, Mr. Spock, insisted that logic was the primary measurement of truth.  Certainly the need for straight talk that is based on recognized facts is needed today.  Common sense is not as common as it should be.

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During my carer at the University I noticed that all success is incremental.  I observed leaders who worked through the heat of the day, year in and year out, and who achieved great forward movement of the school.  Also, I saw heralded, messiahs, who were guaranteed to bring fame and fortune and students and….Great retention, thereof, who subsequently staid a year or two and then moved on to greener pastures.

A leader who promises you the moon and the stars…should be examined as to how many times they have succeeded in similar revolutionary endeavors.  Oratory is the oil of politics.  We must check to ensure that the oil has been applied to constructive endeavors…or is it just keeping the vocal cords, lubricated?

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We are all a little fearful.  We are all a little on edge.  Most of us have read about pandemics…not many of us have lived during one that is the scope of the Coronavirus.  Perhaps we can look into each others eyes and see a glimpse of our brother and sisters…soul.  Presidents will come and go.  Media will continue, when we are no longer watching.  But the miracle of life…is more precious than the ‘gold of Ophir.’IMG_2556