Near 500 words: Enough Is Never Enough

With Jesus, every day was a great day for the Disciples, and always filled with surprises. One day it was miracles, the next blesseds, healings on a third day. And no one could take on the establishment the way Jesus did.

Each day there was a story, and not just one story but story after story after story. The Disciples weren’t sure what a lot of them meant, but the they were excited to hang with Him 24/7.

Things Jesus did were so awesome that Judas wanted to make Him the main attraction of a new theme park. “When we go public, our IPO will be worth billions of denarii.”

Jesus shook his head and laughed. “You poor fellow.” Then He went on His way, the Disciples struggling to keep up.

And talk about cool. Casting out demons was really bad ass. Even the priests were afraid to take on the devil and his minions.

One day–it was a Wednesday I believe–Jesus was teaching away to what most of the Disciples thought of as a multitude. Actually it was five-thousand-and-seventeen men, women and children. We know the exact number because Judas Iscariot was selling tickets.

About three p.m. Jerusalem Standard Time, Jesus was right in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer. Peter sneaked up to Jesus’ ear and whispered, “The folks are famished.”

The Master whispered back at Peter, “Aren’t you listening?”

“Huh?”

“Didn’t I just say, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’?”

Peter was trembling in fear for what Jesus might do to him for being a bearer of bad news. Peter had seen the Lord in the Temple. Man, he’d never seen anyone throw a table the way the Master did. And He barely missed the High Priest. But Peter had gotten this far. He might as well go on. “We ran out of all the baked goods this morning. And all we’ve got is five loaves and two fishes.”

Now there wasn’t a Macdonald’s or a Chick-fil-A to cater the event. So it was going to be up to Jesus to do the catering. The Lord smiled and said, “All right. Bring them here.”

And right there Jesus took care of things. “Have the people form two lines.” And those were some awesome fish sandwiches. Everybody stuffed themselves.

Peter approached the Lord and said, “Where’s the mayonnaise?”

Jesus was the most patient of men. He’d put up with a lot from the Disciples and now this. Jesus gave Peter the kind of look you didn’t want to get from Jesus. “Get thee behind me, Satan,” He said.

As Peter stumbled away, Jesus said under His breath, “Next thing you know they’ll want Me to turn water into wine.”

And so they did.

The Prodigal Father

Inspired by Shakespeare’s “Henry IV Part One. Have you ever wondered what happened after the Prodigal Son’s return to his father?

Twenty years or so after the Prodigal Son’s return, his father occupied a table outside a cafe on a small street near a city park. The old man lifted his half-filled wine glass, saluted the spring morning, touched the liquid to his lips, sipped the nectar, then smiled at his mouth’s delight as he waited for the younger of his two sons.

His thoughts elsewhere, he occasionally raked his fingers through his white beard, unknotting the long, fine strands. He lifted a pipe to his mouth and inhaled a slow puff of tobacco.

He remembered asking his son in that long ago time of the boy’s return, “Tell me. What was it like?”

“It was glorious. Until the money ran out. Stuck my thumb out and headed West, cause West was where the night life was. And I had one rip roaring time. There was down on my luck days and full house nights. Did the Vegas thing and lost everything, including the seat of my pants. Robbed a train or two. Me and my outlaw buddies. Spent some time out Siberia way. Cold so bad it froze the bones. Fell in love seven, eight, nine times. Prayed at the Ganges.”

Listening to the boy spill his stories out like he was tossing dice, he couldn’t help but wonder what it was like to just take off toward the horizon without a care in the world.

“So. What made you come back? The farm sounds like it’d be Boredom City compared to the life you were living?”

“Don’t know. Guess I got tired of mining for gold and coming up pyrite. When I tired of a life on the run, I got into my head to settle down. Thing is I didn’t have much job experience. Even for a swineherd job, I needed a resume. So I lied and made everything up. Then I got to feeling guilty. Lying just wasn’t in my blood. You’d taught me well where that was concerned.”

As his son talked, the father realized he’d missed so much. He’d taken over his father’s farm because his father couldn’t do the work anymore. If the farm had depended on happiness to prosper, it never would have prospered. But it had prospered as he sowed the seeds of his misery. That’s when he realized he had taken a hankering for the wondering life. It’s like they say. You don’t know you’re lonely till you glance at a happy couple.

That night he called his two sons into his library. Right there and then, he did a Lear. Handed his older son the deed to the farm with a check for enough money to manage. He gave his second son, the prodigal boy, another check. That left him with just enough cash to head for parts unknown.

He’d been places. He’d gone East when he could have travelled West. He’d wanted to find the place where the sky drew back a curtain and gave the opening act of the sun, a new day to play with. He’d never found that spot, though he tried. It was just as lost as the end of the rainbow.

Scanning the park nearby, he recognized his son, walking briskly toward him. The once-upon-a-time young man had put on some pounds but otherwise he’d prospered in the intervening years since the two had last seen each other.

The old man called the waiter over and ordered a second bottle of wine.

The younger man saw his father and hurried toward him. The two men embraced, then sat down. At the table, they took a long look at each other, and tears rolled down their faces.

“Where’s your brother?”

“He wouldn’t come.”

“Figures.”

“How are you, Pops?”

“Still ornery enough to kick your butt.”

“I bet you can.”

The old man poured out two glasses of wine. Then they sat silently gazing into the park. They had never been a talkative bunch, he and his sons. His long dead wife had done most of the talking, often carrying on both sides of the conversation.

The sun slipped out of the sky and slowly the evening settled into shadows. In the silence, the father reached across the table and squeezed his son’s hand.

“I love you, Son.”

“I love you too, Pops.”

It was close to midnight when the two stood up and embraced.

“You sure you won’t come home with me? For just one night. Liza would love that.”

“No, Son. It wouldn’t be right. Your brother would think I was playing favorites again.”

The Son nodded. He knew what his father meant.

“‘Sides I got to get on. There’s a whole wide world out there to explore.”

The two embraced one last time, kissing each other’s cheeks. Then it was goodbye.

The son walked away, glancing back at his father several times, each time a longing in his eyes, a longing for another time and place when the two had shared a meal with his brother, when the three had laughed heartily at bad jokes and good wine and a mother’s love as his mother served up a feast of a meal. That time was gone, only a memory that would fade into the dust of time.

The old man sighed, then finished the wine. He decided it was time to go West finally to the sun’s setting and catch a wave off to Avalon. He stood up, dropped his pipe into his pocket and strolled off to the park. He’d hitch a ride the next morning.

In the dark and under a tree nearby, his older son watched his father. He started to call out, but something stopped him. He just couldn’t do it. So he turned and headed back to the farm. He had cows to milk early the next morning.

Near 500 words: Joshua in Charge

Recently I read the Book of Joshua in the The Old Testament. It inspired this story.

After Moses died, Joshua was put in charge of the Israelites. He’d been around since Egypt and he’d never given Moses any lip. It was always “Yes, Sir” and “No, Sir” and “How high, Sir?” He was a Libra and he could charm the pants off the most rebellious Israelite. On top of that, he put on the best shows. His “Forty Years in the Wilderness Without Any Pants (‘Cause Guys Wear Dresses)” was a real hoot of a musical.

So God knew He had His guy when Moses suggested Joshua would be perfect for the job. Joshua wasn’t so sure.

“Why don’t you go with Caleb?” Joshua suggested.

“You know how he is. He’ll go off and shoot himself in the foot. No, you’re My guy.”

“I’ll give it a try but–”

“I have just the thing. Roll up your sleeve, Josh.”

“What for, Sir?

“I’m going to give you a shot of self confidence.”

“You know I don’t like needles.”

“There. Did that hurt?”

“A little bit.”

“Let me kiss it and it’ll be all better.”

“Well, okay. Do I get a lollypop?”

God kissed the boo-boo, then handed Joshua two lollypops.

“My favorites,” Joshua said. “Root beer and Wild Strawberry. Yummy.”

After a late night with the Almighty, Joshua went back to camp. He gathered everybody and said, “I have some good news, and I have some bad news.”

“What’s the good news?” Levi called out.

“The good news is we’re going to kick some Canaanite butt.”

“Aw right,” the crowd cheered.

Never one to take good news well, Judah shouted, “So what’s the bad news?”

“It’s not really bad,” Joshua holding back.

“C’mon,” Levi said. “We can take it. After all, what can be worse than the manna we’ve been eating for forty years. We’re ready for some of that milk and honey.”

“Yeah,” Reuben yelled. “Especially that honey part.”

“Okay, guys,” Joshua said. “You asked for it. We have to let our pee pees go.”

Boos went through the crowds. If this had been a movie, the soundtrack would have been playing Bob Dylan and “Everybody must get stoned.” Them Israelites had rocks in their hands and they were ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

“C’mon, fellas,” Joshua pleaded. “It’s for a good cause. After all, there are no free rides.”

“I knew there had to be a catch,” Judah said. “After all, it’s Friday the 13th. On top of that, it’s a full moon.”

“Yeah,” Reuben grimaced, “But circumcision. That’s gonna hurt.”

“So who’s going to do the deed?” Levi wanted to know. Not happy but still he was a Levite. And Levites were God’s Guys.

Joshua hesitated, then said really slow-like, “Brad.”

“Brad!” Judah, Levi and Reuben let out. “Not Brad.”

A roar went out from the crowd like an echo, “Not Brad.”

“He’s the only one with a knife,” Joshua said. “The rest of you have swords. And I gotta tell you, ain’t nobody going to take a sword to my…well, you know.”

“But Brad is blind as a bat,” Reuben said.

“And cross-eyed to boot,” Judah added.

“The Almighty’s got you covered on those two things,” Joshua said. “Brad’s got glasses now.”

“But what if he misses?” Reuben asked. “Even with glasses?”

“Let’s just say you’ll be eunuch,” Joshua said, then, “I’m going to need some of you guys to volunteer for trumpet lessons. We’re going to have a big performance at Jericho.”

Apple Tree Blues

Just another lyric without a tune

Chorus:
I am an old man
The devil ain’t boss of me
I am an old man
Older than Methuselee

Back in my young years
Adam said to me,
“Don’t you ever eat
Fruit from the apple tree.

Oh, sure the apples
May be a tasty fruit.
I’m here to tell you
God don’t give a hoot.

Eat them apples.
You mess up the Plan.
One thing you’ll get.
The back side of His hand.”

In old Mesopotamie
Throughout that ancient land
All the folks were folks
In apple-eating clans.

They drank them ciders.
Ate all kinds of pies.
But they gave no look
To the clouds in the sky.

Noah was a non-
Apple-eating man.
Never did he taste
Dumplins, fritters or flan

Chorus:
I am an old man
The devil ain’t boss of me
I am an old man
Older than Methuselee

Noah never was
A propheting man
But Noah could tell
God had Himself a Plan.

“Better get ready.
An umbrella won’t do.
Rain’s sure a-coming
To flood me and you.”

It was a Sunday
When he told his wife.
He told her once.
Told her three times thrice.

Noah built himself
A big big boat.
Checked for the leaks,
Made sure boat did float.

Loaded that boat up
With lots of critters.
Two of each they came,
Slow ones, go getters.

It rained real hard,
Pounded forty days.
Noah and his family
Got cabin fever crazed.

Chorus:
I am an old man
The devil ain’t boss of me
I am an old man
Older than Methuselee

Said, “We’re up a creek
Without a paddle.
This boat’s not safe.
Listen to the rattle.”

The boat didn’t sink.
The water went down.
The boat hit a rock.
Noah stepped on to ground.

With seasickness gone
The fam settled in
Raising apple trees
In the way back when.

The Good Lord He looked
Down with godly aim.
“What am I gonna do?
Noah’s more of the same.

Snozzling down cider,
He’s gone apple loose.
Told him not to drink
Any apple juice.”

So God threw up His
Mighty mighty hands.
“I’m outta here; just maybe
Martians will follow the Plan.”

Chorus:
I am an old man
The devil ain’t boss of me
I am an old man
Older than Methuselee

Did it snow in Eden?

This one sounds like a theology question, doesn’t it? Yet here I am, throwing the question out there. I am here to say that perhaps it did.

Perhaps after all that garden tending and naming names business, the First Couple needed a little vacay. God decided, “Hey, guys, you just won a all expenses paid vacation to the North Slope.” Then He showed the two the resort virtual reality style without the headgear.

Unlike us, Adam and Eve didn’t need longjohns. They didn’t need to bundle up. They didn’t need ear muffs. None of that heavy winter clothes gig. They got the bennies of winter without the suffering through the downers. No heavy duty blizzards to suffer through. And when it came to skiing, they had perfect balance.

There was that time Adam was up on the slopes with Eve. They were in their Hawaiian garb. Shorts and Hawaiian shirts all decked out with flowers. They stood on the slope, skis on their feetsies.

“Shall we?” Adam asked.

“Race you,” Eve said.

So off they went. Faster than a speeding bullet. The snow was all packed down for a good ride. They came to a place where the land dropped fifty feet. Did they stop? Heck, no. Down they went and caught themselves standing. They were having one whissssss of a ride.

Up ahead there were some trees. Adam found that he was heading straight toward the biggest tree of all. It was like one of those Sequoias. Closer, closer, closer he came. He couldn’t stop himself. He made one last effort to turn. Didn’t work. He slammed right into the big galloot. Maybe the biggest Sequoia ever was. Splat!

It was one of those splats you don’t want to hear. Especially if it happens to you. It’s like Wiley Coyote slamming into the side of a mountain. A big ouch. That’s what it was.

Eve pulled up beside Adam. “You okay?” she asked the way she always asked.

“Aw shucks,” Adam said. The only injury he had was those big stars circling his head like they do in cartoons. After a couple of sips of hot toddy he was back on the slopes.

Talk about health insurance. Adam and  Eve had the best medical care that money could not buy. They had God. And God never let them down.