Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Faith”

Fiction Saturday – “Boxer”  – Part One 

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

“Our words and deeds, Good or Evil, are the dishes we put before the Lord.” 

—  Pope Severinus – 640 AD

The light shining in Doc’s kitchen was the only light on in the neighborhood. It would do. It always has before. In a couple of hours things on the street will begin to percolate, but now? Nothing good happens at three in the morning.

“I think your hand is broken, Terry.”

“No, it’s not, Doc. It’s just scraped up a little. I’ve broken it before. I know what that feels like.”

“Uh huh.”

Every knuckle on Terry’s right hand looked like he’d tried to knock down a brick wall.

“I just need you to clean it up, Doc, and tape it to keep the swelling down.” He held out his hand like it was a sledgehammer that needed repair.

 “Uh huh. What was it this time, a bar fight or what?”

“Business. Just business, Doc.”

“I swear, Terry, you get busted up more now than you ever did in The Ring.”

“Yeah, well, I gotta earn a living, right? In The Ring there were rules. Now, not so much. Different rules. I tell you, it gets hard for me sometimes to understand what the rules are.”

The peroxide washed over the scraped and bloody knuckles, stinging like hell. Nobody winced.

“What you need is a tetanus shot. You should go to the clinic for that.”

“They ask too many questions. This’ll do, Doc. This’ll do fine.”

He wiggled his fingers, testing for flexibility, and could he make a fist?

“You know, Terry, that I’m not a real doctor.”

“Yeah, I know. You went to medical school for a year or two. I heard you tell it all to Dutch, my old corner man. I remember.”

“Two years. I had two years of medical school, Terry. That’s all.”

Doc was a tall and sickly looking thin man. Skinny was more like it. His kitchen was his office and, on occasion, his surgery. This morning it was a little of both. He didn’t have a license to practice medicine. That dream died after two years and a weakness for gin. He drained away until all that was left was enough knowledge to pretend. Knowing enough to earn the nickname “Doc” that stung every time he heard it.

The gin introduced him to a different level of the culture and he got himself hired on as a “cut man’ for prize fighters. His job was to stop the bleeding and make things look not so bad when the referee came to their corner to assess the damage.

Doc knows only to blame himself. One night when he can’t hide in a haze he will open a vein and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

“I can patch you up, Terry, but Jesus, I can’t keep putting you back together forever.”

“I don’t need forever, Doc. I just need tonight. Now tape me up and I’ll go.”

“Boxing is real easy, Life is much harder.” —  Floyd Mayweather Jr.

 

Terry Jarosz, 36 years old and at one time a boxer. Middle-Weight Champion for about five minutes, a punching bag the rest of the time. A guy who struggled with the world of rules and laws.

After too many fights the damage to his body didn’t want to heal up fast enough and he couldn’t get any more matches. Permits were denied and that was that.

A guy who played by the rules in The Ring was thrown out of work by the rules from outside The Ring. He had to make a living.

Terry had to work, but it’s hard for an ex-fighter to find any work that doesn’t call on his only skills – hitting and hurting other people. At that he proved to be better than most.

He took work where he could find it. “Lift this.” “Carry that,” and more and more frequently, “Hit him. Break that.”

When he was in The Ring it was nothing personal. It was two men beating each other for the purse, or a part of the purse, after “expenses” were taken out by half a dozen men who called the shots.

Whatever else he was, Terry Jarosz was known as a hard guy who never took a dive when maybe he should have to save himself. He learned too late that in his world being an honest man paid a lot less than the other kind.

People who knew his name assumed, that because he had been a “Champ,” that he was set financially. But people who knew Boxing knew that money had a way of walking out of the door faster than a Ten Count from a crooked Referee. When Terry “retired” he had less than eight hundred dollars to his name. At least he had his name.

That got him some free meals and a few jobs, but after a year or two he became “Terry who?” Fans moved on and real friends, like always, were few and far between.

Now, working as muscle, collecting debts, it always ended up being personal. Sometimes he knew the men that he was leaning on – again for just a cut of the money. He got 5% of whatever he brought in.

It didn’t take long for word to get around that Terry Jarosz would get rough if you tried to snow him. When he first started working as a collector he was easy to fool. A good sob story and he’d end up buying you a drink or slipping you a few bucks. A couple of weeks having to sleep on a sidewalk heating vent fixed that. He learned that in his new world there was no “Loser’s Purse.” He changed. He didn’t listen to the sob stories any more. He didn’t care if your mother was in the hospital. It was either pay up or tell Momma to move over.

“A man’s gotta eat.” That became his motto.

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

 

Our Lady Of The Crosswalk

crutchesI THINK I SAW EVIDENCE OF A MIRACLE THIS MORNING.

I was driving down Wabash Avenue, heading toward home after morning services/brewing at St. Arbucks, when I stopped at the red light. It was then that I saw it.

Across the intersection at the crosswalk, leaning up against the light pole, I saw a single aluminum crutch. “Shades of Fatima,” I said to myself. “Right here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “What the heck is that?”).

Nobody would absentmindedly forget that they were using a crutch and just walk away and leave it there. Nobody would think that they didn’t need the crutch and just abandon it at the corner. It has to be a relic of a recent miraculous event.

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Rechargeable Batteries


IN JUST A FEW DAYS WE WILL BE HEADING SOUTH to attend the NACCC Annual Church Meeting. It is always a good and refreshing time. The delight of seeing old friends – I think that the best word is “Fellowship.” That means more than sitting around with a cool drink and shooting the breeze with everyone.

It is a time to exchange ideas, joys, sorrows, and hopes and plans for the future. It is also a time to recharge the batteries of faith – faith in God, Humanity, ourselves and each other. Time and tribulation can drain our batteries, but this Annual Meeting works to plug us in and reenergize us all for the year ahead.

The chores of daily life draw from our batteries much like accidentally leaving on your car headlights. You may be casting out a light to illuminate the way, but it won’t be long before you find yourself in the dark. The Annual Meeting acts like jumper cables to restart our engines and get us back on the road. Perhaps the old Willie Nelson song, “On The Road Again,” should be added to the Hymnal?

“On the road again

Just can’t wait to get on the road again.

The life I love is making music with my friends.

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

 

When I hear that it makes me think of the message of “Amazing Grace.”

“How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.’

Maybe it’s just me and my life experience, but I see so much in both those songs. Both carry a message of life renewed, rescued from days without joy and bearing the power of the music shared with friends.

Both songs sing of recharging our batteries and seeing our life with renewed energy. Whether you are singing “Amazing Grace” or “On the Road Again,” you are leaving behind the time when life was hard and are entering a time of happiness and energy.

Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia – brace yourself. We are on our way and we can get a little loud at times. There will be a fair amount of singing and laughter. There will be looking back at our past and a lot of looking to the future. There will be joy.

I’m Good At Being “Arm Candy”

 

IN A WEEK OR SO my wife, the lovely and widely involved, Dawn and I, as we do every year, will attend the annual meeting of the NACCC – or in the fully expanded state- The National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. You can see why we call it the NACCC. It’s either use the abbreviation or allot extra time in your day.

Every year the meeting is held in a different city. In recent years we have gone to Orlando, Omaha, Salt Lake City, and Detroit. You get the idea.

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Who Is Normal?

EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE I AM ASKED TO GIVE SHORT SPEECHES or presentations to civic groups or service organizations. I’ve done a few things for the likes of Kiwanis and businesses. Lately I have been asked to speak before an organization that serves citizens with special needs.

A couple of months ago I went downtown and spoke before both clients and staff of this same outfit about the value of writing down their own personal stories.

I said to them that, “No matter who you are you are a special and unique individual and you have a story worth telling.” I spoke to them about how to write down their stories and how, in doing so, they would be able to both learn and to teach. They would learn more about themselves and they would teach everyone else about their uniqueness, challenges, and gifts that they have to offer to the world.

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Sunrise Monday Morning

IT’S 6:45 AM AND I AM IN MY USUAL WRITING POSITION – a corner table at Starbucks – with coffee and a pen. Like most other mornings I start off by checking the online news to see what mischief the world has been up to overnight, and then I look at my mail and lastly, Facebook.

What I see on Facebook is usually enough to launch my day and give me something to write about – but not today. All of my friends and acquaintances are either still asleep or busy monitoring their blood pressure.

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I Need A Time-Out

AS DAYS GO TODAY STARTED OUT LOOKING TO BE A GOOD ONE. The rains had stopped, the car got a free washing courtesy of “God’s Car Wash”, and I think I saw the sun trying to peek through the clouds.

According to the Weather Bunny on the TV today is supposed to be a dry day. I’m glad because later I’ll have to drag the recycling bin down to the curb for pickup later today.

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Creation, Version 1.3

MY CELL PHONE WAS ACTING UP THIS MORNING. Nothing serious. It just appeared to be possessed by demons and wasn’t cooperating at all. Who knows why? So, I did what any sane person would do – I rebooted the darned thing.

Voila! It was all better – obedient, colorful, and utilitarian with no backtalk.

Don’t you wish life was like that? Your day is just not working right – the car wouldn’t start, your Boss is having another psychotic rampage, and when you get home the power is out and the cat has trashed the bathroom.

Time for a Reboot!

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Three Little Words

dnraI KNOW A YOUNG BLOGGER, whose work I really enjoy. Recently she mentioned that she had decided to sign a “DNR” form. For the uninitiated “DNR” stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is an alert to medical personnel that the person who signed the form does not want any measures, like CPR, to be taken to keep them alive if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Serious business.

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Not Just Another Day

val1IN CASE YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING IN A CAVE for the last six weeks or so let me be the one to tell you – Today is Valentine’s Day. And you time is running out if you wish to live.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday dedicated to Love, Candy, and Greeting Cards. There is nothing else like it. Christmas may dominate when it comes to the cards and Halloween has a lock on the candy thing, but no other day – not even Opening Day of Baseball Season – can do Love like Valentine’s Day.

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Coffee And Cake At 7 AM

cake1ONE OF THE MORE INTERESTING PARTS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON – maybe the most interesting part – is taking time to observe the children. Take a moment to watch a three year old when they first see all of the colorful and glittering lights.

I never knew eyes could be that big.

The look on the face of a Little One must be similar to when the first self-aware humans looked up at the night sky.

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Retreat! Retreat!

retreat1WHEN I SAY “RETREAT” I’m not saying it as if the attack has failed and we are advancing to the rear. No. This is “Retreat” meaning withdrawing from our usual surroundings to participate in a time for reflection and resuscitation on a more spiritual plane. It’s a good thing to do every so often.

Our retreat is at a facility on the shore of Lake Michigan near the town of Holland, Michigan.

For five days we will be thinking about our past and allowing our future to present itself. Prayer, contemplation, and sharpening our perspective on life are a large part of the retreat.

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Hey, Gomer!

tdn1“I’VE NEVER BEEN TO SPAIN, BUT I HAVE BEEN TO GOMER.”

OK, so that is a paraphrase of the old Three Dog Night song and I have to agree that the Gomer part doesn’t work. But I have been to Gomer.

Recently my wife, the lovely and true to her calling, Dawn, and I made a short visit to the town of Gomer, Ohio. We had to drive there (260 miles) because the Gomer International Airport was fogged in.

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A Lesson In Living

week1SOME WEEKS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS. This is not a week I could classify as one of the “better” weeks.

We have had some nasty weather lately that has brought down some tree limbs. I still have volumes to learn about how to properly do a Ponytail. My wife, the lovely and seriously Southpaw, Dawn, is still dealing with the discomfort and frustration of a broken left arm – and we’ve had two members of the church pass away.

This week is one we would just as soon forget, but life won’t let us do that.

You have to stand up and deal with it as it comes. You can deal with it well, or you can deal with it poorly, but you can’t pretend it isn’t there. It is what it is.

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Adjusting The Focus

Food5NOW THAT WE ARE HOME, after almost two months in Ireland, there are some things that are obvious only now. We were perfectly comfortable there and had no “When do we go home?” moments. The one exception might be when it comes to food. It was a case of “Close, but no cigar.” It’s just a case of liking the things I’m familiar with.

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Returning

luggage_large_1xAs you read this we should, and I emphasize “Should,” be home in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “You have a ton of junk mail waiting for you.”) and dealing with the stresses and strains of jet-lag and culture shock. Hopefully our luggage has arrived with us, but I always feel a bit cynical about that.

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A Starlit Night

1IT IS ALMOST MIDNIGHT AND THERE IS STILL LIGHT IN THE SKY. The horizon is sharply dividing the ocean from the sky and the crescent moon is reflected off of the water.

The last few nights have been overcast here in Glencolumbcille in County Donegal, but not tonight. Tonight the clouds have melted away and we have our eyes looking upward, taking in the blanket of stars.

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Our home in Glencolumbcille

Jupiter is large and bright, and untwinkling. It stands out like a lantern among the shimmering stars around it. The Big Dipper points the way to Polaris, The North Star. Castor and Pollex stand in line, but Orion and his belt are still below the horizon.

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Looking For Ourselves

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(being written on April 21st)

 

TO QUOTE MADELYN KAHN IN ‘BLAZING SADDLES,’ “I’m tired.”

While travel is wonderful and inspiring it can also be flat out exhausting – and I’m not the one doing all the driving. We will be in our next location for two weeks in the town of Carrick-on-Shannon. Two weeks will be most conducive for both I and my wife, the lovely and sabbaticalizing, Dawn.

Time for reading, writing, contemplating one’s place in the universe, looking to both the past and the future, and taking things at a slower and more restorative pace. This applies to both of us.

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New Shooter Comin’ Out!

Today’s blog was inspired by a posting about Albert Einstein that was put on Facebook by an old college friend who is still alive. Thanks, Glen.

Dice 1

ACCORDING TO ALBERT EINSTEIN the most important question that we, as a species, can ask might be, “Is the universe a friendly place?”

If the universe is “friendly” as Al says (to mildly paraphrase), then we should be ready to be inundated with interstellar welcome wagons, coupons for free ‘this and that’ from a mall in Alpha Centauri, and Motherships full of door-to-door Alien contractors offering free estimates on roof repair.

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What Can A Person Say?

Noir Sax PlayerSOME DAYS THERE’S NOTHING GOOD YOU CAN SAY.

We were in Texas for Christmas and New Year and less than three weeks later we were back. This time it was not for a celebration or holiday. This time it was for a funeral.

A phone call on a Saturday with the news that a niece had passed away – very suddenly and unexpected. And on Monday we start on our way back to Texas.

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