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Chapter 40 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Ch40 Compromise

Ch 40. Repairs

After an adventurous day ice-fishing on the river, the men returned with their prized catch of fish. After they took Jesus’ advice about where to fish, they caught so many that they couldn’t carry them all home with them in the car. They ended up giving more than half of their fish away to the other fishermen on the river who hadn’t been so fortunate.

Fortunately for Nikita, Grandpa Vova’s old fishing buddy, he finally listened to Jesus Josephovich’s advice when he saw how many fish the foreigner and his friends were catching, and he started fishing on the other side like Jesus Josephovich had suggested. He caught more fish than ever before and he started to think that maybe foreigners did know a thing or two about how to fish. He went home a much richer man than when he had arrived at the river that morning.

The next day it was a Saturday, so Jesus Josephovich decided to get some quiet time alone to relax, think, pray, and rejuvenate his body and spirit. He went up into an empty room on the second floor, closed the door, and knelt on his knees to pray. He gazed out of the window at the beautiful winter scene as he praised God for His creation. Birds were chirping, tiny snowflakes were softly drifting to the ground, and the whole earth lied peacefully at rest beneath a cleansing veil of snow.

Without warning the peaceful scene was blaringly interrupted by a terrible sound. He heard a noise like the tearing of metal, the crashing of stones, or the scream of a tortured animal. The sounds twisted and clanged in his ears until his spine tingled with pain. The grating noise seemed to vibrate through the walls and straight into his head, piercing his brain with its incessant screeching.

He apologized to God for the interruption, jumped up and ran downstairs to see what the problem was. When he entered the kitchen he saw Grandpa Vova kneeling next to the kitchen counter and wielding a strange weapon. The weapon was short like a pistol, but it had a long rope attached to one end and a thin snout on the other end which spun in the air like a metal tornado.

As Grandpa Vova applied the weapon to something beneath the counter the ear-piercing noise rang through the house and the entire kitchen shook with horror. Leosha walked into the kitchen covering his ears.

“Grandpa, do you have to do that now?” Leosha asked with a youthful whine. “I’m watching a movie.”

At that moment Katya entered the kitchen from the other side with a similar complaint. “Grandpa, I can’t hear and I’m trying to talk my friends on the phone.”

The other members of the family also entered the kitchen, and it looked like the old man might have to defend himself against an outnumbering attack with his wall-vibrating weapon.

A big smile spread across Grandpa Vova’s face. He stood up tall and put his hands on his hips, like a proud General. “You know what time it is,” he said to the children. “Every year you help me fix something around the house. Well, it’s time to do it again.”

Complaints instantly shot out of the children’s mouths.

“Can’t we do it tomorrow?”

“I’m really busy right now.”

“You’re just going to say the same thing tomorrow,” said Grandpa Vova. “It’s better to get it done now.”

The children frowned and looked to their parents for assistance, but there was none. They had been abandoned to the enemy.

Grandma Olga attempted a small but futile rescue. “Oh Vova,” she said. “You never fix anything yourself. You always wait until the grandchildren come so they can do the work instead.”

“That is not true!” Vova defended. “I fixed the sink last month.”

Grandma Olga folded her arms and scowled. “Putting a bucket under the sink does not fix a dripping pipe,” she announced critically.

“Well, the floor isn’t wet anymore, and that’s all that matters,” he challenged. “Kids, are you ready?” he asked, addressing his reluctant recruits.

“I can help,” Jesus Josephovich said enthusiastically.

Everyone looked at their foreign guest with surprise.

“You don’t have to help,” Grandpa Vova said. “This is the family’s responsibility.”

“That’s okay. I want to help,” the foreigner answered. “I was a carpenter back in Israel. I’m pretty good at building things.”

The family was impressed by Jesus Josephovich’s desire to help, and Leosha suddenly felt like he should help too. It was as if seeing his role filled by someone else made him want to perform it as well, even though his “role” was simply to help Grandpa Vova hold things in place and not break anything.

Katya was also more motivated to help now that Jesus Josephovich would be involved, and they quickly began working. Their job was to replace all the old doors on the kitchen cabinets. It was a long and tedious process removing all of the doors and putting on new ones, but Jesus Josephovich seemed to enjoy the work so much that it made everyone else happier to do the work as well.

“You know, working with my hands is one of my favorite things in the world,” Jesus Josephovich said to Leosha as they installed a new door hinge. “It’s hard work, but when you’re finished, you feel like you’ve accomplished something. You’re tired, but when you can see the results of your work in front of you, the fruits of your labor, it feels special. Like you have created something.”

Leosha heard these words and felt them in his heart. He enjoyed many things in life: watching movies, listening to music, playing video games, sports, and many other time-wasting activities. But there was a special satisfaction in building something, in creating something new, something lasting. He didn’t know why exactly, but it made him feel like a man. Of course, holding a power-drill and driving screws into a wall also helped him feel manly.

As they worked, Jesus Josephovich noticed the sounds of construction coming from many different houses. Their drilling and remodeling was joined by a cacophony of hammering and other headache-inducing noises throughout the neighborhood. It was as if the sound of Vova’s drill had awoken the other villagers and reminded them that they also had some repairs that needed attending. Now everyone was joining in on the job.

Leosha worked harder and harder and faster and faster as the work progressed. His body and mind felt refreshed by the physical labor and it seemed to infuse him with more energy than it took away. He felt the anticipation of completing a task near at hand, and it moved him towards the goal with ever-increasing speed. Everyone noticed the change in him. There was a smile on his face and a skip in his step that hadn’t been present before.

Katya, on the other hand, was not quite as enthusiastic about the physical labor as Leosha was. She carried things back and forth and held things in place while her grandfather screwed them into the cabinet, but she clearly didn’t feel apart of the process like her little brother did. Her head was in another place entirely – it was focused on the text messages that constantly streamed into her phone.

“Are you not enjoying the work?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

Katya picked up a cabinet door and held it daintily with one hand, as if it were a dead, smelly fish. She glanced apathetically at the foreigner who didn’t like cell phones. “I don’t mind doing this kind of work every once in a while,” she admitted, “but it seems like we have to fix the same things all the time. It never ends. It’s annoying.”

“Maybe that’s a good thing,” Jesus Josephovich suggested.

“How?” she wondered, oblivious to any perspective in which installing a door might be a good thing.

“A house is like the people inside it,” Jesus Josephovich explained. “Left alone it will slowly decay and become a useless dirty mess, but with a bit of consistent work it can become more and more beautiful every year until you barely recognize it as the same house.”

“How does that help me?” Katya wondered.

“It’s a helpful reminder,” Jesus Josephovich said. “If you are not growing and improving, then you are shrinking and deteriorating. If you’re not getting better, then you’re not just staying the same – you’re getting worse.”

“That’s right,” Vova agreed. “I left this new drill in the garage for a year, and now it barely works.” He pulled the drill’s trigger and a terrible metallic screeching sound filled the room. Katya and Leosha plugged their ears.

“But sometimes I like the way things are,” Katya said as she unplugged her fingers from her ears. “There are some things that I don’t want to change.”

“Like your stupid phone?” Leosha asked mockingly.

“No,” Katya shouted defiantly. “I buy new phones all the time. Better models come out every few months,” she explained.

“Things are always changing,” Jesus Josephovich added. “That is the nature of the universe. Nothing is ever the same, even from one moment to the next. We are constant creations, creating and being created anew.”

Katya sighed as she held up another door. “But that’s too much work,” she said. “Just thinking about it makes me dizzy. How can you think about changing everything all the time? You can’t do it.”

“You just have to improve in whatever you do,” Jesus explained. “Even if you make one small change every week, or every month, or every year, you will see drastic improvements in your life. It is the people who stop improving who fail – not because they aren’t good enough, but because when they stop improving they become worse and worse without even realizing it.”

“Okay then. What do I need to improve?” Katya asked humbly.

“Everything,” Leosha barked.

“Nothing,” Grandpa Vova said sweetly. “You’re perfect the way you are.”

“Indeed, you are a perfect creation,” Jesus Josephovich agreed. “Because you are never the same.”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

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Comments Off on Chapter 40 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Posted by on September 19, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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Chapter 39 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Ch39 Ice Fishing

Ch 39. Ice Fishing

The day after Jesus Josephovich’s skiing adventure, Volodomir and his father Vova decided to take their foreign guest on a traditional Ukrainian male excursion. Vova went into his garage and emerged with several long poles and a small wooden box full of equipment. He proudly held them up for Jesus Josephovich to admire.

“What is this for?” the foreigner wondered.

“For every Ukrainian man’s favorite activity,” Volodomir joked.

“Ice-fishing,” Grandpa Vova shouted enthusiastically.

Katya saw the fishing poles and quickly turned around and went into the next room. She didn’t want to have anything to do with fish or ice. Leosha saw the poles and groaned.

Grandpa Vova frowned as he examined the fishing poles. “I only have three poles,” he said, counting four men.

Leosha’s eye brightened. “That’s okay. I don’t need to go. I’ll play with Katya today,” he shouted breathlessly as he ran into the other room before his father or grandfather had a chance to reply.

“Do you like fishing?” Grandpa Vova asked his foreign guest.

Jesus Josephovich nodded his head. “Some of my best friends were fishermen.”

“Well now you’ll have something to tell your fishermen friends about back home. I’m sure they don’t have ice-fishing in the Middle East.” Grandpa Vova said proudly.

“What is ice-fishing?” Jesus Josephovich asked, noticing that the mention of the activity had decreased the number of people in the room by almost half.

“We go out on the river, cut a hole in the ice, and catch fish,” Grandpa Vova explained cheerfully.

“Sometimes we catch fish,” Volodomir corrected. “Usually we sit around and drink vodka.”

“What do you mean, “sometimes”? I always catch fish,” Grandpa Vova declared defensively. “Last year I caught the biggest fish of the season on the river only a few kilometers from our house. It must have weighed twenty kilograms or more,” he said, measuring an invisible fish with his hands. “That fish fed twenty people.”

After arguing about fish stories, they dressed Jesus Josephovich in a heavy jacket and cloak and gave him thick winter boots and a large square fur hat with flaps that pulled down to cover his ears. When they were finished dressing him, he looked in the mirror and Grandma Olga declared him the first Middle Eastern Eskimo.

They packed their equipment into large wooden crates, loaded them in the car, and drove out to a secret place on the river that Grandpa Vova claimed only he knew about. Of course, when they arrived, there were already ten people sitting out on the ice. They sat like furry statues with one hand on their poles and another hand on a bottle of beer or vodka.

Jesus Josephovich was amazed. “You fish on top of the ice?”

“Of course,” Grandpa Vova said. “Don’t worry. If someone hasn’t fallen in the river yet today, then it’s probably safe.”

A few of the heads slowly turned to look at Grandpa Vova and his guests as they exited the vehicle. One of the furry statues waved and Vova shouted a strange greeting to his old friend. They carried their equipment onto the ice and sat down next to the old fisherman.

“Hello Nikita. How are the fish today?” Grandpa Vova asked.

His old friend shook his head and scowled. “They’re asleep. Like me,” he joked. The fisherman was wearing an extremely aged heavy gray coat and thick black boots that looked like they were fifty years old. He looked like he had been sitting there for a long time in the cold and he smelled strongly of vodka.

The three newcomers opened their crates and took out their poles and bait. Vova took out a rusty old hand-drill and stood over the ice. He looked at his friend’s ice-breaker, a long metal pole with a sharp point at the end and laughed as he started to drill.

“You still use that old thing,” Vova teased.

“I like the exercise,” Nikita joked.

After several minutes of drilling, he finally finished and proudly invited his son Volodomir and their guest to sit around the hole. They slid their wooden crates around the hole and sat on them like a group of arranged stools.

Vova took out a bag of worms and handed one to Volodomir and Jesus Josephovich. Nikita stared at the foreigner. When the foreigner looked at him he nodded at him to catch his attention.

“If you want to catch the most fish, you have to keep the worms warm,” Nikita said.

“Thanks,” Jesus Josephovich replied. He looked at the tiny warm wriggling in the cold winter air. “How do you keep them warm?”

The old fisherman picked up a worm and made a motion towards his mouth. Jesus Josephovich cringed in disgust as the worm approached the old man’s lips. Nikita stopped suddenly and looked at Vova. They both laughed.

“He’s kidding,” said Volodomir. “Don’t listen to those old men.”

“You think I don’t know how to fish?” Nikita asked, his pride affronted.

“That’s not what I meant,” Volodomir argued.

“Yes, it’s true, sometimes I come out here and fish just to get away from the wife and drink a little, but I always bring home a fish,” Nikita claimed. “Even if I have to buy it in the store.”

Volodomir laughed. “If you don’t get lucky soon, you may have to buy a fish for your wife today too. Otherwise she’ll think you weren’t really fishing. Just drinking with your friends.”

“That might have been possible in the old days,” Nikita acknowledged, “but these days I can’t afford to be buying fish every day. I need to catch some fish so I can eat dinner tonight and maybe sell the extras for a few dollars. These pensions they give us aren’t enough to live on anymore. It’s tough, I tell you. I used to think I had a pretty good life, but now I feel like a poor old beggar.”

“Is it so terrible to be poor?” Jesus Josephovich asked him. “The best men I have ever known were all poor. They considered it a blessing more often than a curse.”

“Sure it’s good to have a simple life,” Nikita agreed, “but when you don’t have basic necessities, it makes life miserable.”

The old man pulled up his fishing pole and saw that the worm was gone again. He lifted the pole angrily onto the ice and baited another worm.

“Today is not my day,” Nikita said pitifully.

“May I tell you a story?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

Nikita shrugged his shoulders apathetically. “Okay.”

“A boy once asked his father if he was poor or rich,” Jesus Josephovich began. “The father told his son to go visit a poor man and a rich man, and he would know whether he was poor or rich.

“So the son found the poorest man in the city and talked with him about his life. The man was a beggar who had been blind from birth. His parents had abandoned him when he was a baby because he wasn’t healthy, and he had been raised by a poor family who found him lying in a basket on the street.

“He couldn’t work and he had very few friends, so the blind beggar never had any money except for what kind people gave him on the street. He used the money to buy bread and clean water and clothes when he had enough. Sometimes the shopkeepers cheated him because he didn’t know how much money he really had, but there was nothing he could do about it. He was used to having nothing.

“After the boy’s encounter with the blind beggar he went home feeling incredibly wealthy. He had a house, a mother and father, friends, food every day, new clothes, comfortable shoes, a good job, and a promising future. He enjoyed his life and he couldn’t think of anything that was missing. In fact, after seeing the blind beggar, he felt like he had more than he deserved, and he almost felt guilty for having so much. At that moment, he realized that he was very rich.

“The next day, however, he visited one of the richest men in the city. Believing that he was himself very rich, he didn’t think that the meeting with the rich man would be very exciting. In fact, he was thinking about visiting the blind beggar again to help him, since he was so rich and the beggar was so poor. Then he saw the rich man’s house.

“The house was enormous, with great pillars lining the entrance and statues of lions and ancient gods guarding the grounds. All around the estate was a large garden with flowers of every variety and even a maze of trees and bushes to get lost in. The rich man’s servants greeted the boy at the door and walked him through a maze of beautifully decorated rooms with extraordinary works of art on the walls and expensive, hand made furniture from around the world.

“When he met the rich man he was amazed by his stylish clothing, the brilliant rings on his fingers, and his seemingly endless knowledge of the best things in life. The rich man talked on and on about things that the boy had never known existed, yet which now appeared to him absolutely essential. The boy wondered how he could have endured such a boring, uncomfortable, uncultured life without all of the things which he now knew, and when he went home after his encounter with the rich man, he felt as if he was the poorest, most deprived person in the entire city.

“When he got home and talked to his father, the boy was very confused, and he said to him, “Father, I don’t understand. When I met the poor beggar I felt like I had more than enough, but when I met at the rich man I felt like I had nothing. Am I rich or am I poor?”

“You can have less than the poorest beggar, yet feel richer and more blessed than the most powerful emperor that ever lived,” his father said. “You can have all the wealth in the world, yet still feel poorer than the helpless beggars you pass by in the street. True wealth does not come from possessions, it comes from within. Therefore, no man can tell you if you are rich or if you are poor. You must tell me – Are you rich or are you poor?”

“So tell me,” Jesus Josephovich requested. “Are you rich or are you poor?”

The old fisherman smiled and sighed. He knew that the foreigner was right, but he didn’t want to give in so easily.

“I’ll feel richer than Abramovich if I can catch a fish today,” Nikita remarked.

Jesus Josephovich examined the ice beneath him. “You should try and fish on the other side,” he said, pointing behind him. “Sometimes a small change can make a big difference.”

Nikita stared at the ice and shook his head amusedly. “Foreigners,” he whispered to himself. “What do they know about fishing?”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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Chapter 38 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Ch38 On the Mountain Top

Ch 38. On the Mountain Top

Eventually the neighbors left and the family began planning the fun things they were going to do that week. After discussing many activities which Jesus Josephovich was not very familiar with, they finally reached a consensus.

“We’re going to go skiing!” Katya shouted joyfully.

“What’s skiing?” Jesus Josephovich wondered.

“You’ve never been skiing?” Leosha replied incredulously. “It’s the best. You slide down a huge mountain covered in snow really fast with long, flat metal things on your feet.”

Jesus Josephovich’s eyes opened wide in amazement. “Is it safe?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s totally safe. The first time I went snowboarding I broke my wrist and dislocated my shoulder, but now that I know how to do it, I rarely break any bones.”

Katya shook her head at her brother. “Don’t listen to him. Leosha is crazy. As long as you don’t try to snowboard like him, you’ll be fine. You can stay with me – I’m a beginner too.”

The next day Volodomir took his family to a beautiful new ski park in the Carpathian Mountains. After a few hours in a bumpy van driving along winding winter roads past dozens of small towns and snow-covered villages, the family reached their destination. Jesus Josephovich looked out the window and saw a mass of wooden buildings that looked like log cabins, and huge metal machines that perilously dragged thrill seekers up the side of a huge mountain.

They exited the small van and headed over to the ski rental office. Jesus Josephovich was wearing Volodomir’s old skiing gear and he imagined that people might think he looked strange in his outfit, until he saw what the other skiers were wearing. People’s heads and faces were covered by thick masks and beanies, their eyes were protected by bulky bug-eyed goggles, and instead of walking, they were gliding across the snow-covered hills on long, colorful skis and boards.

Some of the people had two long boards, one on each foot, and other people had one wide board where both feet locked into place. The people on the snowboards looked like they were balancing on a fence or standing on a railroad track, and Jesus Josephovich was amazed that anyone could stand on such an apparatus for any significant length of time.

In fact, many people in the crowd could not stand very well on the skis and snowboards, as they illustrated by slipping and falling, running into each other, and grabbing a hold of their friends to keep them from ending up on the ground with their bottoms in the snow. As chaotic as the situation appeared, however, it appeared that most people were genuinely enjoying themselves.

Jesus Josephovich soon noticed that the better someone was at skiing, the stranger the outfits were that they wore. Tall, muscular men were proudly strutting around in matching jackets and pants covered in bright pink, green, and yellow swirls of color. This was quite a departure from the drab, ordinary browns and blacks that all the men wore on the streets of Kiev. Here, audacious color was king.

They ambled through the wildly dressed crowd of adventurers into the rental office to rent skis. The line was huge and everyone was pushing to get to the front. There didn’t seem to be any order in the line, accept that whoever pushed the hardest and yelled the loudest seemed to get served first.

After a long wait and a lot of pushing, Volodomir and his wife finally got some skis to try on, while Leosha and Katya rented snowboards, like many of the other teenagers. Volodomir advised Jesus Josephovich to rent skis instead of a snowboard because he would be less likely to seriously injure himself.

Jesus Josephovich agreed and was handed a pair of brightly colored skis and accompanying boots. There were straps and flaps and strings and clamps everywhere, and the foreigner wasn’t sure if he was looking at a pair of boots or a kind of high-tech weapon.

The ski boots were old and cracked and looked like they had been worn by about a thousand people. Usually, being well worn makes boots more comfortable, but these ski boots were so hard and stiff that Jesus Josephovich couldn’t get his feet into them. Then he realized that he had to undo all of the straps and flaps first. Even then they were still very stiff. He was amazed that people could wear such uncomfortable boots while performing an activity as perilous as sliding down a mountainside on pieces of metal.

Finally, after more than an hour of preparation, they were dressed and ready to ski. They bought all-day passes and got into the long, confused line of people waiting for the ski lift. Instead of standing in a logical, single-file line to get through the gate, the skiers melded into a chaotic mass of people without rules or any discernible order. The line shuffled along slowly, with people’s skis hitting each other and getting tangled and stuck, until they finally reached the electronic gate.

As he made it through the gate, Jesus Josephovich came face to face with a giant flying bench. It nearly hit him in the head, but he ducked beneath it just in time. One of the employees yelled at him and Leosha pulled him back away from the ski lift.

“You have to wait for the chairs to go past,” Leosha said. “Follow me.”

He followed Leosha as he moved behind a chair lift and stood in position with one foot locked into his snowboard while the other foot kept him balanced. A few moments later, another chair swung in behind them and swept them off their feet high into the air.

The view was breathtaking. They floated quietly, the smooth snow several meters beneath them, through a canopy of tall, ice-coated pine trees. They were almost as high as the tops of the trees, and Jesus Josephovich felt like a dove peacefully drifting on the wind. Skiing was beginning to appeal to him. Surely this was why God created mountains.

When they got to the end of the lift, Leosha tapped his foreign guest on the shoulder. “The chair doesn’t stop,” he warned. “You have to jump.”

Jesus Josephovich followed Leosha as he slid off the chair and glided down the small slope. He wasn’t ready for the speed at which he exited the chair and he slid straight down fast, dodging little children and meandering skiers who were blocking his path. Moving forward was actually quite simple, but he quickly realized that it was even more important to know how to stop – which he hadn’t yet mastered.

Leosha rode next to him down the slope and Jesus Josephovich followed him to an enormous hill. Leosha flew down the slopes like a professional, sweeping in and out between the other skiers and snowboarders as if they were moving in slow motion. The faster he went, the more effortless it became, and the motion was so smooth on the slick snow that he almost felt like he was flying.

When they came to the big slope, Jesus Josephovich found himself staring almost straight down a hill dozens of meters high. He considered stopping, but it was already too late. He flew down the slope like lightening. He said a prayer, possibly his last one in this lifetime, as the wind howled past him and ice and snow shot up in large waves from his skis.

He made it to the bottom of the slope alive and simply aimed himself towards where the other skiers seemed to be going, letting his momentum carry him forward. Leosha rode next to him again and complimented him on his extreme ride.

“Wow, that was fast!” Leosha screamed. “Most people ski from side to side, but you went straight down like a speed-skier. That was awesome!”

“Thanks,” Jesus replied, breathing heavily. “I’m going to go find your sister.”

“Don’t go with her. She’s on the easy slopes,” Leosha said distastefully. But Jesus Josephovich was already on his way to the other side of the mountain.

Hundreds of people were skiing on the mountain. Some adults were working hard learning how to ski and falling all over each other, while some flew past everyone else and looked like they were barely trying. Children were scattered across the slopes like sprinkles on a doughnut, and a few of them sped down the mountain even faster and more effortlessly than the most experienced adults.

Jesus Josephovich found Katya trying to snowboard on the blue slopes marked for beginners. She looked frustrated and didn’t seem to be enjoying herself. They glided down the mountain together and Katya was surprised at how well the foreigner skied. Even though it was his first time, Jesus Josephovich looked like an excellent skier because his body was completely relaxed. It was as if he had no fear, and without fear his body simply did exactly what it needed to do in order to ski. Nothing more and nothing less.

Katya noticed this, and became even more frustrated by her inability to smoothly glide down the slopes. She couldn’t turn well and she kept falling over and landing on her tailbone, which sent a sharp pain shooting like electricity up her spine. After one particularly painful fall, she sat down and slammed her fist in the snow.

“I hate snowboarding. It’s no fun,” Katya screamed angrily. “I just keep falling and hurting myself. Why am I doing this if I’m just hurting myself? What’s the point? I should just go sit in the restaurant and enjoy some tea.”

Jesus Josephovich sat down next to her. “But then you’ll never get to experience the thrill of gliding down the mountain,” he said.

“I don’t care,” she said. “The pain isn’t worth it.”

“You’re right. If you quit now, the pain won’t be worth it,” he said as Katya sulked. “Do you know how baby birds learn to fly?” Jesus Josephovich asked. “Their parents hold their food outside of the nest. The baby has to fall out of the nest in order to eat. It hurts itself again and again until it learns to use its wings. Once its wings begin to work, it learns to jump higher and farther out of the nest until it can fly.”

“Great,” Katya said, her face brightening a little. “But I don’t have wings. And this really hurts,” she said as she rubbed her tailbone.

“Pain isn’t always a punishment,” Jesus Josephovich explained. “Sometimes it’s a lesson – a key that unlocks something extraordinary inside of us. If you never fall, you will never soar.”

Jesus held out his hand. Katya slowly took it and stood up.

“So, do you want to fly, or do you want to drink some tea?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

Katya sighed. “I want to fly,” she said. “And then I want some tea. And I want an icepack for my bottom.”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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Chapter 37 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Ch37 The Neighbors

Ch 37. The Neighbors

After venturing out into the snow to use the bathroom, which turned out to be not much more than an outdoor closet with a hole in the ground, Jesus Josephovich was happy to be back indoors and warm himself with some hot tea.

The rest of the evening was spent looking through thick Soviet-era photo albums that seemed to go back generations. The photos chronicled every special event and vacation that the family had gone on, and after looking at album after album of photographs, Jesus Josephovich felt as if he had already lived an entire lifetime with Volodomir’s family.

The next day they had a big breakfast together in the dining room as Grandma Olga’s old dog and spry young cat fought over the scraps of food that fell from the table. The dog was small and white, but its hair was stained a reddish-brown and had thinned with age. It was so old that it shook as it walked and every motion appeared excruciatingly difficult to perform. It looked like a giant, anxious rat.

Jesus Josephovich called to the dog and held out a small piece of meat in his hand to feed it.

“She can’t hear you,” the Grandmother said. “She’s deaf. She lost her hearing a long time ago. She’s old but she’s my darling.” Grandma Olga began making strange noises and faces at the dog. She gave it a small piece of potato. “Eat, eat, eat,” she commanded.

“You know Jesus is a healer,” Leosha announced proudly. “Maybe he can make the dog hear again.”

Everyone looked at the dog and Jesus Josephovich willingly held out his hand again to call it to him. The dog hobbled towards the foreigner and then suddenly looked up at Jesus Josephovich in terror. It had felt something strange in that way that only animals can feel, a premonition perhaps, and it began to back away from the foreigner as quickly, or slowly, as it could. It seemed that the old dog in no way wanted to be healed.

The grandmother started talking to the dog in her ingratiating maternal voice, repeating the same commands over and over again even though the dog couldn’t hear. Jesus Josephovich watched the dog’s face and realized that the dog had no desire to be able to hear Grandma Olga’s unending commands. Perhaps the dog had gone deaf for a reason.

After breakfast, the family split off as the kids went to play games and the adults cleaned or fixed things around the house. Around mid-day there was a knock at the door. Grandpa Vova was busy fixing an old chair, when an elderly couple came inside out of the snow.

“Hey, look at Papa Carlo still working hard in the middle of winter,” the boisterous neighbor teased. He was a plump man of average height with a horseshoe shaped hairline, rosy red cheeks and an even brighter red nose – clearly a healthy drinker.

He was followed in by his wife, who was short and hunchbacked and had a face as furrowed as the Grand Canyon. It was a face that only vast eons of time could carve. Her eyes were squinted tight, and the wrinkles on her face had molded her cheeks into a permanent scowl. The universal law of gravity had not been kind to her, and she was therefore not inclined to be kind to the universe.

Grandpa Vova managed a “Hello,” as he finished his work, and Grandma Olga ran out to greet her gossip spouting comrade. Volodomir and his family recoiled at the sound of the old neighbor’s voice – they knew what it meant. The moment she saw Olga, the neighbor’s wife began shouting out as much bad news as she could muster.

“My God, it’s cold outside today. Cold, cold, cold, cold. I’m freezing all day long, I’m wearing two scarves. And the arthritis in my hands is getting worse every day. I can barely wash the dishes any more, only in hot water. Oh my God, what to do, what to do?”

“We have a guest,” Olga said to her vociferous friend. “He’s a foreigner.”

“I know. I saw him through my kitchen window yesterday. Where is he from?” the neighbor asked, squinting at the guest with her critical eyes.

“The Middle East,” Olga said in a hushed whisper.

Her neighbor gasped with fear and excitement. “What is he doing here? Do you think he’s a spy?”

“He speaks Russian,” Olga advised.

“Oh,” the neighbor exclaimed, looking away from the foreigner.

“He doesn’t eat like a spy,” Olga insisted. “He asked for a second portion of everything. But he didn’t like my holodyets.”

“It never was as good as mine,” her neighbored quipped.

“Says who?” Olga questioned.

“Says everyone,” her neighbor replied with a proud smirk, as if it were common knowledge.

Jesus Josephovich realized that he was being talked about and he walked over and introduced himself to the Gossip Queen of the neighborhood. She greeted him politely and examined his clothes, hair and beard like a doctor examines a patient. In a brief moment, she had summed him up in her mind.

“You’re probably here to find a pretty blond Ukrainian girl for a wife, eh?” she accused. She turned to Olga and whispered, though it was loud enough that Jesus Josephovich could still hear. “All the Turkish and Egyptian men are always trying to steal pretty Ukrainian girls to take back to their countries and make them their slaves.”

“Actually, I’m not here looking for women,” Jesus Josephovich said without resentment. “I’m here to study Ukraine. To learn about its people and how I can help them.”

“Oh, you’re a scholar,” the old neighbor declared, recalculating her estimation of him to fit this new information. “Well, let me tell you about the Ukrainian people,” she said. “They’re selfish and backstabbing. This new generation, they don’t have any morals. They’re ruining this country.”

“Oh, it’s not that bad,” Grandma Olga retorted.

The cranky neighbor put her hands on her hips to prepare herself to tell her newest gossip. “Just the other day I saw Tanya Victorovna’s grandson drive into town with a new BMW. A BMW! Now where do you think he got the money for that?”

“He’s a lawyer,” Grandpa Vova shouted from the other room, trying to derail the old woman’s train of thought.

“But he works for the government,” the woman clarified. “I know what a government salary is supposed to be. I think he’s been stealing money from the city, or taking bribes. Last week he bought Tanya Victorovna a new television. A new television! Now what does she need with a new television? That old woman is nearly as blind as your old dog.”

Olga reached down and stroked her frail old companion as it attempted to wag its tail by spasmodically shaking its whole body.

“Was it a big television?” Grandma Olga asked with interest.

“It has to be for her to see it,” Vova shouted mockingly from the next room.

“But I think she knows that I know,” the conspiratorial neighbor confessed. “Last week her dog got into my yard and almost bit my cat. I had to swat it with a broom to get it away from her and I hurt my back. I think she did it on purpose, as a warning.”

“Did you see her put the dog in your yard?” Olga wondered breathlessly.

“No. But I saw her look at me when I was staring at her from my kitchen window that afternoon. She knew. She’s dangerous.”

“The only thing that’s dangerous around here is your mouth,” Vova shouted.

“You tell me why her grandson is bringing her new things. Where is his money coming from?” the neighbor shouted.

“Another’s blessings should be a blessing to all who know them,” Jesus Josephovich stated. “Why aren’t you happy that she is able to have these things?”

“Why should I be happy for her?” the neighbor screeched. “No one brings me anything. Why should she have more than me? I was an engineer. She was just a janitor.”

“Another’s joy should always bring you joy,” the foreigner said. “But your attitude towards your neighbor has transformed her happiness into your own sadness, her joy into your own anger. This is a terrible power,” he warned. “Does it improve your life to be angry at your neighbor?”

The old woman thought about his question. “Not really.”

“And will your neighbor be more likely to share her blessings with you if you are her enemy or if you are her friend?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

“Her friend, of course,” the woman replied.

“Give and you will be given to,” Jesus Josephovich said. “Love and you will be loved. But fear and you will be feared. Hate and it will be returned to you. Steal, and everything you have will be taken from you. If you steal the happiness of another, do not expect your own happiness to remain.”

The old woman’s face wrinkled even deeper as she considered all the negative thoughts that she had had about her neighbors. Something clicked inside her and she suddenly realized that the bitterness in her heart was her own creation, but she didn’t know how to get rid of it.

“And if I lose my happiness, how do I get it back again?” she asked humbly.

“I have some Nemiroff in the kitchen,” Grandpa Vova shouted teasingly.

Jesus Josephovich looked at Leosha. “Where is my spiritual warrior?” he said.

Leosha stood proudly beside him. “Here.”

“This woman would like us to show her how to get her happiness back,” Jesus Josephovich said with a wink.

Leosha sighed and moved into position. Jesus Josephovich stood on the left and Leosha stood on the right. The old woman cringed with fear, unsure of what was about to happen to her. Then they moved in and kissed her simultaneously on either side of her face. She screamed with fright and then burst out laughing. Her old husband chuckled.

“You see, it’s quite easy,” Jesus Josephovich declared. “Bring happiness to others, and it will come to you.” He looked at the young boy. “Leosha, do you feel happier?”

“Kind of,” he said as he wiped his lips with his sleeve.

“Now, it’s your turn,” Jesus Josephovich said to the old woman.

She grinned shyly and leaned down to give Leosha a kiss on the cheek. Leosha recoiled frightfully from the ancient, wrinkled lips.

Leosha pointed at his sister Katya, trying to redirect the old woman’s kiss. “Can she make Katya happy instead? I think she needs it more than me.”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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Chapter 36 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Ch36 Village

Ch 36. In the Village

It was quite an ordeal trying to get to sleep on the noisy, smelly, bumpy, hot train, but Jesus Josephovich finally drifted off into a peaceful slumber where he was surrounded by angelic, heavenly visions. A moment later, however, he heard another terrible sound. Loud footsteps stomped heavily through the car and the grouchy train attendant yelled at everyone to wake up and prepare their belongings. They had arrived.

While everyone quickly gathered their baggage, Jesus Josephovich’s neighbors invited him to their homes to eat and made him promise that he would stop by if he had the time. Then they poured off the train in an impatient line, careful not to tumble down the steep metal steps, and finally they breathed in the fresh, cool mountain air.

Volodomir noticed Jesus Josephovich’s puffy face and red eyes. “How did you sleep?” He asked.

“Not well,” the foreigner admitted. “I think I prefer traveling by donkey. It’s less bumpy.”

Volodomir laughed and they gathered at the rear of the line for buses to the villages. They were packed onto a bus with suitcases and bags piled up to the ceiling and had to endure another stuffy two-hour trip along winding, pothole-filled roads through the countryside. A donkey ride was seeming like a better and better idea.

Eventually they arrived in a small village surrounded by large snow-covered hills. They walked down the narrow street until they found their destination, a cozy looking wooden cottage surrounded by an old rusted gate. A fresh blanket of snow made the various farm tools scattered across the yard unidentifiable, giving him the impression of constant hard work, though no work was currently being done.

As they entered the gate, they heard a joyful shout and an old woman came running out of the house and threw her arms around Volodomir and his family, smothering them with kisses and commands. An old dog and a spry young cat ran out of the door between her legs as she shouted at her guests. “My children, my children! Come inside quickly,” she ordered. “Oh, it’s so good to see you! Bring your bags inside. You’re going to freeze to death!”

A plump old man greeted them on the doorstep and laughed as his grandchildren hugged him. “Come inside, come inside,” he said. “I hope you’re all hungry. Your grandmother heard that we will have a foreign guest tonight, so she cooked enough food to feed the entire village.” His big smile showed off a mouth full of bronze teeth.

Jesus Josephovich walked up to the door and greeted Volodomir’s parents. He stuck out his hand and the old man pulled him inside the door to finish the handshake properly.

Volodomir laughed. “We never shake hands across the threshold. It’s bad luck,” he explained. Jesus Josephovich opened his eyes wide in amazement. He had never heard of bad luck coming from a door frame.

After they had unpacked their bags and washed their hands, Grandma Olga pushed them all into the small, but warmly decorated dining room and began filling the table with extravagant dishes of food. “Sit, sit, sit,” she commanded. “You must be hungry after your trip.”

She described each dish in detail as she brought it in, seemingly as proud of the ingredients as of their combination into her fantastic creations. Potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, onions, pork, cucumbers, cabbage, garlic, beetroot – and that was only the salad and the soup.

As she brought in more food, Jesus Josephovich noticed that the old woman had a wonderfully irritating habit of ordering you to do what you were already doing. “Eat, eat, eat,” she instructed joyously as the family began dipping their tiny spoons into large bowls of bright red borsch.

Then she began scooping large spoonfuls of sour cream onto everything: the soup, the meat, and even the salad. Jesus Josephovich put his hand up to stop her.

“You don’t like sour cream?” she asked in surprise.

“I like it, but we don’t eat that much of it where I come from.”

Olga was confused by his response and stared at his plate, unsure of what to do. She handed him a large jar of mayonnaise, and when he refused to cover his salad with mayonnaise, she handed him ketchup.

He put a little ketchup on his potatoes, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy the chef and she watched him eat suspiciously, unconvinced that he could enjoy his meal, as much as she deemed necessary, without a huge heaping of sauce of some kind.

Leosha handed Jesus Josephovich a piece of black bread and slid a small plate with white chunks on it towards him with a suspicious grin on his face. “Put some of this on the bread,” he said mischievously.

Jesus Josephovich looked at the white substance on the plate. It looked like meat, and it smelled like bacon, but it had an oddly smooth consistency. It certainly wasn’t steak or sausage.

He looked up at the faces around him. They were all smiling and smirking knowingly. “What is it?” he asked.

“It’s Ukrainian drugs,” Leosha said.

“It’s called salo,” Volodomir explained. “It’s – ”

“No, don’t tell him, dad,” Leosha pleaded. “Let him try it first.”

Volodomir smiled and nodded and Jesus Josephovich picked up a piece of the white mystery meat and placed it on the bread. Everyone watched intently as he put it in his mouth and gently began to chew.

“What do you think?” Leosha asked quickly.

“Is it meat?” Jesus Josephovich asked, confused by the softness of the substance. They shook their heads. He spread the white substance around on his tongue, the texture becoming more familiar.

“Is it…fat?” he asked worriedly.

Leosha smiled widely and nodded his head. The others began to giggle.

“Only fat?” Jesus Josephovich wondered.

Leosha nodded his head and giggled at Jesus Josephovich’s confused face.

“It’s pure pig’s fat,” Volodomir explained. “But it’s very healthy for you. Do you like it?”

Jesus Josephovich coughed lightly, but continued chewing. “It’s not bad,” he said, trying to comprehend the fact that he was eating pure fat. The family laughed again.

After the soup and salad and starters, which Jesus Josephovich had mistaken for the entire meal, the grandmother entered the dining room with a large pan filled with a murky gelatinous dish.

“You have to try some of this,” she said. “It’s Volodomir’s favorite.”

She scooped a large portion of the jiggling gray mass onto his plate. “Eat, eat, eat,” she ordered.

Jesus Josephovich took a big bite, expecting it to be a sweet jello-like dessert, but he quickly realized that the substance was once again made of fat. The cold, gelatinous meat paste was a shock to his taste buds. He choked on the mouthful.

“You don’t like it?” Grandma Olga accused.

Jesus Josephovich swallowed the food and cleared his throat. “I don’t usually eat a lot of pork,” he confessed.

The grandmother frowned.

“For religious reasons,” he added, trying to remove the harshness from the chef’s glare.

After they had stuffed themselves as much as possible, in order to please their grandmother’s debaucherous notion of health, they reclined at the table and were treated to tea and chocolates. Grandpa Vova patted his stomach contentedly.

“Thank you for your hospitality,” Jesus Josephovich said. “That meal was truly satisfying.”

“It is our Ukrainian tradition,” Vova said. “We will empty our cupboards for a guest.”

“He didn’t like the holodyets,” Grandma Olga announced, referring to the meat jelly. Grandpa Vova ignored her biased recollection.

“I enjoyed everything,” Jesus Josephovich claimed. “With the joy that your wife received from watching us eat, I felt that I was doing her a service by eating, rather than that she was serving me. That is true hospitality: making your guest feel as if meeting their needs is the source of your joy.”

“Oh, but it’s true,” the grandmother said. “I love it when people enjoy my cooking. It makes me happy when I can do something for our guests.”

Jesus Josephovich smiled. “Well then, you have already discovered one of the secrets to happiness. To make yourself happy, simply make others happy.”

Young Leosha raised his voice across the table. “Why does helping other people make you happy?” he asked, unconvinced.

“When you make another person happy, you dispel the illusion that you cannot make yourself happy,” Jesus Josephovich explained. “You reveal to yourself that the source of happiness is not outside of you, but inside of you, in your heart, where God is.”

“Oh,” Leosha said, realizing he had asked a question whose answer he could not fully comprehend.

“Your hospitality makes me happy, and my happiness makes you happy. Therefore, your own hospitality is the initial cause of your happiness. And I must say that your Ukrainian hospitality is truly wonderful. You have provided everything a man could need to feel at home.”

Vova and his wife smiled proudly at their guest’s judgment. They had proved to themselves and to this foreigner that Ukrainian hospitality lacked nothing.

“Where is the bathroom?” Jesus Josephovich asked innocently.

“Outside,” Grandpa Vova said casually, pointing out the window at a small wooden box covered in ice and snow.

“Outside?” Jesus Josephovich replied. “In the snow?”

Volodomir laughed at his guest’s expression. “Not everything about Ukrainian hospitality is perfect.”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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Chapter 35 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Ch35 Restless

Ch 35. Restless

Jesus Josephovich and his new friends on the train talked for many hours about life and love and drinking. The businessman and the soldier took turns telling their best, and sometimes worst, anecdotes until the lights in the train turned off.

They helped the foreigner sort through the plastic bag filled with thin blankets that the train attendant had given him. The small package included tissues, a facial cloth, and sheets for the thin mattress that they unrolled onto his bench. Jesus Josephovich thought that all of these blankets were unnecessary, because it was already so hot and stuffy on the train that he could barely breathe.

Jesus Josephovich’s place was on the top bench next to the wall. He pulled himself up to the top and lay down. The bed was too short for his legs and he couldn’t straighten himself out. He tried to move closer to the window, but a metal bar prevented his head from leaning against the side of the train. There was no way to get comfortable.

He lay still for a while, hoping to quickly drift off to sleep, but it was too hot. He tried to open the window, but it was impossible to open. In winter, the trains were closed up like prisons. There was no escape from the heat.

He turned around in his bed so that his feet were against the cool window and his head was up against the wall. For a moment he was comfortable and he thought he might be able to fall asleep, until the pitter-patter of feet moving towards him caught his attention.

The train car door nearest him opened and then loudly slammed shut. He was in the last place in the car, right next to the door, so when it closed the vibrations from the slamming door shot through the wall into the side of his head and it felt as if someone had punched him in the face. He quickly lifted his head off of his pillow and it crashed into the metal shelf above him. The compartment he was lying in seemed to be designed to make it as difficult as possible to fall asleep.

He heard another door open and close and the sound of running water filled his ears. His bed also shared a wall with the bathroom, so he could hear all of the irritating sounds of the toilet flushing and the sink turning on, and the door opening and closing. Every time one of the dozens of passengers in their car needed to use the toilet, he heard the entire ritual.

As the doors opened and slammed against the side of his bed once again, a terrible, sour smell filled his coupe. The unfortunate traveler pinched his nose and held his breath for a few moments until the smell passed. He covered his head with one of the thin sheets and tried to relax again.

All night long he listened to the rumbling and screeching of the train, passengers walking up and down the aisle, the doors opening and slamming shut, and the toilet flushing. About 3 in the morning, however, he was finally so tired that his mind drifted off to sleep. His body relaxed and he was about to taste the sweet peacefulness of slumber, when suddenly, a terrible noise filled their coupe.

At first it sounded like something was tearing. Then it got louder and louder until he was convinced that a giant pig had boarded the train. The sound echoed off the walls and he squinted his eyes searching desperately through the darkness for the source of the sound.

As his drowsy head cleared with bitter consciousness, he realized that the horrendous sound was coming form his neighbor. The businessman was snoring.

The snore seemed to awaken the same ability in many other passengers, as several other sleeping neighbors began snoring as well. It was impossible for Jesus Josephovich to sleep through such a symphony of nasal artistry. He got out of bed and decided to go to the front to get some tea from the attendant.

“Are you okay?” the soldier asked, as Jesus Josephovich moved out of the coupe.

“Yes,” he answered. “I’m going to get some tea. Would you like some?”

The soldier shook his head. “No thanks. Nice snoring, huh?” He turned over and tried to go back to sleep while the wheezing chorus continued.

Jesus Josephovich walked cautiously through the dark hallway towards the front, holding on to the metal poles on the sides of the beds when the train rocked right and left. Some of the passengers’ long legs hung over the edge of their beds and he was either tripped or smacked in the face with a smelly foot.

Finally he made it to the front where the surly female attendant was talking to a companion.

“May I have some tea?” Jesus Josephovich requested.

The large woman sighed, slowly stood up and walked into the small kitchen area.

Her coworker was a short, plump man with a bald head who smiled pleasantly. He looked at Jesus Josephovich’s tired face and laughed. “Can’t sleep?”

Jesus Josephovich shook his head.

“Sit down,” he said, inviting the foreigner to sit down. Jesus Josephovich walked into their coupe, which was about the size of a small walk-in closet, and sat next to the cheerful man.

“Are you a foreigner?” the man asked.

Jesus Josephovich nodded his head. “This is my first time on one of your trains.”

The short man laughed loudly and grabbed a bottle of vodka that was sitting on the counter. “You can’t sleep because you didn’t drink enough of this.”

Jesus Josephovich put his hand up to stop the man from pouring more vodka. “That’s okay,” he said. “I’ve had plenty. I don’t need any more.”

The man looked surprised and poured himself a little more from the bottle. The train attendant entered the coupe with a glass in a small metal holder. She handed the hot tea to the foreigner and sat down heavily on the bench next to her companion. She glanced at the traveler indifferently, hoping that he would leave soon. Her companion, however, was excited to have a foreigner to talk to.

The man suddenly sat forward. “I will tell you an anecdote,” he said. “It is about vodka.”

“Alright,” Jesus Josephovich replied.

“A man goes into a store and he talks to the cashier. He says, ‘Excuse me. Is your vodka fresh?’ The cashier doesn’t understand him, so she says, ‘What do you mean, fresh?’ The man rubs his head and he says, ‘I bought three bottles of vodka here last night, I drank them all, and now I feel awful!’”

The man laughed hysterically at his own joke, and the attendant sitting next to him rolled her eyes. Jesus Josephovich smiled at the man’s lightheartedness.

Seeing that the foreigner was not laughing as hard as he was, he decided to try again.

“Okay, okay. Here is another one.” The female attendant tried to protest, but he silenced her with a wave of his hand. “A man is talking to his friend. He says, ‘A very strange thing happened to me last night. I was so drunk that I went home and I didn’t recognize my children.’ His friend was shocked and he asked him, ‘What happened? Did you recognize them in the morning?’ The man explained, ‘No. In the morning, I recognized that I was in the wrong house.’”

The man started laughing hysterically again. This time Jesus Josephovich laughed a bit too. The humorist was well pleased with the result. He was considering a few more of his finest anecdotes when the attendant hit him on the shoulder.

“Let him go to sleep,” she ordered grouchily.

“I will, I will,” he said. “Do you know any anecdotes?” he asked.

Jesus Josephovich took a sip from his tea and looked up to the ceiling. “I know a few stories,” he admitted. “I know that fathers rarely forget their children, but children often don’t recognize the love of their father.”

The man was puzzled. “Tell me an anecdote from your country,” he requested. “Where are you from?”

“See if you can recognize where I am from by this story,” Jesus Josephovich said. “A young orphan boy is searching for his father. He approaches many men in his town and asks them to give him something valuable. The first man gives the boy a stone. The boy says, ‘You are not my father.’ The second man gives the boy a fish. The boy says, ‘You are not my father.’ The third man gives the boy some money, but the boy still says, ‘You are not my father.’ The fourth man gives him a cloak. The boy says, ‘You are not my father.’

Finally he sees an old man walking alone on the street. He approaches the old man and tells him that he is an orphan looking for his father. He asks the old man to give him something valuable and the old man smiles at him. He reaches into his bag and hands the boy a single small seed. ‘What is it?’ the boy asked. ‘What do you see?’ the old man replied. ‘I see a seed,’ the boy said. The old man shook his head. ‘You asked me to give you something of value. Look closer.’ The boy examined the seed again, but he didn’t see anything new. ‘I still only see a seed,’ the boy said. The old man smiled and explained, ‘I don’t just see a seed. I see a vineyard!’ The boy took the old man’s hand a said to him, ‘You are my father!’”

The two Ukrainian train attendants sat still for a moment, pondering the meaning of the foreigner’s story. Apparently, this foreigner’s sense of humor was quite different from theirs.

The fat little man laughed, thinking that he understood. “They must love wine in your country,” he said.

“Wine is not the point,” Jesus Josephovich explained. “The point is that God, our true father, sees not only what we are, but what we can become.”

Again the couple was still, unsure how to respond.

“May I give you a seed?” Jesus asked.

“Of course,” the man said. “We never turn down a gift.”

Jesus Josephovich took his hand. “You have great joy and generosity in your heart,” he said. “It can grow much further than you ever imagined.”

“Okay,” the man said. As the foreigner touched his hand his mind was opened and he watched himself from a few days ago when he had taught his son a lesson on being generous to others. He saw his son being generous to someone else and the positive effect it had on that person’s life, and he watched as the positive effects spread from person to person, growing in power as it affected more and more people. Before he knew it, he was witnessing the fruit of his generosity benefiting people all over the world whom he had never met before.

He awoke from the trance startled and could barely move his body. He wanted to speak, but there were no words for this moment. He could hardly believe that his positive actions could have such a great impact on the world.

“Build your vineyard,” Jesus Josephovich said to him as he let go of his hand. “Much fruit can come from a single seed.”

The female train attendant stared wildly at her speechless companion. This was the first time she had ever seen him unable to produce a nimble reply. “Do you want some more tea?” she asked their guest awkwardly.

“No thank you. It’s time for me to get some sleep.”

Jesus Josephovich stood up to leave. The man stopped him and held up his bottle.

“Here. Take some vodka. I would not be a good host if I did not give you some,” he begged, unable to express his gratitude in any other way. “Please. Just a little.”

The foreigner reluctantly accepted, with no actual intention of drinking any more, and the grateful man poured some vodka into Jesus Josephovich’s empty tea glass.

Jesus Josephovich carefully made his way back to his bed and laid the glass down on the small table between the beds. The soldier immediately woke up and sniffed the glass.

“Do you have any tea left?” The soldier asked. He smelled the liquid inside the cup and his eyes opened wide. “That’s not tea,” he said joyously. “It’s a miracle! You’ve turned tea into vodka!”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in E-Book

 

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Chapter 34 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Ch34 Train

Ch 34. On the Train

An endless series of phone calls and requests for Jesus Josephovich flooded Volodomir’s household after their guest’s appearances on the news. It was getting so bad that the foreigner couldn’t leave the house without people in the street recognizing him. Everyone wanted him to do something for them: to heal their sicknesses, to make them rich, or to agree with their political or religious points of view. Very few people, if any, ever asked him what he wanted.

The PR agent, who he had never agreed to work with, kept calling him with more business propositions, all the time claiming that it was not in his or her interests but in the best interests of the world that he should become famous.

After a few days of this overwhelming attention, Jesus Josephovich and Volodomir’s family decided to leave the city to get some peace and quiet and let things cool down. Volodomir called his parents, who lived in a village in Western Ukraine, and they invited everyone, including their foreign guest, to stay at their small country dacha.

They packed their bags and headed to the train station in a taxi. Katya dressed Jesus Josephovich in a large fur hat and sunglasses so no one would recognize him. When they reached the train station, however, the foreigner thought that his wintry disguise was unnecessary.

The train station was a bustle of activity and hundreds of travelers were moving in and out of the various exits like trails of ants entering and exiting a nest. Most people were pulling small rolling suitcases or carrying Soviet style heavy-duty blue and white bags in each hand, and everyone was in such a hurry that they never even looked Jesus Josephovich in the face. This was an easy place to get lost in.

Inside the train station, or Volkzalna as they called it in Kiev, there were giant boards on the walls showing all the incoming and outgoing trains, the time tables and track numbers, and various other bits of information that Jesus Josephovich didn’t completely understand. There were fifty different lines to buy tickets, but each one was slightly different and it seemed impossible for a visitor to figure out which line you needed to stand in. The foreigner imagined that many people had stood in these lines for a long time only to be irritably redirected to another.

Fortunately they already had their tickets and they were able to go directly to the platform. They followed the massive flow of passengers through the station and found the track where their train was waiting. Then they proceeded to walk all the way down the length of the track for what seemed like ten or fifteen minutes until they found their car.

At the door of their train car, a broad-shouldered and intimidatingly large woman in a blue uniform asked indifferently for their train tickets. Jesus Josephovich tried to smile at her, but she ignored him completely. She looked at the tickets and handed them back without ever looking at the passengers. Jesus tried to figure out what it was that she was looking at, but it seemed that she was simply staring out into empty space. Apparently it was more interesting than her job.

They climbed up a precariously thin metal staircase and boarded the train. The men carried the luggage into the car through an agonizingly tight hallway while the women found their seats.

As they made their way to their places, the other passengers stared at them, especially at Jesus Josephovich. He could hear many people whispering the word “foreigner” and laughing quietly to themselves as he passed.

Finally they found their seats and placed their belongings under two large red benches which were not only makeshift closets, but also served as seats and beds. The car was divided into many sections, seating four people, with a tiny table between them.

Volodomir, Elena, Katya, and Leosha were together in one section. Jesus Josephovich was seated one section further, which happened to be the last section.

“Keep your money and documents with you at all times,” Volodomir whispered to him. “And don’t leave anything valuable in your coat pockets when you hang your coat up. It might disappear.”

Jesus Josephovich nodded and moved into his section. He sat down and smiled at the other three travelers in his open coupe who all stared at him indifferently. Next to him was a middle-aged businessman, and across from him sat a solider and an older woman wearing a headscarf who was quite a few years past her prime. Across from their coupe on the wall was another bench with two young men who also stared at him while they sipped beer.

“Hello,” he greeted them pleasantly. “I’m Jesus Josephovich.”

The soldier leaned forward with interest and examined the foreigner. “Where are you from?” the soldier asked.

“Not from Ukraine,” Jesus Josephovich answered with a smile.

“You speak Russian very well,” the soldier said. “Do you know Ukrainian?”

“Yes, I do,” Jesus Josephovich said in Ukrainian.

The soldier laughed at the unexpected reply. “That’s great,” he said proudly. “Most foreigners don’t know Ukrainian. They only learn Russian.”

“I like to study people,” Jesus Josephovich stated. “I think to really understand someone you have to speak their native tongue.”

The businessman casually said something in English, thinking that he would show off his linguistic expertise, but his grammar was terrible.

“I go to America many time,” the businessman said in English.

Jesus Josephovich laughed. “I’m not from America.”

The businessman changed back to speaking Russian. “Where are you from?”

“I was born in the Middle East,” the foreigner answered.

“Wow,” the soldier replied.

The businessman opened a small bag and took out several sandwiches and a handful of cucumbers wrapped in plastic. Then he placed a large bottle of vodka on the table.

“Do you drink?” the businessman asked.

“Sometimes a little wine,” the foreigner said.

“In Ukraine we always drink together on trains,” the businessman explained. “If a man has nothing to hide, then he will relax and drink with you. If a man doesn’t drink, then it means you can’t trust him. It is our tradition.”

The statement was as much a challenge as it was an explanation. The businessman held up a bottle of Georgian wine and Jesus Josephovich nodded that he would accept some. The businessman poured the wine and vodka into four cups and handed them to each of the four people in their coupe.

After a lengthy conversation about wine and vodka and various drinking traditions from different regions of the ex-Soviet Union, the businessman offered up a toast. “The first toast,” he said confidently, “is always to your health.”

“To your health!” they all repeated as they lifted their glasses. Another conversation about drinking traditions passed, the glasses were emptied, refilled, and another toast was promptly prepared.

After the second toast, the businessman began to explain in his matter-of-fact manner about the tradition of eating “zakuski” with vodka. His special hors d’oeuvres consisted of small slices of black bread topped with thin cuts of meat and cheese.

“The fats in the meat and cheese absorb the alcohol,” he explained. “That way you can drink more and it’s not a problem.”

Jesus Josephovich imagined that this technique might help reduce the effects of the alcohol slightly, but he doubted that these little sandwiches could prevent drunkenness. He sipped his wine, but when the next toast came around, he showed his gracious hosts that he still had plenty of wine left in his glass and that no more would be necessary. They all looked very disappointed.

“The third toast,” the businessman announced. “The third toast is to love.”

They raised their glasses in unison to love. The soldier watched Jesus Josephovich take a small sip of his wine.

“You shouldn’t drink wine,” the soldier said.

“Wine causes guilt,” the businessman joked, quoting an old proverb.

“You should drink only vodka,” the soldier continued. “Vodka is not like other drinks. You won’t get headaches with vodka,” he promised. “And vodka doesn’t make you drunk.” He was obviously already a bit tipsy.

The businessman and the soldier continued drinking this way until the vodka bottle and the wine bottle were almost empty. Jesus Josephovich noticed that the more his companions drank, the more their personalities changed. The confident businessman became very calm, and the shy soldier began confidently sharing private stories about his time in the army.

“Do you always drink like this on trains?” Jesus Josephovich wondered.

“Of course,” the soldier said. “It’s a tradition. It helps us feel free to talk about anything.”

“Do you need alcohol to make you feel free?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

“It relaxes us,” the businessman claimed.

“What if you didn’t need something external to make you feel free?” Jesus Josephovich asked them. “What if you could always feel free? What is true freedom?”

They looked at each other and tried to think even though their heads were spinning with all of the vodka and wine. “To have enough money to do whatever I choose to do,” the businessman suggested. “That would be freedom to me.”

The soldier agreed. “To always be able to do what I want.”

Jesus Josephovich smiled at their typical answers. “The free man is not the man who is able to determine what he wants to do at every moment in order to be happy. For that you need money or power, and with these things you can never be free. The truly free man is the man who is able to be happy in any and every situation. No matter where he is or what he is doing, he is not only content, but full of joy – he is free. For that you don’t need money or vodka. You need a mind and heart completely at peace.”

They thought about the foreigner’s words. “What if you can’t find peace?” the soldier asked.

“You can’t just find peace,” Jesus Josephovich said. “You have to create it.” He held up his glass of wine. “But not with this.” He put the glass on the table and pointed to his heart. “You have to create it with this.”

The soldier stared at Jesus Josephovich’s heart and an old saying popped into this head. “You know, my father said that a little vodka is good for the heart.”

“One more toast,” the businessman said. “To the heart!”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

 
Comments Off on Chapter 34 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Posted by on September 15, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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