Thursday, July 22, 2010

Joe ...


Every now and then I like to dust off and republish one of my older posts ... such is the case with "Joe And The Old Man" ... some comments are from an earlier posting ...

Just after first light each morning, the debile old man would slip on a woolen pea jacket, cover his snow-white head with a threadbare Filson Duckbill cap, then he and a dog named Joe would exit their cozy abode to set forth on a briskish jaunt ... they would unhurriedly amble alongside a roughhewn, split rail fence bordering the meadow ... around the slimy, farm pond ... then wind their way back toward the little bungalow through a dense stand of spruce pine and spurge laurel ... at times a bracing, mountain breeze intermingling with wafting scents of evergreens and wildflowers yielded an invigorating redolence ... Joe never wandered far from the old man's heels, always trailing along so closely behind that his curious, wet nose often brushed against the back of his master's trouser legs as he proudly wagged his tail ... the aged gentleman had lost his beloved wife of nearly forty years to a stroke about two decades before, and he reckoned that Joe was the best friend he had ever known ... his sole companion for the past nine years ... the shivering and frightened dog turned up on the porch one cold, rainy evening ... two whole days passed before the piteous, half-starved stray dared approach the kind looking stranger who had been offering homemade biscuits soaked in warm bacon grease ... eventually the hungry pooch could no longer resist and ravenously gulped down the irresistible morsels ... the pair had been inseparable pals ever since ...

This particular morning, as they embarked on their usual stroll they were greeted by a dark, overcast sky, and a glistening layer of ice had covered everything in sight during the previous night ... as they approached the pond the old man carefully placed each of his steps as he walked on the slippery embankment ... suddenly the soles of his worn boots lost traction causing him to slam painfully onto the hard, frozen ground as he helplessly grasped for the sparse undergrowth before sliding into the frigid water ... in a matter of seconds the lethal cold stripped all life from his body and he was gone ... the now panic-stricken Joe began to woefully howl as he realized his master had fallen into the icy pond ... without hesitation, the loyal dog desperately leaped into the deadly water and swam around frantically searching for his dear master until all strength had drained from his exhausted body ... then he too succumbed to the cold as he disappeared beneath the surface of the pool ...

Instantly the old fellow found himself trudging along an unfamiliar and seemingly endless path with towering walls to each side ... ol' Joe still at his heels sniffing the ground as they walked along ... finally the duo came upon a very wide gate with an extremely determined looking gatekeeper standing its guard ..."enter weary traveler!" the doorman cried "we've been expecting you" he added ... the old man stretched out his neck and squinted his eyes as he peered in through the enormous gate ... therein the sun shone like a jasper stone upon what appeared to be a beautiful city made of pure gold ... lying foursquare ... having twelve foundations garnished with all manner of precious stones ... twelve gates all told, made of pearls upon its walls ... and streets made of solid gold transparent as glass ... the old man had heard stories of a place such as this, but was never sure if those stories were true ... he hurried through the gate expecting Joe to follow at his heels, only to glance back and see his best friend being forcefully restrained by the stern gatekeeper just outside the gate ... "dogs are not allowed within this gate!" declared the furious doorman ... "but is this not Heaven?" insisted the old man ... "of course it is, but dogs are never permitted within!" exclaimed the irate gatekeeper ... the old man retreated back outside the gate and snatched the now snarling Joe from the firm grasp of the heartless sentry, then proceeded on up that long way ... "don't you want to enter in? ... if you go away now, you shall never again be allowed entrance through this gate!" screamed the now disappointed doorman ... "anyplace where Joe ain't welcome, ain't Heaven!" replied the angry, old man ...

The exhausted pair continued to make their way along that forever lane 'till the old man grew so tired and discouraged he thought he might plod no further ... just then, they came upon another gate much narrower than the first, with a much kinder looking keeper standing its guard ... "welcome weary travelers, enter ye in to the joys of our Lord, we've been expecting you!" the doorman graciously said ... "but is this really Heaven? ... and is Joe permitted within?" begged the old man ... "why yes, this most assuredly is Heaven, and Joe is indeed welcome within! ... why do you so enquire?" replied the curious sentry ... "he at the first gate also invited me to enter within, but not Joe ... and he too proclaimed that to be Heaven ... how can I now trust one such as you?" protested the old man ... "oh no, that was certainly not Heaven ... 'twas no less than that beguiling deceiver enticing thee to enter within the gates of hell! ... for wide is that gate, and broad is that way which leadeth to destruction ... any many there be which go in thereat!" exclaimed the gatekeeper ... "enter ye in at this straight and narrow gate ... you and Joe!" he then uttered ... the old man cautiously stepped forward through the gate with Joe ... his curious, wet nose brushing against the back of his master's trouser legs as they slowly ambled alongside a roughhewn, split rail fence bordering a meadow ... around a slimy, farm pond ... then through a dense stand of spruce pine and spurge laurel ... as a bracing, mountain breeze intermingling with wafting scents of evergreens and wildflowers yielded an invigorating redolence ... "well I reckon this must truly be Heaven ol' friend!" the old man declared ... as Joe proudly wagged his tail ..

"Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" ... Matthew 7:14


--sja

14 comments:

Nothing Profound said...

Is this original? Beautifully written. A wonderful parable.

BOB said...

visitor alert!!

Welcome Nothing Profound ... Joe is indeed a good 'un ...

The Jackass, most honorable do paint a pretty picture with words, do he not?!

Some of which are rather profound, methinks ... they ain't just here in his stall neither ... you'll find 'em scattered throughout the Shop!

sja said...

Thank you so much Nothing Profound ... yes, "Joe" was written by me quite some time ago, from memory and from the heart ... I have a few more I'll be posting here in the near future ... glad you liked "Joe" ...

Helen said...

Quite a story, with a solid message behind it.

Like that Jackass pix..

sja said...

Thank you Helen ...

BOB said...

Here I am being a bobblehead doll again, nodding in agreement with everything that comes out of your stall ... dang!

"Joe" ain't my favorite but it's mighty high on the list ... I especially liked the way the old man stood up to that bully what was mean to Joe ... won't find folks like that in Heaven.

You got me to thinking ... for some strange reason, we tend to discard the old in favor of the new with little regard for their relative values ... it's time we realized that like Uncle Virgil, Clayton Moore, the stories of Aesop, the Bible, and our trust in God ... some old things are definitely superior to their shiny new replacements. Truth is, we rarely know until some of that shine wears off whether stuff is fool's gold or the real thing ... and then the forces of progress demand that the replacements are themselves replaced with bright, shiny newer versions.

If the new turns out to be inferior to the old, ain't nothing much keeping us from going down into the cellar and retrieving our discarded antiques what's gathering dust or rotting away! Nothing much ... mostly just ourselves ... the bullies ain't no problem.

A call to duty ... if Lamar and Luther can do it, so can we ... them boys 1n 1776 did it. My guess is that folks can use their bailout money to buy a sack full of hornets over the Internet ... probably on special for little or nothing, including overnight shipping.

BOB said...

his curious, wet nose brushing against the back of his master's trouser legs as they slowly ambled alongside a roughhewn, split rail fence bordering a meadow ... around a slimy, farm pond ... then through a dense stand of spruce pine and spurge laurel ... as a bracing, mountain breeze intermingling with wafting scents of evergreens and wildflowers yielded an invigorating redolence ... powerful writing, mon ami ... compelling!

sja said...

Bob -- too much praise is akin to too much honey ... both are sweet but make the head spin!

BOB said...

Wie ich schon gesagt habe ... truth is truth, mon ami!

The close of "Joe" ... the part I cited, is remindful of the "Daydreaming" close and evokes the same emotion ... not exactly the same but a leaner and winner in grenades, that's for sure!

Here's a bit more of what you inspired ... may make your head spin for different reasons, unconnected with either praise or honey ...

Just look at the stuff I found down in the cellar just waiting to rise again ... an "all night singing playbill", Mama's mouth washing soap, Grandma's outhouse and wood stove and two hand cranked, homemade ice cream buckets. Well, no, we probably don't need to bring back outhouses ... but they were indeed instrumental in our educational advancement, offering many advantages ... it's where I first learned about store bought stuff and practiced my reading!

One thing that hasn't changed ... strange as it may seem, problems with little kids bringing loaded guns to school is long in its standing. No, we didn't have metal detectors in my school but those who got caught met with harsh punishment ... and all weapons were confiscated, even those that weren't loaded with water.

Old Ben said that a penny saved was a penny earned ... that was still true when I was growing up ... and I saved my pennies. Dumb! I could get two pieces of candy for a penny and a pack of gum for four pennies or a nickel. Today, pennies are less than worthless, a pack of gum costs well over a dollar ... time to get rid of the new shiny pennies and replace them with the old ones ... I liked them much better!

One of the few things I remember from economics is that "if you make it for a dollar and sell it for ninety and nine cents, you'd be better off working for someone other than yourself. In the year 2007, the government minted about 7.5 billion pennies ...it cost the U.S. Mint 1.7 cents to make each one, not counting distribution costs. Well, that's an improvement ... in 2000, they minted about 14 billion, methinks

I give Ben a mulligan on that one ... no way for him to see it coming, even with his eyeglasses on ... but he didn't need many, like Virgil, he was at least a near genius and of strong faith ... here's proof positive: "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy!"

Folks are danged lucky that I type with but one digit ... you can save them some pain by deleting it after you read it.

sja said...

Bring it all back Bob ... along with the woodshed!

BOB said...

Where is me?? ... well, eating all this healthy food has made me sick and hungry too ... going to Sams' for some tater chips and cheese dip!

The woodshed is definitely on me list!

PJ said...

Hey SJA! Are you or have you ever been a Sunday School teacher? I can't help but think how quickly people would get God's messages if they had a Sunday school teacher to explain things like you do.

God Bless!

PJ

sja said...

No nothing like that PJ ... but I was Dean at the "School of Hard Knocks" ...

Marla said...

This is one of the BEST ever!! I love it!!!!