The smaller bites of life can be the most embarrassing.

Dr. Richard Jackson always kept the mortar thick in life.
Dr. Richard Jackson always kept the mortar thick in life.

MASSES OF FOLKS are in lockstep, completing daily routines with heightened speed, too often in fast-forward mode. Mostly, it is left to seniors to amble along, their lives ratcheted down by bodies unable to keep pace and/or people who take life in smaller bites.

Some learn – usually “later than sooner” – that “rose-smelling” along the way is an admonition that, once attempted, results in repeated yearnings to inhale life’s best fragrances.

Our world is a noisy one, too. Hundreds of millions cry out. Some are never heard, and many pleas are muffled at their beginnings. Prevailing is the feeling we’ve “seen this show before”—or heard it—or am I addressing only myself?


Don Newbury
Don Newbury

A vignette, please. My wife and I mapped out a recent Sunday morning trip. Plenty of time was allowed for the leisurely seventy-mile jaunt across the Metroplex. We wanted to hear Dr. Richard Jackson, a lifelong friend who was to preach three sermons on his seventy-sixth birthday.

Shortly before our arrival at the church for his third volley, we stopped at McDonald’s. (I’m never worried if I miss the freeway exit—there always are others just ahead.)

We stop there for three reasons: the second for McDonald’s almost always good, fresh coffee, and the third, the discounted price for senior adults.


   Inside was a cross-section of life. I was the only tie-wearer, and a goodly number–dressed casually and less—seemed bent, however painfully, on jump-starting their day after a short night.

A woman, neatly dressed, approached me. Her face was not familiar, but her request was.

“Do you have two dollar bills?” she asked. I felt the hovering of providence, recalling an $8 purchase the night before that resulted in exact change—two dollars. The two bills, folded around charge cards, prevented my being flat broke.


   Thoughts raced. I resisted the urge to lecture her. “Has inflation moved into panhandling, too?” I pondered. I recalled dozens of other similar requests along the way, usually in teeming cities. Typically, though, requests were for extra change, or maybe a dollar. But she wanted two.

I smiled, asking her why she needed the two dollars.

She smiled back, reaching into her purse, “Because I’m in line at the car wash. The machine takes only ones, and all I’ve got are twenties and this two-dollar bill.” We traded currency; I shoved the crumbled two-dollar bill into my pocket. My wife reappeared, and I steered our conversation to the dangers of pre-judging as we proceeded to church.


   We heard about God’s love from a powerful preacher whose every word seemed heaven-sent.

At lunch, with him, his wife Wanda and friends Mickey and Linda Eddins, we spoke of many things.

Richard was asked if he’d ever suffered from “tangled-tongue” in the pulpit. “All preachers have,” he answered. “In fact, not long ago my face was self-reddened as badly as yours was today at McDonald’s.”


   Completing his tenure of several months as an interim pastor, he was ready for his final sermon; it was a Sunday night. “But it’s not over ‘until the fat lady sings,” he joked. The congregation responded not with laughter, but squirmed in something of a nervous titter.

He hadn’t looked far enough down the worship guide. A woman he said to be “as fine a vocalist as ever sang a note” indeed was scheduled to sing. His face already crimson, he glanced toward the choir, his eyes locking with those of the featured vocalist—a woman he said was “considerably to the left of portly.” When she took the microphone, she had a one-sentence sermon for him before breaking into song. “And I’m going to sing this special with every ounce and every pound of my being.”


   Dr. Jackson spoke in a hushed tone of his late father, also a fiery preacher. His dad, ever the mentor to his young preacher son, advised him in construction terms. “Son, if you’ll keep your mortar thick, you won’t have to throw it near as hard to make it stick.”

It was a good day.

Jackson, still “in the spirit” at 76, preached with “thick mortar.” Lunch, unhurried, was great. Three couples’ remembrances of 160 years of marriage brought smiles, and Eddins paid the check.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: [email protected] Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury.

Please click the book cover image to read the inspirational and humorous stories of Don Newbury in When The Porch Light’s On.



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