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Monday, July 10, 2006

Cletus' Bible: Cletus on Karma

The Laws of Cause and Effect

(You might want to know more about Cletus, if you don't already.)

Well now. Old Cletus, he lived a-way up on Serenity Peak, about as close to the Almighty as a man could get.

One day a feller come a-climbin' up to Serenity Peak, a-huffin' and a-puffin'. Ya see, he was a businessman from the city down in the valley, and he just weren't used to this long a pull. The most exercise he ever got was ridin' a desk. The haul nearly done 'im in, but beyond his plain discomfort from the climb, Cletus could clearly see that he was powerful worked up 'bout somethin'. So Cletus offered the feller some rose hip tea (though the feller was secretly wishin' for somethin' a might stronger) and waited until the feller was ready to spill.

Finally, "Cletus!" he busts out, "I'm in a mess o' trouble."

"What kind o' trouble?" asks Cletus.

"Well," says the feller, lookin' a might embarrassed, "money trouble." (At this, Cletus' eyes set to twinklin', 'cause he knows that women and gold are the two things most like to get a feller in a fix.) "Ya see," the feller says, "I done some things I shouldn't oughta done, kinda shady-like. And now my customers, and my partners, and the law--well, they're jus' plain after me, is what it is."

"And what," Cletus asks, "are you expectin' me t' do about it? I don't know a blessed thing 'bout business."

"Now, Cletus," he says, "ever'body knows that you have the ear o' the Almighty. Cain't ya jus' whisper a word or two in that Ear an' ask 'im t'get me outta this here mess?"

Ol' Cletus thinks on it fer a minute, then looks over the feller's shoulder an' says, "Ain't my melons doin' fine?"

"Howzat?" says the feller.

"I say," Cletus repeats, "My melons. They're doin' jus' fine! See my melon patch over yonder?"

The feller turns, an' looks, an' says, "I surely do."

"Well now," says Cletus, "I planted me a whole lotta sweet cantaloupes on one side o' my patch, and a handful o' bitter melon on the other. (And there's nothin' like a good bitter melon soup t'keep ya regular.)

"Yeah?" says the other. "And jus' what's that got t'do with me?"

"Well, now," says ol' Cletus, "I think I may o' planted more o' the bitter than I need, and not enough of the sweet. So let's jus' go on over t' that patch, an' let's get down on our knees, an' let's pray together, brother, let's beg the Almighty to make some o' those bitter melons into cantaloupe."

The city feller was dumbstruck. "Aw, Cletus," he says, "Why you wanna waste my time for? You know bitter melon seeds ain't gonna make no cantaloupe! You plant bitter, bitter is what you gonna get!"

"Ain't that the dang truth!" cackles Cletus. "Ol' Jesus said 'What ya sow, ya reap!' They say it over there in India an' China, too, lotsa places. Sow good, ya get good. Sow raw dealin', ya get raw dealin'!"

"OK," says the feller, kinda quiet now. "I reckon I see what yer sayin'. But why the Almighty gotta treat me this-a way?"

"The Almighty?" Cletus snorts, and "The Almighty," he muses, and "I'll tell you what. Guess I'm gonna hafta show ya."

* * * * * * * *

An' Cletus, he tol' the feller to fetch him a mess o' things: two ol' clay pots from behind the house, and the ax from by the front door; some butter from the spring house, and some pebbles from the stream; and a couple o' pieces o' cloth and some string from the shed.

"Now then," says Cletus, "fill this here pot with pebbles, an' this 'un with butter." And the feller did. "Now cover each one with that there cloth, and wrap the string around it real good, so the mouth o' the pot is a-covered tight." And he did.

"Now bring it all down to the pond." And he followed Cletus to the pond, carryin' the two covered pots and the ax.

"Now, you walk on into that there pond," says Cletus, "and set them pots in water about knee deep." This took awhile, as the city feller had to take off his shoes an' socks, and roll up his suit pants, 'cause like most city folks he was partic'lar.

When he'd put those pots in the water, ol' Cletus cracks a grin an' says, "Now, you give those pots a whack with the back o' that ax."

"Wha'?" says the feller.

"Go on, break 'em open!" Cletus crows.

So he did.

"Now," asks Cletus, "what're them pebbles doin'?"

"Well," says the feller, "they're jus' a-settin' there on the bottom."

"Uh-huh. And the butter?" Cletus asks.

"It's a-floatin', o' course!" the feller says.

"Why?" asks Cletus. "Why would the Almighty make the rocks go down an' the butter go up?"

"Aw, Cletus," says the feller, "the Almighty ain't doin' that. Rocks are heavy, an' butter's light, is all it is!"

"That's right," says ol' Cletus, "It's their nature. An' it's the nature o' wrong actions t' bring you trouble, jus' like it's the nature o' right actions t' bring you blessings. Ya know, ya ain't punished for yer sins; yer punished by yer sins."

"But not always!!" says the feller. "I know good folks who suffer, an' some pretty wicked fellers who seem t' get on jus' fine."

"Dang! but yer a stubborn critter," says Cletus. "Alright. One more doggone time."

* * * * * * * *

Cletus thinks for a minute, then he says: "How tall are you?"

"'Round 'bout six foot," the feller says.

"Six foot!" cries Cletus. "Boy, you musta dang near killed yer mama comin' outta her."

"Aw, Cletus," he says, "there ya go again, bein' foolish."

"Guilty as charged" Cletus whoops. "I am indeed. But so are you! Things don' jus' go from nothin' t' somethin' alluversudden. They need time to come about. You were a little bitty baby, and in time become a big strong feller. But it took years. Same way, them good people that suffer, you don't know when the blessin's 'll come. And when the wicked prosper? Well, somethin' ugly's on it's way fer sure. Jus' give it time. Ya know, yer a lucky feller. Yer bad deeds up and bit ya right away. After you pay the piper, you'll be free t' move on."

"Well, maybe," the feller says, rubbin' his chin. "But even though ya call me lucky, it sure feels like hell t'pay."

"Yup," says Cletus, "an' I can tell ya more 'bout that, too. But that ol' sun's on his way west, and that there trail's mighty rough, so you'd best be getting' on home. You go face the music, and come back next week. You tell me how yer doin', an' I'll tell you why sometimes bad looks good, and good sure enough looks like bad."

And the feller said his "goodbye's" and his "thank ye's" and he headed on down the trail. Cletus set about fixin' his supper, fetchin' water from the springhouse (for boilin' his greens). And as he carried a bucket full o'water to the house, that city feller carried a whole head full o' thinkin' down from Serenity Peak.

Watch for stories from Cletus' Bible from time to time.

[2023: Sadly, this and the introduction are all I ever wrote.]

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