What's the Rumpus?
2020

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I'm looking forward to an 11-day staycation from Christmas Eve through January 3, 2021. Why not? A nice way to end 2020 from my perspective. An interesting year, to be sure...

While some dinosaurs of the men's movement might be positioning themselves as beasts who can sniff out a Mama's Boy at every turn, I don't fancy myself anything more than a man, a work in progress.

For this morning that's okay, enough for now. I sense the Spirit of God saying, "Easy does it, son. Slow down."

And so I will. Breakfast was good. Lunch? A story to be told. This world ain't got too much time. If I save a nickel here and there, is that too much to ask?

Ramen noodles and carrots. Enough to feed my belly, feels good. What do I care? It's wonderful, wonderful as the song used to go...

My credit's in good shape, and I have a 4-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend coming up. As far as I know, I don't have COVID-19, haven't given it to anyone, don't want to get it from anyone, nor do I really care.

It's Once Upon A Time in America, the fall fo modern Babylon. Who'da thunk it? Lotta day trippin' memory lane heavy shit goin' down in the fucking club, if you know what ima sayin, yo.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Maybe it's just a Dizzy Whizz kinda day, bacon double cheeseburger myself into a coma of don't give a shit meets sunny days and Mondays Hill Street Blues. Yeah, that's the ticket!

That's all I have to say about that.

Maybe I'll get to legally change my name back to my birth moniker in 2021. Let's hope so. All of this is daunting to think about, letting go of so much in the people/ places/things department and working with God to co-author some new scripts.

Dust in the wind.

I'm just round the corner 'till the light of day, yeah!

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

November 23 2020

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I'd like to think that something out of the ordinary - yes, an adventure - would be a catalyst for emotional change.

Three days back from Colorado Springs, CO and a men's conference at Discovery Christian Church, I find myself grasping for the three days on campus with a small platoon of men, mostly from DCC but a strong handful, like myself, from out of state.

Brotherhood. Lone wolves die. Wake up, nap time is over! Some of the messages I saw reminded me that I was above sea level here, nearly 8,000 feet and the sun was brighter and hotter. The trip itself came from the unfolding story with God, itself a wonder of wisdom, timing, faith, and fearlessness. 

I enjoyed myself. 3 of the 4 airline flights I had were with no one sitting next to me...not a bad way to relax as I jetted from Kentucky to Chicago and O'Hare, then into COS, while on the way home departed from COS, went to Houston, then home to Louisville. Window seats every leg of the trip. I loved watching the jet take off and land through the tiny rectangle.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Adventure don't have to be major productions...but they can certainly turn into them. As a friend and mentor, Bart Hansen from Wild at Heart, edified for the men on Friday afternoon, there can be three types of adventure: Casual, Critical, and Epic.

The trip out and back felt like all three. Not having flown in a plane for the last 6 years, navigating the airports along the way felt like a good challenge for both the Little Boy in me and the Young Man who never had much adventure. Fortunately, layover times and walking to the gate didn't lead to any stress.

There was an issue with my rental car at the Colorado Springs Airport, but a fortunate connection with ZTrip car service made the weekend even more hassle free (without the stress of driving a rental car in unfamiliar territory). 

My lodging at Fairfield Inn & Suites was pleasant enough during pandemic travel - a small fire pit and outside deck to record a beautiful Friday sunrise, along with a comfortable room and glass shower door that popped off its rail on Saturday morning (luckily I was present of mind enough though totally naked and grabbed the door before it fell against the wall, shattering, and lacerating my femoral artery, leaving me to bleed out in 90 seconds, not to be found for a day).

I bought a $4.18 bottle of Sprite in the O'Hare Airport between flights. The tuna melt at Quizno's in Colorado Springs Airport was worth the price. The flight attendants were all beautiful babies. 

I'm home now. No coffee, Hurt's Donuts, Blackjack Pizza or the church auditorium smoke machine. Brotherhood. I got the t-shirt, I like it. Had fun. Exactly what God, as Father, wanted me to have. 'Be Our guest,' I remember hearing on a Sunday back in early September. Everything flowed right and rapid from there. And now I'm here, back from there and back again. 

I took good notes. Blink and the dream is over. John Lennon would have turned 80 while I was in the shadows of Cheyenne Mountain. Imagine...

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

October 13, 2020

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It's been a few short days since last walking the long and winding road of The Unfolding Story. In fact, it's been one of the most breathtaking and Spirit-led weeks of walking with God that I've experienced in my spiritual and masculine journey.

Randomly, but intentionally looking back over my shoulder, this past Sunday was a day of impact that shook my heart awake even further to the mystery and majesty of God as Father in my story.

There was a good sadness resting on the porch of my heart - after 16 weeks of helping shepherd a small Band of Brothers in a virtual Brotherhood of the Roundtable I had followed God this past Spring into creating and offering through the Wild at Heart Allies Network, it was now time for me to step out and away and pursue the more of God that my heart, story, and habitat were longing for.

As with any small group - and especially one centered on the concept of "What's Your Story?" that invited a gathering of men...in the beginning, all strangers to each other but now, after time and truth, had created bonds that they were fighting to keep intact - it did get messy. For me, that was normal, expected, and part of the process of both being a facilitator of men and a man on my own personal mission to advance the Kingdom.

For those sixteen Sunday mornings, we met virtually on Zoom at an early hour - this was to accommodate scheduling for several men in the United Kingdom as well as an ally and long-time friend of mine joining in from Australia. So here I was this past Sunday, now having the morning unscheduled and not impacted by preparation or hindered by lack of sleep. I decided to join an online worship with Discovery Christian Church located in Colorado Springs, CO. For the past few years, I had been a semi-regular attendee of their fellowship, deeply enmeshed in the message and ministry of Wild at Heart (whose Outpost is also located in COS). 

Joining in with them felt pretty random. It had been quite a while since I had joined the online worship opportunity; during the period of sitting with the Roundtable, it hadn't even been a thought crossing my heart or mind - in all honesty, after the two-plus hour virtual gathering, I usually just ate breakfast and went back to bed for some much needed rest.

So on Sunday I found myself having "time on my hands," which I filled with breakfast, a shave and shower, and a walk to a local store to pick up some DIY items I needed. The store, at nearly 11:00am, was still closed, so on the walk back to my Old Louisville apartment I asked Spirit, "What next?" His answer? "Go worship with DCC." 

At first, the entreaty seemed disruptive, my inner compass spinning in a direction I didn't want to trust. But I did, knowing that the Wild Goose was up to something in the request. Part of me felt the shame of religion, that critical voice that was crying out, "Phony! You haven't been to church in so long and you think NOW is going to make a difference??" I laughed and streamed the online service to my flat screen TV nonetheless. 

Turns out that DCC was doing things a bit differently - they were simply going to do a service completely of worship music and take communion (the first time in 25 weeks they had done so as a family due to the pandemic).

 

"Man," I thought to myself, "this might be interesting." I even did what I was asked by their associate pastor who was hosting via video - I got some bread and pomegranate juice to be my elements. 

 

Just a few songs into the worship, I found myself  holding back tears, but succumbed to the spirit inside of me and just started allowing them to fall as the music and they lyrics of the songs washed over my heart and soul. By the time I got to taking communion, I was ruined for Jesus showing up in such a mysterious way once again in my story.

 

By the end of the online service, I was feeling such joy and restoration in my body. I was getting ready to disengage the live stream (which I normally did when joining in online in the past once the service was completed). Instead, I listened to Jason (the associate pastor) begin to talk about an upcoming men's conference at DCC in early October. Entitled Brotherhood 2020, it was going to be a three-day (Thursday to Saturday) gathering at the DCC campus in Colorado Springs, featuring sessions on Thursday and Saturday led by Greg Lindsey, their lead pastor, as well as the Friday sessions being offered by my friends and mentors from Wild at Heart - John Eldredge, Morgan Snyder, and Bart Hansen.

My heart both leapt and sank at the same time. My first internal thought was, "Oh, cool but there's no way I can go. It's right around the corner." I went on another walk to the local store, and on the way back to my apartment I felt this subtle invitation from the Enemy to act out in old behaviors that I hadn't been giving the time of day to for a while. Once more, the Spirit of God came back into my heart, saying "I want you to go check this out." I thought He was telling me to go to the DCC website to look at what the conference would be offering, its cost, etc. Which I did.

And then the Wild Goose took flight...

I went to my living room in prayer, using the Pause App  from Wild at Heart...diving into their 10-minute option to seek some counsel from God as Father. More tears, more fire in the belly, more light and freedom in my soul. When I asked if I should go, Father told me, "Oh, yes, my son. Come, be our guest. This is an adventure you deserve and have earned. Yes, come!"

So, what's the rumpus today?

Longer story shortened up here, I'M IN AND I'M GOING!! Conference fee? Paid and booked. Round-trip airfare and tickets purchased? Done. Three days worth of Colorado Springs hotel accommodations made and reserved? Right on! Hey, why not live an adventure I've never lived? First time ever renting a car? Yup, did it! I'm even sitting here penning these words wearing a custom made Maximus Heart t-shirt I designed for my Friday session at DCC (I'm also bringing my spare box of Maximus Heart business cards to hand out to men I meet and network with).

I haven't been in Colorado since last attending my second pass at the Wild At Heart Advanced Boot Camp in the mountains outside of Buena Vista. Even though this conference will be in the City of Colorado Springs, both my Little Boy and Young Man inside of my heart and story are stoked beyond imagination with joy, anticipation, hope, and a deep sense of sonship in looking forward to traveling, attending, and walking deeper with God in His message of brotherhood to me. Jesus is my Brother...and I'm sure that He is so happy to see me SO HAPPY!

Much else happened this week, too...but some stories I like to keep to myself...for myself. And, as always, more will be revealed.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

September 12, 2020

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Time does fly...hard to imagine or believe it's been 4 years since I began to capture What's the Rumpus? here on the paths of The Unfolding Story. Such a joy and a gift - to share and receive the blessings of co-authoring my story with God.

It's Labor Day here in the United States. A day off from work. I've had this love/hate relationship with labor my entire life. If I did know what that was about, I'd say that it's because - in my own selfishness - I want something for nothing. But even that's too easy an explanation. A deeper truth i that I want to enjoy my labors - to reap the benefits and the blessings (not particularly financial or from a position of power, privilege, or title) of a job well done.

At 58 years old, I've had and held many positions of labor - 45 jobs all told, to be exact. From my high school days as a bingo worker for my Catholic high school in 1979 to my role as a Talent Engagement Specialist for a workforce solutions organization currently in 2020, I've worn many hats and been many things to many people and companies. 

If anyone would ask me what my real job is, I'd be bold enough to clank my balls and tell them, "I'm ME - I'm John the Revelator, the Keeper of the Stories That Matter the Most. I'm an initiator of men. I'm a Megaphone for the Kingdom of God. I am a Work in Progress!

If I were my resume, that's how it would be and what it would read.

Sadly, the world at large, Babylon falling on both East and West Coasts and sink hole deep into its own bloated heartland, doesn't give a shit about that. It wants me to be _________ (fill in the blank with whatever you want me to be). That's fine with and by me - I know the Kingdom is coming and I'm just perfectly content with going to sleep tonight and waking up to the smiling face of God at the foot of my bed, much like Frodo coming to in Rivendell and seeing his beloved Gandalf breaking out with joy and laughter before him.

"Job well done, my good and beloved son," would be those words I could never, ever find in a paycheck or in a 401k or in a promotion or through the Monday to Friday 40-hour or more fucking meat grinder of society's enslavement of every life that matters.

So, what's the rumpus today?

I'm going to end Labor Day 2020 with a full belly, go lay back and enjoy a good movie (The Illusionist with Edward Norton), and then recline in bed while continuing to read J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (I haven't read it since my teenage years - and I am absolutely falling in love with Holden Caufield and the utterly raucous and sharp-witted, amusing prose of Salinger. What treasures for a job well done...today.

I would die a happy man if it all ended tonight. Sarah McLachlan is singing "Angel" to me as I type these final lines. It's all good. I've punched enough clocks. It's not even fair - but sometimes the work of becoming who God meant when He meant me is truly the BEST JOB I'VE EVER HAD!

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

September 7, 2020

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There's something about music that I'm learning I can not live - or survive - without. I don't sleep that well in this season of my journey. Story is always present in my heart, usually prompted by films I've recently watched or music I've listened to. 

A friend recently marveled that I can write and listen to music at the same time. I told them it's when I'm usually penning new pages to my Journal  collection or even working on fiction writing, website design, whatever.  Right now - as I'm typesetting this - I'm listening to my Windows Media Player jukebox, lingering in a collection called The Valiant of Heart.

It's populated with love songs, thematic score music from films, and timeless treasures of memories associated to decades of my spiritual and masculine journey.

Right now, it's Africa from the group Toto. This embeds my heart right back into the 1980's when the song was released. I was in love with a fiery young woman named Patty at the time - both of us were students at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York and madly, deeply in lust and love. 

It's also no coincidence that in the current journey to both harvest and process my 40 years of Journal collection, I'm smack in the middle of that story between us. In fact, I just began to dig into Journal Eight - Precious Time, the physical book actually a gift from Patty to me in 1983. She even was gifted with choosing the Journal's title and actually penned the first two pages of it as a tribute to me...something I had never allowed another person to do before or since.

So here I sit, on a Saturday night, awash in memory and letting the awakening of the Lover archetype in my heart and story listen to the songs play on. Here I am on Mercy Street by Peter Gabriel. Forever etched into my memory was the first time I heard this evocative song, playing in the background for a scene from the 1987 NBC television show, A Year in the Life. Every single time I hear it, I think about that scene. The relationship between Patty and I had ended the year before...and I was on the cusp of a new one entering my life.

The jukebox is on random play. Now it's Silver Springs by Fleetwood Mac. I had the honor of meeting the band while working at the Hyatt Regency Louisville in the late 1980's, now in love with a Southern angel named Angela. I remember chatting briefly with Stevie Nicks in her hotel room, telling her I always loved the "B" side to the group's massive hit, Go Your Own Way. She gave me a white candle and thanked me for my kindness. I don't remember walking out of the room - more like floated, I'd say in retrospect. She wrote the song about her dying love affair with guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. It still makes me weep remembering the death of my love affair with Angela...

Oh, my - Foreigner's I Wanna Know What Love Is. The choral climax that takes the song home still brings chills to my spine, memories dancing across time. "In my life there's been heartache and pain..." I've known what love is, I've felt what love is, I've given it and received it. My memories of this son, too, are etched into my consciousness and love of the culture changing show, Miami Vice, in the episode called "Rites of Passage." It was during its meteoric first season, and it fit perfectly within the scene with Ricardo Tubbs and his old New York City flame, Valerie.

So, what's the rumpus today?

A song from the Broadway musical, Rent, is playing. Your Eyes...Roger's lament for Mimi. I fell hard for a national touring company actress that played Mimi in the late 1990's. She, too, was from the Bronx. I have seen that show 14 times...a dozen of which starred her in the role. It wasn't meant to be, but that music is in my marrow forever.

How appropriate that George Harrison is belting out What Is Life? Such a rock and roll love song - he originally wrote the song for Billy Preston but ended up recording it for his own 1970 triple album post-Beatles break up, All Things Must Pass.

His words are a nice coda to this trip down musical lane:

"What I feel, I can't say
But my love is there for you any time of day
But if it's not love that you need
Then I'll try my best to make everything succeed.

Tell me, what is my life without your love?
And tell me, who am I without you, by my side?"

Some say he wrote it for a woman; some say he wrote it for a deity. Those words fit, for me, in the memories of my love for the daughters of Eve and in my awakening Sacred Romance for God in my current heart, story, and habitat. 

The journey - and the jukebox - continues...

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

August 29, 2020

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As the journey to wholeheartedness continues, I've found the past two months since last checking in here to be filled with both the pleasures and the pains of becoming, with God, more free to live. 

I was led, in the Spirit, this morning to the Gospel of John , Chapter 5. In the story of Jesus healing the paralytic, he asks the man a question that, if I didn't know Jesus as my heart knows him, would almost seem cruel.

"Do you want to get well?" Jesus asks the man who is bound to his mat outside the healing pool of Bethesda.

Get well? This is one of those moments in Scripture that I, as a reader (not as some type of theologian) have to scratch my head and say, "Jesus, what the fuck?" The dude has been down for decades, coming to the healing pool for the miracle he needs, never making it in yet still coming back in a desperate hope.

And I love what Jesus says to him next most of all:

"Get up! Pick up your mat and walk" (John 5:8 NIV).

That's my Jesus!! And, oh, how many times and in how many ways in my own life and story have I been the man waiting at the pool - fully capable of getting up and walking away any damn time I well pleased.

"Do you want to get well?"

Jesus has been asking me this disruptively honest question about a major stuck-point in my heart, story, and habitat for quite some time now. And, like a good man on his mat, I've opted out of answering in fear that my only option to reply is, "No, I don't. Leave me alone if you can't help me."

Jesus is always the "Yes!" inside the darkest  despair of "No!"

Over the last few months I've been witness to another man's story that has him, I believe, down and comfortable on his mat. I sense he's waiting for the miracle of Jesus instead of the mandate: "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk."

Jesus, in my story, never rescues me the same way twice - and sometimes He never rescues me  at all. It's not cruel - it's a call to deeper initiation as a man,  an invitation to be Fathered by God, and a wrecking ball through my own fortress walls of ego and arrogance.

So, what's the rumpus today?

In my recent obedience to my King and Lord to "Get up!" I have found that my legs are really quite strong, healthy, and ready to go. One would think after laying on my ass for decades and not even considering it a possibility, the act of getting up would end well. "Pick up your mat and walk" is simply choosing now, each day, to walk with God...not before Him or behind him but right next to Him.

Just this morning, after nearly a month of doing this, I realized my hands were empty and I wasn't holding onto the mat any longer. It seems as if I've lost it, and I really don't care to look back over my shoulder to see where I did.

GET UP! PICK UP YOUR MAT AND WALK!

But it does start with the question:

"Do you want to get well?"

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

August 14, 2020

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It's been 40 years since I began a journey with God to journal my story. It has been one of the fiercest disciplines I've ever had the privilege of living out. 

As I continue to capture my heart and story fully alive in each volume (currently on 48), I notice that each first week of June (when I started writing them in 1980) I reminisce about how many stories and how many paths those Journals have seen.

For many years, I heard that still, small voice of God in my soul ask, "When will you harvest them for Me?" I ran from answering Him for many years as well. It was in earnest several years ago that I entered the first page of Volume One in 1980 and have currently read through until the year 2000.

 

Along way, I wield a yellow highlighter to harvest certain phrases, memories, stories, epiphanies, or moments of clarity. Needless to say, I'm on another box of highlighters for the remainder of the journey.

The harvest has yielded many riches for me so far in the journey with Jesus to have Him come deeper into my heart, story, and habitat.

Over such an epic period of time, I've learned how to listen to the pendulum of my heart in when to write - and when not to. I tend to go in stretches...not every day, every month. Yet each month I get quite a bit of the story onto the blank pages of my current Journal volume.

Why is this a discipline? I learned early on in my life that story - a story, any story, a good story, a bad story, my story - can be a very dynamic force in the movements of the heart. Keeping "track" of it - in real time observation and pen to paper capturing of the cartography of my soul and its conversations with God - is the point of the discipline, the doing over and over again...especially during times when the story never seems to change.

 

And the story can - and will - change. One of the blessings of harvesting my Journal volumes is witnessing through my excavation that the story is always evolving - sometimes in the direction I desire, sometimes not.

 

So, what's the rumpus today?

 

Most likely, if given the life to achieve it, this monumental harvesting journey with God through my Journal collection will be completed sometime within the next year. Amazing!! And, yet, that will also signal a new crossroads to be standing at with Jesus into the real purpose and mission at hand: to go with Jesus into the parts of this massive and epic story that truly need His healing in order for me to become more of the wholehearted man He meant when He meant me.

 

This is surely to be dangerous for good frontier to enter with the Spirit, no need for me to have either a map or compass. It's about the desire to pursue deeper healing, transformation, restoration and breakthrough with Jesus in the places of my heart, story, and habitat that matter the most to Him and will eventually mean the most to me as man on mission to advance His Coming Kingdom.

 

For now, I'm choosing gratitude, faith, and the belief that being on the threshing floor with God within the harvesting of my Journals is exactly where He desires me to be right now. 

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

June 17, 2020

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Interestingly enough, as the world continues to be shaken by God (it's His world to shake - after all) I am much more aware of how much more shaken my world seems to be.

Enough to keep me up at night, wake me in the darkness more than I'd like to admit. What's the dread? To name it seems muddy, like it has a number of aliases to rely on and confuse me with.

Tomorrow, I return to my telework couch to begin Week #10 of being employed by COVID-19. I have a stash of face masks...too funny; no, not a stash of drugs like the "old man" in my story would have had in times like these. No, now I have face masks. I anticipate having to wear one for 8 fucking hours a day now when given the green light to return to our downtown office building. I may have to mix it up with a supply of colorful bandannas I also have stashed away from various times in the masculine journey.

Sort of feels like God is asking me (us) to go about life with veiled faces. Parts of the shame that wounded my Little Boy tells me it's perfectly fine - no one wants to look at my face anyway. Part of it feels weird - and I understand both sides of the need for and those who feel like they don't need them. Choice - one of the most dangerous for good gifts from God given to His children.

Focusing on the False Self, the Poser (the Masked One) is just an easy ploy of the Enemy to distract me, disqualify me, accuse me of being a sham and a shame.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Spirit is continuing to invite those younger parts of my heart and story to camp out with Him in gratitude. I'm grateful to be employed in this current economy. I'm grateful to have, presently, a steady and reliable income, a working budget and savings accounts begun. I'm grateful to be relatively healthy and with medical insurance. I'm grateful to have connectivity and appropriate technological devices. 

"Many is the time I've been mistaken, and many times confused..." (Paul Simon, American Tune).

Yet even that sense of gratitude is being shaken by God. Part of my False Self is the part of my heart and story that will be grateful but, in the end, somehow piss on the gratitude and God's feet as well.

I have a collection of some heart-shaped stones picked up during various walks around my Old Louisville neighborhood over the last decade. They feel right in the palm of my hand or being smoothed by my fingers. God invites me to bring them home, I think, to remind me that he's grateful for my heart...it's a treasure to Him.

One of them sits next to my laptop as I capture these moments, the rumpus sometimes getting the best of me and I overindulge in the luxury of thought. I wonder what God wants to do in all of the shaking in order to capture more of my heart and invite me to ask for more of His?

As this month of May comes to a close, and my journey through a pandemic as a working man continues, I am gonna check some tent pegs inside my story and make sure they are grounded well in gratitude.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

May 25, 2020