August 15, 2020


Rockport Harbor 10/15/2009 01, Rockport, Maine
Our life will teach us all we need to know--
IF we are willing to change our mind
about what is important.

If we are locked into a certain way of thinking about/seeing reality--
married to some form of doctrine or ideology--
there is no learning from experience,
or anything else.
We are among the dead
waiting to bury,
and be buried by,
the dead.

Meister Eckhart talked about our 
having to "leave God for God."
Our idea of God gets in the way 
of our experience of God.

Our idea of how things ought to be
gets in the way of our experiencing
how things need to be.

Parents have ideas for their children,
but their children have a life of their own
(And usually, the parents never had a life of their own, 
and the parents' ideas for their children
are their own projected desires
for the life they never lived).

If we have any hope of living the life
that needs us to live it,
we have to refrain from imposing our idea
of the life we want to live on our life,
and allow our life to show us 
how it needs us to live it.

This will come as a new concept 
to too many of you,
the idea that our life has a mind of its own.
The sooner you adjust yourself to it the better.
Our life has a mind of its own.

And we are students of our own life.
Our life is the teacher.
Living is the lesson.
Our life teaches us to live
in accord with the interests and needs of our life

To live like that
is to be a Real Human Being.



At the Bottom of Latourell Falls 05/21/2009, Guy W. Talbot State Park, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
What is the nature of your pain?

This is an exercise for meditation,
for exploration,
for examination,
for reflection,
for realization.

We have to be conscious of our pain.
We have to bear consciously our pain.
How we do that tells the tale.

Knowing how we do that 
is the unadvertised first step to--
what would you call were we are going?
Where we are aspiring to be?
The whole point of our being here?
Of our being anywhere?
Of our being alive?
What are we about,
if not to find out what we are here to do?
To be?
To become?

However you envision what we are here for,
bearing consciously our pain
is the first step we have to take on the way there--
and it is something we carry with us all along the way.

"If you would be a companion of mine,"
said Jesus.
"Pick up your cross daily,
and come with me."

The metaphor of the cross--
like all living metaphors--
has to be re-thought,
in every generation

(We hardly ever re-work a metaphor.
Our "metaphors"--the quote marks
indicate they aren't actual metaphors,
just pretend metaphors,
make-believe symbols,
meaning nothing more than 
what they are said to mean).

Our "metaphors" come packaged
with definitions so that we can remind ourselves
of what they mean,
because they are meaningless
and have no connection with us 
and our life.

We breathe new life into old, 
by re-working them anew in every age.

The cross is more than it is reported to be--
as are all metaphors that are alive and vibrant.
It is not something Jesus died on to save us from our sins.
That is a narrative invented by the Church of the Holy Roman Empire
and burned into the minds of the people
by burning at the stake all the heretics who knew it was a lie from the start.

The people who understood what Jesus meant
about carrying their cross daily
knew their cross was nothing Jesus could bear for them
and it had nothing to do with sin,
but everything to do with living in a world
where life eats life,
and everything comes with strings attached,
and we give up this to get that,
and there are no free lunches,
and no free rides,
and we are damned if we do
and damned if we don't,
and that's the way it is.
And the cross we carry 
is the pain of being alive.
And no one can carry it for us.
We have to do that on our own.

The Buddha said, "Life is suffering."
Jesus said, "Pick up your cross and let's go."
And I say, "What is the nature of your pain?"

We have to bear consciously our pain.
We have to be clear about the nature of our pain.
And we have to know how we carry it,
how we manage it,
how we deal with it,
and what symptoms we have because of it--
or because of the way we are denying it,
escaping it,
hiding from it,
or trying to.

Our pain and how we relate to it
are among the basic truths about us and our life.
We don't take one step toward where we are going
(Which I understand to be becoming Real Human Beings)
without changing our relationship with our pain.

That changes our relationship with our life,
and with ourselves.
And that transforms everything.

What is the nature of your pain?



Crescent Beach 05/24/2009 10, Eola State Park, Canon Beach, Oregon
Forrest Gump is the metaphor for our time.
If you were going to advise Forrest Gump, 
what would you tell him?
Sit with that.
Ponder it.
Meditate on it.
Play around with it.
What would you say to Forrest Gump?
What did/does Forrest Gump need to know?

Imagine that you are Forrest Gump.
What do you need to know?
What would help you the most?
If you could ask The One Who Knows
what you need to know,
what do you think he would tell you?

If you were Forrest Gump,
and I were The One Who Knows,
I would tell you,
"Forrest, be right about what you believe is so,
and live as though it is.
Live as if it were.
In every moment
of every situation as it arises,
all your life long."

And, you being Forrest Gump,
would likely ask,
"But how do I know what is right to believe in?"
I would tell you,
"Your life will tell you what is right to believe in.
Live with your eyes open,
seeing what you look at,
looking at everything.
Your life will teach you all you need to know."

And, you being Forrest Gump,
would likely say,
"Ah, I already knew that!"
And, I would say,
"Everybody does.
But only you are living as if it were so."

And, you being Forrest Gump,
would likely say,
"Well then, what do I need you for?"
And, I would say,
"Everybody already has all they need
to find what they need,
to do what their life needs them to do,
but only you and I and a handful of others
know it is so,
and live as though it is.
We are all like you, Forrest.
But only a few of us know it.
And it is good for us to be together
from time to time,
and pal around.
Why don't we find some popcorn,
or go for a run?"

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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