July 05, 2020

01

Pine Cones 07/07/2020 12 — Indian Land, South Carolina, July 1, 2020
Robert Ruark, writing in The Old Man and The Boy
had the Old Man say, about fishing,
"A fish is only a fish.
If you make too much of it,
you lose the whole point of it."

Robert Ruark missed the essence
of his grandfather's sutra,
and failed, throughout his life,
to apply the fish as an analogy 
to everything in his life.

His grandfather was saying,
"Listen to me, dammit, Robert--
if you make too much of anything,
you lose the whole point of it!"

Success, for example.
Or happiness.
Or meaning and purpose.

Alcoholics Anonymous preaches the same sermon
with different words:
"Acceptance is the solution
to all of my problems today."

Acceptance is the refusal
to make too much of any of it,
even acceptance.

Robert Ruark became an alcoholic
because he made too much of the wrong things,
and not enough of the right things,
which is one thing all alcoholics have in common,
along with all the people
who take their disappointment
with themselves and their life
to some different manifestation of The Bottle,
and "get by with a little help from their friend."

Everything is analogous to us and our life.
What does "fish" equate to in your life?
What does "the bottle" equate to?
What are you taking too seriously?
What are you failing to take seriously at all?
What are the right things?
What are the wrong things?
Where are you in the flow of your life?
Where are you out of sync with your life?
Where are your expectations in line with your possibilities?
Where are your desires at odds with your chances?
Where are you willing what cannot be willed?
Where are you forcing what cannot be forced?
Where are you consoling yourself in ways
that are contributing to your disenchantment
and dissatisfaction--
making things worse and not better?
Where is your pain so great
that you will escape it at all costs?

We are all we have to work with
in the time left for living.
We have from now to then
to right our boat on its path through the sea,
get on track with our life
put ourselves in accord with our nature and our heart,
trust ourselves to the unfolding
of the life we are capable of living--
even now, even yet--
and see where it goes
(With no destination in mind,
and no opinion about how things are
to obscure what is being called for
here and now, moment to moment,
day to day).

02

Blueberries 06/30/2019 06 — The Vine Place, Van Wyck, South Carolina, June 30, 2019, an iPhone Photo
Here come some disparate statements
that I am going to pull together
like a wild rabbit from a hat
in a completely non sequitur kind of way:

1) Jesus was homeless
and he died on a cross.
When we hear him say,
"If you throw in with me,
you have to pick up your cross daily,
and follow me,"
somehow, we never connect following Jesus
with being homeless and dying on a cross.

2) The Dalai Lama's bodyguards
carry automatic weapons.
When he preaches compassion and peace,
he is also saying,
"If you cross me, I will kill you."
Which is not at all different from anything
a Mob Boss ever says.

3) If Elizabeth Warren only had
more cooperation,
it would be a better world overnight.
We want a better world
with Big Banks and Wall Street
and all of the distractions and delights
wealth and privilege can produce.

4) A high percentage of the world's population--
and your county's population--
is not going to make enough money
to pay their bills.
And that leaves them doing 
exactly what with their life?
We have to be able to pay the bills,
but they have to be the right bills,
and we have to know
what we are paying the bills to do.
And be right about the rightness
of what we are doing.
In order to do that,
everything has to change.
Everything has to change.

It all comes down to knowing
what we are doing here
and having the wherewithal to do it.
And "wherewithal" is about 
more than money.

"Wherewithal" is about clarity,
balance and harmony.
We have to "run a tight ship."
We have to exhibit,
express,
incarnate
loyalty and devotion to the cause.

The cause is our life--
the life we are living--
the life that is ours to live--
doing what we are here to do.
Bringing who we are to life in our lives.

Here's a hint for you:
We are not here to make a lot of money
and pass a good time.

We are here to serve 
what we are here to do
with our life.

And, in the words of the woman
who wouldn't wear a mask
and stay away from the crowds
at the beach,
"That's asking too much."

We want to live like we want to
and pass a good time.
Doing what we are here to do
doesn't factor into that equation. 
The economy is based on good times,
not on right living.

And that is the foundational dichotomy
at work in the heaving incongruities
of life as we know it.
And it is the nature 
of the cross we have to bear
on the path of finding our life and living it.

It would be easier to keep things as they are
and not pay the price of transition
and transformation.

"That which you seek,
lies far back
in the darkest corner
of the cave you most don't want to enter"
(Joseph Campbell).

"Pick up your cross and follow me" (Jesus of Nazareth).

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, three sons-in-law, and five granddaughters, and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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