July 24, 2020

02

Cades Cove 02/28/2014 01 — Sparks Lane, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend, Tennessee, February 28, 2014
Silence is the origin of all that is.

Before there was anything,
there was silence.

We return to the Source
through the silence.

How often do you sit quietly?
For how long?

The trick with sitting quietly
is to be detached from the noise.
Silence is the nosiest place on earth!
Disengage.
Peacefully coexist.
Let the noise go on (and on) without you.
Thoughts will come along to shanghai you.
Things to do will pop up to hijack you.
Great ideas will drop by to kidnap you.

Let it all come
and let it all go
in a "That, too, that, too" kind of way.
Remember your breathing through it all.
Coming back to your breathing
is coming back to the silence.
Listen for the sound of breathing.
Breathe into your abdomen.
Watch the rising and falling of your diaphragm.  

Aim for 20 minutes twice a day.

You are nurturing the silence.
Seeking the Source.

Our Original Nature resides in the Source.
Our Original Nature
is our authentic,
natural Self.
It is who we are without the artificial affectations 
to fit us in with 
where we have no business being.

Finding our way back to the Source
is finding our way back to ourselves.
On the other side of silence.

–0–

01

Orchard Web 11/23/2013 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, November 23, 2013
We have to do the work.
This is no holiday sight-seeing tour,
no "Show up when you feel like it
and take as much time off as you like"
kind of deal.

This is the Hero's Journey,
so-called because it actually requires us
to put ourselves out
in its service.

James Joyce (as per Joseph Campbell
in A Skeleton Key to Finnegan's Wake
and  Mythic Worlds Modern Words--
I have to take Joyce indirectly,
with interpretation and explanation,
because reading him is like reading
a foreign language,
so, thanks be to Campbell 
for enabling me to do the work
of comprehending Joyce)
says there are two kinds of art:
Proper Art
and Improper Art.

Improper Art is pornographic
in that it either pulls us to desire to possess it,
or pushes us to abhor and be rid of it.
Our reaction to Improper Art
is Lust, Loathing, Fear and Dread.

Proper Art stops us in our tracks.
Stuns us into silent reverence.
Introduces us to awe and wonder.
Makes us forget to breathe.

"Aesthetic Arrest," Joyce calls it. 

Instead of wanting to possess it,
we are possessed by it
and are transformed forever
by our encounter with it.

We can think of religion
the way Joyce thinks about art.

Improper Religion is pornographic. 
"My God is an awesome God!"
We possess God.
We own God. 
It is "My God this,"
and "My God that."
And we give God a round of applause.
Not a standing ovation, mind you,
a round of applause.
We offer God trinkets of attention
and loose change
in return for all of the things 
we expect God to give us,
including, of course, Heaven for Eternal Life.
What a deal.
And we talk about God all the time.

Proper Religion takes all of our words away.
Turns our life inside-out,
eats our old life alive,
and transforms us forever
by the impact of the shock of its reality--
and conscripts us into its service
by taking over the direction and control of our life.

Our life becomes our work in response
to the call/command that is ours to incarnate,
exhibit,
express,
serve
and do.

What we do is our response 
to the wonder of oneness
with the Art of Religion 
exemplified in our life.

And we don't talk about it at all
because the best things can't be said,
and the second-best things can only be inferred
from the way we live,
and the third-best and lower things 
are what we talk about,
news/gossip, weather and sports.

Our life is properly spent 
doing the work that being alive
to the truth of how it is really
requires in each moment.

Life lived any other way
is life lived improperly.

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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