June 24, 2020

Edisto Beach Sunrise 01/29/2015 04 — Edisto Island State Park, South Carolina, January 29, 2015
The old Alchemists thought they could change the world
to suit themselves
if they could but find
The Philosopher's Stone,
which was their equivalent
to the Elder Wand,
and would serve them
as the threshold to wonders unimagined,
but (with the Stone in hand)
suddenly possible.

Nobody in all the world,
in all the worlds there have been,
has ever wished for
or tried to concoct
a method of changing themselves
to fit joyfully into their surroundings.

People always want to change the world.
They never want to change themselves.

These days, they want to go to the beach
and party
without wearing a mask
or social distancing.

The only way to be safe
is to stay away from everybody else.
But they aren't having it.
They aren't going to live in a world
that isn't how they want it to be.
And they don't care how many people
they kill
on their way out the door.


My idea of success
is doing what needs to be done
with the resources available--
including those I bring with me
in terms of my Original Nature
and the gifts/genius/daemon/virtues
that are mine to serve/offer--
in each situation as it arises,
in light of all things that need
to be considered,

I wish I had realized the importance
of this when I was sixteen years old.


Uptick Red and Bronze Coreopsis 06/06/2020 04 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 6, 2020
Caring is "a slippery slope,
a dangerous path,
like the razor's edge."
Don't let that stop you--
or, even slow you down.

Joseph Campbell said
when Native American children
left home to find their way in the world,
their parents would tell them,
"When you step into your life,
in service to your vision,
the birds of the air will shit on you.
Do not pause even to wipe it off!"

Slippery slopes are part of it.
We are treading the Way between Yin and Yang,
Contradictions are everywhere.
Living our life 
is learning to dance with the contradictions
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long
(Get used to the phrase,
I use it all the time).

(One of my deepest disappointments
in the Church of Our Experience
is the way it discounts, dismisses, ignores and denies
the place of contradiction in our life.
It will not allow them--
certainly not with God.
[Look up "Do You Believe In God,"
in my book I Call This Poetry 
on my https://www.jimwdollar.com companion web site 
on WordPress].
Contradiction becomes Paradox with God.
I have never understood why God is allowed to have Paradoxes,
but not Contradictions.
"That is a great paradox," the spokespersons
for the Church of Our Experience say about things 
they cannot explain.
"We just have to take it on faith that what I'm telling you 
is so, in spite of clear evidence to the contrary").

Contradiction is the heart of Life and Being.
And it is at the heart of That Which Has 
Always Been Called God.

One of the operating principles of existence is:
Truth is found between the hands!
On the one hand this,
and on the other hand that.
Truth is the middle way between
mutually exclusive opposites,
and is the way of dealing with 
the dissonance at work throughout our life.

We exist to integrate the opposites,
to resolve the paradoxes,
to explore the dichotomies,
to balance the contradictions,
to acknowledge the incongruities,
to harmonize the dissonance--
and to bear the pain of it all--
in the service of being true to ourselves
within the context and circumstances
of our life in the world of time and place.

Caring is good place to start.
We can care too much,
and we can care too little.
We can care in the right way,
and we can care in the wrong way.
We can care about the right things,
and we can care about the wrong things...

Finding the right balance between the contradictions
is as tricky with caring as it is with the rest 
of the 10,000 things
(I want to be the best father in all the world,
and I don't want to be a father at all--
and the same goes for all of the other roles
I am asked to play, etc.).

What is the formula,
the recipe,
the ratios
for perfection?
It changes moment-to-moment,

We step into each situation as it arises
and feel our way along.
The guiding rule is the same in each one:

Look until you see what you are looking at.
Listen until you hear what is being said.
Understand clearly what's what,
what is happening,
and what needs to be done about it.
Know what the present circumstances
are calling you to do
with the gifts/genius/daemon/virtues
that are yours to serve and to share.
Do what can be done as well as you can do it.
Be ready to repeat this process
in the next moment that is already forming
and about to spring forth.

And don't take any of it more seriously
than is appropriate to the occasion!

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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