September 10, 2020


Roaring Fork Falls 09/03/2012 — Pisgah National Forest, Burnsville, North Carolina
Chief Seattle and Black Elk did not have a PhD between them.
Or a Masters Degree.
Or a Bachelors Degree.
Or a high school diploma.

And they were brilliant men of soul,
fit for the company of Gandalf the Grey,
Albus Dumbledore,
Obi wan Kenobi
and Yoda.

Dolly Parton would belong to that group.
And Linda Ronstadt.
And Maggie Smith.
And Mary Oliver.
(The list is long of women who know what's what)

All the people who know,
know the same things.
They know what counts,
makes a difference.

Chief Seattle said,
talking about putting himself
in accord with the reality of life and death,
"Why should I lament the disappearance
of my people? 
All things end,
and the white man will find this out also."

Joseph Campbell (also a member 
of Those Who Know) said 
that we can be at peace with all things
as they are--adding
"This doesn't mean
that one shouldn't participate
in efforts to correct the situation,
but underlying the effort to change
one must be 'at peace.'"

At peace with the "is-ness" of things,
in a "This is the way things are,
and this is what can be done about it,
and that's that,"
kind of way.

Those who know 
know this is so,
and joyfully embrace the terms
governing the game,
giving themselves
to full participation in the game,
and, when it is done,
letting that be that.



On Roan Mountain 05/15/14 05 — Carver’s Gap, North Carolina/Tennessee
"It's only my (your) imagination,"
is as dismissive and as disrespectful
as we are capable of being.
Everything we have done as a species
came right out of the silence
into our imagination.

Our imagination is the greatest sense organ
at our disposal.
It connects us with dimensions 
beyond those we associate with space and time,
and with our unconscious,
and our "other" self at the center of that world
(Carl Jung said, "There is in each of us another,
whom we do not know"--
whom we know through our imagination!).

James Hollis said, "Death does not end a relationship
anymore than divorce ends a marriage."
And that relationship is maintained and deepened
through our imagination.

Our imagination creates possibilities
for our life in this world
of normal, 
by enabling us to see things into being.

Writers and artists,
plumbers and carpenters,
musicians and quarterbacks,
scientists and teachers,
and all of the rest of us
regularly experience flashes of realization,
and creativity
that pop into our awareness
right out of our imagination.

When we meditate,
our imagination stirs to life,
and stirs us to life
with inspirations,
and things that occur to us
"right out of the blue,"
and it doesn't always wait
for us to meditate,
but stops us in mid-stride
with a seizure of "esthetic arrest,"
(James Joyce)
that transforms our life
and propels us into directions 
and destinations we would have never planned
or considered on our own.

And Joseph Campbell was fond of saying
that none of us planned to be where we are.

Honor your imagination with the esteem
that is its due.
Devote time to deepening your relationship
with that aspect of yourself.
Serve it with filial devotion
and liege loyalty.
It is the most magical tool at our disposal,
and 'twould be a shame
to deny it the opportunity
to show us what it can do.



Cedar Rock Falls 10/13/2011 — Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, North Carolina
The straight and narrow 
is the dangerous path
along the slippery slope
like the razor's edge
between the dualities
that have to be integrated,
in a way that takes everything into account
and responds to what is called for
in each situation as it arises
with exactly what is needed at that moment
in that place
without thinking about it
or knowing what we are doing,
by moving in conjunction with time and place,
as a dancer dancing with an invisible partner
to music that cannot be heard,
carried away by synchronicity,
and transforming the world.

That is what we are living to be able to do.
Living like that,
is what life is all about.
How do we get there?
Isn't that the question, though!

We live our way to the answer.
We do not think our way there.
Thinking about our thinking will do it.
Watching our seeing.
Being intently/intentionally aware of 
who we are
where we are
how we are
what is happening
what is happening in response
to what is happening
and what is happening to that--
within us
and outside of us--
receiving it with compassion,
without opinion,
without judgment,
"Just this, just that,"
and simultaneously,
holding it all in our awareness
and allowing it to sink into
our body
and our mind
so that we know what's what,
and wait to see what we do about it
without consciously willing any response at all
beyond waiting and watching and wondering...
until BOOM! (As John Madden would say)
we find ourselves doing something
we never imagined ourselves doing.

Where did that come from?
That's were we have to live from!
Call it The Center.
Call it The Still Point.
Call it The Source.
And let ourselves trust it
to be what is needed--
beyond knowing what is needed--
and live from there,
threading the needle
along the straight and narrow



Moonrise 10/17/2013 08 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina
We cannot help the way we see things.
Growing up means seeing things differently.
We grow up against our will--
against ourselves--
throughout our life.

Seeing things differently is like dying.
Growing up is dying.
This is the cross that is central to Christianity.
We die again and again
in the work to see things as they are.

I was standing in a cotton field
talking to a Mississippi Delta planter
about race relations and gay rights,
who was saying,
"Hell, Jim--
this ain't how I see things!
This is how things are!"  

Theology allows us to talk about the cross
without experiencing it--
to talk about growing up
without ever once dying to do it.

Take your cherished ways of seeing things,
your precious rites and rituals
that are central to who you are,
and throw them in the burning barrel. 

That's what Jesus meant when he said,
"If you are coming with me,
pick up your cross every day--
die every day--
to the way you see things,
that the way things are
might have a chance of breaking through!"

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.

2 thoughts on “September 10, 2020

  1. Why is it so hard to pick up that cross every day. Why do we cling to the old ways, that we know do not bring us contentment, happiness or peace?


    1. Hi Wanda, It’s always like today is the first day, and having to do what we don’t want to do is a brand new concept. And no matter how often we do it, we never get used to it, or even get the idea, and it is always the first time to have to do it. Again. Show me somebody who is used to it, is an old hand at it, and I’ll tell you they have never done it, only talked about having done it. NOBODY gets used to it. Likes it. Doesn’t mind it. That’s why it really is dying each time.


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