September 18, 2020

03

Yellow Maple 11/28/2007 Watercolor Rendering
Our work is to respond appropriately
to what is called for
in each situation as it arises.

Each situation calls for something.
How we respond to that call 
makes all the difference.

When we are more concerned with
what we are asking for from the situation
than with what the situation is asking for from us,
there is a problem.

Our place is to live in accord with the rhythm of life
in the moment of our living,
in harmony with the ebbs and flows
of the tides of life.

What is it time for here and now?
What is proper for this occasion?
What is happening?
What needs to happen in response?

What we want is irrelevant to what is needed.
We may not want to take 
the terrible tasting medicine,
but if it is time to take our medicine,
that takes precedent over every other concern.

We may not want to go to work,
but if it is time to go to work,
that takes precedent over all of our wants and wishes.

Every situation has its needs.
Some of those situations allow for our wants
to be honored,
but not every situation.

Our place is to acquiesce to the needs of the situation
when that is required,
and to serve our own interests
when that is permitted
without damaging the situation.

We have to read the situation correctly
and respond as needed.
Our failure to do that
has things where they are
in all situations great and small
around the world.

As a species,
we are not reading situations correctly
or responding as needed
to what is happening
in each situation as it arises.

And here we are.

We could start turning things around
in the next situation that comes along.
How 'Bout we do? 

–0–

02

Dorys 09/25/2006 — Rockport Harbor, Rockport, Maine
Wait. A. Minute!
I see what your problem is!
You want things to be different than they are!
If things were just what they ought to be,
you would be fine!

That's a problem.

We all live in the space 
between how things are
and how we wish they were.

We all have the same problem.
How well we deal with it
is a matter of our individual idiosyncrasies.
And a reflection of our degree
of personal awareness
of our situation,
and of the possibilities that exist for us,
and of our opinion of our choices.

How long are we willing to wait
for things to change?
What are we going to do in the meantime?

Is there anything we can do to make things better?
How soon can we expect our actions to have an impact?

"This is the way things are,
and this is what we can do about it,
and that's that!"

Coming to terms with our situation in life
and the options available to us
is the sine qua non of growing up.
Growing up is the Final Solution
to all of our problems ever.
When there is nothing we can do about it--
any of it--
any of the things that are Really Important--
we can always Grow Up Some More Again.
The Swiss Army Knife fix
for all that we don't like about our life
and life in general.

–0–

01

Cullasaja River 10/19/2000 — Nantahala National Forest, Highlands, North Carolina
Alan Watts said, "When you want things 
to be different than they are,
you are wishing for your situation to be different than it is,
and thinking that it should be otherwise.
When that is the case,
shut out any thought
that your situation should be otherwise,
and stop ruining the experience 
you could be having
with your life just as it is.
Tell yourself:
'This is it! This is life! 
Look at it! Don't miss a thing!'"
(Or words to that effect)

Joseph Campbell would add:
"The psychological transformation (here)
would be that whatever was formerly endured
is now known,
loved,
and served."

Campbell goes on to point out:
"The aim of all religious exercises
is a psychological transformation."

The "psychological transformation"
Campbell and Watts are talking about
is the slight shift in perspective
that is required 
to see the optical illusion "click"
from the haggard old woman
to the beautiful young girl,
from the silhouette of a wine glass
to the silhouettes of two people facing each other.

Our life is an optical illusion.
What we see is a function of how we look--
of what we look for--
of what we expect to see,
of our opinion about what we do see.

Being fully With our life
in each situation as it arises,
moment-to-moment
is to know it is just so
and is asking for "just this" from us.

Why withhold what is being called for?
Why resist the moment
that is unfolding before us?
Why not take "NO!" for an answer to us 
from the moment,
instead of declaring "NO!" to the moment?

This doesn't mean lie down,
become a door mat,
allowing "the moment"
to walk all over us
and wipe its feet on us.
We can participate in the sorrows of the world,
in the agony of the moment
as we work to transform the world
and redeem the moment,
even as we do what is being called for
in any particular situation/moment.

This is dancing with the contradictions,
embracing the polarities,
integrating the opposites,
and bearing the pain of the world "thus come"
with the joy of doing "what is set before us"
in doing what must be done about things as they are.

Our work is the redemption and transformation of the world.
This doesn't mean demolishing and destroying 
the world "thus come."
It means saying to the world "thus come,"
"Sit with me and tell me your story,
and I will tell you mine..."

The work of redemption/transformation
is the work of participating in the sorrows 
of the world "thus come"
as we joyfully do what is called for
in loving that world into all it may yet be.

Our ability to do that
rides on our being capable
of not demanding that the world be otherwise right now!
That it not be different than it is instantly.

How soon things can change
and how quickly we want them to change
have to be seen for what they are.
We have to do what needs to be done
to enable things to be different than they are
without insisting that the world
be what we want it to be immediately.

The pain of transition must be borne consciously,
intentionally,
deliberately,
with awareness
and compassion.

How long has the world been as it is?
That is a lot of momentum!
A lot of inertia!
Do not despair that ours is the Sisyphusian task
of rolling the ball through time!
Put your shoulder to the wheel
and keep it turning!

Our work is to do the work 
that needs to be done!
In each situation as it arises!
Waking up those who can be awakened,
without thinking that our prospects should be otherwise
from moment-to-moment-to-moment.

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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