September 29, 2020


Teton Barn — Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming
Consistency, reliability, dependability...
Can we maintain our connection with the center?
Can we remain on the path?
Can we retain our focus
amid the Clashing Rocks
on the Heaving Waves of the Wine Dark Sea?

It is one thing to grasp the truth 
of what is needed
in the silence of circumstances
that are routine and predictable,

Enter the unfathomable.
Put the Gauls or the Visigoths at the gates!
Remove the norms and standards.
Introduce uncertainty.
Destroy the systems and institutions
that hold life together.
Or, just take to bed with a migraine for two days.
See how you do.

An old Zen adage applies:
"The ability of the archer to hit the bullseye,
varies in inverse proportion
to the size of the prize for doing so."

"AUM" is the first thing to go
when the cat has diarrhea 
and the electricity goes off
at 2 AM.

Where is the center then?
What happens to our focus then?
Who has time for the balm of realization then?

Then the time has come for action!
What directs our movement in the field of action?
What leads us there, then?
What becomes of us there, then?
Can we disappear there, then?
And become one with the action?

The dancer becomes the dance!
The singer becomes the song!
The musician becomes the music!
The Force is always with us, but.
Can we be one with the force?
Can we become the Force?
Can we become the Tao?
Dancing with Yin and Yang in the Here and Now?
Gracing the situation with exactly what is needed?
Without stopping to think,
"What would Jesus do?"?
Can we become Grace in Action?

That's how illumined we are!
How enlightened we are!
How awakened we are!
Can we disappear 
and be what is needed
in the time and place of our living
regardless of the circumstances?

That is the test of our connection
with the center and ground,
The Source and the flow
of our existence.



Swift River 09/26/2007 Watercolor Rendering — Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
We are never more than a slight shift in perspective
away from having it made.
We are never more than that far away from Nirvana,
from illumination,
from awakening,
from enlightenment,
from Christ-consciousness
and Buddha-mind.

It all comes down to being right
about the way we see things.
To being right about what is important.
Seeing things with right seeing
makes all the difference.

How we see is a function 
of how we look.
Of asking the questions that beg to be asked.
Of hearing the things that cry out to be heard.
Of saying the things that are dying to be said.
Of knowing what we know,
and what can be known,
and what cannot be known.

Instead of imposing our view of reality upon reality--
instead of imposing our ideas about how things are
upon how things are--
we wait in the silence to see,
to hear,
to know,
to understand.

When we reflect on what is before us--
upon what is happening
and what that means for us
and for the situation as it arises--
to the point of new realizations,
we are at the fulcrum,
being levered by forces quite beyond us
to seeing with new eyes,
which makes all things new.

And that is IT!



Sunset at Water Rock Knob 08/05/2007 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggie Valley, North Carolina
There is nothing like coming to terms
with how things are--
and also are
(Which is how things actually are)--
for enabling us to let things be
without emotional reactivity
that interferes with how things actually are,
and creates complexity,
and chaos
on all levels simultaneously,
wreaking havoc,
and misery everlasting.

Here's the deal:
We live on the boundary,
the border line,
the interface,
the pivot point,
the fulcrum
between how things are
and how things ought to be
in each moment
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

And how we respond to what is happening
in that moment
makes all the difference.

The key to being able
to do right by the moment
that is at hand
in every moment that comes along
is caring enough about the right things
in the right way
to do what needs to be done
without interfering with what is happening
or getting in the way of what needs to happen.

The right kind of caring
is the difference between being helpful
and being intrusive,
between being engaged for the good of the whole
without being co-dependent
and overly invested in the outcome.

We have to live in each moment
as those who care enough about what is happening
to offer the best we have to give
in the service of the good of the whole
without being meddlesome,
and personally in need of
things happening in a particular way,
to the extent that we try to will what cannot be willed
and force things to happen that cannot be forced.

We have to take things seriously enough
to do what is needed/necessary,
in the right spirit,
with the right frame of mind,
without taking things seriously at all.

This is called "maintaining working distance"
between ourselves and the situation.
Close enough to care
without having anything at stake.

Caring enough to give what we have to offer
with nothing to gain 
and nothing to lose.

To live out of that place
is to be always "at the still point
of the turning world"
(T.S. Eliot).

The trick with that
is understanding there is no static way of being
in the daily interplay of life.

The "still point" is not stationary!
The still point that enables us to ride a bicycle
is within a range of controlled wobbles!
The same thing applies to the still point
of living in balance and harmony with our life--
and all of life!

Caring enough without caring too much!
Offering what is ours to give
to each moment of our living
without contriving to arrange
a particular result/end/outcome!
Letting things come and go
according to the rhythm 
of their own timing,
and honoring, thereby,
the tides of life and living and being alive!

This is the art of being human.



First of Fall 09/28/2020 02 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo
So much goes on behind the scenes,
it's a travesty
and a betrayal of trust,
and we all should be ashamed,
and aware--
transparent to ourselves,
if not to everyone else,
and they to us.

At least, we could be sincere
about our lack of sincerity.

But who can risk absolute sincerity?
Who can be that vulnerable,
that known?

We hide things from ourselves!
How sincere is that?
We cannot bear the truth
of our own truth!
And other people know things about us
we do not know ourselves!

It is staggering--
the duplicity,
the deception--
and essential!

Because we need a double life
to have a life at all!

This is the other side of Yin/Yang--
the two sides have a second side apiece!
Hidden from themselves!

Our Shadow has a shadow!
This is getting fancy!
And we have no choice
but to bear our own complexity!

Our complexity is a compromise
enabling us to bear the strain
of the tension of competing needs--
financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, practical, creative...
how many aspects of us are there
that have to be taken into account
in order to balance the harmony of the whole?

However we look at it,
there is more to us than meets the eye!
Any eye!
And what you see--
what any of us see--
is the result of sanity management
undertaken to bear the pain
of getting through the day.

We have to kid ourselves
in order to play the game
of not kidding ourselves,
because otherwise it would be intolerable,
and too much of a stretch to keep it going.

It is what we don't know
that upholds what we do know,
and makes it possible
to go on!

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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