October 20, 2020


22-Acre Woods o9 10/20/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo
We all are the same,
and we all are different.

Why can't we take that on faith,
and live as though it is so?

We take the craziest things on faith.
"There is no such thing as global warming!"
Why take that on faith?

"COVID-19 is a hoax!"
Why take that on faith?

"If you don't believe in Jesus
and toe the line,
you're going to hell!"
Why take that on faith?

Why don't we take things on faith
that believing them to be so
makes an actual, tangible, difference for good
in our life?
In our own, personal, life?

Why take things on faith
that are going to make life difficult
for other people?
Why believe some people are inherently 
better than other people?
More deserving?
Less deserving?

Why not believe that we are all different,
and we are all the same?
And grant everybody the benefit of the doubt
for being different,
and treat everybody like we would want 
to be treated
for being the same?



Sourwood 06 10/09/2020 — 22-AcreWoods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo
Our perspective is all we have to work with.

The journey we keep talking about--
the Hero's Journey,
the Spiritual Journey--
comes down to growing up,
and growing up consists of
changing our mind about what's important
again and again and again
over the full course of our life.

Changing how we see things
makes all the difference
in enabling us to deal with things
and do what needs to be done about things.

My most powerful personal experience
in how changing the way we see things
changes things
came in Ferriday, Louisiana in 1973.

Ferriday is in Concordia Parish,
and Concordia Parish is surrounded by water,
bounded by the Tensas River, 
the Red River,
the Black River
and the Mississippi River.

1973 was the year of the 100-year flood.
The Mississippi River was threatening
to top the restraining levy,
and causing the other rivers to back up
and threaten the levies holding them in place.

The Morganza Spillway is on the Mississippi River
at the southeastern edge of the Parish,
put in place to prevent the Missisippi
from diverting course into the Achafalaya River Basin.

The citizens in Concordia Parish were as one
in beseeching the US Army Corps of Engineers
to open the Morganza Spillway
allowing water from the Mississippi to flow
into the Achafalaya and reduce the pressure
on the protective levies surrounding the Parish.

The Corps of Engineers sent a spokesperson
to address the issue at a public gathering.
He said, "You are thinking of the river as a bathtub,
and if you open the drain you will empty the tub."
Heads nodded as one throughout the crowd.
"You have to see the river as a garden hose,
and no matter how many holes you poke in the hose
below a certain point,
the hose above that point is going to remain 
full of water."

A gasp went up from the crowd.
The anger left the room.
And people began in that moment
to come to terms with the truth of their situation.

Coming to terms with the truth of our situation
is all that is ever required of us
in each situation as it arises.

Changing how we see things
to enable ourselves to see things as they are
is the sine qua non of being able
to respond to our circumstances
in ways that are called for
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

We change the way we see
by changing the metaphors we use
to describe the circumstances we face.
Changing our base metaphor
changes everything.



Maple Leaves 09/27/2015 — Cooperstown, New York
Lao Tzu may as well have been a contemporary
of Genghis Khan,
may as well have been his neighbor,
or his brother.

Mao tse Tung was well-versed in the Tao te Ching,
and knew about the Buddha and Zen.

What does the Tao have to say
Genghis Khan and Mao tse Tung can hear?

This is Yin/Yang come to life in our lives.

The ascendance of the masculine
over the feminine
begin with the advance of the hunter/warrior
who demanded immediate results now
and came to the fore
by stomping out the compassion 
and the patience of the planter/harvester
in order to force their way upon the world.

The warrior's way of doing things
was given philosophical/theological assist
by Zarathustra in Persia 
and his separation of reality 
into Darkness and Light,
Right and Wrong,
Good and Evil--
and giving impetus and permission
to the warrior impulse to destroy
what they did not like
and call their actions good.

The Tao is a different way of doing things.
Jesus expressed his Taoist heart
with his "seed in the earth,"
"yeast in the dough,"
"light on a hill,"
and his model of dying
instead of killing,
and his call to "Do it like I'm doing it!"
"No one comes to the Father but by me!"
"By doing it like I am doing it!"

But the world has a better/quicker/faster way:
"Kill the Infidel!"
(With "the Infidel" being everyone 
who doesn't do it the way the world wants it done.

When Lao Tzu, 
and the Buddha
and Jesus
come up against Genghis Khan and Mao tse Tung
and the United States Calvary riding over the hill,
it is going to be over like that (Snaps fingers).

And here we are.
"Right forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne."
What's a body to do?
What chance does the Tao have?

This is the eternal duality/dichotomy/contradiction.

The Buddha would say,
"When you meet an elephant coming toward you
along the path,
get off the path!"

Zen would say,
"The law of the fishes states:
The big fish eat the little fish
and the little fish have to hide."

Jesus would say,
"You have heard it said,
'An eye for an eye!
A tooth for a tooth!
But I say unto you:
Do not resist evil,
and if someone were to strike
you on your right cheek,
turn to him the other also.
And if anyone would sue you
for your coat,
give him your cloak as well.
And whoever forces you to 
go a mile, 
go with him two miles."

The Dalai Lama left Tibet
when the Chinese army invaded.
And the Dalai Lama's bodyguards
carry automatic weapons.

What we do about Genghis Khan 
and Mao tse Tung
in their present manifestations
is up to us
with the tools of imagination,
and surrender
at our disposal--
doing what is called for
by the situation at hand
in each situation as it arises.

We live in a Yin/Yang world,
and must bear the pain
living on the interface,
on the borderline,
between irreconcilable polarities,
carrying in our body
the agony of this eternal cross,
dying again and again
to rise from the dead again and again,
to die again,
to rise from the dead again,
to die again, 
to rise again...

For as long as time shall last.

Ours is the Sisyphean task
of doing what needs to be doing
in each situation as it arises,
to do it again in the next situation
all our life long.

And what redeems this pattern
of being stuck between Yin and Yang
all our life long
is the attitude we take in regard to the task,
the spirit with which we go about our business
of living out our life
in a Yin/Yang world.

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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