November 09, 2020

03

Black Australian Swans 03 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina
What is your enthusiasm quotient?
Are you a proponent of enthusiasm?
An advocate?
An avid proponent?
An enthusiast?

On a low-to-high scale
of 1 to 10,
where do you rank yourself
on your daily degree of enthusiasm?

How many things are you enthusiastic about?
How often are they a part of your life?
If you were to raise your level
of enthusiasm,
what would you do?

Is your life more of a burden
or a pleasure?
What accounts for that?
Contributes to that?

What would need to change
for you to be able to find
more pleasure,
more joy,
in just being alive?

To what degree is your residual
amount of joy/pleasure
circumstances dependent?
To what degree is it a natural
expression of who you are?

Does your thinking flow from 
joy and pleasure?
Create joy and pleasure?
Create their opposites?

What governs your thinking?
Why do you think the way you think?
What makes it easy for you
to think the way you think?

How often do you think about your thinking?
Think about your feeling?
Are aware of your thinking/feeling?
Can you separate thinking from feeling?
Are they two things for you
or one thing?

Upon what does your enthusiasm depend?
What part do reflection and realization
play in your emotional response to your life? 

–0–

02

Fall Leaves 06 11-08-2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
The 22-Acre Woods are,
for all practical purposes,
my private preserve--
for which I pay no taxes
or have any liability.

My wife and I own a quarter-acre lot
nestled into the northwest corner
of our subdivision,
which is also the southwest corner
of the 22-Acre Woods
(And I am the only one
who refers to the small tract of trees
in this way).

There are roughly 800 people
in our development,
and we may see a dozen of them--
generally the same dozen,
mostly teenagers--
walking (or biking) through the woods
in a given week.

I am the only one I have ever seen
with a camera in the woods.

They are owned by a family
of six or so elderly children
who can't find a buyer for the property
because it is landlocked
with one access point in and out,
and it is a drainage area
for rainwater on its way to the sea.
There are more attractive parcels 
close-by for developers to choose,
and I relish each day
without a bulldozer in it.

I can walk out our back door,
or our front door,
and be in the woods
as quickly as I can check the mail.

They are a wonderful mixture
of hardwoods and pine.
The deer have moved out
due to encroaching construction, 
but small animals and snakes
and a pair of red-shouldered hawks
are holding out for as long 
as luck allows.

I am two weeks away 
from stepping into my 77th year,
and osteoarthritis in both knees--
and COVID-19--
keep me from traveling 
to photo-worthy sites
more than two hours away,
and make the 22-Acre Woods
my primary source for scenes.

Access is always the first rule 
of photography.
Without access,
a camera is worthless
regardless of what it costs,
and the 22-Acre Woods
are always accessible--
until the bulldozers arrive
and begin doing their thing.

So, I welcome another fall, 
and the daily opportunity
to go for a walk in the woods.

With a camera in hand.

–0–

01

Fall Leaves 04 11-08-2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
Cruelty and compassion 
are the marks of bad religion and good religion. 
All religion falls out between those two poles. 
Theology has nothing to do with it. 
How we live/treat one another 
is all that matters. 
It doesn’t matter why. 
It matters what.

Consistently--
or even occasionally--
doing the right thing
for the wrong reasons
is infinitely better than,
and always to be preferred over,
doing the wrong thing
for the best of reasons.

Do not stop to get your theology right!
Do not even pause to wonder about it!
Theology is as much an excuse
for not doing what needs to be done
as it is a reason 
for doing what needs to be done.

Getting your theology all ordered,
lined-up,
systematic,
proof-texted,
iron-clad,
and irrefutably so
is just a way of feeling smug
about your oversights
and omissions. 

Live with sincerity,
straight from the heart,
spontaneously responding 
to what is called for
moment-by-moment,
without contrivance
or agenda,
judgment or opinion,
with nothing to gain or lose--
like the prodigal's father
and the good Samaritan,
the Buddha and the Christ
in every age--
and leave the thinking
to those who see everything
but what they look at.

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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