November 20, 2020

03

Tree Panoramas 04 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina
Our life is designed
to bring out the best in us,
or not.

Joseph Campbell said,
"It took the Cyclops
to bring out the hero in Ulysses."
But, not in all those
the Cyclops met before Ulysses.

We do not have to stand up
and step forward to meet our life
with our best in hand.
We can run. 
Carl Jung said, however,
"We meet our destiny on the road
we take to avoid it."
Yet, ever there, 
we do not have to meet it
with our best in hand.

We can turn to denial,
despair,
dejection,
addiction...
and die long before
some coroner makes it official.

Our life doesn't always
bring out the best in us.
How we respond to the demands
of the moment
is our call to make,
moment-by-moment-by-moment.

Having what it takes,
and doing what needs to be done,
is as much a matter of perspective
and perception,
courage and willful determination,
as it is skill and ability.

Just making the effort
attracts help from 
the most unexpected places.
Just opening ourselves
to the gifts of our imagination,
creates shifts and openings
in our circumstances
we could never expect.

We craft miracles by
stepping forward,
wondering how we are going to
do this thing that is called for.

Again and again.

Ours is the Sisyphean task
of putting our shoulder to 
our life and rolling it up the hill
each day
and following it down the hill
each night,
to roll it up the hill again 
the next day,
day after day after day.

How did Sisyphus do it? 
I would have to make a game of it.
I would make a friend of the rock
that is my life.
I would love the rock
and my relationship with the rock.

Each day, I would roll it to almost
the top of the hill,
seeking the still point
between up and down.
It would have to be there somewhere.
The place of balance and harmony.
The place of rest.
Aha!

And I would take a break,
and count the seconds each day,
before the tipping point gave way,
and down she goes.
I would live to discover my personal best,
and strive to beat it each day.

And I would walk slowly down hill,
to start over again tomorrow.

I would give it my best each day,
with no end in sight,
and no way out.
It is called making meaning,
what humans do best.
Just me and my rock called Micky
(For Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stone).

–0–

02

Carolina Thread Trail 05 11/09/2020 — Twelve-Mile Creek Swinging Bridge, Lancaster County, SC/Union County, NC
We find the center by seeking
and exploring,
and exhibiting,
our Original Nature
and our Natural Rhythms.

"Is this Me or Not-Me
here and now?"

Is the question that 
carries us into the roles
our lives require us to play,
and the masks we wear day-to-day.

Joseph Campbell talked about
the Primary Mask being who 
our parents, our culture, our society
ask/expect us to wear,
and the Antithetical Mask being who
we are in our inmost self.

For 40.5 years in the ministry,
I was an introvert
pretending to be an extrovert.
I did it by being conscious of it.
By not pretending to myself.
I stepped into the role 
my life was asking me to play,
like I would if I were an actor
playing my part for the Big Screen.

Life is like a Big Screen.
We show up,
deliver our lines as they should be delivered,
act our part as it should be acted,
take our bows,
and return to our life off-screen,
where we can settle into "just being ourselves"
for a while.

The masks are essential.
We have to walk two paths at the same time.
Who we are 
is who-we-ought-to-be
and
who-we-can't-help-being.
Where the two paths clash considerably,
we have to work it out.

I could not have been a minister
in a right-wing evangelical church.
I knew where to draw my lines.
There are some parts we cannot play
and be true to ourselves.
Actors do not accept every part
they are asked to play. 

Fraser Snowden said,
"The only true philosophical question
is 'Where do we draw the line?'"
The answer to that question
is a door opening to the mystical
center of ourselves,
revealing who we are
in ways we might never have guessed
without being pushed to the point
of drawing a line.

All of our lines are mirrors 
reflecting us to us.
In drawing our lines,
we know who we are,
what is important,
and where we stand.

Where have you drawn lines
in the past?
Where are you drawing lines
in the present?
Where are you likely to draw lines
in the future?

There you are.

Other places/doors/mirrors revealing
us to us
are the things/people that/who attract us
and the things/people that/who repel us.
Anything, any person,
that/who evokes a visceral reaction in us
is telling us about us.

Who we vote for and why.

The things we intend to do 
and keep forgetting to do.

The things we intend not to do
and find ourselves doing.

The tunes we hum/sing without meaning to.

The themes which keep playing themselves out,
or coming to the surface again and again,
when our mind is "just wandering."

The dreams--particularly the Big Dreams,
and the recurring dreams--we have at night.

The day dreams--dreads and happy fantasies--
we have during the day.

The ways we spend our money.
The ways we spend our time.

Our viewpoint.
Our preferences.
Our fears.
Our desires.

All are clues to who we are,
to who we are afraid of being,
to who we do not want to be at all,
that need to be examined,
investigated,
explored,
contemplated,
mined
for the gold.

The paths to the center
are paths to meaning and purpose,
hope and fulfillment,
identity and confidence,
balance and harmony,
and wait for our cooperation
to lead us to ourselves.

–0–

01

Looking East 05 09/01/2014 — Water Rock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggie Valley, North Carolina
We start where we are,
with seeing all there is to see
here and now--
right here, right now.

Asking all of the questions 
that beg to be asked.

Saying all of the things 
that cry out to be said.

Without judgment, evaluation 
or even opinion--
and with compassion and acceptance--
in a "This, too! This, too!"
kind of way.

All of it is grist for the mill.
We are milling ourselves.
Who we are
and who we have within us to be.

We are seeking ourselves,
and looking for the life 
that is ours to live.

We find both
waiting for us
at the center.
It all comes together
at the center.

All paths lead to the center,
flow from the center,
circle around the center.

The paths are not straight.
There is nothing linear 
or sequential about us.
"The shortest way through
is the long way around"
(Conventional wisdom saying).

Carl Jung talked about "individuation"
(What we are about,
becoming who we are,
doing what is ours to do)
as "The circumambulation of the self."
It is a long,
downward spiral to the center 
of life and being.

At the center
is also The Source,
which is also The Mystery,
of Life and Being.

We are one with The Source
and The Mystery
of Life and Being.

And, here is the secret
of the center,
at the center,
we are connected
with everyone else
at their center.

The many are one at the center.
and say, "AUM...",
which is a lot like saying, "WOW...",
together,
through the ages.

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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