December 06, 2020


Caroline Dormon Lodge 03/22/2015 — Chicot Lake State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana
The old Taoist saying,
"Turn the light around,"
says all we need to hear.

It can be understood on different levels.
Initially it was a directive
to stop looking for illumination
"out there,"
in books,
or lectures,
or sutras,
and start looking for it
"in here,"
in realizations,

Joseph Campbell said,
"It is through reflection
on our lived experience
that we arrive at new realizations."
And on our dreams,
and our conflicts and contradictions,

Any time we come up against a wall
is a good time for reflection,
and for listening.

Nothing beats sitting quietly
and listening
for getting past the noise
to the truth that is trying 
to break through to us.

All we have to do is sit still
and notice everything 
that arises unbidden within,
until something comes up
with a peculiar energy about it,
different from all the other stuff,
in a way that catches your attention
and jolts you with 
a kind of "Here it is! Don't miss this!"

Well, reflect on that.
Turn it over.
Walk around it.
See what you can make of it.
What is it asking of you?
Take it for a spin.
See where it goes.

On the path to the Holy Grail,
one thing leads to another.
Start with the thing with energy,
and it will lead you to something else
with energy.
Stay with the energy.
With the life.
With the interest and enthusiasm.
With the joy and wonder.

Trust those guides with your life,
and be off
on your next great adventure.



Water Flower 09/02/2008 — Bass Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
A symbol's value
is its aliveness in the life
of those embracing it.

Symbols are alive for us
when they connect us with transcendence,
with the Numen,
the Ineffable,
the Indescribable,
the Inexpressible...
beyond themselves.

We see through symbols
when we look at symbols,
and we never confuse the symbol
with what it symbolizes,
with what it stands as a reference to,
with what it points to,

A symbol--all symbols--is/are alive
to the extent that it/they are metaphors
for more than words can say.
And everything is capable of being a symbol,
a metaphor,
for us when we see through it,
past it,
to what it "stands for" for us.

A symbol is dead
when it means just what it means
and nothing more ever than what it means.

God is a symbol.
God is a metaphor.
God is an idea that represents
a transcendent reality
that cannot be said,
or made plain.

God is dead to the extent
that God is limited
to what can be said of God
in the Bible,
the creeds,
the catechisms,
the books of confession,
and the books of doctrine
that say who and what God is.
And is not.

God is more than we can ask,
or say, or think, or believe.

God is beyond all concepts,
ideas, opinions, descriptions...

The most truthful thing
that can be said of God
is "I do not know God."

As a symbol,
God is "transparent to transcendence,"
as all symbols are,
in that we see through the symbol
to what is beyond the symbol
which cannot be said/told/defined/etc.

you and I,
are to live in ways
that "express the inexpressible,"
and "make known what which
is more than words can say."

you and I,
are to be symbols
which are "transparent to transcendence,"
so that we are "as close to The Mystery
at the Heart of Life and Being,
as some people get,"
so that seeing The Mystery
through us,
they become present to The Mystery themselves,
and live, as a symbol of The Mystery
in the lives of others.

And, thus, The Mystery
comes alive in us all,
and we all come alive in The Mystery,
and know that at the very bottom of it all,
we are One with The Mystery,
"One with the Father,"
One with each other
and all people of all ages,
and all sentient beings 
of all times and places,
world without end, amen.



Magnolia 08 06/24/2009 — Greensboro, North Carolina
Only dead people kill people.

Every person who kills someone, anyone,
should ask themselves:
"In doing this,
am I more like Jesus,
or the people who killed Jesus?"

Christians think Jesus is a Christian,
and would be welcome in all their churches.
All Christian churches think everyone is welcome.
They say so on church signs.
"All are welcome here!"
"Everyone is welcome here!"
Not so.
What they don't say is left unsaid but implied:
"All are welcome here on our terms."
"Everyone is welcome here to be like we are."

The list of people who are not welcome
in Christian Churches is long.

Are gay people welcome
to hold Gay Pride rallies
and organize marches,
and preach from the pulpit on Sunday morning
in Christian Churches?

Are members of Planned Parenthood welcome
to hold Freedom of Choice rallies,
to speak from the pulpit,
and organize marches?

Are Muslims welcome
to preach from the pulpit on Sunday morning,
hold prayer retreats
and rallies,
and organize marches,
and talk about Palestinian rights?

Transgender people...
Black Lives Matter...
The list is long of people
not-welcome on church property.

Yet, all Christian churches
think Jesus would be welcome.

They should devote a worship service
once a month
for silent contemplation
of all the ways Jesus would not be welcome,
and of all the things Jesus 
would not be welcome to say
and do.

And then consider, in light of that,
are they more like Jesus,
or the people who killed Jesus.

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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