December 25, 2020

04

Peach Orchard Panorama 01/17/2015 — Springs Farm, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Martha Graham premiered Lamentation 
on January 8, 1930. 
You can participate in her dance here:


Hers was/is the only appropriate response 
to her times
and ours.

Metaphors express what words cannot say.
The most important things cannot be said.
The deepest things cannot be said.
The truest things cannot be said.

Yet we have lost the medium of metaphor.
We don't know symbols.
If it isn't a fact,
it isn't real.

What are the meaningful symbols
in your life?
In the life of the nation?

We live in the absence of symbols
like a fish lives out of water.
Without metaphors to speak to us,
and for us,
we are dead people walking,
not seeing,
not hearing,
not feeling,
not knowing...

Plodding through our life
going nowhere.

Oceans of tears exist
just on the other side of silence,
but we will not be that quiet.
Noise is our salvation.
Noise and addiction du jour.

We have to talk, talk, talk,
defend,
explain,
justify,
excuse...

Anything but be still and quiet,
listening,
looking,
because we might see and hear,
and never stop crying.

Let Martha Graham say
what we are experiencing,
without saying a thing.

–0–

03

Maine Moon 09/27/2012 — Stonington, Deer Isle, Maine
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the Father 
of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
His YouTube videos are not to be missed
(The shortest ones first)
in the work of establishing
ourselves in the practice of mindfulness.

But.

There is one thing he fails to stress
to my satisfaction:

Silence is the source of Good
and Noise is the source of Evil.

Blaise Pascal said,
“All of humanity's problems stem 
from (our) inability to sit quietly 
in a room alone.”

Being quiet
and paying attention
to the silence,
noticing what arises--
without engaging any of it,
but simply being aware of it,
and watching as one thing
is replaced by another,
with no apparent connection
and no inherent meaning,
and how your emotions
are aroused,
and how your body reacts physically,
to the thoughts that fly about
erratically,
haphazardly,
inexplicably...

And yet, the one thing they have in common
is you.

Watch for patterns to develop.
For themes to emerge.
For a story to take shape.

We do not think "just anything."
Our "monkey mind" is not swinging
wildly from tree to tree.
The chaos is ordered precisely,
and presents a clear picture
of how things stand with us
at this particular moment in our life.

Our mind is shouting,
"Listen! Look! 
This is how it is with you!
Pay attention to the apparent madness!
This is the mud
you must allow to settle,
so that the water can clear
and you can see what is interfering
with your ability 
to live your life as it needs to be lived,
moment-to-moment,
day-to-day!"

Being aware of the noise
in the silence
allows us to distance ourselves
from the turmoil
and just see, just know, just be
in the moment with it all
in our awareness.

Returning our attention to our breathing,
allows us to hold it all in awareness,
just watching,
just seeing,
just knowing,
just breathing...

And things shift.

Without our doing anything
beyond watching, seeing, knowing, breathing...

Wu-wei, as the Zen Taoists might say.

Make a regular routine
of sitting with the Silence,
and be amazed at how that simple act
transforms the way you live your life
over time.

–0–

02

Beaufort Fall 13 11/13/2017 Oil Paint Rendering — Beaufort, South Carolina
We are the final authority
in all matters of faith and practice.
We are the one who says so.
We are responsible 
for all of our decisions and choices,
and the burden of our outcomes
remains ours alone to bear
throughout all eternity.

Our life is our responsibility.

Life is constantly throwing things at us--
and that is where we come in.
We respond to each thing as it comes,
and the way we do that 
is the teller that tells the tale.

No matter what happens to us,
we say what it means,
and we say what we do about it.

If we yield our position
and allow someone else to tell us what to do,
we choose to yield and to submit to the other.

Our choices and our actions are inescapable.
We carry the weight of having lived
up to this point,
and will carry it forward
from this point on.

We are the authority
by which our life is lived.

That being the case,
you might think we would 
be more diligent about
our approach to the moment at hand--
more aware,
more intentional,
more alert,
more awake,
completely present 
and accounted for--
and ready to deal with 
what is ours to manage
as only we can.

Instead,
we allow ourselves to be swept along 
by our circumstances,
with no idea 
of what is guiding 
our boat on its path
through the sea.

It is time 
we take up the work
of getting to the bottom of it--
and assert our authority
over what we do about
what is happening
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

Our life is what we do
in response to our circumstances.
What we do is our call to make.
Moment-by-moment-by-moment.
If we aren't making the call,
we are making it by default
in a "Not to decide is to decide"
kind of way.

We are Luke Skywalker
with the training helmet on,
having to learn what it means
to trust the Force,
which is also the Source,
which is also the Mystery 
at the Heart of Life and Being.

Moment-by-moment-by-moment.

How well we do it is dependent
on how intentional and aware
we are about what we are doing.

It is all up to us.
For better, for worse.
All our life long.

–0–

01

Watkins Glen 07 09/20/2015 Oil Paint Rendering — Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen, New York
The Christ I am
wishes a Merry Christmas
to the Christ you are.

If the Christ is anything,
the Christ is iconoclastic to the core.
No theology!
No doctrine!
No ideology!
No creeds!
Just being right about what is important,
and seeing what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises--
doing it without considering
our advantage,
or what we stand to gain or lose,
with no interest in the outcome,
just giving the best we have to offer
to the true good of the moment,
moment-by-moment-by-moment.

Of course, 
the outcome of this moment,
will set up the next moment,
where we will again offer what is needed,
so that our work is never done,
which always gives us something to do,
so what's the problem?

Well, one problem is being right
about what is important.
We get better at that over time,
bringing our experience into play 
with our imagination,
and our intuition,
and our instincts,
and our sense of what's what,
but throughout time,
consequences remain our only teacher,
and we are always learning what is important,
and getting better at reading situations,
and having less at stake
in what is happening,
and becoming more aware of ourselves
responding to what is going on,
and what's pushing our buttons,
and yanking our chains,
and engaging our complexes,
as we work things out slowly
over time,
reflecting continually
in the service of new realizations
and an increasingly better alignment
with the Tao,
and a deepening accordance/resonance
with the Mystery at the heart of Life and Being
throughout our life.

The Christ is always becoming The Christ--
and we are always 
incarnating/embodying/expressing/exhibiting
the Christ in all that we do.

And my Christ wishes your Christ
the merriest of Christmases 
with good faith
and courage for the journey
through all that is before us
all along the Way!

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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