December 29, 2020

06

Davidson River Panorama 10/13/2011 Oil Paint Rendering — Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, North Carolina
Balance and harmony are not steady states of being.
Riding a bicycle is controlling the wobbles.
Living a life is like that,
only trickier.

The natural order is chaotic. 
That is where we come in.
We keep Yin and Yang within their traces,
with neither getting the upper hand.

Anything that is too much this
and not enough that
is a mess.
It takes a massive amount of diversity
to strike all the balances
that are necessary for life
on the planet.
Any planet.

We are here to draw lines,
restrict excess,
insist on adherence
to the normal distribution curve,
and demand that extremes be avoided.

Respect for the center
keeps all systems humming.
AUM is the music of the spheres.
Gabriel's horn is a bass saxophone.

Balance and harmony, Kid.
Balance and harmony.
Return to the center,
and live from there.

–0–

05

Angel Oak Oil Paint Rendering, Angel Oak Park, St. John’s Island, South Carolina
Does the name Martin Palmer 
mean anything to you?

He has wide-ranging interests. 
English. 
About 5 years younger than I am. 

Google him 
and listen to a 1919 lecture 
to the World Wellness Organization 
(Or words to that effect) 
and a 2020 “master class” with the same group. 

He is Anglican and Taoist, 
probably more Taoist than Anglican, 
and talks about our place 
being that of integrating Yin and Yang 
in all of their myriad manifestations 
throughout our life--
ongoing, never-ending, 
eternal and everlasting, 
world without end. 

Just one damn situation after another, 
all the way down. 

My kind of guy.

–0–

04

Swift River Oil Paint Rendering — Kancamagus Highway, White Mountains, New Hampshire
Your freedom ends
where your responsibilities begin.

No one is free to be irresponsible.

Who is to say what "responsible" is and is not?
YOU are!
In each situation as it arises!

And, here is the kicker:
YOU have to be RIGHT about it!

Who is to say whether you are right about it or not?
Time will tell.
The circumstances will validate or invalidate
your response to the circumstances.
We all will know soon enough
whether you were/are right or wrong
about what you declare to be a responsible
response to the situation.

We all bear the burden of knowing
what we are doing
all our life long.

And live to know better what to do
in the next moment
than we knew in the last one.

And if we are not doing that,
we are the bane and the burden
of the world. 

–0–

03

Ramsey Creek Bridge 04/17/2008 Oil Paint Rendering — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Greenbriar District
We stand between how things are
and how things ought to be,
and bear the pain of the dichotomy,
of the contradiction,
and do what we can
in the service of the ought-to-be,
within the constraints
of the possibilities before us.

We do not get to choose our choices.

We get to choose from among the choices
available to us
in each situation as it arises.

How long have we been struggling
beneath the burden of racism?
Sexism?
Misogyny?
Homophobia?
Islamophobia?
Xenophobia?
Etc.?

Ours is the Sisyphean Task
of doing what must be done
within the limitations imposed upon us
by the time and place of our living.

"As good as it can be"
is often far from
"Good enough,"
and nowhere near
"The Good!"

But our work is always
in the service of The Good!

The Good is the rock we roll up the hill,
and follow to the bottom,
and roll it up the hill,
and follow to the bottom...
throughout our life.

And quitting is not an option!

Think of it as job security,
and get back to work!

–0–

02

Baxter Creek Bridge Panorama Oil Paint Rendered 11/11/2008 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek Campground, Waterville, North Carolina
Living in ways that befriend life
balances the opposites,
integrates the polarities,
harmonizes Yin and Yang,
negotiates and compromises--
and resorts to forcing, pushing, shoving 
only when all other approaches have failed
and crashing through windows
and smashing down doors
are our last remaining choice
for escaping a burning building.

Thinking of battling,
fighting,
going to war,
as our first,
best,
most efficient,
most effective
way of getting what we want
and having our way
is already to have lost
anything worth having.

"Prayer Warriors"
miss the point of prayer--
and do not grasp the significance
of "What shall I say?
'Father, save me from this hour!'
No! For this purpose 
I have come to this hour!
'Father, Glorify your name!'"

How we face "the hour,"
how we understand "the hour,"
who we show ourselves to be in "the hour,"
is why we come to "the hour,"
in every hour,
moment-by-moment,
day-by-day
our entire life long.

"The hour" is the time and place
of our revelation,
of our realization,
of our incarnation,
of who we are and what is ours to do--
requiring that we stand consciously,
mindfully,
between the contradictory forces
at work in "the hour"
and make peace,
bearing in our body
"the marks of the cross."

Hour after hour.

In so doing,
we become Jesus in Gethsemane,
the Buddha under the Bo Tree,
and every parent worthy of the title,
and every human being
carrying the weight of being human.

It is who we are.
It is what we do.

"What I do is me,
for that I came" 
(Gerard Manley Hopkins).

–0–

01

The Maple Tree Oil Paint Rendered — Bass Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
What do we talk about
when we have nothing to say?

What do we talk about
to keep from saying
what we have to say?

What do we talk about all the time?

What do we never talk about?

How do we know/decide 
what to say?

How much does our talking conceal?
How much does our talking reveal?

Who is listening when we speak?

What do we have to say
that no one will/can hear?

What do we have to say
that we refuse to hear?

What are we not saying
that is dying to be heard?

What are we saying by the way
we live our life?

What are we afraid of?
Ashamed of?

What are we hiding?
What are we hiding from?
Why are we hiding?
Who are we kidding?
Why are we kidding anyone?

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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