January 14, 2021

04

Cypress Trees Oil Paint Rendered — An undisclosed location in eastern North Carolina
We have to be clear about 
what we would go to hell for--
about what we would serve with our life
because it is life itself for us.

This isn't some grand principle, 
"My family,"
"My country,"
"Human rights,"
etc.

This is what we do every day
because we cannot imagine a day
without doing it.

Don't tell me you have nothing like that
in your life!
That your days are empty hours
strung together with entertaining pastimes
and all the alcohol it takes to get you through
to another one!

The time we have been given
is the most sacred thing we have.
What we do with our time
is a testimony to what means the most to us.

What do you do with your time?

How much does it mean to you?

Why are you wasting your life 
on meaningless activities?

What is your heart asking of you
that you will have nothing to do with?

Your heart is your internal guide,
the best guru you could hope to have!
To cut yourself off from your heart
and to go at life on your own,
without direction,
orientation,
or recommendation,
is to live without hope in the world.

Hope is not what we have,
but what we do--
because we must!
Not because it is going to work,
but because it is what we are here for!

What do you do because that is what you are here for?

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

That's it!

What can you say that about?

If you don't know,
you have to stop everything
and get back in good grace with your heart!

Sit quietly
and apologize.
Rise and give yourself to the thing,
or things,
you have been rejecting as beneath you,
stupid,
unprofessional,
expensive and never going to pay for itself,
etc.

If it is playing the alto sax,
start playing the alto sax.
That won't be the end of it.
The alto sax is just the door.
Open the door.
See where it leads.

Throughout the time left for living.

–0–

03

Roan Woods Oil Pant Rendered — Roan Mountain State Park, Carver’s Gap, North Carolina
Our life together
depends on our 
keeping faith with one another.

Our broken democracy
is an existential exhibit
of our failure to do that.

The promises of democracy
have not been forthcoming.

The divisions separating us
have grown deeper and wider.

Our words do not match our actions.

No one can count on being able
to depend on anyone.

The basic systems of government providing
education,
health care,
clean air and water,
livable wages,
affordable goods and services...
are increasingly unable
to meet needs and expectations.

The presumption of good faith
has been replaced by the presumption
of bad faith,
and where is help to be found?

It gets worse.
We are all we have.
There is no Savior.
No God of the Machine
to whiz in and solve our woes.
Our agony is ours to resolve.

And we do not want to do the work
We just want to be happy.
We are about to meet the hard truth:
The work is ours to do alone!

It is the work of squaring ourselves up
with what's what
and doing what needs to be done about it.

What's what is that we have no relationship
with ourselves,
and nothing to offer in relationship
with others.

The work is spiritual to the core--
to the core of ourselves.
We are spiritually bereft,
and begin the work of growing toward
a spiritually sound foundation
by sitting still,
being quiet,
and meeting That Which Waits to Greet Us within.

This will be the Mystery at the Heart
of Life and Being.

This is The Other Carl Jung was speaking of
when he said, "There is in each of us another,
whom we do not know."

It is time we make acquaintances.

Our spirituality waits for our spirit/soul/self
to enter communion with The Mystery
from which we come,
in which we live and move and have our being,
and to which we return.

Theology, doctrine, creeds and catechisms
are of no help here.
We meet who meets us and form a partnership,
living what remains to be lived
in accord with the Mystery living within us
in service to all sentient beings,
with good faith commitment 
to the best interests of all concerned.

–0–

02

Spring Path Oil Paint Rendered — Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Greensboro, North Carolina
Our life's purpose
is to be better
at being who we are
everyday.

That gets lost somewhere
along the way,
and we throw ourselves into
being better off 
than we were yesterday
everyday along the way.

Personal gain, 
advancement,
acquirement,
acquisition...
rank higher with us
than any other thing.

"Profit At Any Price"
is the slogan
that drives us forward.

We will sell ourselves,
our soul,
for 30 pieces of silver,
or its current equivalent,
any time.

What is a life full of silver
with no idea of who we are
and how we need to incarnate/
exhibit/express ourselves
in the way we live?

What does our life say
about who we are?

How accurate is that?

What is there about you
that isn't evident anywhere?

Today is yours to work with
in bringing that forth!

–0–

01

The Old Mill Oil Paint Rendered — Glade Creek Mill, Babcock State Park, Clifftop, West Virginia
There are people we can't do anything about.
Locking them up,
sealing them off,
is the best we can do.

They exist to kill people,
hate people,
knock things over,
blow things up.

They have no life of their own.
They live to destroy 
what others create.

Theirs are the outlaw bands
that have roamed the world
throughout history.

We will always have to deal with them.
Don't be shocked and appalled.
Just pick up your cross--
the cross of life in the world
on terms we don't get to choose--
and step into the day,
everyday.

And do what we can to make it better
than it was yesterday
everyday.

Think of our task here
as the Sisyphean Task
of rolling the stone up the hill,
following it down the hill,
and rolling it up the hill
through the ages.

Making the world better every day
is rolling the rock
through all the days of our life,
allowing nothing to stop us,
or even slow us down.

It is our work.
It is what we are here for.
To build things up.
To treat people well.
To be kind and generous.
Caring and compassionate.
No matter what. 
Relentlessly.
Forever.

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.

One thought on “January 14, 2021

  1. Amen. Some days & situations are easier to do this in than others! I am carrying my cross back to Utopia on Saturday.  George wants to live alone. So be it. May I learn or teach, give or receive on the way. Winter is such a good time for reflecting & introspection.  May we both love & grow for the rest of our days. Suiting up just like a soldier going to war (or the Capitol). Not wanting to but doing it anyway! Talk Saturday,  Lord willing & if the creek doesn’t rise!! 💕 e$

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Like

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