January 24, 2021


The Beaver Hut Oil Paint Rendered — Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming
If you cannot be vulnerable,
you will be symptomatic all your life,
and crazy as well.

We are surrounded by vulnerabilities!
There is no way we can be protected
from them all!

Everything worthwhile about us 
and about our life
is strictly dependent upon 
our vulnerability threshold.

The more vulnerable we can be,
the more mature we are capable of becoming,
the more relaxed and natural
we are able to be in relation 
to the world,
and the more capable we are gong to be
in responding appropriately
to each situation as it arises
throughout our days upon the earth.

If you are going to take anything on faith,
let it be your capacity to be vulnerable
and be just fine 
with whatever life throws at you.

Practice raising your vulnerability quotient
by deliberately putting yourself
in situations you don't control,
letting yourself be free to make it up as you go.
Like dancing to tunes you have never heard,
or finding your way around in a strange city,
or driving down unfamiliar roads
to see where they go.



Upper Waterfowl Lake Oil Paint Rendered 09/22/2007 — Banff National Park, Alberta
Living in accord with the Tao
is listening to our unconscious,
is immersing ourselves in a situation,
waiting for the mud to settle
and the water to clear,
and seeing what emerges 
as the way to respond to what is called for
over time,
as we tweak our response
to take additional information
into account,
balancing and harmonizing
the contraries and contradictions,
complexities and contingencies,
as they become apparent
in the eternal dance
with what can happen
and what needs to happen
through the ages
throughout eternity.

There is no steady state
of "peace at last."

There only/always living in the moment
in light of what needs to be done there,
in light of what is called for,
in light of what can be done there,
in light of what we need
to do what is needed there,
all our life long--
all life long.

Growing up is adjusting ourselves
to the requirement
of having to adjust ourselves to something
all our life long.
If we are not growing (up),
we are dead.



The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Oil Paint Rendered — Canyon Village, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
In the story of the woman taken in adultery,
Jesus takes a time-out,
squats and draws in the dust with his finger,
then he rises and says,
"Let the one without sin cast the first stone."
Beautifully done.
Rising wonderfully to the occasion.
Responding to the moment 
without consulting the authorities,
taking a poll,
or asking his mother what he should do.

Jesus speaks from the source of sincerity,
balance and harmony.
"Like the spirit blowing where it will."
Who knows what it will come up with next?

And, in order for it to happen then and there,
Jesus called time-out,
and sat drawing in the dust.

He was withdrawing from the moment of action,
to center himself,
put himself in accord with the Tao,
listen within,
open to the wisdom of the heart/soul/unconscious/psyche
waiting for the shift
that urged him to rise and speak
out of the truth of what was called for
in the time that was at hand.

In order to do that,
he had to have been there before.
Going there is called "prayer."
It is also called "meditation."

If you don't know what I'm talking about,
sit still,
be quiet,
and watch what happens.

And repeat this over time.
"Over time" being
regularly for the rest of your life.

And stop trying to cover all of your bases
by carefully thinking things out in advance.
Trust yourself to know what you know
in the moment that is calling for it,
to be known,
by listening through some equivalent
of drawing in the dust.



The Bud Ogle Cabin Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
It's a snap
to think the wrong things are important,
to leave the path,
stray away from the way,
and have nothing to do
with the things crying out
for us to do them.

Being clear.
Being focused.
Being grounded and centered.
Being present and accounted for.
In the service
of what is ours to do.
Is not a snap at all.

We have to be awake
and mindfully aware
at all times.
In accord with the Tao.
Attuned to the moment
and to ourselves.
Alert to what is happening
and what is called for
Caring so much about
being who the moment
needs us to be
that we distance ourselves
from all other concerns
in order to act sincerely,
without contrivance,
spontaneously doing
what is appropriate to the occasion
one occasion after another
all our life long
and being right about it
every time.

Doing the right thing.
At the right time.
In the right way.
All the time.
Is not a snap.

And, if we aren't doing it,
we are letting ourselves
and each other
All the time. 



Cullasaja Cascade Oil Paint Rendered — Cullasaja River Gorge, Nantahalia National Forest, Highlands, North Carolina
From prison, John the Baptist
sent his disciples to ask Jesus,
"Are you the one who is to come,
or shall we wait for another?"
Jesus replied, "Go and tell John,
'I am who I am,
doing what is mine to do--
no one can do better than that!'"

What would it take for us
to be who we are,
doing what is ours to do--
And letting the outcome be the outcome?

Not trying to pivot ourselves
into some luxurious,
glorious ever after--
but just meeting the moment,
doing what is called for
in each situation as it arises,
just being who we are,
doing what is ours to do
throughout each day,
throughout our life? 

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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