February 01, 2021

04

Blueberry Bushes 10/10/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Rome, Maine
I retired on February 1, 2011. 
Today marks the 10th anniversary 
of my retirement.
They have been the ten best years
of my life.

Upon retirement,
I took a vow of silence and solitude,
moved to the woods with my wife
and had no social interaction 
apart from our immediate family
(3 daughters and their families).

I immersed myself 
in things that are meaningful to me:
photography,
reading,
and writing.

Who wouldn't relish 
a life like that?
I certainly do!
I won't be able
to get enough of it
if I avoid COVID
and live into my 100's!

But longevity is not a goal.
This moment is my goal!
To live here, now,
open to what is present with me
and alert to what is called for--
and to live in response to that,
in each situation as it arises.

I'm putting together a book
of my/our time in the woods
(Next door to the woods,
actually.
We live on a half-acre lot
next to the 22-acre Woods,
which will be the book's title).

It won't be a print version,
but a WordPress production.
I'll let you know how it's going,
and when it's done. 

–0–

03

Bay Scene 10/14/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Penobscot Bay, Deer Isle, Maine
Jacob Bronowski said that we trust people 
to say what they think--
but people do not always do so.
There is a credibility gap,
between what people think and what they say,
that has to be taken into account.

We have to keep that in mind
and live out of a skeptical,
"I hear what you are saying,
but what do you mean,
and can I trust that to be true?"
kind of orientation,
across the table,
around the world.

Bronowski said,
"My personal dictum 
about all politics is this:
Make sure that everybody
tells the truth at all times,
and tell them when they are not
speaking truthfully.
We have to tell the truth,
as best we can,
and stick to that
through thick and thin"
(The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination).

In the same book,
he also said:
"We can only gain knowledge by being truthful."
"People have to behave
so that the truth shall be apparent."
"We cannot know what is true 
unless we behave in certain ways."

We have to live truthful lives.
We have to be trusted to say what we think.

The search for truth 
is a self-correcting activity.
Truth corrects truth.
Our picture of the world 
is corrected
by our continuing to examine,
explore,
inspect,
probe,
question,
reflect on
the world as we perceive it to be,
in ways that allow it to show us
what it is.

Truth evolves toward truth
through countless revisions
and realizations.

When Jesus said, 
"You shall know the truth
and the truth shall set you free,"
he meant the truth shall set us free
to know more about the truth
than we know now--
free from the "truth" 
to discover the truth--
always and forever,
seeking truth by serving truth
in the search for truth,
always narrowing the discrepancy 
between how we think things are
and how things are.

–0–

02

Black Birch 07/11/2011 04-B Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Rocky Knob, Floyd, Virginia

02

I live amid people for whom "staying safe"
means something quite different
than it means to me.
Which requires me to live at a distance from them
that does not equate to the same distance
they have to live from me.

Whose sense of "safe distance" 
do you think applies to me?
If you said, "My own,"
you would be right.

Our safety is our responsibility.

We live out of our sense
of how our life should be lived.

Who says so?
WE do!
In every case,
great and small.

Our judgment is the only judgment
that guides our living,
that directs our life.

We have to live in ways
that reflect/exhibit/incarnate
our idea of how our life
ought to be lived.

Not even Jesus can tell us what to do!

We are the sole authority
determining what we do,
how we do it,
when we do it,
where we do it--
and we pay the price 
in terms of the consequences
we create by our decisions and choices.

Which means going to hell 
if that be the case.

So we cannot live lightly,
frivolously,
without awareness and consideration.

We have to consult regularly
with ourselves
regarding what is called for
and how best we might respond to it.

We can't live automatically,
heedlessly.
We have to be as informed as we can be,
with self-transparency
self-awareness
self-reflection
and self-correction
guiding us along the slippery slope,
the dangerous path,
like a razor's edge,
all along the way.

–0–

01

Sea Oats at Sunset 10/24/2012 Oil Paint Rendered — Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
The magic is in the seeing
(And the hearing).
The magic in the seeing
(And the hearing)
is in the looking
(And the listening).

Look and listen
in order to see and hear.

Moment-by-moment
in each situation as it arises.

All we need
to see/do what is needed
is always right before us,
waiting to be activated
by eyes that see
and ears that hear.

See what you look at.
Hear what is called for.
Respond as needed
to do what is needed.
Moment-by-moment.
In each situation as it arises.

Gautama and Jesus together
could not do more.

Be what is needed
moment-by-moment
in each situation as it happens
and magic will happen.

Anticipation,
expectation,
and arrogance
ruin your chances.

Each moment is a fresh moment.
Each situation is a new situation.
Just look.
Just listen.
Just do what needs to be done.
The way it needs to be done.
When it needs to be done.

Moment-by-moment
in each situation as it arises
all your life long.

Be like the wind
blowing where it will
throughout your life
as a blessing 
and a grace
upon all things.

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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