February 03, 2021


Canadian Rockies Reflection 09/29/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Jasper National Park, Alberta
James Hillman said,
"If I do what I really must,
it will kill me,
yet, if I don't,
I will die."

We get to choose 
the kind of death 
we will die.

Our choice is "the secret cause"
(James Joyce)
of our dying.
The life we live
is the direct consequence
of our death.
We bring about our death
by our choice 
of what constitutes our life.

If we say, "Yes,"
it will kill us,
if we say, "No," 
we will die.

Which kind of death
will we be most proud of?
Most satisfied with?

Whichever death it is,
that will be the death
that is "just like us."

Will we live consciously,
embracing ourselves
and the life that will lead
to the death that is "just like us"?

Or, will we live unconsciously,
refusing to make a choice,
and saying, "No"
by failing to say anything--
and living the life that will lead
to the death that is "just like us"?

Will we live as we must,
or live as we also must
because we cannot bear
to live as we must?

"The secret cause" of our death
is our answer to these questions.



On Roan Mountain 06/15/2014 11 Panorama Oil Paint Rendered — Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, Tennessee
We feel balance and harmony
in our body.

We know when we are in sync, 
in tune,
in the flow,
in the groove,
and out of it.

How do we get back 
where we belong?

By sitting still,
being quiet,
and finding
where we are kidding ourselves.

We are naturally built 
for balance and harmony,
for living at-one with ourselves.
When that it is not the case,
it is because we are seeking ends,
or enlisting means,
that are not legitimate ends,
that are not authentic means.

It is because we are
trying to get
what we have no business having.

Living at-one with ourselves
is the key to what we are seeking
with money and power
and the accoutrements of success:
peace and well-being,
contentment and satisfaction.

These things are always "right there,"
for the low, low price
of serving the right ends
with the right means.

Remaining alert to what our body knows
is the way 
to remaining on the way,
staying on the path,
living on the beam,
through all of the circumstances
of our life.



Blueberry Barrens 10/15/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Hill, Maine
What do you take your time with?
Look there for what is meaningful
in your life.

You may spend more time 
with something else,
like your job,
or mowing the grass,
but what you take your time with
tells the tale.

We take our time with the things
that matter to us,
that are important to us,
not only because we enjoy 
being with them,
but also because we want to
do right by them,
to keep faith with them.

These are the things where
our spiritual side is fed.
We may "go to church"
and "talk about/to God,"
and "study the Bible,"
and call that being spiritual,
but being spiritual is about
keeping faith with the meaningful things
in our life--
living in good faith
with what we love.

This is the sine qua non
of spirituality.
It isn't what we talk about. 
It is how we live our life.
It is where we take our time.



Pier 7 06/23/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Chicago, Illinois
If your ideas, beliefs, opinions, and convictions
about reality do not square up with,
and flow from, 
your direct encounters with reality,
you are in trouble,
and the people around you 
are being harmed by your presence--
and it is best for all concerned
that you go sit quietly 
and reflect long enough
on the discrepancy between
how you think things are,
and how you wish they were,
and how you need them to be,
and how things actually are,
to be overwhelmed and undone
by the disparities laid bare before you,
and begin making amends.

How we believe things are
is never precisely how they are,
but it helps to be close.

Scientists are closer than witch doctors are.

We have to be close enough
to do more good than harm
with the things we say
about reality,
and do in response to reality.

And we have to have a perspective
regarding our perception of reality
that takes our perspective into account.

We have to see ourselves seeing,
and know when we are relying on inferences
and conjecture and wishful/magical thinking
to orient ourselves in time and space
in response to what is happening now.

So much of what we tell ourselves
about what is so
is not so
that we need to be cautious 
and conscious of everything
we say about what is so,
and take "What makes us think this is so?"
and "Who says so?"
And "Who says not-so?"
into account.

If somebody tells you
the COVID-19 vaccines 
will make your children sterile,
ask them where they got their information,
and why they think it is so,
when nobody has had time to test
anybody's children's capacity
to have children.

We live in strange times.
Examine carefully the validity 
of everything you hear
and half of what you see.

Hold it up to the light
and shake it to see if it rattles.
Conduct experiments.
Make inquiries.
Know when you are making assumptions,
particularly unwarranted assumptions.

And stop doing it!

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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