February 15, 2021


Big Creek Fall Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
It is important to know the difference
between trusting your luck
and pushing your luck.

It has been my experience
that I can count on 
"invisible means of support"
(Bill Moyers)
whenever I venture forth
in the service of what needs to be done.
But to try to use that support
to serve my own purposes,
would be to betray the foundational alliance
between me and the transcendent reality
that keeps shining through
in unexpected ways 
to nurture my faith in its existence
and in my own work in this dimension.

I am here to say what is so
in word and deed,
and keep saying it until I die.
And I take to what is mine to do
as well as anyone I have ever known.

It is an absolute joy and delight
to take up my Sisyphean task 
of rolling the rock up the hill
and follow it down the hill
to roll it back up the hill.
It is my life and I love it so.

I did it for forty and a half years
in the ministry "of word and sacrament,"
with people asking me,
"Why don't you talk to us 
about things we can understand?"
Sisyphus would be proud of me.
I was faithful to the rock all the way,
and even after.

This is testimony to my continued labor
at the work of rolling the rock.
As I remain faithful to the task
that is my dharma to perform,
I can trust myself to the transcendent
function of the work
to energize me with enthusiasm
for what is mine to do
by breaking into my life
to astound and amaze me 
from time to time--
but to push my luck
in trying to further my own cause
in any way
would be a violation of the sacred ties that bind
me to the transcendent
and the transcendent to me.

My place is to be true to my work,
and to be content with doing what is mine to do.
And I am beyond contented.
I relish my relationship with the rock,
and delight in what I get to do every day.

Anyone who thinks that 
there has to be more to it
than that
doesn't comprehend the wonder
of doing what is theirs to do--
or somehow won't let the wonder of it
be enough.

I wouldn't abandon my rock for anything
they would find to be more valuable
than rolling a rock through time.

Find your rock and roll it, I say.
That's all the luck anyone needs!



Roadside Cascade Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
So What? Who cares? Why Try? 
What difference will it make? 
What good will it do?
Are questions that never occur
to those 
who are engrossed
in doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done
because it needs to be done
in each situation as it arises.

Doing what needs to be done
whether it does any good or not
is the most that can be done
in any situation,
and there is no reason 
to not do that much ever.

Doing what needs to be done,
in each situation as it arises--
even so--
is an existential pledge
to life and being.

It is our essential commitment 
to one another 
and all sentient beings.

It's the least we can do--
and high time we did it.  



Price Lake and Grandfather Mountain Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Julian Price Memorial Park, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
The cup of suffering is the cup of salvation,
the bread of affliction is the bread of life.

We have to take the Eucharist into ourselves.
We become the bread.
We become the cup.
We sacrifice ourselves on the cross
of our own opposites, 
dying to all that we have
held to be important--
to our idea of God 
and the doctrines
and theology of the church
(Any church, any religion),
to our ideas of how things are
and ought to be--
and rising to new life
in the service of our original nature,
the transcendent realities
of balance, harmony and flow
with the immanent realities
of here and now circumstances
and situations of life in the world.

Doing what needs to be done
when it needs to be done
where it needs to be done
the way it needs to be done
because it needs to be done
with no attachment to the outcome
and nothing in it for us
and nothing to gain or lose,
just being what is called for
for the sake of being what is called for,
in each situation as it arises
eternally and forever
in an Eternal Now that never ends.



Moraine Lake Oil Paint Rendered — Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies, Alberta
Joseph Campbell said, "If you're not interested
in making things well,
then you are not--
even in the most elementary sense--
an artist."

"Making things well"
does not mean
making them perfect.
Perfection is a steady state
incapable of being made better.

Making things well leaves the door open
to future improvements,
and development.

The artists themselves are changing!
We work on ourselves
every time we sit still,

We, ourselves, are never finished!
We are continuing to improve,

But doing each day well,
each thing in each day well,
is part of that evolution,
that growth,
that development
involved with meeting the day
and being who we are in it
as best we can
every day.



Hatteras Sunset Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
No one can help you with your perspective,
with your attitude,
with your outlook,
with your point of view,
with the way you think,
with the way you see things,
with the way you evaluate things,
with the way you interpret things,
with the way you respond to things...

You are on your own with all of this.
Which makes you responsible for all of it.
Which means you need to be more consciously
aware of it than you are--
thinking about your thinking,
seeing your seeing,
attending your responses,
evaluating your reactions,
and your assumptions,
your presumptions,
your inferences
and conclusions--
and asking all of the questions
that beg to be asked
in light of all that you are aware of
being generated internally
in response to the external world.

Do not assume you know what you are doing.
Make inquiries.
Launch investigations.
Find the line between what you know
and what you do not know.
Stop living like you know
what you do not know.
People will notice the difference
that makes in your life
So will you.



Hammock Creek Oil Pant Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Calculation, orchestration, 
choreography, contrivance
and control
replace the spontaneous expression
of the impulse of our nature
in responding to the situation
as it unfolds before us.

Then, we act with something other 
than what is called for
by the need of the moment in mind,
and follow a path of ulterior motives
in forcing things on the moment
that are not of the moment,
by creating artificial "concerns,"
and generating inorganic responses
in the service of illegitimate ends--
disrupting the balance,
and flow of life,
and making an irredeemable mess of things,
pouring over,
spilling out,
wreaking havoc for years
in all directions,
because we imposed our will
for the situation upon the situation
at hand.



Grape Window Abstract Oil Paint Rendered — Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, Greensboro, North Carolina
Follow the impulse of your nature
in seeing what is happening,
knowing what is called for in response
and answering the six questions of life
in each situation as it arises,
one situation after another,
your entire life long.

WHO? -- That would be you.
WHAT? -- Needs to be done?
WHERE? -- Here!
WHEN? -- Now!
WHY? -- Because it needs to be done!
HOW? -- The way it needs to be done!

Do what needs to be done
without attachment to the outcome,
without purpose beyond 
doing what needs to be done,
without seeking, expecting,
even thinking about
personal gain/benefit/advantage,
and when it is done,
leave it behind
and step into the next moment
where you repeat the entire process,
following the flow of life
from moment to moment,
situation to situation,
doing what needs to be done
all the way.

and time for reflection
and contemplation,
need to be done in their time
throughout each day.

Your personal needs get equal time
with all other needs.

But the drama
and the glory,
the tragedy
and the fascination
of the 10,000 things
have no place in the day,
any day.

Off you go!
The day awaits!

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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