March 01, 2021


Glade Creek Mill 07 Oil Paint Rendered — Babcock State Park, Clifftop, West Virginia
Wherever we are is just where we are,

If we could be somewhere else,
we might well be there,
but this is where we are,
and we can only be comfortable
with people who are no further away,
than two or three degrees either way
on a 360 degree circle of different-ness.

People who are 180 degrees away
are likely to be seen as enemies,
perhaps as evil,
certainly as threats.

We can only handle so much different-ness.
And we much prefer none at all.

This is an area in which
we all need to get to work,
increasing our ability to accept--
not just tolerate--differences
in other people on every level.

As the world gets more crowded,
and as environmental changes
reduce the livable land areas,
we are going to be keeping company
with people from a wide variety of backgrounds,
and views,
and interests,
and preferences.

It would be a good and helpful thing
for all concerned,
if we would start practicing
making them welcome.



Sandy Stream Pond 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Mt. Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Millinocket, Maine
The way to Absolute Perfection
is doing what needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
when it needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

It comes down to
Doing. It. Right.
Whatever It. Is.

Why is that hard?
Only because we don't want to.
We want what we want,
when we want it,
the way we want it
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

You see the problem, I'm sure.

What does,
"Thy will, not mine, be done,"
mean to you?



The Path Up Roan Mountain Oil Paint Rendered — Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, Tennessee
Sit still.
Be quiet.
Listen to the silence.
Embrace the silence.
Explore the silence.
When you lose the silence.
Return to the silence.
Your breath is the path to the silence.

Breathe slowly and deeply.
Breathe to the bottom of your lungs.
Allow your diaphragm to move your rib cage,
extend your abdomen,
fill your lungs.
Exhale slowly,
by sucking in your stomach
until no air is expelled.

Pause for a count of five between breaths.
Follow your breathing to the silence.
Your breath is the path to the silence.
The silence is the way to all things.

Disclosure: The silence is not silent.
Thoughts and images,
feelings, moods, static,
rampage through the silence,
stirring up dust,
destroying the fantasy of happy quietude.
Here is the trick:
Fold it all into the silence!
Treat it as white noise!
Move it to the background!
By the simple technique of refusing
to be engaged by any of it,
but being aware of all of it.
Tuck it into your awareness,
return to the silence.

Once you notice yourself being engaged
by the white noise,
remember your breathing.
Breathe slowly, deeply, as above
and follow your breathing to the silence.

Disengage from the noise this way,
by returning to your breathing
and exploring the silence
holding everything in your awareness,
watching the noise fade into the background
without engaging anything that arises
in the silence.

For twenty minutes
as often as you can work twenty minutes
into your life
up to three times a day,
more often if that is possible
and you are comfortable with it.

Another disclosure: You don't have to be still.
You can take a shower.
You can mow the lawn.
You can go for a walk...
Any kind of repetitive, physically safe,
movement--dancing, say,
or playing the drums--
is perfectly conducive to the silence.

Carry the silence with you wherever you go.
Learn to be silent anywhere, everywhere.
Let silence become your new perspective.
Your new best invisible friend.
Fold everything into the silence.
Observe the silence.
Explore the silence.
Befriend the silence.
Become a student of the silence.

The silence is the origin of all that is.
The silence is our teacher.
Our mentor.
Our guide.
Our path to understanding,
new life,

Sit still.
Be quiet.
Listen to the silence...

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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