March 08, 2021

04

Built for Reflection Oil Paint Rendered — Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina
I feel sorry for whomever it is
keeping me company--
keeping us company--
as an inner presence,
as our best invisible friend,
on our way through our life.

That is the presence 
that keeps giving us tips,
hints, nudges...
that works to wake us up
and turn us toward the light,
and we keep doing
the Adam and Eve thing,
listening to the wrong input,
ignoring the right ways
of doing what needs to be done.

I apologize all of the time.

I don't know how it works,
if they draw lots,
flip coins,
pick a number...
or how our Riders feel about
being along for the ride with us,
but if we all come back 
as Riders--
as mute/nonverbal Riders--
with someone else doing the driving
and making the choices
while we scream soundlessly
and point uselessly
in the opposite direction,
I hope we remember how we treated
our Rider
and note how it's all coming back to roost,
shaking our head
and wondering where it goes from here.

–0–

03

Boone Fork Fall 01 10/14/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Julian Price Memorial Park Picnic Area
Blowing Rock, North Carolina
We are birthing one another here,
growing each other up,
waking each other up,
helping each other find our life
and live it.
To know what needs to be done
and do it.

That's all there is to it.

What are we missing?
What are we not seeing?
What are we ignoring?
In the rush to find our way
and have it?

The trick is to forget
finding our way
and having it.

Our work is to see what 
needs to be done
and do it.

In each situation as it arises,
all our life long.
"Nothing to it but to do it"
(Maya Angelou).

Listen to the woman!
Do what she says!

–0–

02

Cape Boats at Peggy’s Cove 10/03/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Nova Scotia
We are here to bring ourselves forth,
to bring ourselves to life,
to birth ourselves into the life we are living,
and to assist others 
in their own birth process.

We are here to give birth to ourselves,
one another
and the entire world.

The way to not do that is 
to concretize the metaphor.

We are always factualizing our symbols.

The Right To Life 
as an anti-abortion movement
kills life in the name of saving it.

It values the actual, literal, 
life of a fetus
over the symbolic, metaphorical,
and even actual, literal,
life of the mother.

Some anti-abortion Catholic priests
rail against using fetal tissue
in medical research that gives life
to thousands of people.
They kill in order to save.

The symbolic/metaphorical aspect
of giving birth,
of bringing to life,
makes mothers of us all.

We all are,
each of us is,
eternally involved in birthing ourselves
and one another--
in terms of waking up
and entering fully into the wonder/joy
of being alive to the fullness,
depth, height, breadth of life
on all levels,
in all dimensions.

And we do that by dying,
metaphorically/symbolically,
again and again
in growing up against our will,
in waking up against our will,
in being living examples
of the spiritual truth
that going with the flow
means swimming against the current
and going against the grain.

The paradoxes,
ironies,
contradictions,
opposites,
dichotomies,
contraries,
polarities...
of life 
have to be recognized,
embraced,
lived,
suffered,
borne,
danced with
and affirmed
with every breath
and heartbeat.

Life eats life.
In order for us to live,
something must die.
And we have to sway "Yea!"
to life as it is--
to the way of things as they are!

Which is, itself, a kind of dying
in order to live.
In order to be who we are,
doing what is ours to do.

We sacrifice ourselves on the altar
of our own becoming
every day.

Growing up is waking up
is dying, dying, dying
again and again
all our life long.

Those who don't do that
die a different kind of death,
and are even more dead
in a "Leave the dead
to bury the dead," kind of way,
than those who do it,
bearing the pain/anguish/agony
of being alive
and paying the full price
of being alive
all along the way.

Metaphors and symbols 
have to be living,
vibrant,
throbbing,
vital referents to truth
that cannot be said,
explained,
told,
defined.

We live to die,
we die to live.

"Death and resurrection, Kid.
Death and resurrection!"

It is our place to understand 
what this means,
and live it out,
consciously,
intentionally,
deliberately,
each day,
all our life long.

–0–

01

Oak Leaf Hydrangea 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Greensboro, North Carolina
We are here to live well
and pass it on.

Living well comes down 
to doing what is ours to do
and what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
with the gifts that are ours to share
all our life long.

We live to find our life and live it,
and pass that on 
to everybody who comes our way,
helping them to find their life and live it.

Part of finding our life and living it
is knowing/noticing what symbols/metaphors
attract us,
attach themselves to us,
call our name,
keep popping up,
won't leave us alone...

These are our helpers,
our aids,
our guides.

Our place is to be right about
what our symbols/metaphors--
which choose us more than we choose them--
are referring to.

What do they have reference to?
What do they stand for?
What do they mean?
What do they mean for us?

One of my symbols is a keyboard,
another is a camera.
Both are about seeing and saying.
I'm here to see and to say what I see.
So, I am to do that consciously,
intentionally,
deliberately,
with awareness and grace,
compassion and kindness.

Gerard Manley Hopkins said,
"What I do is me/for that I came."

He said that to all of us,
for all of us.

Our place is to know/find 
what is ours to do
and do it.

That is why we came,
what we are here for.

That is living well.

Passing it along
is helping/assisting other people
in knowing/doing that themselves.

Another of my symbols is
a stream on the way to the sea.

Streams are everybody's symbol.
We are a stream
on its way to the sea.

"The stream doesn't force its way,
the stream finds its way,"
is an old Taoist aphorism
about living in, 
and abiding by,
in accord with 
the Tao, the Way
in our own way,
as only we can do it.

What is The Way?
What is our way?
We live to find out--
to know and to do--
these things.

For that we came.

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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