March 09, 2021


Cypress Swamp 03 Oil Paint Rendered — Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
Treat wherever you are
as though it is exactly where you want to be,
and do everything that is called for there
precisely as it needs to be done
for as long as you are there.

This is one way of "turning the light around."

Turning the light around
means finding on the inside
what we look for on the outside,
and offering from the inside
what we expect to come to us
from the outside.

Turning the light around
is turning the tables on our 
wishes, desires and expectations.
Giving instead of receiving.
Being rather than wanting/desiring.

It is creating a ministry of compassion
and service to every moment
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

Wouldn't that change our life, though?
Wouldn't that transform the world, though?
All for the low, low price
of waking up
and turning the light around.

And we don't have to wait for anything to start.
We can begin wherever we are.
Whenever we are.
Starting now.
Boom! Back in the Garden of Eden.
Just like that.



Lily Pads in the Rain 06/04/2015 Oil Paint Rendered–Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, McBee, South Carolina
Think of what has always been called "God's will,"
as being in accord with the Tao,
and reflect on the time and place
in the history of western civilization
when and where "God's will"
shifted over into "keeping the ten commandments"
and making God happy
so that God would bless us and keep us
and make us happy.

That is the precise point in history
when and where it all went to hell--
and where hell came into being.

Heaven for those who keep God happy,
and hell for those who don't.

Ethics has nothing to do with 
being in accord with the Tao.

"God's will" has become "living ethically."
Not drinking, not smoking, not playing around,
and not reading the comics on Sunday morning.

We have lost our bearings,
strayed from the path,
departed from The Way
and have nothing to do
with "the Holy One of Israel,"
which remains the Tao in the Far East
to this day.

Jesus harks back to this idea of God's will
being at one with the Tao
in the Sermon of the Mount,
the parables--particularly,
the Parable of the Prodigal
and the Parable of the Good Samaritan--
and the bit about 
"Inasmuch as you have done it, 
or not done it,
to the least of the people on earth,
you have done it,
or not done it,
unto me."

But under such an arrangement,
the priests and the religious 
lose position, power and control,
and that, as you might expect,
will never do,
so Jesus was crucified
for being a threat to the system,
and the religious establishment
built around Jesus
has deftly removed the Tao of Jesus
from consideration,
and placed sin/hell/redemption/atonement/
at the center of being saved,
and everybody has to be saved, 
or else.

"And the beat goes on"
(Sonny Bono).

And that leaves us with recovering
the Tao-ness of God's will,
and understanding prayer
as seeking clarity--
of "waiting for the mud to settle
and the water to clear,"
in order to know what needs to be done
here and now,
and doing the right thing, 
at the right time,
in the right way,
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long.

Doing what the situation calls for
is completely different from imposing
some kind of ethical response
on all situations regardless
of what response is being called for,
in a "the spirit is like the wind
that blows where it will"
kind of way.

"Blowing where it will" is no way
to systematically impose a religious order
on life, but.
It is the way to live in accord 
with the Tao.
Whether the Church likes it or not.



Along Cane River 01/30/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Cane River National Heritage Trail, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
Think of the letters GOP
as standing for Gone Off Plumb.

When some individual,
or some group of individuals,
or an entire voting block of individuals
Go Off Plumb,
it creates widening Circles of Confusion
throughout the culture and the world.

Instability and uncertainty rule,
up and down are questionable.
Maybe drinking Clorox is a good idea.
Maybe there are two--
or more--
sides to truth.
Maybe reality can be anything
we want it to be.
And if enough of us think
something is so,
it may as well be so,
because everyone is acting 
as though it is.

Except for the FACT 
are not the same thing!
You can check it with a plumb bob
or a bubble level.

The wall is straight vertically
or it is not.
The photograph is in focus
or it is not.
Food can be too salty to eat.
Wheels can be out of round.
Book cases can be out of square.

Do an internet search
for "Focus, clarity, confusion,"
and for "Circles of confusion."
Read everything that comes up.
Ask all of the questions 
that beg to be asked
about what you are reading.
Explore the entire area
of clarity and confusion
until you become an expert
on the matter
and can talk with anyone about it
without losing your focus
on what's what and what is not.

And sit quietly,
another word for this is "prayerfully,"
though understanding "prayer"
as "seeking clarity"
will transform your prayer life
for the better
and change the way 
you think about religion,
but that is another topic 
of conversation--
and see what connections you can make
between the political climate 
of this country
over the past four years
and counting,
and the difference 
between clarity and confusion.

Add to the mixture the impact
a "strange attractor" has
on "chaos" and "confusion,"
and think of money/wealth/power
as the kind of attractor
that can unbalance a stable system
and create uncertainty and instability
where truth and reliability should be.

And it all begins to make sense.

Gone Off Plumb in the service
off Money/Wealth/Power.

That's the GOP for you
in today's world.

We can save the world
by voting in every election,
local, state, and national,
and never voting for another
GOP candidate ever.

That is the only way
to bring things back
into focus, clarity, square and plumb.

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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