March 22, 2021

01

Contemplation 02 01 Oil Paint Rendered, Scenes From My Hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina
What is the nature of your conflict?

William Blake reminded us,
"Without contrary, there is no progression."

Yin and Yang go back to the beginning of time,
if not beyond.

We live to integrate,
incarnate,
express,
exhibit,
bring forth,
know and make known
the contradictions which define us
and make us known.

On the one hand this,
and on the other hand that,
and truth is found between the hands.

What are your conflicts,
contradictions,
contraries?

Most of us live to deny them,
hide from them,
repudiate them.
Too few of us embrace them,
relish them,
love them,
dance with them.
Yet, that's the way to do it.

Bear your conflicts graciously,
and gracefully.
They are who you are.

And stop thinking 
that you have to be
one way only!
Consistent!
Harmonious!
True!
Nonsense!
We walk two paths 
at the same time--
truthfully!
We feel torn between,
or among, 
two or more things 
practically all of the time.

I want to be the best father/husband
in all the world ever,
and I don't want to be a father/husband
at all!

Which it is?
It is BOTH!
I am conflicted to the core.

So is God.
This "unconditional love"
you hear so much about 
is balanced by sending
everyone to hell who doesn't
believe it and joyfully embrace it.
How unconditional is that?

And "freedom of the will"?
How free is our will 
when we cannot will what we want?
We just want it!
Often against our will!

Conflicted,
contradictory,
contrary,
polarized
and mutually exclusively oppositional
all the way down.

Sound like anybody you know?
If not, 
it is because you are locked up
in terminal denial
and can't see the truth
for all the lies you are living with.

So.

What's the nature of your conflict?

It all begins here.
With our making our peace
with the way things are.
And also are.

And walking two paths at the same time
together, 
knowingly,
laughingly,
joyfully--
Yinning and Yanging 
in full accord with the Tao,
all along the Way.

–0–

02

Path to Mouse Creek Falls Oil Paint Rendered–Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek District, Waterville, North Carolina
I am amazed and fascinated by
the impact people have on my life,
and the way I am able to use
them and their impact
as a meditative, reflective, icon
for immersion in the wonder and awe
of life.

Amazement, fascination, wonder and awe
are the ground and essence of worship.

I revere and worship certain people
and their impact
upon me and my life--
which I continue to refine and explore
after all the years that have passed
since they came and went.

I continue to be blessed,
deepened,
enlarged,
made whole
by their kindness and grace,
and by my on-going reflection
of them and their place in my life.

Joseph Campbell said that reflection
is the path to new realizations,
and that is certainly the case with me
and my wandering around in my memories
of them,
expanding my understanding of them
and their influence on me
and my continuing development
through the years.

They very definitely "passed on" to me
gifts that are continuing to be
"very present helps in time of trouble,"
and helping me even yet,
even now, to find my way.

Their gifts were those of presence,
acceptance,
insight,
comfort,
safety,
humor,
confidence
and a sense of the goodness
and trustworthiness of life,
and our ability to take life as it is
and make of it what can be made of it
with what we have to work with
in our nature and character.

We are enough!
It is only a matter of trusting that
to be so
and exploring what we have
that might be useful to our time and place,
our conditions and circumstances,
and experimenting to see 
what can be done.

It is a matter of playing confidently
with the possibilities,
and dancing with the days
that mark our time upon the earth,
enjoying the wonder of life,
and living,
and being alive! 

Thanks, gratitude and appreciation
to all who made this the reality
it is in my life!

–0–

03

Mouse Creek Falls Oil Paint Rendered 11/06/2007 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek District, Waterville, North Carolina
Jesus said, "Why don't you
decide for yourselves what is right?"

We are afraid we might be wrong.
We don't want the responsibility.
We crave reassurance and certitude.
We can't take the chance.
Just tell us what to do!
Just tell us what to believe!
Just tell us how we can be happy
and have it made!

Lao Tzu said, "The path that 
can be discerned/designated 
as a path,
is not a reliable path."

That means there is no one but us
to tell us what to do.
We are the only ones who can know
which way is the way for us,
what is right for us,
what the moment is asking of us,
what the situation is calling us to do.

The path that someone else
tells us is the path
is not a reliable path.
We are the only ones who can be trusted
to know what we need to do,
where we need to do it,
when we need to do it,
and how it is to be done.

The catch is we have to be right
about it.

That is why we sit in silence,
watching,
waiting,
confirming...
and even then,
we can be wrong,
or circumstances can change,
but we continue to return
to the silence
to see what arises,
emerges,
unfolds,
beckons,
directs...

And to consider whether
to do its bidding.

Learning as we go
to read the signs,
attend the signals,
and know what is calling our name.

–0–

04

Lake Brandt Reflection Panorama — Greensboro, North Carolina
Let the silence guide your boat
on its path through the sea.

Have no preferences,
no desires,
no opinions,
no ambition,
no agenda,
no intention,
with nothing to gain 
and nothing to lose,
just curious,
just interested in seeing
where you go and what you do
without trying to exploit
and control,
manipulate and direct
situations and opportunities,
but just watching,
just seeing,
just experiencing,
doing what needs to be done
the way it needs to be done
when it needs to be done
and letting nature take its course.

Simply relax into the silence,
attend the silence,
serve the silence,
by waiting and watching
what arises,
emerges,
occurs,
beckons,
directs,
leads,
calls...
and continuing to wait
for the mud to settle
and the water to clear.

Then, wait some more
for the right time to act,
in the right way,
in the right place--
dancing with the moment
as it responds to you,
living from the silence
(Which by now has become
a part of the matrix of life,
and you have learned 
to be quiet in the midst 
of the dust/noise 
of the 10,000 things).

In this way,
context,
conditions,
and circumstances
blend to form the umwelt
within which you live,
and move and have your being,
directed by your service
to the silence,
led by your sense
of "Yes," and "No,"
coming from the place
of instinct and intuition,
communicated to you
through your body,
your nighttime dreams,
and the things that occur to you
out of nowhere--
out of the unconscious milieu
of psyche/soul/self/who-knows-what-else
that is part of the invisible world
sustaining and supporting this world 
of concrete and steel,
visible, tangible, apparent reality.

Become a citizen of both worlds,
walking two paths at the same time,
attuned to what time it is,
and to what it is time for.
Living Here as a surrogate of There
in an "in the world but not of it"
kind of way,
as a full participant
in the Great Adventure of Being Alive.


 

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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