April 02, 2021


Firewood 01 Oil Paint Rendered
The natural world is "Thus Come,"
just as it is,
without pretensions
or aspirations,
looking only for what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises,
and rising to meet the occasion
with what it has to work with,
letting the outcome be the outcome,
situation by situation,
day by day,
for as long as life lasts.



Crepe Myrtle 09 03/27/2021 Oil Paint Rendered
Love is not what we feel.
Love is what we do.
Love is how we act.

We cannot be commanded to feel.
We can be commanded to act.

Jesus' command to 
"Love your neighbor,"
is to be understood as
"Treat your neighbor lovingly
in all times and places."

He is saying,
"Do what is loving,
when it is called for,
the way it is called for,
as long as it is called for,
moment by moment,
day in and day out,
in each situation as it arises,
your entire life long."

We know what is loving
by asking
"How would I like to be treated?"
and extending that treatment
to all people everywhere.

We have no trouble recognizing
when we are being treated well
and when we are being treated poorly.
We only have "questions"
when it comes to how we treat others.

Strive to treat others as well
as we would like to be treated.
All others.
Every other.
All the time.



Blue Grosbeak 02 Oil Paint Rendered — Scenes from my hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina
Squaring ourselves up with how things are
is the first order of business
in each situation as it arises.

Our ability to do that
hinges on our having few,
and not very strong,
opinions regarding how things ought to be.

Being able to operate
out of a perspective
whose foundation is
"Okay. Here we are. Now what?"
provides us with the attitude
necessary for
letting come what's coming
and letting go what's going,
as things come and go
throughout our life.

How we live in response to our life
is the determining factor
in determining how well we live
with-and-through all of the ebbs and flows
of our days.

What is your default reaction
to the things that come your way
(and go away)?
How close is it to
"Okay. Here we are. Now what?"?

We live to close the gap
between our default reaction
and the preferred reaction.
We do that consciously,
with mindful awareness
of our need to be a certain way
and the chances of that being the way
things are,
moment by moment,
day by day--
and living toward the position
of being able to let come what's coming
and to let go what's going.



First of Fall 09/28/2020 Sumac Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
            A Good Friday/Easter Meditation:

The Suffering Servant of Isaiah
was co-opted by the early Christian church,
and used as a prophetic model of Jesus,
missing again the point of both
the suffering servant and Jesus.

"Surely he has born our griefs
and carried our sorrows,
and upon him was the chastisement
that made us whole,
and by his wounds we are healed." 
(Isaiah 53: 4&5)

What does he have to do with us?
What does his chastisement
and his wounds 
have to do with our peace
and our healing?

It works like this:
"Thou Art That!"

Any symbol is only as good
as our identification with it is.
The symbol is not "like us,"
The symbol "IS us!"
Any symbol.
Every symbol.

God is dead to the extent
that God no longer symbolizes
the best of us.
God is dead to the extent 
that the symbol of "God"
does not awaken within us
any aspect of godliness,
and becomes an external "Thou"
on a level we can never attain--
as "The Wholly Other."

To awaken the symbol--
any symbol,
every symbol--
we have to be able 
to identify ourselves 
with the symbol,
and understand how we are it,
and how it is who we are.

And that requires a meditative,
contemplative, prayerful,
reflective openness to possibilities
and actualities 
we normally don't want to take the time
to consider.

How is the Suffering Servant and Jesus
you, me?
In what ways are we the Suffering Servant
and Jesus?
How are we interchangeable?
How are we identical?
How are we one with each of them--
and with each other?

We are asked to make this identification
with Jesus
in the Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement,
where "Jesus became as we are,
so that we might become who he is,"
but we are never encouraged to see
that we are who he is right now,
without believing anything about sin,
redemption, faith, and atonement.

We have to "turn the light around"!

We are Jesus.
How are we Jesus?
In what ways are we Jesus?
How can we become increasingly conscious
of being Jesus in the normal course
of our life?

Two days ago,
approaching the checkout station
at a local nursery, 
the clerk at the register
noticed that my wife and I were 
having trouble corralling 
the four plants 
we were carrying to her.
She left her station,
came to us,
and carried our purchases 
to the counter.
Jesus could not have done it better.

Over the course of our life,
we do thousands of things
as well as Jesus could do them,
and some things we do better
than Jesus could do them--
all without thinking about Jesus at all,
or ever wondering "what would Jesus do?"

Could Jesus hit a curve ball?
Could Jesus throw a curve ball?
Perform open heart surgery?

Thou Art That!

This is the fundamental,
Everything points to this
and flows from it.

We are what we seek.
We are what we love.
We are what we hate.

How is it so?
In what ways is it so?
How can we see ourselves
reflected back to us
in the things we admire
and detest?
In what ways does the phrase,
"Thou Art That" apply to us
and everything?
What connections can we make
between ourselves and "That"?

It takes meditative,
contemplative, prayerful
reflection to see all the ways
"Thou Art That."
And it is essential
that we take up the practice
of enlarging our vision
to be able to see what we look at
and how it is us looking back at us.

This is the challenge
and the calling
of Good Friday and Easter morning!

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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