April 04, 2021

01

Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 19 Oil Paint Rendered — Audubon’s Francis Beidler Forest, Four Hole Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina
When you are thinking,
also be thinking about your thinking.

To not be thinking about your thinking
is to be swept away 
by your thinking,
carried off,
into emotional fits of rage,
or terror,
or remorse and guilt--
possessed by your thoughts
and your feelings about your thoughts
to the point of losing all control
of your actions in response
to your thoughts/feelings--
or a robot responding mindlessly
to the direction of those who are 
telling you what to think
and how to feel.

When you are thinking,
think about your thinking.
When you are feeling,
think about your feeling.

Put reflection between you
and your thinking
and your feeling.

Observation and reflection
put you in charge
of your thinking and feeling.

The more you can observe and reflect
without emotional reactivity,
just seeing,
just knowing,
just being aware
of your thoughts and feelings
without being shanghaied by them,
the more capable you are
of making inquiries--
of asking all of the questions
that beg to be asked
by your thoughts and feelings--
of seeing into them
and where they come from
and how they are automatic
and recurring,
and what their origin is
and what the source of their
ready presence in your life is.

Why are these thoughts
and these feelings
your go-to thoughts and feelings?
Who says this is how you ought to think
and how you ought to feel?
Who is in charge of what you think
and what you feel?

Observe, reflect, explore, inquire.
This four-pronged response
to thinking about your thinking
and thinking about your feeling
will insert some distance between
you and your thinking/feeling/reacting,
and change the way you think/feel,
and invite you to think/feel differently,
and eventually to think without feeling
automatically,
predictably,
at the mercy of emotionally-charged
actions wreaking havoc on your life.

–0–

02

Peach Blossoms 03 03/23/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Springs Farm, Fort Mill, South Carolins
Believe whatever it takes
to do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises.

For instance, I believe
that it matters how we live.
I take that on faith.
There is no factual basis for 
believing it.
All the evidence is to the contrary.
But.
It enables me to "Get up and do
what needs to be done"
with the power and sustainability
of Powder Milk Biscuits.

I believe nothing is more important,
essential,
necessary
than doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
for as long as it needs to be done,
moment by moment
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long.

This is my foundational belief,
the rock upon which I stand
and am anchored,
in an adamantine kind of way.
You can't knock me off this.
It is my essential truth
and I am not forsaking it,
betraying it,
renouncing it,
abandoning it,
deserting it,
etc.
ever.

I'll go to hell for this belief.
A million times over.
You can't talk me out of it,
or bribe it away from me.

It has a corollary:
Every time is the right time
for something.

Our place is to align ourselves
with what is right for this occasion
and live to serve it here and now
in every situation that arises
all our life long.

Which means we have to know what
is called for in each here and now
and serve it with our life,
by doing what needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
etc.
every moment.

We have to live attuned to,
attentive to,
aware of,
in service to,
with liege loyalty
and filial devotion to
what the moment is calling for
in every moment that comes along.

Believe whatever it takes to do that.
And don't let anything keep you from doing it.

The basic test of any belief,
of any system of belief,
of any faith system,
that comes along
is this:
Does it enable me to do what is called for
in each moment?
To do what is right for every occasion?
To be who I am needed to be here and now forever?
If it does,
believe it with all your heart, and mind,
and soul, and strength.

If it doesn't,
keep looking for something that does.
Or make it up
right out of your own imagination.
Which is where all belief/faith systems come from,
right out of someone's imagination. 

–0–

03

Brown Thrasher 03 Oil Paint Rendered — Scenes From My Hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina
We have to get to the end of our rope
before we can change our minds
about what is important,
and some of us had rather die
than change our mind.

This is the important thing:
Something must die!
What will it be?

We will either die actually, literally,
or we will die figuratively, metaphorically.

This is dilemma at every transition point
in the work/task of growing up,
which is what the spiritual journey entails.
The Hero's Journey is nothing more 
than growing up,
shouldering all of the developmental tasks
and surrendering what must be surrendered
in doing what must be done
to meet the demands of the journey,
of this developmental task along the way.

We will die to what we have always believed is so,
to all we ever wanted to be so,
in changing our mind,
and embracing what is truer 
than the truth 
we held to be true--
or we will die to our life in the moment of our living.

Hitler killed himself.
So did Jesus and Socrates.
Helen Keller squared up to her choices
and died to what she wanted to be so
in embracing what was so.
As have billions of people worldwide
through the centuries.

We give up this to get that,
to make that possible,
to do that--
for the sake of a good
that is better than our own,
personal good.
We die to ourselves
and live in the service
of the good of the whole,
of our family,
of our nation,
of our world,
of the cosmos...

It's called "growing up."

We grow up when we change
our mind about what is important,
about what is true,
about what is right,
about what is incumbent upon us--
and do what is called for
in each situation as it arises,
without exploiting the situation
for our benefit,
our gain,
our good.

Just doing what is good,
what is right,
what is called for,
moment by moment.

And the world is better for it.
Every time.

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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