April 22, 2021


Mesquite Dunes 01 04/23/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Death Valley National Park, California
Theology comes to grief
on the rocky shoreline of truth.
As does philosophy.

Truth eats all pretenders alive.

Fraser Snowden nailed it
when he said,
"The only true philosophical question
is 'Where do you draw the line?'"

You have to be able/willing 
to pay the price
to play the ultimate game.
The price is your life
as the price of admission.

In other words, 
you do not escape with your life.

Jesus said it best:
"If you want to be my disciple,
you have to pick up your cross daily
and follow me."

The cross is not a metaphor
for dancing through fields
of fresh spring flowers.

It is the end of the line.

All truth leads to the death
of the truth-seeker.
They all die happy,
at-one with the nature of the game.

The other side of Golgotha
is the Empty Tomb.
Good Friday is redeemed 
by Easter Morning.
But it's a ride that will
take the breath of life right out of you,
and give it back again.

Let me explain:
We think it is about one thing,
and it is about another.

We think it is about money,
but we only need enough money
to pay the right bills.
The right bills sustain life
and buy the tools our life requires.
Requires to live in the service of truth.
Any more than that gets in our way.

The truth is who we are
and what our circumstances call for--
what the here and now asks of us.
We only need enough money 
to be who we are 
and to do what is ours to do.

What is ours to do depends upon who we are
and what our circumstances require of us.

Who we are is our Original Nature,
our innate gifts/perspective/proclivities/
virtues/disposition/daemon (sounds like "diamond")/
spirit/truth that came with us from the womb.

We betray our Original Nature shortly after birth,
opting for the shimmering,
shinning, wonders of the 10,000 things
that catch our eye
and snare our soul
with their promise of endless delight and glory.

Our story is the story of Adam and Eve.
And the story of Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus was called the Christ,
which is the Greek word for Messiah,
which is the Hebrew term for 
"the one who comes to set things straight."

Here is he sad truth for you:
We all are born to set things straight.
Setting things straight 
is our Original Nature,
betrayed and abandoned at the foot
of the Tree With the Forbidden Fruit,
which opens our eyes 
to the glittering promises 
of all that fails to satisfy. 

Setting things straight,
puts us back in the Garden of Eden
by way of the Garden of Gethsemane
where we hand over our way of doing things
for the sake of doing things
the way they need to be done
by dying eternally on the crossover
between the worlds of truth and deception/
falsehood/delusion/illusion/lie/Missing The Mark.

To know the truth is to be set free
from the fantasy of happy delight forever,
and to be set free for
seeing and doing what needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
here and now forever.

Our choice is the choice between
Dionysus and Sisyphus--
with the difference being 
that Sisyphus knows the secret
of the satisfaction of a job well done,
and Dionysus can only call for more wine 
throughout time.  



Horseshoe Lake 02 09/29/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Adirondack State Park, Tupper Lake, New York
If we were talking,
I would ask you to tell me
about the places of complexity,
conflict and contradiction in your life.

"Where are you most conflicted?" I would say,
and sit back, listening.

Our conflicts and contradictions
and the experiences of complexity
rob us of our peace,
and take the life right out of us.

If we are going to get our balance and harmony back,
it will be by working consciously/mindfully
with the sources of conflict,
and complexity.

It will be deciding where to draw the line
in a number of places
throughout our life.

We are going back to the two circles
touching each other externally
with a common tangent.

The two circles represent opposites/polarities,
mutually-exclusive contradictions:
You and your life.
You and your spouse/child/children/job/etc.
Or, now and what's next.

At the "T" point where the circles touch,
we live our life
to integrate/harmonize/compromise/make things work
between the circles. 

This is the place of the cross 
that is ours to bear.
The way of the cross
that is ours to traverse.

Think of the cross as the crossover point
between the circles of confusion/chaos/conflict,
where things are dark and murky,
difficult to sort out,
painful to deal with.

It's like the dark of the earth
surrounding the seed of life.
The dark of the tomb.
The dark of the womb.
The dark night of the soul
before the dawn of resurrection.

What we do with the dark,
in the dark
is the deed (seed) that tells the tale.

Here's my best advice:
At the conjunction of the two circles,
any two circles,
every two circles,
realize where you are
and know that it is your place
to walk two paths at the same time.

The path of who you are,
and the path of where you are.

What is yours to do 
is to be who you are 
where you are
when you are.
That is, here and now.

Being true to ourselves
and true to our circumstances,
here and now,
is the cross,
is the crucifixion,
is the path of transformation
and new life.

But, it will eat our old life alive,
as we work things out
between the poles
in the darkness of not knowing what to do.

The silence holds all the answers.

Sit still,
be quiet,
wait, watch,
for what stirs to life,
calls your name,
lights up the way,
as a naturally spontaneous impulse
experienced as the thing to do
in response to the moment at hand.

The first box to check off before doing anything
is the "Strive To Do No Harm" guideline 
that has survived the test of time.

The next thing to do is the thing that you know
needs to be done,
crazy as it may seem/be.

This formula fits all of your circles of confusion, 
and is your path to balance and harmony,
grace and peace.



Last Light Oil Paint Rendered — Edisto State Park, Edisto Island, South Carolina
When we are tuned in to our life,
living in tune with our life,
in accord with our life,
magic happens.

"Doors open," said Joseph Campbell,
"where you didn't know there were any doors."

Help comes from the most unlikely places.

We find what we need
when we didn't know we needed anything.

The cosmos is, for once, a very user-friendly place.

What is going on?
Don't pause to think about it!
Just live in wonder,
and go about doing what needs to be done,
the way you have been doing it.

Just listen,
just look,
just stay out of the way,
just continue doing nothing special
in that special kind of way,
like looking at stars
"out of the side of your eyes,"
because they blur and disappear
when you look at them directly.

See what you look at,
and look at everything.

Look closer at what 
catches your eye.

Attend your inner responses,
reactions, impulses,
and obey those impulses
that do no harm. 

Respond/react to the moment,
to the need of the moment,
to what is being called for
in the moment.

The moment is the birthplace
of soul.
Soul comes forth to meet the moment
at its most needy place,
in its most vulnerable and fragile point,
with exactly what is required,
at exactly the right time,
in precisely the right way,
and then is forgotten,
except by those most moved.
It is never to be forgotten by them.

That is the dance of soul with Tao.
Evidence of the mystery
at the heart of life and being.
Available to be a part of
in every moment
of each situation as it arises,
to those with eyes to see
and ears to hear,
and hearts to comprehend.

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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