May 05, 2021

01

Birch Log 10/21/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Baxter State Park, Millinocket, Maine
Between 200 and 500 CE,
the person or persons responsible
for the Taoist treatise "Cultivating Stillness,"
wrote:
"Abide in stillness, 
and you will enter the true way,
this is called 'receiving the Tao.'"

About the time the Book of Job
was being written, 
Prometheus Bound was also being written.
Two works dealing with two men's response
to an absurd deity in control of their life,
with two completely different outcomes.

2,000 years later, nothing has changed.

The Truth remains the Truth.
To be seen or not seen by those
who live under the same sun
that has burned above all of the ages
to live upon the earth.

The moral of the Garden of Eden
remains the same over time:
"You are going to let your personal desire
for gain and pleasure
ruin your chances at a life
that is truly good."

Or, as it is sometimes stated:
"The Best is the enemy of the Good."

What is good?
Who is to say?
I am to say for me,
you are to say for you.
Who knows what they are doing?
Time will tell.

This is the theme that plays itself out
in the lives of all 
between their birth and death.
How good is the good we call good?
Time will tell.

What leads us to declare
that one thing is better than another?
To say that one thing is good
and the rest is not?

We are all in Eden.
What shall we say?
How shall we know?

"Abide in stillness
and you will enter the true way,
this is called, 'receiving the Tao.'"  

How many have benefited 
from these words
over 3,000 years?

Only those who know what they mean
can understand what they are saying.
How do those who know, know?

What separates Prometheus from Job?

What guides our boat
on its path through the sea?

How do we know what to do when?

"Abide in stillness..." 

–0–

02

Dogwood View 04 04/15/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Balance and harmony,
spirit, energy and vitality,
are worthy guides,
indicating when we are on the beam
and when we are off it.

Ignoring,
dismissing,
overriding
the guides 
has us where we are,
individually and collectively.

We have left the path,
lost the way,
and wander in a wasteland
of our own making,
looking for smooth and easy,
hoping for the best,
dreaming of deliverance
and happiness ever after
at a price we can afford.

The price is the sticky part.

The price we have in mind
is wishing it to be so
without doing anything
to make it so.

We don't want to do anything.
We just want to be happy.
We just want to have our way.
What's wrong with that?
Why can't we just have our way?

Why can't we do what we want,
when we want,
the way we want,
for as long as we want,
and then do something else we want?

That's all we have ever wanted!
Why is that not the way things are?

The price of having what we want
is relinquishing the central place
of having what we want in our life.

Simply put,
the cost of being fully alive
is growing up,
seeing what's what
and doing what needs to be done about it,
in each moment
of every situation as it arises.

Our refusal to do that
is what kicked us off the beam
(And out of the Garden of Eden)
to begin with.

And, here we are,
in the wasteland of our discontent,
still having to grow up.

That is all that is ever in our way.

–0–

03

Howard Street 10/27/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Village of Ocracoke, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Distance from complexity and conflict,
contradiction and forced choices,
anxiety, fear, uncertainty, insecurity, instability,
anger, resentment, grief, sorrow, mourning...
is balance and harmony,
silence and stillness
where the mud can settle
and the water can be clear.

We need places like that in our life.
Sanctuaries,
retreats,
oases 
from a torn and broken world.

A photograph might be
such a doorway,
a portkey,
from there to there.

An art museum.
A library.
A city park.
A country meadow.

The world is filled
with such healing places.
Balm for our wounds,
consolation,
comfort,
for our souls.

It is wrong to not seek them out
and soak up
what they have to offer.
A break from the press of our days,
a relief from the weight of life,
a place to,
in the words of Robert Ruark,
"recover from the past
and store up for the future."

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.

2 thoughts on “May 05, 2021

  1. Amen, brother… preach it now! Glad to see you are still being still✅ hope it stays with you through the days to come. Sometimes five minutes at a time! Carry on, talk soon💕 e$

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Like

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