May 06, 2021


Highway 163 from Mexican Hat to Monument Valley “The Forest Gump Highway” — 09/26/2007, Oil Paint Rendered, Utah
We all crave the freedom
to do and to be
with no clear notion regarding
doing what, being what.

It is as though we are being pushed
to do something, to be somehow,
without knowing what or how.

What to do?
How to be?
The possibilities are endless.
Where do we begin?
Not this!
Not that!
Is all we know.

Well. It's a start.
Start there.
Start with that.
And go slowly.

What is it about this
that is not?
What is it about that?

Become interested in all 
of the nots
that led to this not,
and to that one.

What do they have in common?
What is the uniting element
in all of our nots?
What are we moving away from?

What do we seem to be moving toward?
What attracts us?
Fascinates us?
Where are we most calm,
most balanced
in most harmony with our life?
Doing what? Being how?

Pick up the trail...
Away from this,
toward that...

What is guiding our boat
on its path through the sea?
Seeking what?
Escaping what?

Explore these things 
in The Silence.
Sit before them there.
Waiting, watching
for what emerges,
occurs to us
out of nowhere,
of its own accord,
to call us,
compel us,
to action
in its service.

Go there.
Do that.
Be one with what
calls/compels you
into its service
throughout the time
left for living--
without having to know why,
or for what.



Bodie Island Lighthouse 03 11/03/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
I am fascinated by,
wonder-struck by,
the complexity of life,
of our lives,
of existence--
which is to say,
by The Mystery
of life and being.

What holds it together?
What threatens to tear it apart?
What keeps it going?
What keeps us going?
In the service of what do we live?
How does that work
for the continuation
of the whole thing--
without our giving any thought
to the whole thing at all?

No matter what we do,
it keeps going!
It tucks whatever we do
right into the process
as though that was the very thing
it needed from us all along.

And, if we cooperate,
it seems to like that just fine,
and we seem to have a better time of it,
as well.

What is "it"?
"It" is The Mystery
at the heart of life and being.
What's its game?
Its point?
Its purpose?

All of our questions are invalid.
All of our suppositions are paintings
on a prehistoric rock wall.
Whatever we tell ourselves
is just what we have to say
to give us some sense of meaning
and foundation,
direction and purpose.

We get the same outcome
by sitting still,
being quiet.
Or by exploring our nighttime dreams
and our daytime flights of fantasy.

Everything is a vehicle of projection,
an inkblot,
a mirror,
showing us who we are,
saying nothing about what it is.

We have nothing to say about it.
Our place is to be quiet,
and watch,
and listen.
And do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises,
to the best of our ability,
and let that be that--
trusting ourselves completely
to what, we do not know.



Field Road 08 11/14/2014, Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Our place is to do that
which needs us to do it.

Joseph Campbell said that it comes down to
doing what we conceive to be our duty,
seeing what is called for in a situation
and doing it out of our original nature,
"without," he says, "either desire or fear
for the fruits of the outcome,
without desire or fear for the fruits
either for yourself or for others,
but simply proceeding in the order of life."

He said,"There is a cosmic rhythm,
a cosmic order,
and that order is intrinsic to our nature,
so the real goal of life is to know
how to function in unison with this order."

This is called "living in accord with the Tao"
by the old Taoists
(and by the young ones as well).

"So that," as Campbell said, "our spontaneity
is the spontaneity of nature itself."

It is living in tune with the moment
in such a way as to read the situation
as it is unfolding before us
and around us
so that we know what is needed
and respond out of our own true nature,
with the virtues, or facilities, 
that came with us from the womb,
spontaneously meeting the need 
in ways that are uniquely appropriate 
to the occasion--
the right deed done
at the right time,
in the right way.

The old Christians would say,
"To live like this
is to be in the center of God's will."
And the old Taoists would smile and say,

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: