June 14, 2021


Cattails 10/25/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Pamlico Sound, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
The person, real or fictional,
with whom I identify,
and in whom I see myself reflected
"to a Tee,"
is Tevya in The Fiddler on the Roof.

Tevya IS the fiddler on the roof--
trying to maintain his balance and harmony,
and stay in tune with what he is doing
and what needs to be done,
while the stabilizing influence
of his traditions and way of life
are being blown away 
by the winds of upheaval and disruption
in antisemitic Russia.

Milking his cow 
and selling the milk from his wagon,
which his horse dutifully takes into town
every day,
keeps Tevya going in more ways
than he might think.

His routines connect him 
with The Way for him through life,
and he would be lost without them.

The movie ends with him disembarking 
from the ship that brought him and Golda
to New York and a different way of living.
My heart breaks for Tevya and Golda
as they try to piece together
new ways of maintaining the traditions
that ground and anchor them,
providing balance and harmony,
and enabling them to live in tune
with The Way in new ways
in the time left for living.

That is my problem,
and yours,
in these times
which time has brought to us,
where nothing is fixed
and who knows what they can count on
from one day to the next,
and everything is as uncertain
and unsteady as a fiddler on the roof.

I see myself riding my mule
and tending my cow,
and trying to fit my life
around those two things.
My mule is my photography,
my cow is my writing.
They order my life
providing balance and harmony,
while I try to find The Way
through the clashing rocks
and heaving waves
that are created by 
the latest news reports
throughout each day.

I work to diminish the impact
of the noise of the world
and keep it from
disrupting my peace,
as I seek the grounding source
of the Mystery at the Heart of Life and Being,
and live from there
in alignment with my original nature,
and the spirit, energy and vitality
that flow from it.

How well we are able to do that,
and help one another do that,
tells the tale,
and provides the necessary connection
to "the still point of the turning world,"
"the axis mundi,"
"the world pole,"
which grounds us in the perspective
of seeing what needs to be done
and doing it,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
moment to moment
through all that comes our way.

May it be so for all people everywhere always!



Peaches 07/24/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Ed Lester Farm, Coushatta, LA
Religion without theology
is a good thing--
the best thing--
connecting us as it does
with one another,
with all others,
with ourselves,
and with The Mystery 
at the Heart of Life and Being.

The Mystery is
why we see the way we see,
feel the way we feel,
think the way we think,
value what we value,
love what we love,
do what we do,
revere what we revere
and are blown away by
experiences with radiance and wonder
in things like truth,

We are awash in Mystery,
and act like "meh."


Until we become sensitive to,
aware of,
students/disciples/servants of
we are of all people
the most to be pitied,
because nothing can be done for us--
we are dead people 
waiting for some undertaker
to make it official.



Field Road 14 01/13/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Who is your model for life?
who represents your ideal for how to do it?
Living or fictional?
What about them attracts you?
What characteristics do they possess
that you admire?
Make a detailed list
of what sets them apart for you,
and spend the rest of your life
working to embody/incarnate/exhibit/express
those aspects of who they are,
so that they come to life in you
and live through you,
and they and you become one.

The spiritual law is valid in all times and places:
We admire in others
what is trying to be actualized
in ourselves.

We see in others who we are
and who we are to be.

Allowing them to be our lodestar,
our talisman,
puts us on a path that is our path
because we will be "doing them,"
not as they would "do them,"
but as we would "do them."
We become ourselves by "being them."
And they would admire in us
what we admired in them--
without recognizing themselves
in the process.

It isn't a cop-out
to become what we admire,
but a short-cut,
taking us to the heart of the matter
much sooner than if we were left on our own
to discover with no clues or directions.

Be clear about what attracts you,
and get to work!

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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