June 23, 2021

01

Grandfather Mountain 09-10 Panorama 10/17/2016 — Grandfather Mountain State Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Where are we better off?
What do we want?
How can we maximize our profits
and minimize our losses?
What's in it for us?

These are not the questions.

What is happening here and now?
What needs to happen in response?
What does this situation call for?
What can we do about that
with the specialties,
gifts,
virtues,
and shtick
we have to offer?
What do we need
to find what we need
to do what needs to be done?

These are the questions.

Asking the wrong questions
has us where we are.
Asking the right questions
is our path to where we need to be.

Enough said.

–0–

02

Georgia Barn in the Spring Oil Paint Rendered — White County, Georgia, April 14, 2015
Carl Jung said the world is in the mess
it is in
because people don't have anyone
to listen to them.

We cannot hear what we have to say
if we aren't saying it,
and we don't say it
if no one is listening.

Unless we write it out as I do here
constantly,
all of the time,
whenever something needs to be said,
whether anyone is listening
or not.

Knowing when something needs to be said
and saying it
whether anyone is listening or not
is the best thing I do for myself.

It keeps me grounded,
centered,
focused,
balanced,
in harmony with myself
and my context.

The problem, or one of them,
is that no one asks me
questions for clarification,
and I am not pushed/invited
to say more than I've said
about what I'm saying,
so I am constantly leaving things
unsaid that need to be said,
which I would do less of 
if this were a genuine conversation.

How many genuine conversations do you have?
Probably about as many as I have.
They are hard to come by.
Because no one is listening to us,
to what we have to say.

Two things flow from this:
We all need a sounding board.
A sounding board is all we need.

How to find the sounding board we need
is the best trick in the encyclopedia of tricks.

But.

The next best thing is being the sounding board
that other people need.

Being what we need is the surest way
of finding what we need.

Start listening to people--
and learning how to listen is also a good trick--
and that will lead you into the company
of people who can listen to you.

And that is all we need.

Seriously.

–0–

03

Reelfoot Lake 20 11/04/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Reelfoot Lake State Park, Tiptonville, Tennessee
Reduce complexity
(Also known as "Simplify. Simplify, Simplify).
Avoid noise.
Make room for silence.

Silence takes a lot of getting used to.
It is essential that we get used to it.
That we make friends with it.
That we learn to listen to it,
and hear what all it has to say.

We have to bear the pain of the silence
if we are to find the way
and walk the path
through complexity and noise
to the life that is our life to live.

That path is the path 
from the Garden of Eden
to the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Garden of Gethsemane
is the doorway/threshold
to resurrection and new life--
the joy of doing what needs to be done,
and the gladness of having done it,
but the price we pay
is the death of our hopes and dreams
and the life we wish were our life to live.

The path between gardens is called Growing Up.

The silence carries us along the way.
To refuse/fail to bear the pain of the silence
is to refuse/fail to grow up.

The silence asks hard things of us
and provides us with all we need
to find what we need
to do what needs to be done.
But we have to trust that this is so
and risk everything
in opening ourselves to the silence
and facing what must be faced
in doing what must be done.

It isn't called "The Hero's Journey"
for no reason.

The silence is the source of everything we need
to find what we need,
but, 
it is also the wasteland of missed opportunities
and lost chances,
a horror world of regrets and losses,
fear, anger, insecurity and truth.

The Jon Kabat-Zinn YouTube videos
(shortest ones first)
offer direction and guidance into the silence,
and recommend awareness without engagement
regarding what we find there--
just tucking it into our awareness,
and returning to the silence
to find what is helpful and grounding.

However we do it,
the silence beckons and waits.
And, we can only find our way
to The Way
by transforming our relationship
with The Silence.

Capitalized, The Silence becomes
an entity in itself,
a reality that is a synonym 
for the Psyche/Soul within each of us,
and the connection with "the guardians and guides,"
"the wisdom of the ages,"
that Jung called "the Collective Unconscious,"
that is both immanent and transcendent,
and accessible through The Silence
at the Heart of life and Being.

This is a different way of thinking about
That Which Has Always Been Called God,
and it puts us in the position of 
partners/collaborators/servants
of the Numen,
the ineffable Other within/beyond us all.

And makes what remains of 
the time left for living,
present and available for 
the adventure of a lifetime--
if only we will be present 
with what is present with us
in a "Let's see what we can do"
kind of way.

–0–

04

Fenced In Oil Paint Rendered — Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
Being quiet.
Hearing what is being said.
Seeing what needs to be done
and doing it
with the gift that are ours
to serve and share,
sounds, to our ears,
like the most boring kind of fare.
But.
From the other side,
it seems to be adventure
at every turn.

Life, it would seem,
is an optical illusion.
We see what we say is there.
Just saying it in a different language
brings novelty to the fore.
How different can you make things
just by saying what is there
in five different languages?
In ten?

Try looking at something
with no words at all coming to mind.
Draw it with no verbalization of any kind.

Go outside and walk a short distance
with no words coming to mind.

We cannot see without saying.
Our saying biases our seeing.

We think about God
with the language we have been
taught to use in thinking about God.
The language prejudices our view of God.
No one "sees," "perceives," "meets" God
as God is.
God is always who God is expected to be.

An encounter with the numinous is quickly lost
in the words we use to describe
"the encounter with God."
The raw experience itself is beyond words.
We destroy any association with it
when we attempt to talk about it.

Stop talking.
Open yourself to the experience of your experience
without saying anything about it.
When you eat your oatmeal,
just eat your oatmeal.
No internal dialogue.
No mental drifting about.
Just you and your oatmeal.

Start with one spoon at a time.
Like a baby might do it.
Or a mouse.

It will change your life.

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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