June 26, 2021

01

Sunflowers 11 Panorama 06/06/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Draper Wildlife Management Area, McConnells, South Carolina,
What's worth our time?
We live to find out.
By now (This is my 77th June),
I have ruled out a lot of things.

Articulating the truth of the moment
remains high on the list.
Saying what's what,
and looking for what needs to be done about it,
is my favorite thing.

It's been my shtick for years.

I'm taken by how many people prefer movies,
sports,
sit-coms
and best sellers--
board games,
quiz shows,
ice cream 
and pizza.

If you can get a Jungian analyst
to talk about themselves--
what they like to do,
what their nighttime dreams
are saying to them,
where they think
their life might be taking them--
you could pick up some tips
for how you might approach
your own life. 

It will come down to paying attention,
connecting the dots,
seeing how this is related to that,
and where that over there came from
and putting 2 and 2 together.

Few of us are that curious 
about ourselves
and how we amassed the assorted
collection of things
that constitute our life,
but it is  great path
to what we could do 
with what remains of our time.

The clues are everywhere
for those who think there must be more to it
than whiskey and picking up dog poop
three time a day.

–0–

02

Goldenrod 10/22/2020 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
If we aren't spending our time
consciously/intentionally/persistently/deliberately
being who we are,
doing it the way we would do it,
we are wasting our time,
and throwing away opportunities
to bring ourselves forth
in the time left for living.

How would you live the rest 
of what is left of this moment
in a way that is true to who you are?
Do that,
and repeat it in all of the moments
that follow this one.

To do that,
you have to have a good sense
of who you are and who you are not,
of what is you and what is not-you.

If you don't have that by now,
now is a great time to begin
getting to the bottom of you.

Awareness! Awareness! Awareness!

How do you play out 
what remains of your life
in ways that are true to you?

Sit quietly and imagine your options,
try all of the imaginable combinations
of potential actions and reactions
until you find some that could work.

Maybe you don't get a divorce
and quit your job as your first move
toward you.

Maybe you start with practicing
becoming courageous 
in small,
inconsequential ways,
until you get the hang of it.

A lack of courage has you where you are,
the practice of courage 
will take you along the path
to where you need to be.

One step at a time.

See what beckons as a reasonable
first step,
and start walking.

–0–

03

Francis Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, Dorchester County, South Carolina
The fundamental conflict
is the conflict between the Garden of Eden
and the Garden of Gethsemane--
between the call of the world
and the call of our soul.

We want what will kill us.

W.B. Yeats saw this as the conflict
between the Primary Mask and the Antithetical Mask.

The Primary Mask is given to us at birth.
It is who we are to be
as parents/family/culture/church/society
would have us be.

This is the Knowledge of Good and Evil,
of the Rules and Ways of Being
that will get us what we want
in the world of space and time.

The Antithetical Mask is given to us before birth.
It is our own sense of 
what is right for us and what is wrong fort us
as our heart and soul (Psyche) determine
what fits us and what does not.

The life that is ours to live
comes with us from the womb,
and at birth we meet the life
the culture has waiting for us
in a "Here, put this on,
fresh from the rack," kind of way.

It does not fit us but there are perks
and fringe benefits aplenty,
so off we go,
out of the Garden,
to seek our fortune
among the flashing lights
and hypnotic sounds of Gay Paree
(Or its local manifestation).

Well, the world has its way of 
doing business and measuring success,
and our soul has its way of 
doing business and measuring success,
and life in one sphere of existence
is death in the other,
and which will we listen to 
and which will we ignore?

What will guide our boat on its path through the sea?

Jesus points the way in the Garden of Gethsemane,
but it is the way of dying to the world's
way of reckoning success
and living to the soul's way of valuing and being.
"Thy will, not mine, be done,"
means we are to be as Jesus was,
liege servants serving our soul
with filial devotion and loyalty. 

And so it is said
that the path back to Eden
winds through the heart of Gethsemane
and across the face of Golgotha.
And we all bear the marks of the cross
in our own bodies
as we wrestle for our life
within the tension the world's way 
of doing things
and our soul's call for faithful obedience
to our oath in the Garden, not Eden, but Gethsemane.

And we work this out again and again,
finding the Middle Way
between World and Soul
throughout our life,
dying and being resurrected
to die and be resurrected
with each choice
in each situation as it arises.

The Middle way
is the slippery slope,
the dangerous path,
like a razor's edge,
between the Primary and the Antithetical Mask,
the world and the soul,
how we serve which to what extent,
and what guides our boat on its path through the sea.

Negotiation and compromise, Kid.
Negotiation and compromise.

Death and Resurrection, Kid.
Death and Resurrection.

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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