June 27, 2021

01

Bass Lake Trail 06/21/2018 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
When we care about everything,
when it all is important,
we are lost--
as lost as we would be
if we did not care about anything,
if we thought nothing mattered.

The trick is to know what is important,
what matters most--
to care about the things that are primary,
that are essential.

And to tend those things
at the expense of everything else.
Or, as Jesus would say,
"Let the dead bury the dead."

Our place is to know
which stone among all the rubble
is the cornerstone.

Which pearl among the others
in the costume jewelry bin
at the flea market
is the pearl of great price,
and which ones are the cheap imitations.

Which field among all the fields
contains the treasure worth
our complete devotion.

Our place is to know what's what,
and what's not.

What's your center and ground?
The source from which 
everything flows?

What is your adamantine foundation?
The unmovable rock
that anchors your life?

What is your still point,
the axis mundi,
the World Axis between the celestial poles,
from which you allow the mud to clear
and the water to settle--
because you are clear about that?

What is your North Star
which guides you through the darkness,
provides direction,
and keeps your boat centered and true
on its path through the sea?

"Well. I like to snowboard."
Won't do it.

Our place is to know what will do it,
and live from there
in all that we do.

What will do it,
for you?

What has proven itself to be 
worthy of you 
over the course of your life?
Not because someone else 
tells you it should be,
but because you know it is?

What do you turn to in time of trouble?

When everything you thought was trustworthy
dissolves and disappears,
what remains?

What do you turn to
when you have nowhere else to turn?

What stabilizes you,
secures you,
focuses you,
guards and guides you?

That is what is important.
Guard that.
Tend that.
Serve that.
Let everything else
fall into place around that.

Live from your heart,
your center,
your ground and foundation,
at "the still point of the turning world"
(T.S. Eliot).

And, if you have no idea what/where that is,
sit with the question 
in the silence,
until the shift happens,
and something emerges,
occurs,
arises,
appears,
that you know to be 
your guiding principle,
and "a very present help
in time of trouble."

Renew acquaintances.
And live from the center.
From now on.

–0–

02

Chemung County Barn 05 09/25/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Elmira, New York
"That's a terrible idea,
and we are not going to do it!"

Can we say that and mean it
when and where it needs to be said?

To ourselves
and to others
as the case may be?

Do we know a "terrible idea"
when we have one/hear one?
Can we respond to it
as it needs to be responded to?

Can we say, "NO!"?

Can we take, "NO!" for an answer?

Can we be trusted
to know what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises,
and do it--
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
as often and as long as it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
with what we have to work with,
no matter what,
all our life long?

If so, then carry on!

If not, why not?

–0–

03

Cypress Swamp 03 06/14/2019 — Santee National Wildlife Refuge, Summerton, South Carolina
The most important things
have to be taken on faith.
They are beyond facts,
which themselves can be denied,
even though demonstrable 
(e.g., global warming,
evolution).

Which makes the most important things
as ephemeral as they are ineffable,
and subject to derision and ridicule,
and capable of being "laughed out of town,"
dismissed,
disregarded,
denounced
and ignored,
like the stone the builders reject,
and the pearl of great price,
overlooked forever in the costume jewelry bin
at the flea market on the side
of the road not taken
by anyone who knows what they are doing.

"Know Thyself" was inscribed on the entrance
of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi
(Along with "Nothing to Excess,"
and "Surety Brings Ruin").

"To Thine Own Self Be True," was penned 
by Shakespeare in Hamlet,
and makes a fit couplet to the Delphic advice.

Both have to be taken on faith,
and revered as worthy of both faith and practice.
We have to believe they are so,
and live as though they are--
because we know their value
without being able to prove their worth.

How do we know what we know?

We have to take that on faith as well.

Carl Jung said, "There is within each of us,
another, whom we do not know."

How do we know that is so?

It is true, or not?

We take it on faith, or not.
And that is the choice that tells the tale.
The tale being the life we live,
and how and why.

I believe there is indeed another within,
to whom we owe allegiance and loyalty,
troth and faithful service.

I believe we owe it to ourselves
to be who we are,
where we are,
when we are,
how we are,
why we are,
for the good of the whole self
and the benefit of all sentient beings.

And, I believe there will be a reckoning.
I believe we will have to answer
for the life we live,
for the things we embrace and affirm
and the things we denounce and ignore.

I believe it matters how we live.
And that time will tell
whether I'm right or not.

We only have ourselves to please.
But, why not be pleasing?
Why not strive to seek and to know
what is pleasing,
and what is not pleasing,
to our own Self?

Why not live to Know Thy Self--
and To Thine Own Self Be True?

Why think there is something better than that
to do with our time? 

–0–

04

Goodale 29 11/07/2016 Oil Paint Rendered — Goodale State Park, Adams Mill Pond, Camden, South Carolina
Evaluate your balance and harmony.

This is the balance between The You
and The Also-You,
or, if you like, the conscious you
and the unconscious you
(Though the conscious you
is really the unconscious you,
and the unconscious you,
is really the super-conscious you,
if you know what I mean).

Harmony is a measure of the degree
of alignment/resonance/in-tune-ness/
at-one-ment
between the life you are living
and the life that is yours to live,
the life you were born to live,
the life you were "cut out for"
before you were born.

So, how's your balance and harmony?

That is the on-going, regularly recurring,
quality of life reading.

The better your balance and harmony,
the higher the quality of your life.

You can take a quick reading of that
by noting the number and frequency
of your addictive/distractive behaviors.

We begin with balance and harmony,
working to be aware of those,
and what we are doing to assist/resist
their development.

At the same time,
we are keeping an eye on our
spirit,
energy,
vitality.

How alive are we are 
in the way we go about our life
is an indicator of spirit, energy and vitality.
The lower that is over time,
the more attention we need to give
to what is draining and what is restorative,
and counterbalance the former
with an increase of the latter.

The other eye has to be on
our degree of contrivance
and our pursuit of personal advantage,
benefit,
gain
and profit--
and how often we do something
for the pure joy of doing it
and the gladness and satisfaction
of having done it.

Here, sincerity and spontaneity
are the prime indicators 
of doing it the way it needs to be done.

Packaging all of this into 
our daily routine
will transform the way we live
and impact our part of the world
for the better
instantaneously.

So, why put it off? 

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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