July 01, 2021


Calla Lily 04/23/2014 Oil Paint Rendered
Transforming our relationship with ourselves
requires us to recognize the importance--
or, better, the necessity--
of establishing a collaborative connection
between the conscious and unconscious
(So-called, not because it is unconscious,
but because we are not consciously aware of it,
and it is our place to become as conscious of it
as we are capable of being)
aspects of ourselves.

We start by taking it on faith
that we all have an unconscious side of ourselves,
a side we are not conscious of,
but one that exists, nonetheless, 
and exerts considerable influence
on our body and our life
without our direct awareness.

We might also take it on faith
that it is the role of consciousness
to open itself to our other side,
so that we grow in our ability
to commune with that side
of our personality 
for the good of the whole self.

If we think of our other side
as our Psyche
and our conscious side
as our Ego,
then the task of Ego is to 
open itself to the influential presence
of Psyche
in the best interest of both.

The nature of this communion
is spiritual/emotional/psychological/
and not rational/logical/intellectual/
which might be thought of as 
a Right Brain/Left Brain association,
and if it helps to think in this way,
what is the harm?

The point is to establish a communion
that works to serve the best interest
of the whole
in terms of how we live the life
that is our joint life to live,
together in the decisions we make
and the actions we undertake.

The Silence is a meeting place
between us.
and daydreaming,
automatic writing/drawing,
reverie and walkabouts,
vision quests
and sudden inspirations...

The Silence is not silent at all.
It has levels and qualities,
depth and breadth,
and surprises by the score.

Everything comes up in The Silence,
and it takes courage and resilience
to stay with the process.

Joseph Campbell said,
"That which you seek
lies far back in the darkest corner
of the cave you most don't want to enter."

We step into The Silence
and find our way past all 
that meets us there
to the Source
At The Bottom Of The Well,
from which flows
"the wellspring of living water
of life and being"--
The Mystery at the end of the lane.

There, we know we have all we need
to find what we need
to do what needs to be done.

And The Adventure begins.


Vermillion Lakes Sunrise 08 09/19/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Banff National Park, Alberta
Hatred and fear dominate the lives
of a lot of people,
and make safety and security
their primary concern,
which translates into addiction and denial,
and creates the very world
they are striving to escape.

Addiction can be to ideologies
as well as to substances.

The secret at the heart of safety and security
is befriending vulnerability and helplessness.

If we can say "Yes!" to everything,
there is nothing to be afraid of,
nothing to hate.

We are going to die.
What is to be gained
by pretending we are not?

Live to die!

Living to die 
is to let nothing stop us
from living our best life
here and now,
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long,
no matter what.

This does not mean ignoring
the implications of present possibilities
and alternatives.

There is imprudent
and there is prudent.
Living our best life
in the service of the best 
we can imagine for the good
of all concerned is prudent.
Living otherwise is imprudent.

We step into each situation
as it arises
and meet the circumstances
we find there
as well as we are able
in light of what is happening
and what needs to be done about it
for the good of the whole,
and serve that at the expense
of all that stands in the way,
and let that be that.

Moment by moment,
situation by situation.

How good is the good we call good?
Good for whom?
Good for what?

What guides our boat 
on its path through the sea?

How we know what to say yes to 
and what to say no to?

What is the ground that grounds us?
What are the values that guide us?
What are we serving with our life?
What orients us,
shapes our life,
forms our responses 
to the experience of being alive?

Who are we?
What are we about?

What are we afraid off?
What do we hate?

If we are not willing to sit with 
these questions,
and ask all of the questions
that beg to be asked
flowing from them,
we will (continue to) be blown about 
by the winds of disruption and chaos, 
into the clashing rocks
and onto the heaving waves of the wine dark sea--
with nothing but more of the same
for as long as life shall last.



Ginkgo Magic 01 Panorama 11/28/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Ballentyne Ginkgo Park, Charlotte, North Carolina
There are two phrases:
"Thy will, not mine, be done."
"It is The Way."

And there are all of the questions
that beg to be asked
in response to these two phrases.

Who is the "thy"?
What is "the way"?
Are they different?
Are they the same?
How do we know?
What makes us think so?
How do we know what "thy will" is?
How do we know what "the way" is?
Who is the authority in this matter?
Who knows what's what here?
What makes us think they can be trusted?
What makes us think they know
what they are talking about?
Whose word can we take?
How can we be sure we/they 
are not just making it all up?
What makes us think there is a "thy"?
What makes us think there is a "way"?

All of the questions that beg to be asked,
include the questions that beg to be asked
by the questions that beg to be asked.

In all of this,
there is the sphere 
of insight,
where the only guidance
is the pull of resonance,
the attraction of what "catches our eye,"
the sense of "this is for me"
and "this is not for me."

What is behind, at the bottom,
of all of that?

Our sense of direction,
of what is right for us
and what is wrong for us
is grounded on what?
A feeling?
A hunch?
A nudge?

How do we know what we think we know?

What is the grounding conviction
that anchors us through
the complete loss of everything?

What do we turn to 
when we have nowhere to turn?

On what do we stand 
that nothing can knock us off?

What is the nature of that connection?
Of that reliance?
Of that trust?
of that faith?

How do we tend that relationship?
How do we nurture that bond?
What does it mean for us 
to hold up our end
of the association with The Mystery
at the Heart of Life and Being?
What is "doing our part"?

Are we doing it?



Union Pacific Lift Trestle 01/26/2017 Oil Paint Rendered — Red River, Alexandria, Louisiana
Acquiescence and accommodation, Kid.
Acquiescence and accommodation.

Our ability to acquiesce and accommodate
our context and circumstances
comes with maturation.

But we can,
as has often been said,
"grow old without growing up."
And that is "the kink in the hose."

"There is no cure for what ails us."

We have to change our relationship
with ourselves 
and with our life
for anything good to come from it.
And that is
"well within our reach,
but it exceeds our grasp." 

And we remain stuck in place
until something happens
to shock us awake
and put on the path 
of growing up,
which is the only thing
that can save us.
But that would be like death itself.

And so it is said,
"No one can live without dying."
Metaphorically understood,
but the agony is real.

We are waiting for what
will kill us and bring us to life.

The Buddha died figuratively under the Bo Tree
before he died literally from eating bad pork.
Jesus died figuratively in the wilderness
before he died literally on Golgotha.

We are waiting for a figurative death
to bring us alive in a literal way.
Because, as it stands now,
we are dead to the world
without knowing it
and need to be brought to our senses
while there is still time to come to life.

Acquiescence and accommodation, Kid.
Acquiescence and accommodation.

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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