July 02, 2021


Two Sunflowers 02 Oil Paint Rendered
If I were writing the script,
on Judgment Day
we would have to forgive ourselves.

And live with what we have done
and failed to do
throughout forever.

I would call it The Reckoning.
Or, maybe, Coming Clean.

We would have to make it right
with ourselves.

It would be heaven and it would be hell.

Those who manage it 
would be in heaven.

Those who don't
would be in hell.

Betraying ourselves
is the worst kind of betrayal.

Those of us who might need more time
could start making our peace with ourselves



Around Bass Lake 12 10/16/2016 Panorama Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
This is called attending the silence,
observing the silence,
listening to the silence,
receiving the silence,
reading the silence,
being attuned to the silence--
all without engaging the silence,
being kidnapped by the silence,
being shanghaied by the silence,
being hijacked by the silence,
being victimized by the silence,
being run-over by the silence,

Here's how it works:
Sit still and be quiet for twenty minutes,
once or twice a day,
opening yourself to the silence
and paying attention to what arises there
without succumbing to the experience.

Your role is that of an interested observer.
Just watch what comes to mind
for twenty minutes.
Then, process the experience
by asking what the scenarios/situations/memories
and what response did you make,
either to them if you were watching 
yourself respond,
or to them as you watched what was unfolding,
and what response do you think would be appropriate now.

Now connect what occurred/arose during the silence
with what is going on presently in your life.
In what ways is your real life situation
similar to what the silence presented?

How are the responses called for by the silence
applicable to your real life situation?

You can also use this same procedure
in working with your nighttime dreams.

What comes up in the silence--
either waking or dreaming--
and what response is called for there
can be connected to what is going on in your life.
You make the connections.
You find the relationships.
You create the meaning
by taking this and relating it to that,
in a "Thou Art That, Then Is Now"
kind of way.

Our dreams and visions and mental wanderings
are screens upon which we project meanings
that are pertinent to ourselves
and to our life situations,
much like ink blots or faces/objects/animals we "see" 
in the clouds
or in the constellations.

And, in this way, are reflections of things
we might explore in ourselves.

It is as though ourselves
are sending us coded messages
through what we see
and how we respond to it,
either in the silence,
or in our actual lived experience.

All of our meanings are projections.
What we say something "means"
is what we say it means,
is what it means to us,
and our collective meanings
are meanings we share because
our culture--
the people we run with,
admire, respect, adore--
create a perceptive atmosphere
in which things are seen in a similar way,
and the Yankees are the best team in baseball,
or the worst team ever,
neither position having anything to do
with the actual Yankees,
who have nothing to do with the Yankees
of fifty years ago or fifty years in the future,
but everything to do with us and who we hang with now.

Seeing our seeing shows us who we are
and how it is with us.
What we do about that is up to us.

The perennial questions our experience asks of us are,
"What response will you make?"
"Why that and not something else instead?"

Our life is the answer to both questions.

May it reflect our reflections
and our intent and purposes,
our entire life long.



Ginkgo Magic 07 11/28/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Ballantyne Ginkgo Park, Charlotte, North Carolina
There is stimulus and response,
action and reaction,
in an eternal cycle
of cause and effect,
without beginning or end,
with one effect
being the cause
of the next effect,
and action without initiation
by some stimulus
being hard to imagine.

The way we respond 
to what is happening,
influences what happens next.

What response shall we make?
How do we know?
How do we decide?
In light of what do we live?
How do we determine
what needs to happen,
when it needs to happen,
how it needs to happen?

Does thinking about it help,
or hamper,
or impede?

When is spontaneity appropriate
and called for,
and when is it "knee-jerk"
and out of place? 

What guides our boat on its path
through the sea?
What are we doing?
Anticipation goes a long way,
but who can be so savvy
as to see what is coming 
and what should be done about it
time after time?

We are stuck too often
to making our best guess
on the run
and hoping for the best,
then doing what can be done
to correct what we just did,
time after time.

I started making better
decisions when I stopped 
having to make decisions
of more import than
"What's for lunch?" and
"What's for dinner?"

I am absolutely brilliant
with nothing hanging in the balance
or on the line.

Give me,
"Do I get a haircut today
or tomorrow?"
and watch me shine.



The Skeleton Trees of Boneyard Beach 10 05/10/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Hunting Island State Park, Beaufort County, South Carolina
We stand between the dichotomies
and dualities,
and reconcile the contradictions
and polarities,
and make the peace
by integrating the opposites
and being the one
who sees the wholeness
hiding within the parts
in a "Thou Art That,"
and a "This, Too. This, Too,"
kind of way.

The Buddhist doctrine of No Duality,
creates the very thing it denies.
To say, "Not That! This!"
is to fashion a duality as we watch.
Suffering and an End to Suffering
is a ground level duality
at the heart of Buddhism.

Enlightenment and Illusion
is another.

Illumination and Unseeing
is another.

Duality is everywhere,
and we make the connections
that create oneness, wholeness--
like music creating oneness, wholeness,
between two dancers.



The Hydrangea Variations 01 05/29/12 Oil Paint Rendered — Greensboro, North Carolina
I am a firm believer in the Developmental Tasks.
Each stage of life comes complete
with Developmental Tasks,
placed strategically along the way
to bring us forth,
grow us up some more again,
and prepare us for the next round of Tasks
at the next level of life.

Going to work at the time to go to work
teaches us things we could not otherwise
be taught.

Being married at the time to be married
teaches us more things we could not otherwise
be taught.

Having children at the time to have children
does the same thing.

Watching the children grow up and leave home
and take their place in the world
does the same thing.

Getting older with all that is implied thereby
does the same thing.

Approaching death, with the help of sickness
and physical ailments, does the same thing.

We cannot skip a stage or avoid the tasks
and be who we would be by paying full price
and riding the entire ride.

The stages and the tasks are for us
as the Cyclops was for Ulysses.

Joseph Campbell said, 
"It took the Cyclops to bring out the hero in Ulysses."

So it is with us and the Developmental Tasks.

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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