July 06, 2021


Dawn at the Totem Formation 09/22/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Monument Valley National Tribal Park, Arizona
There is what happens
and there is what we do
in response to what happens,
which sets us up 
for what happens next.

And that is the full scope
of our life.

The quality of our response
to what happens here and now
determines the quality 
of our life
through all the here's and now's
of existence.

We cannot live well
without responding well
to what happens
in each situation as it arises.

Which raises this very interesting question:
What determines the responses you make
to what happens to you?

Or, to put it another way:
In light of what do you live?

Or, one last formulation:
What guides your boat 
on its path through the sea?

There are two very basic sources of guidance:
Intrinsic and extrinsic. 
Organic and inorganic.
Heart and head.

How do we know what is good?
For us and for our situation?
How do we assess the good?
How do we determine the good?
How good is the good we call good?
Who says so?
How do we know?
Where does our idea of the good
come from?
How valuable has it proven to be
over the course of our life?

Our idea of the good 
is the basis of all of our responses
to all that happens to us
all our life long.
It helps to be right about its value.

Living in light of a good
that is worthy of us
results in a certain kind of life.

Living in light of a good
that is not worthy of us
results in a different kind of life.

What is the good we are serving
with our life?

That is what is guiding our boat
on its path through the sea.
Governing our response to what's happening now.
Setting us up for what will happen next.
And so it goes.
All the way to the end of the line.

Beware of the good you call good.

And be very aware of it.
From that flows everything
that comes.
And goes.



Around Price Lake 04 Panorama 10/17/2016 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
My idea of marriage
has nothing to do with love and sex
and everything to do with 
a grounding, stabilizing,
relationship between two people,
which creates a bond of intimacy,
that leads to love and sex.

Intimacy comes first,
and intimacy is grounded on
truth and honesty,
not love and sex.

People make love
to avoid being intimate.

People make love
without ever having an honest/truthful
about things that deeply matter.

Find someone you can talk to
and marry them.
Love and sex will fall into place
around your conversations.

The right kind of conversation
is a grounding/stabilizing
source of realization/enlightenment/illumination
for both people--
enabling each person 
to find and live their own life,
in balance and harmony with themselves
and with the other person,
and is the miracle everybody is looking for,
thinking it is about love and sex,
when it is about honest/truthful conversation.

Honest/truthful conversation
is the grounding/stabilizing force
harmonizing all of life.

The world is in the mess it is in
because no one is talking to anyone
in ways that are honest/truthful.

The right kind of marriage 
will save the world.



Cade’s Cove 13 05/16/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Sparks Lane, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend, Tennessee
Growing up is dying.

We do not transition from 
one way of seeing/thinking
to another way of seeing/thinking
without dying.

Perspective changes are death experiences.
There is nothing "near" about it.

The metaphor of death and resurrection
is our guiding companion
throughout our journey 
from who we have been
to who we are becoming--
to who we are being asked to be.

If we aren't dying,
we aren't living.
We are dead, dead, dead.

That's the irony.
We either die or we are dead.
If you understand that,
you are not dead,
but if you don't die willingly,
again and again,
all the way,
you will be dead
long before some coroner
makes it official.

Where are you refusing to die?

You can die the death
that leads to life,
or you can die the death
that leads to being dead.

Whether we live or die
is strictly up to us
at every point along the way.
If we die, we live.
If we don't die, we die.
Simple as that.



Ginkgo Magic 01 Panorama Detail 11/28/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Ballantyne Ginkgo Park, Charlotte, North Carolina
We take our orders from another source,
which makes no sense,
and does not stand to reason,
but, if we take it on faith,
and go with it as though it is so,
doors will open where doors
are not apparent,
and things will happen coincidentally
at just the right time,
and there will be help when we need it,
and things will occur to us out of nowhere
to guide us to places 
we would have never considered going,
and into the company of people
who say just what we most need to hear,
when we most need to hear it--
and nobody could arrange our lives
the way our lives turn out to be,
and yet, it is as though someone 
has written the book
and we are just reading the lines,
playing the part that was assigned to us
before our grandparents were born.

It is magic.
It is mystery.
Unfolding around us.
Enfolding us in it.
Why isn't everyone 
coming along
for the adventure of their life?

One situation at a time.
Beginning here, now.
Or you in or not?

If you are in,
just watch, listen,
see what happens
and what you need to do in response.

It is that easy.
And that ridiculous.

Toss aside everything you think you know,
and watch, listen...

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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