July 08, 2021

01

Heron Dance 11/21/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina
My 40.5 years of service
as a minister
in the Presbyterian Church (USA)
notwithstanding,
people occasionally wonder
if I am a Christian,
and sometimes say,
"How can you consider yourself 
to be a Christian?"

My stock reply goes like this:

"If you measure your Christianity
by the Westminster Confession of Faith,
including the Larger and Shorter Catechism,
the Apostle's Creed,
the Nicene Creed,
and any collection of hymns
ever compiled,
I am most certainly NOT a Christian
by that standard,
and am proud to not be one.

But.

If you measure your Christianity
by the Sermon on the Mount,
the Parable of the Prodigal Son,
the Parable of the Good Samaritan,
the passage about
'In as much as you done it,
or not done it,
to the very least of humanity,
you have done it, or not done it
to me,'
and the Eden-Gethsemane axis,
I am every bit as much of a Christian
as Jesus was,
and am very proud to be so."

They generally leave the conversation
with no idea of what I'm talking about.
Oblivious to the likelihood
that I am as close to Jesus
as they are ever going to be
in this life,
if not also in whatever awaits
on the other side of death.

And, if that is all they care 
to put into their side of the conversation,
I'm not going to argue with them
about what is and is not "Christian."

I have things I need to be doing,
and "shooting the breeze" 
is not one of them.

–0–

02

The Carteret 11/25/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
I live to do what I'm doing,
and upon retirement
I dedicated myself to solitude and silence,
which I define as having nothing beyond
conducting necessary business
to do with anyone not in my immediate 
or extended family.

The vow of solitude and silence
has served me well,
enabling me to reduce complexity
and diminish noise,
and allowing me the time and space
required to listen and look
for what is important
and for what needs to be done about it
in each situation as it arises--
and to devote myself to its service
using the tools 
(virtues, gifts, proclivities, shtick,
genius, daemon [sounds like "diamond"], etc.
that belong to my original nature
and came with me from the womb)
at my disposal
to do what can be done
about what needs to be done.

The distance I have inserted 
between myself and life as it is,
has helped immensely
in maintaining my balance and harmony,
my spirit, energy and vitality,
my perspective and my response-ability
in the "imminent and transcendent"
aspects of my life,
and I am glad to be able 
to live here and now
in light of,
and in relationship with,
the Mystery at the Heart of Life and Being.

Retirement is a huge assist
in the work of being present to
and in accord with
the Way and its Virtues,
but that work can begin 
at any point in our life.

It is only a matter of
how we use our time
and where we place our attention,
and those are choices
we make in every moment
of every day.

Being aware of what we are choosing to do
with the time that is ours 
is the gate that opens and closes
to how we will be and not be
in each situation as it arises.

Live to never open 
or close the gate
unknowingly,
and you will be a friend
and companion of the Way
all along the way.

–0–

03

Salt Water Marsh 12/18/2013 Oil Paint Rendered — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrel’s Inlet, South Carolina
Walkin' Jim Stoltz said, "One must be intent upon the path."
It is only ourselves and the path.
Keep to the path!
Stay on the path!
Become--and remain--one with the path!

This is what "living in accord with the Tao"
comes down to:
Being intent upon the path!

Being right here right now upon the path!
Just doing what needs to be done--
and often that comes down to
the next thing.

Sometimes it is the next step.
"One step at a time"
is more than an AA slogan.
It is the way of remaining in contact
with The Way!

Live on!
Pass it on!

It doesn't matter why.

Trust yourself to the that.
To the this.
To the path.
Forget about why.

To ask why is to disengage 
from this path right here, right now.

Do not lose the focus on the path!
"One must be intent upon the path!"

Pursuing "Why?" breaks our concentration.
We stray from the path.
We lose the way.
We wander in the wasteland
wondering why, why, why.

Stop!

Stop asking "Why?"
Get back on the path!
"One must be intent upon the path!"
"One step at a time."
All along the way.

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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