July 22, 2021

01

Four-mile Creek Wetlands 01 02/03/2020 Panorama Oil Paint Rendered — Mecklenburg County Greenways, Charlotte, North Carolina
Reducing complexity, 
removing distractions,
and cutting down the volume
of the Noise Blaster
are the best ways I know of
to assist the recognition of what is happening
and what needs to be done about it,
in order to respond to it
in ways appropriate to the occasion.

When my wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer,
we did not need a bevy of concerned people
wondering what they could do,
hovering around us,
distracting us from our primary task
of finding our center
and remaining grounded in the work
of coming to terms with how things are now
and finding ways of doing
what needed to be done.

What that was was not
interruptions and inquiries
about how we were doing,
and what was the latest 
word on the impending surgery,
bringing us casseroles and pies,
mailing cards 
and sending flowers...

We needed things to be still and quiet,
in order to collect ourselves
and imagine our way into our present reality,
and how best to respond to it.

The time from diagnosis to surgery
passed naturally, organically,
at its own pace.

No frenzy.
No anxiety--
it is amazing how anxiety is inflamed
by people wondering how we are doing
and wanting to help us feel better.

Feeling better is finding appropriate ways
of responding to the situation.
Intrusive reminders of the impending event
with questions regarding when the date is,
and wanting us to know they were thinking about us,
is not helping us feel better.
It is distracting us from doing 
the necessary adjusting and accommodating
to square ourselves up with a future 
that will be different
from the one we had to square up to
before the diagnosis.

We all flow along with the current of our life,
not just me and my wife,
but all of us.
Every one of us.
Meeting the day each day,
and all that comes with the day,
doing what is called for in response,
allowing "one book to open another,"
and being receptive and open ourselves
to opportunities and possibilities
as they unfurl before us 
and beckon us to see
what treasures they might reveal.

"Yes" is, for me, a more stabilizing,
centering response to life than "No!"

Receiving all things well
puts me in Rumi's Guest House (Googleit)
welcoming all that comes down the lane
in a "This, too. This, too." kind of way.
Seeing what is called for
and bringing it forth,
enlarges us, expands us, deepens us, matures us,
and readies us for the next thing,
and the thing after that--
whatever they may be.

It is all practice, preparation,
for the ongoing work of being who we are
in relation to all that is with us,
here and now--
and the pure wonder and joy of
doing what needs to be done about it,
and the satisfaction of having done it.

We are fine.
Doing well.
And looking forward to the next thing,
and the thing after that,
all the way to wherever we are going to be
when we get there,
just by doing this,
and then that.

The surgeon says it was caught early enough
to mean the only likely disruption
will be adjusting the mixture
of the hormone salad
that comes in the form 
of one pill once a day
for the rest of time
until the ratios are right,
and then keeping them there.

It is never more difficult 
than getting and keeping
the ratios right.

So, we all will be doing pretty much
the same work
for the rest of our lives.
It's good to have your company.

–0–

02

Goodale 29 11/07/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Adams Mill Pond, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina
It is easy enough to do better,
for the short term,
but the trick is to do better
for the long term,
without also doing worse.

Doing better without doing worse as well
is tricky enough as it is.
Holding the trick in place over time 
is unheard off.

Doing better without doing worse
would be to do better
without noticing it,
without being aware of it,
without intending it.

It would be doing better
by being better,
for nothing,
for no reason beyond being better.

It would be being better for the hell of it,
for the joy of it,
for the satisfaction or it,
without doing it intentionally,
purposefully,
or grading the degree of your betterness,
and pumping your fists because of it.

Unheard of.
Being better for nothing.
"Just because."

We would have to get to the place
of surprising ourselves,
catching ourselves doing something better
than we used to do it
without intending to do it,
without trying to improve,
yet there we are,
amazingly, undeniably, transformed,
out of the blue.

That's what we are aiming for--
living well without aiming to live well.
Reflecting a turning without purpose,
without intention.

That's what we are after.
See if you can imagine how to do that,
and do it.

Spend the rest of your life doing it.
That would be something.

–0–

03

Grandfather Mountan 01 10/17/2016 Oil Paint Rendered — Grandfather Mountain State Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina
Joseph Campbell said Native Americans
would tell their children 
when they left home to seek their fortune
in the world,
"As you walk your path, 
you will come to a great chasm. 
You must jump!
It is not as great as it seems."

What I am doing here 
is asking you to jump.
Not just with this post,
but with the body of work.
Everything I say here--
everything I stand for--
requires that you jump!

I talk about leaving God for God--
for The Mystery--
for The Source of Life and Being.

I talk about throwing away theology--
all theology.
About casting aside the doctrines--
all the doctrines.
And put all of your effort
into trusting your heart
and doing what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises,
no matter what.

You have to JUMP!

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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