July 23, 2021


Charlotte Skyline 19 09/19/2017 Oil Paint Rendered — Romare Bearden Park, Charlotte, North Carolina
Disturbance takes countless forms.
The churning chaos of the clashing rocks,
and the heaving waves of the wine dark sea
are the providential prerogatives
of the gods of disturbance, disorder
and instability. 

Theirs is the province of the 10,000 things,
which they wield with relish
and complete abandon
to the dismay and appall of all sentient beings
throughout their time upon the earth.

We cry, "Peace! Peace," but there is no peace,
and seek refuge and succor
in all places high and low,
only to discover that 
"there is no balm in Gilead,"
or in any of the other mirages 
of refuge and retreat worldwide.

The Buddha under the Bo Tree
and Jesus in the wilderness 
turned within
and found the place of quiet rest
to be in the refusal to be moved
by the forces arrayed against them
in a "This, too, this, too. So what? So what?"
kind of way.

Allowing what cannot be done
to point the way to what can be done
about what needs to be done--
in a "Here we are, now what?" kind of way--
leads to the realization
that we can always sit still and be quiet,
and wait to see what stirs to life
in the silence
to suggest a path,
a direction,
and a response of resilience and determination
first articulated by Ulysses in The Odyssey:
"I will persist and endure!
And when the heaving waves
have shaken my raft to pieces,
Then, I will swim!"



Goodale 05 11/22/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Adams Mill Pond, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina
In light of what do we live?

Our guide through the darkness
and chaos of our life
is our sense of the good--
of what needs to happen
in the time and place of our living
in response to the times--
such as they are--
that are upon us,
surrounding us,
tossing us about
like dust in the wind.

The times define and limit us all,
and it is our place to respond 
to the times that are upon us
by defining ourselves
while staying in touch with the best
that has been and will ever be.

What is that Best that runs through
all times and places?
Paul, writing to the Philippians,
"Whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is excellent,
and worthy of praise,
strive for these things!"

What are those things?
What have people always said they are?
What do you say they are?
Let those things be your guide,
as you live to emulate,
and express them
in the time and place of your living--
through all of the times
you will be asked to live in and through
during the time you are alive.

Be yourself in the service
of your original nature
and the Good that has always been 
recognized as good
through all the times and places
that people have lived upon the earth,
amid the clashing rocks
and the heaving waves
of the wine dark sea.



Long Shoals 02 10/24/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Little Eastatoee Creek, Pickens, SC, October 24, 2014
When we dispense with theology and doctrine,
we are left with our original nature,
our gifts/shtick/specialties/daemon/preferences/interests/etc.
that came with us from the womb,
and with each situation as it arises,
which we read with compassionate awareness,
mining it for what's what,
and what needs to be done about it,
and how we can serve that
by sharing our gifts/etc--
for the joy and gladness of doing it,
and the satisfaction of having done it,
situation by situation,
all our life long.

In so doing,
we would be living
like a dog wags its tail
(Alan Stacel).

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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