July 26, 2021


Backyard Sunset Panorama 01/01/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Indian Land, South Carolina
This is as close to a clear view of the horizon as I have ever lived. I must like it that way.
Wide-open spaces have their place, but I seem to belong to the trees and forests.
If you wonder what I believe,
and what I believe you ought to believe,
it's simple:
I believe,
and believe we all ought to believe,
that it matters how we live.

That's almost it as far as believing goes.
It has a corollary:
I believe we all ought to find 
what is ours to do and do it.

That's all there is to it.

What are you good for?
What is your specialty?
Your shtick? 
The things you love to do?

How often do you do them?
For how long?

Everything about us and our life
comes down to, 
revolves around,
finding our life and living it
within the context and circumstances
of our living.

If you think that's easy,
climb down on its back
and tell them to open the chute.
See if you can go the full eight seconds.
See if you still remember who you are
after one second.

I'm betting not.

It's the old Taoist/Zen
(And Zen is what happened to Buddhism
when it met Taoism)
"What is the face that was yours
before your grandparents were born?"

That's long before things started messing with you.

Who have you always been before the beginning?

You are the only one of you there is,
ever has been,
ever will be.
You really ought to be making the most of it.
Showing your stuff. 
Finding and being who you are.
You've wasted enough time as it is.

Of course, it actually isn't a waste at all.
It got you where you are,
here, now.
All that has gone on before
is like priming the pump.
Preparing you for the Big Stage.
Or better,
preparing you to being prepared 
for the Big Stage.

This is where you come in.
Your place from now on is to live
mindfully aware of you--
of what is you and what is not you.
Only you know that.
And it's time for you to know what you know,
and to live in light of it,
between the you you are
and the you your situation in life
is requiring you to be.

You have to work it out.
How much for you
and how much for your sitz im leben.
That's the question that will
"Fill your heart brim-full,
and break it, too" (William Alexander Percy).

That is the question that will introduce
you to what I call
the Eden/Gethsemane axis,
with the Garden of Eden being the face
that was ours before we (or our grandparents were) born,
and Gethsemane being the way back to it.

We pay a price to be who we are.
And we pay a price to not be who we are.
Which price are we going to pay
is the question.

And our answer to the question
starts with our finding our life 
and it is answered by how we live it.

My idea about the place of the church
in our life
is that it ought to throw away all 
of its theology and doctrine,
catechisms and hymn books
(Books of doctrine set to music),
and start helping people find their life
and live it.

Until it does, we are on our own.
We create our own "churches"--
I call them "Communities of Innocence."
Innocent in the sense that they have 
nothing to gain from us,
with no agenda to serve
and exist only to assist us in the work
of being who we are,
where we are,
when we are,
how we are,
why we are,
what we are,
for the full eight seconds of the ride.

And at the end,
it will seem to be a lot shorter than that.



Grandfather Mountain 08 10/17/2016 Oil Paint Rendered — Grandfather Mountain State Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville, North Carolina
Carl Jung said, "There is in each of us
another whom we do not know."

The Other Within is a psychic reality
for all of us.

Projected outward as "other than us,"
this Other Within 
has always been called "God"--
which goes back 5,000 years or so,
and may find confirmation in Julian Jaynes'
book, "The Origin of Consciousness
in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind."

The Other Within is constantly responding
to our environment
with urges, feelings, compulsions, "red flags,"
moods, symptoms, dreams, instinctive actions,
intuitive notions, etc.

And our ideal relationship with this side
of ourselves
is a collaborative "meeting of the minds,"
where we consult the Other,
and develop our ability to read the Other,
in a joint partnership 
that guides our boat on its path
through the sea.

The fundamental, essential, Way we are to follow
is that of seeing what's what
and what needs to be done about it
in each situation as it arises
with the gifts/daemon/specialties/shtick/etc.
that come with us from the womb,
doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
with nothing to be gained from it
beyond the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it.

We meet all of the ebbs and flows of life
from the orientation of 
taking what comes and doing
what can be done with it,
trusting that we have what it takes
to find what we need
to do what needs to be done
in conjunction with the Other Within
all our life long.

Absent from this scenario 
is any concern for our profit,
our gain,
our benefit,
our advantage,
our wealth,
our privilege,
our good at the expense 
of the good of the whole.

What is called for here and now?
In light of the true good of the whole?
What does "Thy will, not mine, be done,"
mean to you?

Who is the "Thy"?
It is the good of the whole.
The good of the "more than I."

The "I" "comes not to be served,
but to serve, and to give his/her life"
in the service of the good of the whole.

"The whole" being the family,
the tribe,
the nation,
the world.

In this is the "plan" for the whole of life.

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.

One thought on “July 26, 2021

  1. Jim… you are getting really good at summing it up for us. I think those photograph plans paid off, so you don’t have to make them anymore… much love & best wishes, e$

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Liked by 1 person

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