August 11, 2021


Falls Pond 03 09/24/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Kancamagus Highway, Conway, New Hampshire
Our original nature
is the super hero
we have been hoping for
to deliver us.

We come forth from the womb
with everything we need
to find what we need
to do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
throughout our life.

Adam and Eve were Jesus of Nazareth
and turned away from the adventure
they were born to live
because it wasn't what they had in mind.

Story sound familiar?
It should.
It is our story.
Nope. Not that life.
We all said.
This life! This is the one I want!
And we cut ties with our original nature
and freelanced it into the far reaches
of the wasteland.

Look around.
If this isn't a wasteland,
I'm hallucinating,
because I see a wasteland
rolling out forever 
in all directions.

It's time to find our way back
to the face that was ours 
before we were born.

You have probably heard me say it before,
here it comes again:
The way back to Eden 
winds through the heart of Gethsemane
and across the face of Golgotha.

That means we have to die to the life 
we have in mind for ourselves,
in order to live the life our original nature
was born to live,
the life that still waits to be lived--
even now, even yet.

We have what remains of the time left for living
to reconcile ourselves with the life 
that is our life to live,
put ourselves in accord with The Way
that is our way out of the wasteland
into the land of promise
for those ready to do what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
using the gifts of our original nature,
for the joy of doing the work
that is ours to do,
and the satisfaction of having done it,
moment by moment,
through all the days that lie ahead--
beginning right here, right now.

We live in an emergency room
with exactly the gifts needed
by everything that comes through the door.
It only takes believing it,
and living as though it is so,
for it to be so
every day.

Stop thinking "original sin,"
and start thinking "original nature,"
and let yours start making the difference
that makes a difference 
in your life and in the world around you!



Reelfoot Lake 29 11/04/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Reelfoot Lake State Park, Tiptonville, Tennessee
We find our way 
to the life that is ours to live
by paying attention
to what stirs our soul,
and to what nauseates us
at the very idea.

It is the Hot-And-Cold game
all the way to the grave.

Are we getting warmer or colder?

That is all we need to know.

To not know,
or to not care about knowing,
seals us into a lifetime
of rigor mortis
that is satisfied
with being dead long before our time--
and we become those
Jesus was talking about
when he advised 
leaving the dead to bury the dead.

We have from now 
until the time we actually die
to be alive in the time left for living--
by knowing what calls our name,
and living in its service
with each breath we take.



Into Red Rock Canyon 03/28/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas, Nevada
Developing our relationship
with our original nature
means developing our trust in ourselves
in giving rein to our spontaneous
sincerity and action.

Whatever is sincere--
without contrivance
or calculation,
and no idea of personal 
benefit, profit or gain--
and spontaneous,
is likely to arise
from deep within,
and is a reflection 
of our sense of what needs to be done
in the situation
that is unfolding before us.

As we trust ourselves to our inner sense
of what is called for,
we will be living from instinct,
intuition and grace,
without being able to explain
our motive or our reasoning
beyond saying,
"It felt like the right thing to do
at the time."

Living in the service of 
the right thing to do at the time
is the kind of life
that transforms the world.



Ramsey Prong Bridge 03/29/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Greenbriar District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cosby, Tennessee
Carl Jung said, “It is the individual’s task 
to differentiate themselves 
from all the others 
and stand on their own feet...
To do this,
they must first return 
to the fundamental facts 
of their own being--
irrespective of all authority and tradition--
and allow themselves 
to become conscious of their distinctiveness."

To do this is to unite 
with our original nature,
which is the heart of Taoist teaching
from 3,000 years BCE.

We live to become who we are
within the context and circumstances--
the authority and traditions--
of the time and place of our life.

The work is eternal and on-going
between the individual's responsiblity
to himself/herself,
and their responsibility
to the culture of which 
they are a part.

This is the tension between
"the primary mask"
and "the antithetical mask"
W.B. Yeats identified,
between who we are asked to be
by the culture into which we are born,
and who we are asked to be
by our original nature
that we are born to exhibit and express
within the culture.

We are born to the struggle
of giving birth to ourselves
within a hostile and restrictive

And so, Jung can say,
“The idea of a second birth 
is found at all times 
and in all places. 
In the earliest beginnings of medicine 
it was a magical means of healing; 
in many religions it is 
the central mystical experience; 
it is the key idea in medieval, 
occult philosophy.” 

And, “As a pioneer, 
you must be able 
to put some trust 
in your intuition 
and follow your feeling 
even at the risk of going wrong.”

And, “The acceptance of oneself 
is the essence 
of the whole moral problem 
and the epitome 
of a whole outlook on life.” 

And, I would add, the summation
of our struggle to be healed,
and whole,
and saved,
and well.

Jesus said, "Why don't you judge
for yourselves what is right?"

"We are the sculptor
and we are the stone,"
(Alex Carrel)--
our work is to carve out
who we are--
to live out our original nature--
within the culture
that supports our existence.



Appalachian Trail 06/06/2012 Oil Paint Rendered — Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, Tennessee
Martin Palmer translates the first
few verses of the Tao te Ching--
the ones normally rendered,
"The Tao that can be said/told/explained/defined
is not the Eternal Tao"--
in this way:
"The path that can be discerned as a path
is not a reliable path."

That is beautiful,
and puts me in mind 
of Jesus' statement,
"The spirit is like the wind
that blows where it will."

Not even the wind knows 
what it is doing next.
God's will is like the spirit
that is like the wind
that blows where it is called to go.

God's will is not some legal decree
set in stone through all of time,
the ten commandments not withstanding
(Jesus' "You have heard it said,
but I say unto you..." is evidence enough
of that).

God's will is born of the moment,
dancing with the time and place 
of its execution.
Now it is like this.
Then it was like that.
And in the future it will be something else.

And so, we have to be alert,
awake, aware,
because we do not know the time of our visitation,
or what will be asked of us then,
and in all times following.

What has been the case 
will not necessarily be the case.
We can't count on anything
but our sense of which way the wind is blowing,
our feel for what is being called for,
and our faith in our ability to dance 
to the tune of the here and now--
with Jesus' "Who do YOU say that I am?"
and his, "Blessed are you if you know what you are doing!"
ringing in our ears.

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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