August 12, 2021


Green Heron 05/10/2014 05 Detail Oil Paint Rendered — Cypress Wetlands Rookery, Port Royal, South Carolina
When we are not instigating,
not contriving,
not exploiting,
not manipulating,
not setting things up,
not arranging for something to happen,
not striving,
not pushing,
not forcing,
not straining,
not stressing out,
but are simply being present
in the moment
and allowing things to just happen,
everything happens as it should.

Try it sometimes.
Participate in some moment
without trying to get something 
to happen there.

Just be present,
but not in charge, 
not in control,
not directing,
just watching,
letting things take 
their own course,
noticing how things just happen
of their own accord,
when no one has ambitions,
and no one exercises power
and authority.

It's magical.

The occasion seems
to have a mind of its own.
Things happen as they should
and no one makes it so.

We can be forgiven for thinking
that Carl Jung might be right 
when he said, “Our life is not made by ourselves. 
The main bulk of it is brought 
into existence by forces that are hidden to us.” 

And when we operate our life
with a light touch,
giving "the hidden forces"
room to operate,
things tend to happen of themselves,
exactly as they should.

And no one knows what to make of it.



Polly’s Cove Lily Pads 05/03/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Santee State Park, Lake Marion, South Carolina
I have a friend who was always
playing around with drawing
and lettering.

In jr. high, he noticed the lettering
on school buses was chipping off
and wearing away,
so he would climb over the fence
at the bus yard and touch up the letters.
The authorities caught him doing it,
and paid him to do it.

He grew up,
graduated from college
started his own sign company,
and has made a comfortable living
drawing and lettering.

This is letting your life 
guide you through your life.

During college and somewhat afterwards,
he took up sailing,
and told me,
"I became a sailor
the day I realized
the sea was out to get me."

He learned to read the sea
and live within the boundaries 
the sea set,
knowing what he could get by with,
and what he had no business
Knowing "the sea was out to get me"
had meaning on two different levels,
and if he ignored one,
the other would not be lenient or forgiving.

It was the same knack 
he used with his life.
His life was out to get him,
and when he lived out of that 
he was well served.
And when he tried to force his way
onto his life,
compelling it to be what he wanted it to be,
thought it ought to be
(He tried playing basketball for a while),
his life banged him around
like the sea would
when he tried sailing against
the prevailing wisdom of the wind and waves.

The lesson here is see what you look at,
by taking the time to really look at it
and know what it is telling you,
and what doors are open,
and what doors are shut,
and walk through the open doors.

Letting our life have its way with us
is an art to be learned by living,
just as sailing is to be learned by sailing,
knowing what is called for
and what has no business being.

Your life is out to get you.
Know what that means,
and adjust your living accordingly.



Blue Ridge Sunset 03 10/07/2010 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
We are all on our own,
with only our sense of what is working
and what is not
to guide us.

Working in terms of what?

The question is ours to answer.
And we have to be right about it.

Our life teaches us to be right about it.
Which means we have to be open
to changing our mind
about what it means 
for something to work/not work.

To refuse to change our mind
about what is important,
is to bang away at what 
we have no business having/doing
our entire life long,
hellbent and determined
to have our way or die trying.

Cemeteries are filled with people
who died trying,
or quit trying and died without a clue.

Life and living are for finding out 
what is important
and serving it with filial devotion
and liege loyalty.

What does it mean for our life to be working?
For our life to not be working?
Working in terms of what?
Working in light of what?
What matters most?
What is guiding our boat
on its path through the sea?
What are we trying to have
that isn't worth having?
How are we being asked
to change our mind
about what is important?

Those who can change their mind
when their mind needs to be changed,
live a lot better life
than those who cannot.



Green Heron 08 08/02/2013 Oil Paint Rendered — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina
Sitting with our life
in stillness and silence,
waiting to see, hear
what is waiting to be seen, heard,
is the ground 
of all that follows.

The path to the path of life and being.
The path to the path
to the mystery of life and being.

We never know what is going on,
or what it means,
or where its going,
or what it will lead to.
It's all a mystery
unfolding into mystery and wonder.

We go "Aha!" all the time,
as though that means something.
It just indicates a connection
has been made with what has gone before,
in a "That meant THIS!" kind of way--
but we have no idea of what THIS may mean,
or lead to,
or what we are being asked to do now,
so we are always being asked
to sit in the stillness and silence,
listening, looking...

We can never rush ahead,
thinking we have it now at last,
and know what's what
and where its going 
and what we need to do
to make it happen.

Whenever we make something happen,
the wrong thing happens,
and we have to return to the stillness
and the silence,
and allow the mystery to unfold
into mystery and wonder.



Green Heron Silhouette 04 08/21/2013 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina
"To bide our time"
means waiting for the time to be right to act.

How do we know?

What is the difference between "not now"
and "now"?

How often do we say "not now"
when we mean "never"?

All photographs are better in some times
than in others.
This could mean a time for better lighting.
Or a better sky.
Or no wind.
Or no people.
Or more people.
Depending on what the photographer's
desired outcome for the photograph is.

The right time depends upon what needs to happen,
and whether this is the most propitious time
for it to happen,
with "favorable" meaning "desirable."

Ah, but, that supposes we know what to desire.
That is one thing with a photograph,
and another thing with abstract things
like whom to marry,
what career to pursue,
where to live,
what "success" means,
or "happiness",

What is desirable here?
What are we waiting on to know and to act?

We step into darkness and foreboding like that
(Snaps fingers).
We don't know what we are doing,
or what to do
or when to do it
about most of the things that matter.

Where are we better off?
How can we tell?
How do we know?
Better in terms of what?

It helps if we listen to our hearts,
and to our stomachs,
and to our bones,
and to our balance and harmony,
and to our spirit, energy, vitality,
and to our nighttime dreams.

Our body knows.
Let your body be your guide.
And choose your friends wisely.
Hang with those
who listen to their body,
and are friends with stillness and silence.
Be like them in those respects.

You could do a lot worse.


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.

3 thoughts on “August 12, 2021

  1. Hi, Jim,
    I look forward to and read your posts every day. But this one, in particular, (both of them) resonated and grabbed me. I so strongly identify with the sentiment. I will spend some time today exploring and processing. Thank you!


    1. Thanks, Ann. We all somehow share the same “center,” whatever that is, and “know” the same truth at “the heart of knowing,” wherever that is. We are of “one mind,” when we are at one with our own mind, and when we are at one with ourselves, we are at one with all selves, who are and ever have been, or will be. It’s a mystery that connects us all, like an electric current that unites the lights of a large city, or the entire world. We are one. And then we are two. Or a multitude. And then we are one… And the mystery runs through it all… The mystery is basically all there is, and the most we can hope for is to be awed by it and stand/sit silently in its presence. I’m guessing forever/always.


  2. As usual, Jim, your posts give me a Tarot spread that speaks to me and my circumstances. Your words resonate with an inner core that accepts them for whatever needs I have that day.

    Liked by 1 person

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