August 29, 2021


Symbols of Transformation, Wu Wei
Wu Wei is a Taoist term.

For action that is a spontaneous response 
to the situation as it arises--
a response that is not thought into being, 
but lived into being 
at the appointed time and place
of its occurring.

It is doing the right thing 
at the right time 
in the right place
in the right way
no matter what.

It cannot be practiced. 
It can only be done.

The secret of doing it,
and doing it consistently over time,
is being who you are
where you are
when you are
how you are
at one with "the face that was yours
before your grandparents
(all four of them)
were born,"
which is to say
at one with your original nature
and at one with the circumstances,
the here and now,
of your living.

Being who we are
here and now
and being right
about what needs to be done
and doing it
is all there is to it,
across all times and places.

Get that down, 
and you have it made,
as much as you can have it made,
in times like these,
and a place like this.

This may as well be Nazareth, 
or Gethsemane,
or Golgotha,
given the sacrifices
we are being asked to make
in being true to ourselves
in the time and place of our living.

Or, as the old hymn intones,
"I once was lost,
but now I find,
I was blind,
and now I see."

And, seeing, enables us
to bear our cross
the way it must be borne,
laughing and dancing,
twinkling and prancing,
all the way.


When Peggy Lee sang, "Is that all there is,
all those years ago,
this is what she was talking about.
Being who we are, 
where we are,
when we are,
how we are
in the service of what needs to be done,
right here, 
right now,
no matter what--
and being right about it,
and doing it
even so,
in each situation as it arises.

That is all there is to it.
No kidding.
Will you do it
even so?

That is the question,
the answer to which
tells the tale.

What's the tale we tell
with the way we live our life?
It all depends on 
how we answer the question.


Here comes a link to my Symbols of Transformation Gallery on WordPress:

This isn’t a slide show, but a glimpse of the entire Gallery.
You can click on an individual image to enlarge it, and click on the > or the < arrows to move image by image through the Gallery, but it is too much, to assume anyone would want to watch an entire slideshow of so many images of the same things. But, if you want to, there is also an arrow for a slideshow tucked away at the top of the page, on the right side I think.

Symbols of Transformation are images that invite us to sit in the stillness, listening to the silence, recovering our sense of balance and harmony, integrity and wholeness.

Each symbol is a Mandla, a “magical circle,” a “circle of wholeness,” (even though many are rectangular–you have to pretend they are circles, and allow them to work that way) which allows us to explore the connection between the image and ourselves, our fractured, divided, shattered, scattered selves, and begin the work of healing and wholeness just by contemplating the image and allowing it to “work” on us and within us, in ways beyond the reach of words, explanations, logic and reason.

If the idea is compelling, find an image to “work with,” and let it “work” on you!



Goodale State Park 09 11/01/2013 Oil Paint Rendered — Adams Mill Pond, Camden, South Carolina
We have to know “NO!!!” when we see it, 
and shout it out, 
drawing the line 
where it needs to be drawn—
where it must be drawn—
every time,
time after time. 

It is the burden and duty 
of those who see 
to know “NO!!!” 
when they see it, 
and to say so.

The lines we draw
define us,
shape us,
form us,
declare us to be
who we are,
where we are,
when we are,
how we are,
why we are
in the here and now,
in the present moment,
of our being/becoming.

We are forever being/becoming
by drawing lines
which draw us forth
and declare us to be 
who we are
right here, right now,
knowing "NO!!!" when we see it
and saying so,
one situation at a time.



Ocracoke Lighthouse 03 10/27/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina
Do it the way it needs to be done
and step back,
letting nature take its course,
allowing the outcome be the outcome,
which, of course, ushers in 
a new situation
which calls us to do what is called for,
inviting us to do it the way it needs to be done,
and step back...

On and on,
like that.

Like Sisyphus and his rock forever.

Our rock is each situation as it arises,
doing what needs to be done there
because it needs to be done.

What? You wanted some reward?
Some acknowledgement?
Some token of appreciation and gratitude?
You got your life!
How can you beat that?

Your life with servants, maybe?
With a large white house on some hill?
With a parking garage filled with fine cars,
a different one for each trip?
What would it take?
For you to be happy.
At last?

Quit your bellyaching,
and your moaning and complaining,
and stand up
and step into the next situation 
as it arises,
and do there what needs to be done there,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
with the right attitude/perspective/spirit.

And keep doing that
situation by situation
for as long as life lasts.

And let nature take its course,
allowing the outcome be the outcome,
whether you are happy about any of it or not.

Like Sisyphus and his rock.
Through all eternity, if need be.
Dance with it
like you mean it!
Starting now!



Reedy River Falls 06 07/16/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Falls Park, Greenville, South Carolina
No one knows why we see the way we see.
No one knows why what is important to us
is important to us.
No one knows why we feel the way we feel
about the things in our life.
It is all a mystery.
We are a mystery.
To ourselves and to each other.
We are all "in the same boat,"
not-knowing why we are the way we are,
and not some other way instead.

Yet, we all think that the way we see things
is the right way to see things,
and that everybody ought to see things
just like we see them.

All of which is to say,
"Just chill out about it!"
The way we see things 
is just the way we see things,
and it has no correlation 
with how things are,
and no matter how things are,
they are going to change faster
than the way we see things changes.
We can bet on that!

Our seeing things does not keep up
with the speed with which things change,
and then we spend our time wishing
things were the way we see them--
which is not how they are,
but how we want things to be!

We see what we want!
Not what IS!

And what we want is MY WAY NOW!!!

Chilling out would be good for everybody.

Sitting still.
Being quiet.
Listening to the silence beyond 
the noise we are creating 
by wanting what we want right now!

Wanting what we want comes 
in three flavors:
Fear--what we are afraid of.
Desire--what we think we must have.
Duty--what we think we ought to do.
And our place is to let it all go!
To not take any of it seriously!
To Be Here Now,
focusing on the situation at hand,
seeing what is happening
and what needs to happen in response,
being right about what needs to be done
and doing it in response to the needs
of the situation as a whole,
in each situation as it arises,
allowing the situation to call forth
our response to the situation,
like if the dog barfs on the carpet,
we clean up the barf
before doing anything else.

What is the situation calling for?
What needs to happen?
That is all we need to know.

What we think about it doesn't matter.
How we feel about it doesn't matter.
How much we wish things were different doesn't matter.
Doing what needs to be done
is the only thing that matters
in each situation as it arises.

It doesn't matter how we see things
or what we want or don't want.
If the dog throws up,
clean up the mess.

What is equivalent to the dog throwing up
here and now?
Do what needs to be done about it,
here and now!

Chill out!
Sit still!
Be quiet!
Listen to the silence--
beyond the noise we create
with our association with

And do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

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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