September 04, 2021


Swamp Scene 08/13/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
We find what needs to be done,
not by thinking,
not with reason and logic,
morality and ethics,
but by looking and listening,
by seeing and hearing,
by sensing and intuiting,
using instinct and imagination.

"Waiting for the mud to settle
and the water to clear"
is time spent sitting quietly,
welcoming the stillness 
and the silence,
emptying ourselves of forcing
things to happen out of time.

Emptying ourselves of fear,
desire, duty.
Just waiting,
just looking, 
just listening,
without being hooked
or hijacked by anything,
trusting ourselves to act
when the time for acting is upon us.

This is believing in the reality
of flow and timing,
and in ourselves
and our ability to know
when the time is at hand,
and to allow ourselves 
to be swept onto the field of action
in response to what needs to happen

Can we be so bold
and so courageous
as to do nothing 
until the time for the moment 
of action is upon us?

Can we wait, trusting ourselves
to be moved by forces
quite beyond us?

Do we have that kind of faith
in more than meets the eye?
Or words can say?



West Prong of the Little Pigeon River 11-02-2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Chimneys Picnic Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Adjustment and accommodation, Kid,
adjustment and accommodation.

Give me a time and place 
from the beginning to now
when and were things were 
as they ought to be
for more than a wink
in geological time.

Adaptation is what life does best.
All life.
Every life.

We are built/equipped for adaptation.

And we believe deeply
that things ought to be 
just what we want them to be--
and would be if we only had
the Elder Wand.

We have the Elder Wand.
Only it doesn't work on the world
and other people.
It only works on us.

It is our perspective,
our point of view,
our attitude,
our disposition,
our way in the world.

Now, when we think about 
"our way" in the world,
we think bout having our way,
getting our way,
"doing whatever we want."

is what we think we are here for.
That is wrong.
We are here to do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
with no correlation to 
what we want or don't want.

We hear that but it does not register.
We do not comprehend it.
And we turn quickly back 
to the service of getting My Way Now!

Well. We can think of "our way"
as the way we are in the world.
The way we carry ourselves.
The way we respond to what is going on.
The way we live, and move, and have our being.

Our way in this sense
is either in accord with The Way,
or out of accord with The Way.

There is a Way beyond our way
that flows through all situations
and circumstances,
calling/beckoning all things
to align themselves with it--
to be one with the Tao of time and place,
in Ecclesiastes' sense
of there being a time and a place for everything.

And when everything is out of time
and out of place,
we get what we have in this time and place,
with doctors wanting to be actors,
and poets wanting to be famous,
and everybody wanting to be something they are not.

The world is out of harmony,
out of balance,
out of flow.

And our place is to put it right 
with itself,
by being right ourselves
with the flow of life and being
in each situation as it arises.

Basically, that means,
sitting still and being quiet.

When we live from silence
we have a better chance 
of being aligned with Tao,
with Flow,
than when we live from
the noise and complexity
associated with having Our Way Now.

But this is a hard sell
to those bent on having My Way Now.
It is like an old man
walking around saying,
"Adjustment and accommodation, Kid,
adjustment and accommodation,"
to those who can't hear what he's saying.

So he adjusts and makes accommodation,
and keeps walking around 
looking for ways of doing 
what needs to be done,
even here,
even now,
even yet,
even so. 



Smoky Mountain Fall 02 10/19/2017 Oil Paint Rendered — Oconaluftee River, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee, North Carolina
We cannot guarantee the outcome.
"Time and chance happen to us all."
Our place is to align ourselves
with our original nature
and the flow of time and place,
life and being,
with no stake in the outcome,
letting the outcome be the outcome,
and following that 
with more of the same,
alignment with the flow,
doing what needs to be done,
and letting that be that.

This approach is at complete odds
with the American Way,
which is to say,
"Damn the shoreline! 
Full speed ahead!"

No. The shoreline is the limit,
and has to be taken into account,
has to alter our plans,
has to turn aside our wants,
and we have to take "No!" for an answer
whether it suits us or not.

We live from the perspective
of "My Way NOW!"
It is killing us
and destroying the world,
and will be the end 
of the civilization 
that takes it to heart.

We have to change our mind--
individually and collectively--
about what is important,
or else.

My money is on or else.
Not that I will get anything
out of collecting the payoff.



Kiva Ladder 09/22/2017 Oil Paint Rendered — Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
I believe in what I'm doing
even though I believe nothing good
will come from my doing it.

I believe the value in what I'm doing
is not--and cannot, should not--be tied
to the results of what I'm doing.

Results are not a valid measure of value.

There is value in doing what needs to be done,
where and when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
regardless of whether it has any impact for the good
on the way things are.

I submit Jesus as a case in point.
And all of the other people throughout history
who have given themselves to their "art,"
and, in so doing,
apparently "wasted their time and effort."

Living in the service of what needs to be done
with the gifts available to us
in the time and place of our living,
is to live a life of highest value,
whether it "matters" or not.

What are your gifts--
the ones you love to serve?
Live to serve them day to day,
and let the outcome be the outcome.
You get to do what you love to do
all the way!
What could be of higher value than that?

Throw yourself into each moment
as though it matters how you live it!
Believing that it does matter!
Whether it "matters" or not!
That is what truly matters!

And, if it doesn't matter at all,
it, at least, brought out the best in you,
and that matters beyond all reckoning!

Being true to ourselves,
no matter what,
regardless of our circumstances,
in each situation as it arises,
is the only thing that matters!
The. Only. Thing.



False Hellebore 02 04/30/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd, Virginia
People who think following the Tao
is the secret to success,
and glory
and having it made,
have to go back and start over.

They are the people who rush
to embrace "the prosperity gospel,"
as a quick and easy way
of getting what they want.

What they want is the first thing
that has to go,
in following the Tao 
and in being Christians.

Our Way (My Way NOW!)
has to be sacrificed
in service to The Way
(the Tao, the way of the Christ).

Try living, say two minutes,
without doing it your way.

What does a bull ride last?
Eight seconds?
We can't last that long
not doing it our way!

Doing it our way
is second-nature to us.
It is the only way we know
of doing it,
whatever "it" is.

And, it is what has to go
in living in accord with Tao,
with Christ.

Which means that we 
have to live out of the silence
We find The Way
by being still, quiet and empty.

That is the practice
that takes us into the heart
of Tao, and of Christ.

Practice being still, quiet and empty.
Throughout the day,
every day.
When you get that down,
you will be one with Tao
and with Christ.

And it won't be what you have in mind.

Being empty
means having nothing in mind.


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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