October 04, 2021


Cabin in the Snow 02 02/11/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Faires Coltharp Cabin, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
What needs to happen
in a situation
becomes apparent in time.

If we wait too long to be sure,
it becomes what should have happened there.

The time to act is a tight window,
and we have to be attentive
in an interested kind of way,
and not in a panic-driven, 
obsessive/compulsive kind of way.

It is like having an interest,
but not having anything at stake,
in what needs to happen.

I think of it in terms of fishing,
like I used to do as a child,
with a cane pole, a cork,
and a hook with a worm on it.

You have an interest,
but you don't have a pressing need.
The time to set the hook
depends entirely upon the fish.

So it is with determining 
what needs to be done in a situation.
We have to wait to see,
but it is actually a matter,
not of seeing, 
but of sensing.

We put ourselves in neutral,
in a very present and much attentive
and watch to see what we do
and when, and how, we do it,
without being the one to tell
ourselves what to do when and how.

We don't know what to do when or how.
We are waiting on "the fish" to strike--
for the time to be at hand.
And time for what,
we do not know for what, 
but are waiting to see,
in an alert and interested way,
for what we do,
when and how.

It is all very magical/mystical,
how the right action,
at the right time
in the right way
happens of itself
exactly as it needs to
through no effort of our own,
though we are very much
a willing participant
in the making of a miracle.

This is the old Taoist idea
of Wu-Wei, of doing
without meaning or intending,
but acting when the time is right
with someone, or something, else
doing the directing and the acting.

We can't explain it,
we can only experience it,
by being present and interested,
and waiting for the fish to take
the cork under.



Overcast Sunrise Detail 09/06/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Carl Jung said, "There is so much
trouble in the world
because people don't have a chance
to tell their story,"
or words to that effect.

Everybody talks.
Nobody listens.
So people quit talking
and start shooting up schools.

Telling our story,
saying what we have to say,
is such an intimate,
way of exposing ourselves
and risking ridicule
and humiliation
that few of us are willing 
to open our mouths.

Journals are a worthy substitute,
How many of the earth's population
have access to paper
and something to write with--
or know how to write?

we have so little of what 
we need
to do what needs to be done,
that it is a wonder
that any of us keep going.
And most of us do not go well
into the next moment
and all of those following.

Because we do not get
to tell our story.

We don't even know we have a story.

People stop caring
after a very short while
of being ignored,
and social media is what it is
because of the apparent platform
for getting attention
and finding acceptance--
except that the reality
can be rejection and exclusion,
or a sad form 
of "Hey, Look At Me Now!"
that says nothing about who we are,
or what our story actually is.

The absence of caring
because we lack being cared for
is epidemic.
Not caring is not caring what we do,
or what happens if we do it.

Because no one ever said,
"Hello in there--hello.
How is it with you today?"

Notice someone today.
Ask them how it's going.
See where it goes.



Moonrise 09 10/17/3013 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Outer Banks, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
First, we empty ourselves,
then we open ourselves to the silence.

Emptying ourselves is becoming aware
of our fullness--
of all that fills us,
that goes on within us,
non-stop all the time.

Stop and listen to,
look at,
what is there,
all of the time,
without letting up
or slowing down.

The feelings,
the moods,
the words...
and then become aware
of what is going on 
in your body.

How is your body reacting/responding
to your situation-in-life?
What does it feel like in your body?
Where does your body carry its tension?
When does your body ever relax?
Where is the tightness?
Where is the pain?
How does your body "talk" to you?
How often do you listen?

And then, there are your dreams--
your daytime fantasies
and your nighttime dreams.
What are they?
What are they saying?
How do you understand them?
When do you ever listen to them?

Spend time being aware of all of this.
How do you bear it all?
How can you stand up under it?
How do you release the pent-up power
of your inner world?

Awareness is release.

Jon Kabat-Zinn's YouTube videos
(The shortest ones first)
are an excellent resource 
for developing awareness
and managing the whirling impact
of the world within.

Start there.
And learn to let it go,
to be empty of it,
by "tucking it into your awareness,"
and "returning to your breathing,"
and "listening between breaths"
to nothing at all.

That "nothing at all"
is what emptiness sounds like.
Keep practicing being empty
until you can maintain
"nothing at all"
for two breaths,
then three...

When you are able to be empty,
open yourself to the silence,
and sit still, be quiet.

And pay attention
to what arises in the silence,
particularly to what resonates with you,
catches your eye,
calls your name,
just by emerging
occurring to you
from within the silence,
“of itself”
as a gift to you from the silence.

Look closer there.

See where it goes.

The right kind of silence
and the right kind of emptiness
are the keys 
to the right kind of response
to the context and circumstances of our life.

And that transforms everything over time.

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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