October 29, 2021


Beneath the Maple Tree 10/15/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Greensboro, North Carolins
There is only the pain--
dancing with the pain,
bearing the pain,
coming to terms with the pain,
making our peace with the pain...

Growing up is an exercise 
in pain management.

Living is adjusting ourselves 
to the pain of being alive.

If you don't know what I'm 
talking about,
you are in denial.

Denial is our favorite way
of coping with the pain of our life.

Then comes escape,
diversion and distraction
in the form of sex,
drugs and alcohol,
and sugar.
Yes, I said "Sugar."

And pain provides
the background music
for it all.

What is the nature of your pain?

How many different versions/varities of pain
invite you to come out and play
in a day?

What is your favorite remedy
for the pain in your life?

How do you take your mind off
your pain?

How do you deal with your pain?

I deal with it with a wink 
and a grin,
and getting back to work
in the service of what 
needs to be done here and now--
accommodating myself to my pain
as best I can,
in a "This, too. This, too,"
kind of way.

I receive my pain mindfully,
aware of where it comes from
and what it is saying to me
about me
and the way I'm living my life,
and altering my way with life
by taking my pain into account.

There is no avoiding it,
or getting away from it.
There is only increasing it
or decreasing it,
and all too often,
our efforts at decreasing it
increase it.

Through it all,
our relationship 
with our pain
is the single most important factor
determining how well our life is lived.

Mind how you go.
There is no pain-free life.



Pumpkins 02 10/20/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Pike Nursery, Charlotte, North Carolina
There is only balance and harmony
and the peace with which we go about our life.

Of course, there is a catch.
Catch-22 (Wasn't that a great idea
for a book?).
Actually, its Catch-1.
The first catch there is.
It is the fundamental catch of existence.

In order to be at peace with our life,
we have to be living the right life.
That's the catch.

If we aren't at peace,
we are also out of balance
and awash in disharmony.

Every good thing depends 
on our living the right life.

All the churches,
all the religions,
of the world
need to throw away their 
theology and their doctrines
and transform themselves 
into places where people
are assisted in the work
of finding and living their right life.

This is spiritual work
in the fullest sense of the term.

"Spirit. Energy. Vitality"
Flow from balance and harmony,
emptiness and silence,
sincerity and integrity,
courage, virtue, resilience,
compassion and caring--
all of which are characteristics 
of living the right life.

Stop what you are doing,
sit down
and don't get up
until you are getting up
to begin living your right life.
The life that is right for you.
Everything is waiting 
to fall into place around that.

Make finding and living 
your right life
the organizing principle
of your life.

When people ask you what you are doing,
tell them you are looking 
for your right life,
and ask them if they have seen it.
And then ask them 
if they are living their right life.
If they are,
ask them for tips you might use
in finding yours.

It will be a far better conversation
than any of the others
you have in a day.



Koi Pond 02 10/20/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Pike Nursery, Charlotte, North Carolina
We have to be stripped of everything
before we can access the Numen,
before we can stand in the presence
of the Source of Life and Being.

We cannot get there by seeking an audience
and looking for the right spiritual practice,
the proper rituals,
the prescribed path.

We are not transported there by motive
and/or desire.
The way is via the one thing
we dread the most:
We get to numinous reality
by way of the Void.

It can be thrust upon us by life experience,
or we can open ourselves to it
by self-abnegation
and emptying ourselves of all 
our void-avoidance techniques and behaviors.

And sit empty 
in the stillness
and the silence
waiting for something to stir,

How empty can we be?
For how long?

That is the way
to The Way
that is the Source of Life and Being.

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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