January 06, 2022

01

The Owl’s Bath 04/29/2013 Oil Paint Rendered — Barred Owl Bathing, The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina
We find the harmony,
and it finds us.
But, we don't go looking for it.
We open our eyes
and there it is,
looking for us.
Waiting on us.

It is there all along,
waiting.
For us to open our eyes
in just the right way,
on just the right day,
And there we are.
Asking, "Where have you been?"

Maintaining the harmony
is also tricky. 
We do it by trusting the harmony
and trusting ourselves,
and dancing with what life brings us,
with what we find in our path,
with what the day delivers.

Chasing after,
and running from,
are equally not recommended.

Just waiting.
Just watching.
Just listening.
Letting curiosity lead us 
along the way.
Looking closer at what catches our eye.
Listening attentively to what sounds
interestingly intriguing,
and perhaps like something 
we have heard before.

Missed chances
and ignored opportunities
tend to circle back around
wearing different clothes,
wondering if we have what it takes
yet.
And hoping we do.

Our place is to keep coming back
ourselves,
until we see/hear what is there at last.
And move on to the next thing,
and the one after that...

There is always more to realize,
more to hear/see,
more to know,
more to do,
more to be.

The boundaries of the soul, you know,
are so deep and wide,
eternity is not long enough to explore it all.
And that is what eternity is for.

Making connections.
Drawing conclusions.
Redrawing conclusions.
Playing hunches.
Waking up.
Waking up some more.
Again.
And again...
All the way.

Better get a move on,
by sitting still,
and being quiet, 
and empty in the right kind of way.

There is no time to waste.
And no time like now to begin.

–0–

02

Upper Falls 01 10/11/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
The wrong kind of emptiness
is filled with arrogance,
and terror,
and self-assurance,
and certainty,
and conviction
and hopelessness,
and futility,
and meaninglessness,
and loneliness,
and on and on like that...

The wrong kind of emptiness
isn't empty at all.
And has to truly empty itself
of everything.
Absolutely everything.

Beliefs,
faith,
hope,
charity,
fear,
hate,
greed...

The right kind of emptiness
is as empty 
as the pause between breaths,
which, if you haven't been with me here
for long,
you get to on about the third breath,
if you take three full breaths,
extending your stomach on a slow inhale
to full lung capacity,
exhaling slowly expelling all the air
by drawing your stomach in toward your spine,
and pausing for a count of ten
before repeating with a slow inhale.

By the time you get to the third breath,
the pause between breaths
will be empty of everything 
but counting.

Be there, still, silent, empty
until some form of noise intrude
and snatches you back to the world
of normal, apparent, reality.

The right kind of emptiness
is as empty as the space between breaths
without noise of any kind.

Practice increasing that time
until you can just be empty
by not thinking about anything.

That kind of emptiness is the fulcrum,
the pivot point,
the place of power,
"the still point of the turning world"
(T.S. Eliot),
"the Axis Mundi,"
where it all begins,
the silent stillness before the beginning...

Being that empty is where it always begins.

At the end of your rope
be that empty,
and wait,
watching,
for something to stir
that you are not responsible for,
and trust yourself to it,
exploring,
reflecting,
wondering,
seeing where it leads.

The right kind of emptiness
is the hope of the world.
And it is the last place
anyone would think to go.

–0–

03

Union Pacific 9773 09/17/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
We get ahead of ourselves,
lose our place,
drift away,
wander off,
forget what we are doing,
and have to call ourselves back
to here and now
all of the time,
forcing ourselves to recall
who we are and what we are about
and getting back in the game.

Being clearly focused,
present and accounted for,
is not what we do best.
Yet, it helps.

Knowing what's what
and what needs to be done about it,
and doing it
with the gifts/daemon/genius/etc.
we bring with us to the moment,
this moment,
right here,
right now,
is the key to everything that follows,
that flows from right here, right now.

What is happening?
What is called for?
What are we going to do in response?
The future hangs in the balance
in every moment,
waiting for us to be right
about what we are being asked to do,
and doing it.

Starting now.

–0–

04

Lake Crandal 01 11/12/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
See what you look at.

Ask all of the questions that beg to be asked.

Say all of the things that cry out to be said.

Know what you know.
And what you don't know.

Be empty, still and quiet in the right kind of way.

See what's happening in each situation as it arises.
Know what's what and what is called for
and offer what you have to contribute to it
out of the gifts/daemon/genius/etc.
that comes with you from the womb,
in doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
to the best of your ability,
no matter what,
for the joy of doing it,
and the satisfaction of having done it,
"without hope, without witness, without reward"
(Steven Moffat in Doctor Who),
and let that be that,
situation after situation 
all your life long.

Everything else is a distraction.

–0–

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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