January 20, 2022


Maine Pond Detail 10/15/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Deer Isle, near Brooklin, Maine
When the world is too much for me, 
I go in my mind to the isolated shore
of some pond
and allow the stillness of the place
to calm and heal all that is raw and angry 
about me,
comforting my sorrow,
soothing my pain,
reassuring me with the water of life
sustaining the wild things
of the neighborhood
through the ages,
inviting us all to stay for awhile
and take what we need for our journey
from the abundance of beauty and grace,
and be well,
all along the way.



December Woods 08 12/02/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
What determines what we do
seems to fall into one of three categories.
Habitual patterns of behavior,
and comfort level.

Doing what other people or doing,
or what someone tells us to do,
falls under "comfort level."

I tie my shoes the way
I have always tied my shoes.

I drink coffee because I like it.

And I wear several layers of clothing
in cold weather
because I'm comfortable that way.
And I like it.
And I've always done it.

Which means no one is likely
to talk me out of dressing warmly.

All of which is to say
nothing is going to change about us
until we change the way we do things,
which includes not doing some things,
and doing other things instead.

Why do that?
No one does that until they have to.
Change is forced on us
by a change in circumstances.
We have to get to the end of our rope
before we can change our mind
about what is important.

We run out of money.
We have "an event,"
breaking a hip, say,
or developing a terminal illness.
The list is long.
Something happens,
and we have to adjust and adapt.

Adjusting and adapting
are among the things we do best,
but we don't like it,
and would never think of volunteering for it.
We resist it all the way,
and only acquiesce to it
when we run out of other options,
denial being high on that list
(Denial is really what we do best!).

We live like we always have lived
until something happens,
and then we live differently,
according to the requirements
of our circumstances.

Until then, it is normal and customary
all the way.
But, not for long.
Our circumstances are always changing.
What we do then
is going to depend on 
what needs to be done.

Then, it will help to have
no agenda and no opinion.
Just seeing what needs to change,
and changing.

And waiting for the next thing
to come along.



Big Rock Preserve 11 11/17/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina
Tevya (in "Fiddler on the Roof") is my idea
of a superhero.

He loses everything,
his horse, his wagon,
his cow, his chickens,
his house, his barn,
his way of life,
his traditions...
And arrives in New York
with his wife Golda
to start a new life
with only a suitcase
and his original nature
to work with.

No matter what he loses,
he is still Tevya.

I take this to be a lesson
for us all.

We had better not put all our
importance on the things we "have."
We had better start stocking up
on who we are.
Being ourselves.
Bringing forth our original nature
and letting that guide us
in responding to the fluctuating patterns
of the day-to-day.

So that, no matter what happens,
I am still me,
and you are still you.
And, together, we find the way,
even through the loss of everything,
to continuing to do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
all our lives long,
in an "Okay, now what?" kind of way.



Beech Tree Fall 11/21/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
Jesus was a man of poverty,
born in a manger,
died on a cross,
hailing from Nazareth,
and nothing good ever came from Nazareth.

The Buddha was born into princely privilege,
and renounced his heritage,
taking an oath of poverty
and taking up the work of enlightening the world.

Jesus and the Buddha are sons of Brahman 
and children of God,
as Ones Thus Come,
calling all people to assume their destiny
by doing the work only they can do
in honoring their original nature
and being one with the Mystery of Life and Being
in all the times and places of existence.

By telling us to pick up our cross
and come with him,
Jesus is asking us to die to ourselves
and our desires and fear and sense of dharma duty,
forsaking profit, gain and merit
to do whatever needs to be done
in each moment of every situation that arises
the way only we can do it.
That is all there is to it.
Who will do it?
In every moment of our life, 
starting here and now?


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.

2 thoughts on “January 20, 2022

  1. Really love this writing. Simply put, it tells of how you find quiet in your soul. For me it is prayer. Notice, emptiness is not part of it… you fill yourself with the presence of a pond!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. And you remind me that to be full in the right kind of way is to be empty of all that is not helpful. So fullness is a great way to emptiness. Paradox is one of my favorite things.


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