February 15, 2022


Lenten Rose 02 02/13/2022 Oil Paint Rendered — Indian Land, South Carolina
We grow up against our will. 

The people who refuse to have anything to do 
with the things that make them uncomfortable
are not candidates for maturation.

Everything works together for the good
of those who open themselves to the reality
of their experience
and do what is called for
in each situation as it arises,
and make mistake after mistake,
and learn from each one of them,
and are better for having done what they did
and learned from it,
than they would have been
if they had just waited 
for someone to tell them what to do.

It is amazing how a life fully lived
takes care of the one living it,
and we learn how to live 
through the process of living
and no one could tell us what we know
from doing what we have done,
and from living to redeem ourselves
for not knowing what we were doing,
and finding out the hard way 
what we should have done.

But that is how it works!
There is no living safe a little prophylactic life
that doesn't need redemption!
We have to walk into the kitchen
and start making breakfast
in order to figure out how to make breakfast.
Burning the toast and knowing when/how to flip the eggs
comes with time and experience.

As does everything else about being alive.

So get in there and do your thing,
and let your outcomes direct your acting
in the field of action
for as long as you are alive!



Spider Web 08 09/05/2005 Oil Paint Rendered
People who are capable of compassion
are powerful people.
They don't have to carry guns
or hang out with people who do.

Guns were everywhere in my growing up
in the Mississippi delta.
Compassion was in short supply.

In my childhood, 
all of the women I knew
stopped with sentimentality.
None of them allowed themselves
to be compassionate.

Compassion would have made it 
impossible to bear what had to be borne.
They had to suck it up
and do what their life required,
walking past injustices and wrongs
without a second thought.

The present crop of Republican mavens
remind me of those women
without the kindness.

But kindness walks a thin line
between sentimentality and compassion.
Kindness is a momentary expression
of caring and concern,
compassion keeps you awake at night
and demands a reckoning
with all that is not right
about your life.

You cannot live the way you live
and be compassionate.
Kindness is a way of excusing
the way you live,
salve on the conscience,
recompense for looking away.
A way of making your peace
with your life.
A votive offering to appease the gods.
All we can do 
with a life that will not allow compassion.

But the reckoning
will not be denied,
and extracts its due
with empty eyes
and shriveled souls,
and the eternal agony
of the unlived life
that demanded truth
and was spurned by necessity,
and aborted shortly after birth.



Sugar Maple 10/26/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Bass Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Making our peace with our life
is an ongoing undertaking.
We have to keep coming to terms
with how things are,
and also are.
The contradictions will not go away,
and exist for us 
as the clashing rocks and the crashing waves
at every step along life's way.

If it weren't for what, everything would be fine?

There is always something,
and things would not be fine
even without it.

"Fine" is a happy fantasy.
Things are fine exactly as they are!
It is fine that we have to make our peace
with our life again and again.
It may as well be fine,
because it is not going anywhere.

And conditions will change in a blink,
and we will have to make our peace
with something else, and something else after that.

Always the same:
"This is how things are,
and this is what we can do about it,
and that's that."

So we do what we can do about it
and let that be that.

In each situation as it arises,
all our life long.

And as long as that is the case,
we may as well do what we can
about what needs to be done
with the gifts/daemon/genius/talents
of our original nature
in conjunction with the restrictions
and limitations of time and place,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
for as long as it needs to be done,
no matter what--
for the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it--
and stop interfering with this process
by wishing it could be different,
and better,
and more fun.

Stop the whining and do the work!
Enjoy what can be enjoyed,
relish what can be relished,
let come what's coming
and let go what's going.

Every step of the way.


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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