February 17, 2022


February Woods 04 11/16/2022 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
What grounds you,
centers you,
stabilizes you,
orients you,
focuses you,
and enables you to go on?

What are the destabilizing forces
at work in your life?

What do you do--
where do you go--
to return to the source,
regain your equilibrium,
get your feet back under you
relocate the path,
recover your sense of direction
and purpose
and return to the work
that is legitimately your work to do?

Where do you turn
when you have nowhere to turn?
What do you turn to
when you have lost your bearings
and your lodestar,
are in freefall
with nothing to serve as sanctuary
and oasis?

What is your plan 
when planning is meaningless?

If you have been with me
for as long as fifteen minutes,
you know what I am going to suggest.
Repeat the mantra with me:

Return to the right kind of emptiness,
stillness and silence,
and wait for the mud to settle
and the water to clear,
emptying yourself of all that stirs up
fear and anxiety,
hopelessness and despair,
anger and hatred...
letting it all go
into the silence
and wait for the centering realization,
the grounding vision,
the call to action
in the service of what needs to be done,
even here,
even now,
even yet...
compelling you to rise
and get to work,
even so.

Mind how you go,
and may it be well with you
along the way.



Sunup 10/10/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — From Boulder Beach, Otter Point, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
We all need a sounding board. 

A sounding board who can listen/hear you
to the truth of what you are saying.

Since very few of us have one of those,
I recommend talking to yourself,
or writing notes to yourself,
and listening intently to what you have to say.

The worst thing to do
is to talk only with/to people
who just repeat the standard formulas--
and only allow the right things to be said.

Evangelical Christianity is great
at being terrible in this way. 
Any Doctrine is a terrible doctrine--
a doctrine being a way of seeing
that disallows all other ways of seeing.

The scientific orientation at its best
is the best approach to hearing 
what we are saying.
Question everything.
Explore everything.
Examine everything.
Get to the bottom of everything.
Find the limits of everything.
Uncover the contradictions, the conflicts,
the dichotomies, the polarities.

Find what is sacrosanct
and call it into question.
Ransack the holy of hollies. 
Plunder the sacred assumptions.
Call everything out into the light
of inquiry and investigation.

Ask the questions that beg to be asked. 
Say what cries out to be said.
Leave no stone unturned.
No statement unchallenged.
No belief unexamined.
See what's what about it all.
Explore where to go from there.

Particularly with everything you say,
and take for granted.

Get to the bottom of you!
All the time!

And if that leaves you sitting empty,
in the stillness and silence,
that's the idea!
Sit there and see what occurs to you!
Allow your reflections 
to lead you to new realizations--
and reflect on them!

Allow your questions to lead you
to better questions!

Treat every answer as a step 
on the way to a better question!

Don't leave any answer unquestioned!
Always ask the followup question!

Ponder YOU!



Woods Crocus 02/07/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Greensboro, North Carolina
What keeps you going?
You live in the service of what?
Who are you?
What are you about?
What is yours to do
in the time left for living?
If  you couldn't do it,
what would you do?
What keeps you going?

These are essential questions
that only you can answer.
No one can tell you the answer.
It is yours to know on your own.

What is your grounding/centering symbol?
What stands for you as you?
The quintessential you?
What captures/reflects/expresses
the core/heart of you to you?

A question mark would do it for me.
I am the answer to the question of me.
I live to know who I am.
To be who I am.
We do not know this intellectually,
by thinking about it.
We know it existentially.
We live our way to the answer
to the question of who we are.
We show ourselves who we are
through the process of being alive.

Joseph Campbell said,
"It took the Cyclops
to bring out the hero in Ulysses."

Our life brings out the essence
of who we are.
Our life is perfectly designed
to bring us to life in our life.
We always have exactly what we need
to bring out who we are
in response to what is happening,
by doing what is called for.

Doing what is called for
brings us forth to meet
what needs to be done.
We meet ourselves meeting 
what the occasion calls for.
WE are called for in every occasion.
We meet ourselves in how we answer the call.
Occasion after occasion,
situation by situation,
moment by moment.
By rising to the occasion,
and doing what is called for,
when it is called for,
the way it is called for,
occasion by occasion.

We are the answer to the question
of who we are.
We live our way to the answer,
moment by moment,
situation by situation,
occasion by occasion.

Who have you shown yourself to be
through all the occasions
that have come your way
up to here, now?

What symbol captures who you have been
up to here, now?
What symbol do you think it will be
going forward?
Who have you been called to be
that you have yet to be?
What needs to be done
that you have yet to do?

We live our way to the answers to those questions.
Live on!
Live on!


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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