February 20, 2022

01

Fire in the Sky 09/27/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Abbot Lake, Peaks of Otter, Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford, VA
It matters what we do and how we do it.
That may be the only thing that matters.
Get that down, and what remains to be done?

Too many people are wrong 
about what they think is right.


As long as people can be wrong
about what they think is right,
we will have problems determining what to do.

At least, most people are still
stopping on red and going on green,
and four-way stop intersections
are flowing smoothly
with everyone keeping up 
with who's turn it is.

They are continuing to observe
the most democratic self-governing
endeavor known to humankind,
queuing up and standing in line.

Round-a-bouts work.
No one is leading protests
over having to use postage stamps.
I don't see anyone driving off
without paying for their gasoline.

What's with all the vitriol?
The rancor?
The hatred?

It matters what we do and how we do it.
It is the only thing that matters.
When we refuse to make a good-faith effort
to be right about what we say is right,
we contribute to the collapse of culture and society.

But we continue to stop at stop signs.

Why not carry that over into all of life?
What is so hard about that?

It matters how we live wherever we are,
whatever we are doing!

Treat everything as though it were a line at the theater!
And be right about what you say is right!

–0–

02

Horizontal Cedar 02/18/2022 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
It is enough,
just being who we are,
where we are,
when we are,
how we are,
why we are,
what we are.

We don't need more
than a perspective
that takes it all 
into account,
and lets it be
because it is.

Just by being who we are--
true to our original nature--
glad to be alive
as an original, natural,
human being--
we redeem it all
by knowing it all
and how it is
and what it is
and what, and how, it could have been,
might have been,
if it had been as content
to be itself
as lions and whales,
and cedar trees, etc.,
are content to be themselves,
without aspirations
and agendas
which include killing
all who get in our way.

We redeem the insanity
by bearing it consciously
and shamefully, sorrowfully,
with us through the days,
saying, "This, too. This, too.
Must be seen, acknowledged, borne."

We cannot escape who we are,
and who we also are.
And we who can live to redeem
we who cannot,
by seeing and saying,
doing and being,
what is good and what is not.
What is right and what is wrong.
And living as witnesses
to the difference between 
the way things are 
and the way things might have been,
could have been
without aspirations and agendas
getting in the way.

–0–

03

February Woods 17 11/16/2022 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
The wrong kind of emptiness 
is what people have in mind
when they say, "I feel so empty!"
Which generally means they are not in love
and wish they were.
No one in love feels empty in this sense.
when it is all dark and dismal,
hopeless, meaningless, sad, dreary,
gloomy, depressing, fear and anxiety ridden,
and a generally terrible place to be.

That is the wrong kind of emptiness.
It is not empty at all.
It is full of all the things we dread and hate,
and want to be rid of and far away from forever.

Enter the right kind of emptiness.

The right kind of emptiness is filled also,
with nothing.
The right kind of emptiness is empty of everything,
even the desire to be empty.

No emotions, no duty, no desire. 
Nothing.

You can experience this kind of emptiness
by breathing normally for three rounds 
of inhale and exhale.

Then, with the fourth inhale, 
draw it in deeply to the bottom of your lungs,
extending your stomach
and fully expanding your diaphragm,
then release it slowly,
drawing your stomach in toward your spine
to expel all the air,
pause for a count of seven
before inhaling.

Repeat this process for two more breaths,
making a total of three.

On the third breath,
when you pause for a seven count,
your mind will be empty in the right kind of way.
None of the normal noise that clogs your thinking
will be in your way.
You are in the silence between breaths.

Your work is to expand that quality of emptiness
beyond a count of seven.

When you get to the point in your practice
of being able to drop into emptiness
just by dropping into emptiness
at any point throughout your day,
you will have achieved the distinction
of being able to be empty in the right kind of way,
which is the position of power
in that it opens you to stillness and silence
which form a holy trinity 
of emptiness, stillness and silence
which is the waiting posture
for apprehending insight, realization, awareness,
stirring to life and springing to mind
from the unconscious regions,
offering you content for reflection and meditation,
and creating possibilities for adventure
unlike anything available on infomercials
and travel brochures. 

–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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