March 03, 2022


Beulah Land 05 Oil Paint Rendered
There is no reason for things being as they are
other than the things that happened
that led to things being as they are.

Or, to put this another way:
What is the greater miracle--
that everything has been carefully arranged
to be exactly as it is here and now
by some Master Planner 
who designed the entire universe
down to the number of birds in the world
at any one time and the number of feathers on the birds,
and the number of mites on the feathers,
or than nothing at all is planned,
and it just works out that things are as they are?

This isn't to say that everything is accidental.

It is to say that something happens,
and something else happens in response to the first thing happening,
and like ping-pong balls flying off of mousetraps
in response to one ping-pong ball being dropped onto
the mouse traps,
we are all here, now, because of a string of events
and circumstances that lead to our all being here and now,
but the fact that our parents met on a blind date
and marrieds is strictly a matter of chance,
but caused by effects that were caused by other effects,
all the way back to the first effect,
let's say the attraction of one carbon atom to another,
and, Boom!, here we are.

Now what?

Let's wait and see.



A Log in the Woods 11/11/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek Campground, Waterville, North Carolina
We live to discover who we are,
to find out what we are capable of,
to serve our original--our innate--nature,
to become the person we are built to be,
to exhibit/express/reflect/incarnate
the gifts, genius, daemon, shtick, abilities,
interests, creativity, imagination, etc.
that came with us from the womb.


We get distracted.

And think it is about not being who we are,
but being whoever it takes
to gain somebody's favor,
or avoid somebody's wrath,
or win somebody's love,
or become wealthy and have it made...

The world is filled with replacement reasons
for being alive--
and attractive alternatives to being who we are.

We all are the story of Adam and Eve
in the Garden of Eden,
eternally distracted from what is ours to do,
from who is ours to be,
and always abandoning Eden for happiness ever after.

Our hope is to find our way back to Eden,
and take up the task that is ours from the start,
finding and being who we are.

There is a catch, however.

The way back to Eden is blocked by the Angel of Death.
We have to die to become who we are--
not actually, literally, physically,
but metaphorically, abstractly, figuratively.
We have to give up our dreams of glory
and take up the work of doing what is ours to do,
in season and out of season,
in each situation as it arises,
as long as we shall live.

Joseph Campbell said, "That which you seek
lies far back in the darkest corner,
of the cave you most don't want to enter."

It is like dying entering that cave.
And like dying some more to leave that cave
in the service of our own best interest,
living to do what needs us to do it
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
how it needs to be done,
no matter what,
for the rest of our life.

On the one hand we want to, we must,
and on the other hand we don't want to
have anything to do with the price 
that must be paid to be who we are.

This is the Yin/Yang of our true nature
coming forth to bless and grace our life
if we will hand over all the glories and promises
of our other life
and do what needs us to do it--
and what we truly need to do--
anyway, nevertheless, even so.

Oh, the agony and wonder of being alive!

Do we have what it takes to do it?
To be alive--fully, wholly, completely alive--
in the times and places of our living?

We live to find out!

Mind how you go! 



Leaves 01 02/20/2022 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
The circumstances of our life bring us forth.

We stand up to meet the day
and find exactly what we need
to grow up some more again,
in balancing the contradictions,
contraries, opposites, polarities
and dichotomies
that demand our death
and offer us life
in the field of action that day.

And do it again the next day.

And again the one after that.

Our life elicits our life.

We are born again and again and again,
rising to meet the occasion
in each situation that opens before us,
and finding within ourselves
exactly what we need
to be who we are
then and there,
simply by giving ourselves to our life
and doing what needs to be done there
with the gifts that are ours to serve
and to share.

With no expectation,
no agenda,
and no opinion,
and only the sense 
of what is called for here and now
to get--and keep--us going,
like Tevya milking his cow,
like Golda gathering her eggs,
allowing each day to be 
exactly what it needs to be,
and doing our part
to complete it and make it so.

Amen! May it be so!


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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