March 31, 2022


The Orchard
There are seven things:

Seeing what we look at.
Hearing what we listen to.
Knowing what's what.
Doing what needs to be done.

The four are held in place
and nurtured by the three:

The right kind of emptiness.
The right kind of stillness.
The right kind of silence.

The seven produce Right Action
on the Field of Action
all the time.

How long has it been 
since Right Action
bestowed its boon and blessing
upon us?

The world is a wasteland
languishing for the lack
of noble hearts
and valiant spirits
strong in the service
of Truth, Justice, Liberty, Equality.

It is incumbent upon us
that we empty ourselves 
of fear and desire
for wealth and personal gain,
enter the stillness,
embrace the silence
and wait to
and do what needs to be done,
from the smallest occasion
to the greatest necessity
throughout all levels of human endeavor
from now to the end of time.

It starts with us.
The world is waiting.



Fall on Blue 10/14/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Price Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
It takes starting over
with a completely revised way
of looking at the world.

For that to happen,
something has to happen
to wake us up.

To shock us awake.

To slam us to the ground
with the realization 
that nothing is as it appears to be.
That no one knows what they are talking about.
That everyone is wrong 
about what they say is right,
and is heavily into diversion,
thinking their way into not thinking at all.

We have to be empty of everything
before we can begin to be truthful
about any of it.

Until you have been there,
you can't begin to know
what I am talking about.

This flows into the continuing refrain
defining my ministry (of 40.5 years)
in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.

In every stop along the way--
five churches in forty and a half years--
someone would ask me some version of,
"Why don't you talk to us
about things we can understand?"

That translates into
"Why don't you just tell us
what we have already heard?"

And I would reply with some version of, 
"I don't know, Sam,
I wish I could--
it would make things so much easier
for us all."

People have to hit the wall
before they can understand 
"Hitting the wall."

Truth cannot be told.
Laid out.
Spelled out.

It can only be known.
The hard way.

Which gets me to my favorite Zen story,
and if you have been with me long enough,
you have heard it, perhaps, several times before.
If you have been with me long enough,
you have heard everything I say before.
So bear with me, again...

A Zen master and one of his disciples
were walking across a bridge
when his disciple asked, "What is Zen?"
Whereupon, the master picked up the student
and threw him into the river below,
saying, "That is water!
Swim in it, bathe in it, drink it or drown--
but don't talk about it!
To talk about water is to not know water!"

And, Heinrich Zimmer said (via Joseph Campbell)
"The best things cannot be said,
and the second best things create confusion
and disagreement.
We can only talk about the third best things,
news, weather, sports, commentary and gossip."

I was always paid to talk to them about God,
with the stipulation that I could only say
things they had already heard.

It would have been a snap 
if I could have done it.

Which leads to this little story:

A man fell into a well,
and tried everything he could think of
to get out.
At the end of his striving,
he gave up and prayed,
"O God, if there is a God,
if you will save me from drowning in this well,
I will spend the rest of my life
leading people to you!"
Immediately, someone lowered a bucket,
the man shouted for help
and was pulled out of the well.
He spent the rest of his life
walking through the country
pushing people into wells.



Beulah Land 32 Oil Paint Rendered
The standards of confidentiality
keep us from being completely frank and truthful,
besides that, 
it would be more than people can hear,
or need to hear.

Besides that, there is a legitimate place
for the understated
and the unstated
in serving The Mystery
and honoring the wonder at work
in the unfolding of our own personal story
within the story--the stories--of the species as a whole.

There is more to everything than meets the eye,
and shallow judgments
and summary statements
wrap things up
that cannot be wrapped up
because they are still working their way out
in the consequences that are on-going and unending
throughout what remains of time.

Nothing ends.
Everything leads to something else
always, continually, eternally, forever.
World without end.

This is the miracle of being alive,
participating in the kaleidoscope of existence,
marveling at the radiance and wonder of it all.
It is amazing.
Just wow.


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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