April 30, 2022


The Horse Barn 11/19/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Fear holds us back.
Desire pushes us ahead.
These are the clashing rocks.

Anger, jealousy, guilt, shame, greed, hatred, depression...
These are the heaving waves.

Between the rocks and the waves,
we have too much to manage.
And so it is said,
"The world is too much with us,
late and soon" (William Wordsworth).

If we want to give ourselves a chance,
we have to avail ourselves
of the three weapons
and the four guides,
and make it our practice
to live in their service
in each situation as it arises.

The three weapons are
the right kind of emptiness,
and silence.

The four guides are
our original nature
the virtues that are ours
from birth to serve and to share,
and integrity and sincerity.

These seven companions 
are with us along the way,
and will never abandon us
or leave us bereft. 

To make them real,
we only have to treat them
as though they are,
by honoring them with time and attention
throughout each day.

we make the journey
more difficult than it needs to be,
with all that "late and soon" stuff.



Beulah Land 62 Oil Paint Rendered — Wild Gardens of Acadia, Acadia National Park, near Bar Harbor, Maine, 10/16/2009
The Gateless Gate is the fulcrum,
the swing point between worlds,
brought about by a slight shift in perspective,
which is the gift of enlightenment,
"turning the light around"
and enabling us to see "this world"
of rational, logical, intellectual, factual, concrete
understanding of how things are,
and "the other world"
of metaphorical, symbolic, instinctive, intuitive, wholistic,
non-linear, seeing-knowing 
ways of understanding how things are--
always including a "felt sense" of what to do about it,
that logic and reason can't grasp at all,
or, grasping, dismiss it instantly as "woo-hoo-woo-hoo,"
and have nothing further to do with it.

I've included my symbol of the Gateless Gate in 62 images,
with two more to go.
The number 64 is wholeness itself,
is complete, is good, and is a doorway,
or a gateway, itself into infinity,
reflecting as it does the implied presence
of the Gateless Gate in every landscape,
in every photography,
in every moment
of every situation as it arises
through-out time.

64 is 8 squared.
8 is the symbol of infinity. 
Infinity squared is beyond thinking/experiencing,
and is way more than is necessary
(One would think)
for getting the transitional/perspective shift
that takes us from this world into that world
and opens us to the wonder of the mystery
of Just Seeing, Just Knowing
and, therefore, Just Doing what needs to be done
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
and that's that.

That. Is. All. There. Is.

And 64 hints of Gatelessness is all we need to get it,
if we are ever going to get it,
because it is already here, now
along with the Farther Shore,
and there is nothing to do to get it,
beyond the shift in perspective that produces it.

Like the optical illusion it is.



Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River 04/15/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
What would be helpful?
It all depends 
on what we are trying to do.

What Adam and Eve were trying to do
and what Jesus was trying to do
would not be helped
by the same things.

What are we trying to achieve
in each situation as it arises?

What ends are we serving?
Toward what are we living
What are we doing?

Our life has its own built-in compass.
It knows where true north lies.
We need help reading the compass.
And we aren't interested in that kind of help.

We have our own ideas
about how things should be,
and we need help arraigning
the elements of our life
to fit our idea of where they belong.
We need help having our way NOW!

We are at odds with our life
from the start,
or shortly after the start.
And have to find the way to in-sync-ness
the hard way. 
By living our way there,
one false turn after another.

Until then,
the help we need
and the help we will accept
are different kinds of help,
and "What would be helpful?"
is learning sooner rather than later
what the right kind of help
consists of
and how to be receptive
when it knocks on our door.


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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