May 29, 2022


Lake Crandal 11/06/2016 10 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Our problems disappear
when we change our mind about them.
Our problems are rarely as big
as the problems we make them out to be.

All of our suffering is self-imposed.
Pain can be real
and we can respond to it
in ways that make it worse
or better.

The power of the response
goes unrecognized
much of the time.

"This is the way things are.
What can I do about it 
that increases or lessens
its severity?"
Is a great way to start
in dealing with the way things are.

The problem/the pain is exacerbated
when all of the things we could do
to lessen the impact of the problem/pain
are unavailable to us
because the system is broken.

Maybe the emergency rooms are all closed.
Maybe the doctors and nurses are on strike.
Maybe the hospitals are filled to over flowing.
Etc., like that.

In the Uvalde elementary school massacre, 
the children and their parents were failed
by the systems that should have protected them.

The shooter had access to a weapon.
The shooter had access to the school.
The shooter had access to the classroom.
The First Responders who were police did not respond.

The children and their parents were helpless.
This is a worst case scenario 
in terms of reducing the impact of pain.

The parents and survivors 
will never out-grow having been failed,
and must bear forever the anguish/agony
of that failure.

It is too much to bear alone.
We need a wailing wall.
10,000 wailing walls.
Places the community,
which is the entire country/world,
can gather to wail far into the night,
each night.

When the people who promise to protect us--
who are charged with protecting us--
do not protect us,
where do we turn then?

There is only the wailing wall,
and "the sound of Rachel weeping
for her children,
and she cannot be consoled,
for she has lost them."



Smoky Mountain Fall 42 10/23/2017 Oil Paint Rendered — Cades Cove, Townsend, Tennessee
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"
(Isaiah 30:21)

What determines our ability to be right
about the path before us,
no matter if we "turn to the right or to the left"
is the rightness of our being
in relationship with ourselves
and with the Tao,
with The Way through our life in the world.

Right being is right seeing is right knowing is right doing.

The opening few lines of the Tao Te Ching have been interpreted
by Martin Palmer as saying,
"The path that can be discerned as a path,
is not a reliable path."

To find the reliable path,
we have to be aligned with ourselves
and in accord with the Tao,
so that we are seeing, hearing, knowing
what's what
and what needs to be done in response,
and doing it at the right time,
in the right place,
in the right way,
no matter what,
without anything in it for us
beyond the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it.

The trick with knowing The Way when we see it
is knowing what we know
as opposed to what we think,
what we hope,
what we believe,
what we wish,
what we want.

Be empty of all of that.
Be empty of everything.
Be empty like the space between breaths.
And wait for what arises unbidden within
as a sense,
an awareness,
an urge,
a leaning,
a tug,
a nudge
that you know is the way,
right here, right now.

We do not think our way to The Way.
We simply know it when we see it.
If you don't know it.
Don't go.

If everybody else is telling you it is the way.
If anybody else is telling you it is the way.
Empty yourself of all of that.
"The way that can be discerned as The Way
is not a reliable way."

What do you say?
What do you know
without knowing how you know?
Trust that.

Until it becomes obvious that you 
do not know what you are doing.
Then change your mind about
what you think you know,
and go back to the process
of knowing what you know,
empty of everything,
until something stirs to life within,
suggesting the way.

Follow it until it becomes obvious that you
do not know what you are doing...
like that, forever.



Goodale 17 10/25/2019 Detail Oil Paint Rendered — Adams Mill Pond, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina
There are no techniques,
to get what you want
and keep the mojo working

There is no mojo.
There is only seeing what's what,
and knowing what needs to be done about it,
when, where, and how it needs to be done,
in light of the good of the situation
as it arises,
and doing it,
for the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it,
situation by situation
in the time left for living.

Thinking there is a God
and you can get God on your side
by doing what makes God happy with you
is not the same 
as realizing it is all a mystery
and seeking to live in accord 
with the mystery
no matter what it may mean for you personally,
by seeing/knowing/doing
what needs to be done,
when, where and how it needs to be done
throughout the time left for living.

Putting ourselves in the service of the mystery,
no matter what,
shifts the focus from getting
to seeing/knowing/doing what needs to be done,
even so,
no matter what.

And that changes everything.
For the better.
But, maybe not your better.
Jesus was crucified, you know,
and he tells us to take up our own cross
and follow him as he goes to his death,
so be ready for that.


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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