May 31, 2022


Spanish Moss Lane 05/21/2019 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia and South Carolina
Trials and ordeals, Kid,
trials and ordeals.

We are forever coming up against them,
as tests of our mettle
and an invitation to grow up some more again.

How well we rise to the occasion,
occasion after occasion,
tells the tale.

The tale of growing up against our will--
which is the prime requisite 
for growing up at all.

What pushes us into the challenges
we would much prefer to avoid?
And why do some of us refuse 
to the point of drug addiction
and suicide?

These questions carry us into the heart
of mystery that is unknown and unknowable.

Some of us grow on eternally,
and some of us reject the notion
that we should be inconvenienced in any way.

I present you with Jesus of Nazareth,
and Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve couldn't pass the test
of attractive to the eyes
delicious to the taste.

Jesus looked Satan in the eye without blinking,
three times.

Some have what it takes,
others don't have it at all.
It wouldn't change anything if we knew.

Some of us would still stand up
and answer the challenge,
others would curl up and 
turn their face to the wall.

The opportunity is a separator
of people on The Way,
determining whether they keep going,
or detour into the wasteland
of terminal immaturity.

Remember that the next time 
you are asked to take out the trash,
or walk the dog. 



Goodale 10/25/2019 17-detail Oil Paint Rendered — Adams Mill Pond, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina
Everybody wants you to take what they tell you
about God "on faith."
Then, they tell you it is a absolute fact
if you don't believe them
you will go straight to hell,
"Like a martin to its gourd,"
when you die,
and suffer miserably until you do.

That's what theology and doctrine will do for you.

I recommend deciding for yourself what is right,
and doing that,
until it becomes obvious that you were wrong,
then decide what is right based on what you know now,
and do that,
until it becomes obvious that you were wrong...

Our life will teach us what works,
and from a collection of things that work,
we can decide what is right, good, just, merciful,
compassionate, sensible and sane.

No kidding.

We can actually do that.

And then we can live to find out
if what we say is so
in each situation as it arises.

Experimentation, observation and deduction, Kid.
Experimentation, observation and deduction.

The only thing you have to take on faith
is that it matters how we live.
Then we find the ways to live that matter the most.
And do that.



Zabriskie Point Panorame 01 04/23/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Death Valley National Park, California
We have to give our life the reins
and see where it goes.
And we have to know where we belong,
and where we have no business being.

It is as though we have been given the reins
and our life wants to see
what we will do with it.

But, we also have to trust our life
to know what it is doing
and live without being stiff in the saddle
and tight on the reins.

We have to have a trusting,
relationship with our life,
and relax into its pace and flow,
seeing what we can learn
from observation and reflection,
avoiding rigidity, 
stern judgment
and narrow traces
between right and wrong.


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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