June 04, 2022


The Pier at Ocean Isle 05/02/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Ocean Isle, North Carolina
The most important thing to be right about is
what response is called for here/now?
The most important thing to do 
is the response that is called for.

Moment by moment,
in each situation as it arises.

Jesus and the Buddha together
could not do better than that.



Water Rock Knob Sunset 03 09/02/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggie Valley, North Carolina
People want their circumstances
to be happy-producing.
Happiness is an orientation,
not a steady state of being.
Dead is the only steady state of being.
Life is one thing after another.
Some, we are happy about,
some, we are not.

We are here to make the best of it all,
happy or not.

And shooting ourselves in the foot
with our choices 
is not conducive either to happiness
or to making the best of our situation.

We make the best of our situation
when we meet it with our original nature
and the virtues we are born with
no matter what,
without the stipulation
that it make us happy.

Just get in there and do what needs to be done
when, where and how it needs to be done,
and let that be that.
Time after time.

For the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it,
and let that be happy enough.



Upper Falls 03 10/11/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Linville River, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina
We do not know what life is
or how it is generated,
or if it is co-existent with inorganic matter,
or if it is a precondition for inorganic matter,

The questions swirl into the distant regions.
"Darkness within darkness,
the gateway to mystery"
(Tao Te Ching).

We live within that mystery,
unimpressed by it.
The unimpressed part
is a greater mystery
than the mystery part.

How can we walk around
not being awed into silence and wonder?

How can we be content with explaining anything,
with understanding anything
as though we know what we are talking about,
when we do not know
how organic comes from inorganic,
or if it is the solution within which
inorganic drifts suspended?

And then, there is death,
and what happens after we die.

We should just shut-up
and sit agog.
Agog should be our steady state of being.

Instead, we dismiss mystery
and live in devotion to
and money--
as though that means something.

Agog would mean more,
and it would be honest.

Recover the mystery!
Relish the numinous!
Be aglow with the radiance
of the ineffable!
Bring wonder to life in your life!

And, sit agog for a while every day.


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.

3 thoughts on “June 04, 2022

  1. Hi, Jim –

    I try to do this every day after reading similar words in your poem of the day:

    Just get in there and do what needs to be done
    when, where and how it needs to be done,
    and let that be that.
    Time after time.

    I hope this is the kind of action you’re suggesting – I wrote this to Robert Hubbell when he asked for comments from subscribers about the recent Uvalde gun violence:

    SandyNC287042 min ago
    In a recent article in daily email from “Chop Wood, Carry Water,” Jessica Craven quoted an Elizabethan era poet and critic named Matthew Arnold:

    Astonishing things are not accomplished by astonishing means.

    All astonishing things are accomplished through ordinary means.

    I found this encouraging. Jessica Craven’s daily emails provide scripts for phone calls to our Congressmen, the President or other people in charge of various policy centers. Recently, I’ve tried to be consistent in sending emails to my Senators etc. using these scripts. Eventually, it ends up to be quite a few – just done bit by daily bit in a daily habit pattern. I hoped my emails would eventually add up with others to bring impact on legislation on our behalf. I was shocked to receive a phone call from Senator Thom Tillis’ office from a very nice gentleman who said he would make sure my email reached the Senator’s desk.

    This phone call was very encouraging. It made me realize that just my little-bit-by-daily-bit emails, along with other peoples’ emails, do have an impact on our legislators.

    We cannot give up. We don’t have to swallow the elephant whole. I have been stressed that I don’t have the energy to devote to EVERY single critical issue of our times. I decided to just do my daily response to Jessica Craven’s “Chop Wood, Carry Water” emails and be content that I’ve been doing my part. The phone call from my Senator’s office just put an exclamation point to my feeling of “good job!” – whether or not he chooses to vote along with my requests (probably not, because he’ll vote in step with his Republican cohorts).

    (Not looking for a response from you – just wanted to share the impact your words have on my daily actions).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully said/done! This is the Great Work! Making the phone calls, washing the dishes, walking the dog, chopping wood, carrying water, when and where and how it needs to be done, day after day, not out of habit, but attentively as though participating in a ritual–a ritual of life and wonder, offering our best to the ordinary things sanctifies them, the moment, us, our life. We make the ordinary holy by the way we hold it, behold it. Carry on! Carry on! And thanks for your note!

    Liked by 1 person

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