July 01, 2022


Blue Ridge Sunset 09/07/2010 Oil Paint Rendered — West Jefferson, North Carolina
Adjustment, Accommodation, Acceptance, Compromise
are the marks of aging well.
They are emphasized with references 
to flowing water,
snow-laden Spruce trees,
boats on the ocean
and leaves in the wind.

We do our best
to make the best
of what comes our way.

Getting up and doing what 
needs to be done,
no matter what,
even so.

This is the path our species
walked from the jungles 
and the caves,
the deserts
and the ice ages,
to right here,
right now.

Easy is not a part of that path.
One step at a time
is very much a matter of it.
Walk on!
Walk on!
It's what we do best!

If I get there first,
I'll wait for you--
if you get there first,
wait for me!

And we can laugh together
at the time we had
getting together,
and the times
we thought we wouldn't make it at all. 


Cane River Sunset 07/21/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
I’m looking for where knowing comes from 
when you just know something, 
like when it’s time to give away 
your fly rods and equipment. 

Like we just know what 
the right thing to do is 
and we are right about it. 

People can be aligned with the Tao, 
not by trying, 
but by simply knowing what’s what 
and what needs to be done in response. 

We just know some things 
but don’t know how we know. 

I think the Prophets knew things in this way, 
and called the people to do what was right. 
If the Prophets had been 
influenced by Lao Tzu, 
they would have understood differently 
what they called “God.” 

The Tao Te Ching 
spends a lot of time talking about 
good and bad in a yin/yang kind of way. 

Living aligned with the Tao 
is like living aligned with God’s will 
without having to imagine God 
as a human being the way 
we all ought to be human beings. 

The Tao doesn’t pick sides 
or play favorites, 
yet those who live in accord with the Tao 
have an easy time letting be what is 
and doing what needs to be done about it, 
anyway, nevertheless, even so.

Abraham Heschel and Reformed Theology, 
with their, “God this,” and “God that”, 
as though God is a concrete, 
actual, spiritual being, 
soon wear thin with me. 

They are talking about their idea of God, 
the way God would be if God were God t
he way God ought to be God. 
“Just shut up,” I say to them, 
“and sit quietly for a while.” 

Emptiness, Stillness and Silence 
are the way to the way, 
which makes them the way.

I see “the pathos of God,” 
(Heschel's phrase)
as being shared among all people 
who know of the way 
and of how it is not being followed 
at any point in time. 

But, I think the Tao is beyond pathos, 
and just keeps doing its thing, 
which is not doing anything at all but
being what it is, 
waiting for those who know what it 
is to seek it out 
and live in accord with it, 
joining it in letting be what is 
and doing what needs to be done about it 
as they are able, as best they can…

My task in the ministry 
was a path that led me here/now, 
but there is only so much a person 
can do for another person, 
in that the Tao is a very personal matter 
that cannot be told, 
or said, 
or explained beyond 
“Emptiness, stillness, silence.” 
“Balance and harmony.” 
“Spirit, energy, vitality.” 
“The One (The Source, the Tao) 
produced the Two (Yin/Yang) 
and the Two produced the Three 
(Heaven and Earth and Human Beings) 
and the Three produced all that is.” 
“Darkness within darkness. 
The gateway to mystery.” 
This is not a mass movement of 
awakening world-wide, 
or even congregation-wide. 

“Listen to me,” I said, 
during my preaching years,
“when I say, 
‘Do not listen to me! Listen to YOU!’” 
That was my sermon, 
heard only by those with ears to hear. 
Which is the way it is. 
Which is the way. 
Which is all I’m still saying.

Heard only by those with ears to hear 
that are evoked into hearing 
by those saying what they know 
needs to be said 
whether anyone hears or not. 
That is the Tao in action. 
In life. 
In real life. 
Real time. 
A mystery that makes no sense.



Sea Stacks 05/26/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — The Wasteland Collection
I take Yoda to be the polar opposite
of Dr. Spock.
And am certain that
we would be better off
with Yoda running the show.
The catch is that 
Yoda would have nothing to do
with running the show.

Yoda knows.
"It is easier to conquer a country
than to run a country,"
(Genghis Kahn).
Because in running a country
you have too many people 
to keep happy.
And you cannot teach the people
to make themselves happy--
to be responsible
for their own happiness.

It is the place of the people
to know that happiness
doesn't come from having or doing,
but from being.

Being happy stems
from the right way of being.

And no one can tell anyone
the right way to be happy.

They have to know it for themselves.
It is a inside job.

Where does knowing come from?
From emptiness,
and silence.

From observation and recognition.

From realization and comprehension.

From seeing, hearing, understanding.

From being at one with the Tao.
At one with the Source of life and being.

The people who make the journey
from here to there
are the people who know what's what
and what needs to be done in response,
and do it when, where and how
it needs to be done,
without being told to,
because it needs to be done,
and it needs them to do it
with the original nature that is theirs
and the innate virtues they have had
since birth,
waiting for this moment to evoke in them
the need to do what is needed,
for the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it,
in each situation as it arises
all their life long.

The trouble with this process
is that we have minds of our own,
and our own fears and desires
come into play
to call us away
from doing what needs to be done
into the service of having their own way,
and that's all it takes
for the show to devolve 
into turmoil and chaos for ever after.

I asked my physician once
why people don't listen to their doctors,
and he said,
"People have minds of their own."

The sole reason things are as they are.

Around the world,
across the universe.
To the end of time,
and perhaps beyond.


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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