November 14-A, 2022

The Beech Trees 04-27-2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Guilford College Woods, Greensboro, North Carolina
To live the truth
we have to be able to live a lie.

To be true to ourselves
we have to violate all of the standards
that hold life together.

Maybe walking off into Galilee,
and maybe bearing the pain
of a marriage to a man
no one could live with
for the sake of the children
and the life they might have.

We have to bear the pain
of the cross
of contradiction and conflict
in being who we are 
where we are
when we are.

Balancing Yin and Yang
and paying the price
of harmony and peace.

This is what the (blind) Greek poet Homer
was talking about
when he had Odysseus say,
“And if some god should strike me, 
out on the wine-dark sea, 
I will endure it, 
owning a heart within 
inured to suffering.”

“I will stay with it 
and endure suffering hardship--
and once the heaving sea 
has shaken my raft to pieces, 
then I will swim.”

(It takes being blind to see, sometimes)

This is the turmoil of soul
a gay person experiences
in coming out.

It is the deepest kind of agony,
as it does,
a metaphorical death
to enable an actual life.

And the metaphorical
and the actual
are the easiest things to confuse--
and the hardest things to keep straight--
leading some people to actually kill themselves
because something has to die,
and it is hard to know what that is
in the anguish of the birth/death struggle
that is the grace/curse of all of our
coming out,
coming forth,
being clear about who we are
and who we are not.

So, Helen Luke could say,
“Unless a man or woman 
has experienced 
the darkness of the soul 
he or she can know nothing 
of that transforming laughter 
without which no hint 
of the ultimate reality 
of the opposites 
can be faintly intuited.”

"The ultimate reality of the opposites"
is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
is Odysseus upon the wine dark sea,
is every woman,
every man,
before the truth of who they are
and who they are required to be
by the way things are to be done
in the world they live in.

In order for something to live,
something must die,
and it is essential that we 
let all of our dying be metaphorically real
and not really real.

Jesus could have died just as well
by escaping into Galilee,
but he got confused
about what was actual
and what was real.

And the message of Gethsemane is
Be Clear About What Is Actual
And What Is Real--
and die the right kind of death,
the kind with True Life
on the other side
here and now.


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.

2 thoughts on “November 14-A, 2022

  1. Exactly! Everything hinges upon and flows from our being able to reconcile ourselves to the way things are–in a “This is how things are, and this is what can be done about it, and that’s that” kind of way.


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