One Minute Monologues 058

August 10, 2020 — September 20, 2020

  1. 08/10/2020  —  Coming to terms with how things are
    is the unending task of life.

    In every moment,
    there is how things are now
    and how we feel about how things are now.

    If it didn’t matter to us how things are,
    we would have no problem
    with how things are.

    That’s how the Buddha recommended
    peace and serenity:
    “Life is suffering.
    Don’t let it bother you.”

    Jesus advised something similar:
    “Let today’s trouble
    be sufficient for today.”
    (“Don’t be looking for trouble
    by trying to have it made tomorrow–
    or in the next five minutes!”)

    Here we are, now what?
    One moment at a time.

    Just recognizing the difference–
    and the distance–
    between how things are
    and how we feel about it,
    is a step toward reducing the burden we carry.

    “This is how things are,
    and this is what we can do about it,
    and that’s that!
    And that’s how things are!”

    How we choose to feel about it
    is up to us.

    But, no one ever tells us
    that we can choose our feelings!
    We have to find out so many
    of the important things
    for ourselves!

    It would help if there were a book,
    and if we read it.

    But, there is only the moment,
    and we have to live it.

    It helps to live it with our eyes open,
    paying attention–
    everything is improved through paying attention!
    Awareness is the solution
    to all of our problems today.

    Coming to terms with how things are
    is seeing things as they are,
    doing what can be done about it,
    and letting it be
    because it is.

    We can reduce our suffering
    by refusing to add to it
    while we seek solutions
    that change the things
    that can be changed.

    Willing what cannot be willed
    is the bane of human existence.
    Being right about what can–
    and cannot–
    be changed,
    and knowing when to take “NO!”
    for an answer,
    is the essence of wisdom,
    and harmony.

  2. 08/10/2020  —  Davidson River 10/13/2011 Panorama 01 —  Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC — October 13, 2011

    Look at everything
    as a Rube Goldberg device
    that your soul has put together
    to wake us up.

    Everything that has happened,
    and is happening,
    and will happen
    is as it is to wake us up.
    To shake us awake.
    To stir us to life.

    So that we might be consciously alive
    in the time left for living.

    It’s all about us coming to life
    in the time left for living.

    Our life is the Truman Show,
    and the real point is Truman leaving the show,
    leaving his life,
    and stepping courageously into his life.

    We are Truman.
    Our life is waiting.

  3. 08/10/2020  —  Hail Mary Full of Grace —  Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Charleston, SC, April 21, 2014

    The breakthrough to the other dimension,
    from physical to metaphysical,
    is only a slight perspective shift away
    at all times,
    in all places.

    The visible world is everywhere
    a doorway,
    a threshold,
    a portkey,
    to the invisible world.
    Anything can transport us there
    at any time.

    A brush by angel wings
    is as easily arranged
    as changing our mind
    about what is important.

    Always start there–
    with what is important.
    With what is so important,
    right here, right now.

    What’s so important right here right now
    anchors us in this moment,
    weights us down
    like an albatross,
    bears down upon us like a cross,
    keeps us from breathing,
    keeps us from living,
    keeps us from being alive,
    because it is so important
    we cannot look away
    or go on,
    or change our mind about it,
    and are anchored in place
    by what we believe to be
    and absurd–
    because IT IS!!!

    Freefalling through the abyss,
    we shift into bliss
    with the blessed return
    to the Source of our Original Nature
    and the confidence that has grounded
    our kind upon the eternal rock of the ages
    through the ages
    via the vehicle of the music of the spheres
    across time:

    Even So!

    Opening the door,
    walking through.

    “If the doors of perception were cleansed
    every thing would appear to man as it is,
    For man has closed himself up,
    till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
                             — William Blake The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

  4. 08/11/2020  —  Hatteras Sunrise 10/26/2003 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, October 26, 2003The word “occult” simply means “hidden,”
    and is an aspect of our experience
    that we label as “paranormal”
    or “metaphysical,”
    meaning that it lies beyond the range
    of rational, logical, Aristotelian
    (A is A and not Not-A) categories.

    Religious and mythological symbols
    bridge the worlds
    so that when Jesus, for example,
    talks about death and resurrection,
    or dying in order to live,
    or when Buddha talks about oneness
    and the illusion of duality,
    they are talking about the same experience,
    using metaphorical language
    to communicate something that cannot be said directly.

    Sheldon Kopp said
    “Some things can be experienced,
    but not understood,
    and some things can be understood,
    but not explained.”
    In the presence of those things,
    we can use the approach of poetry and metaphor
    to say indirectly what cannot be said directly,
    implying “like,”
    or “as if,”
    or “as though,”
    so it is “like/as if/as though”
    we die yet live
    or move from a world where duality
    is the foundation of reality
    and things are either/or,
    and into a word where duality disappears
    and things are both/and
    and all are one.

    Something can be true paranormally
    that is false normally,
    and it is a shift in perspective
    that makes it so.

    Walking two paths at the same time,
    or living with a foot in both worlds at once,
    is the task of the artists and poets,
    the seers and prophets
    who bridge the worlds,
    and speak to us in this world of that world,
    bringing the hidden things to light and to life
    in this world of normal, apparent, reality.

    What is true here is not so much true there,
    and what is true there is not so much true here,
    but to get the most out of this world,
    we have to learn to live as if/as though
    the other world is as real as this one is,
    and bring the other world to life in this one
    as fully as possible–
    and that means laying aside the goals and values
    of this world which lay waste to
    the goals and values of that world.

    Ancient people lived in this world in light of the other world.
    Their sacrifices acknowledged their dependence
    on the other world for balance and harmony,
    but they were sacrificing the wrong things.
    They killed their first born sons
    and their virgin daughters
    in order to live the way they wanted
    and have what their hearts desired,
    instead of sacrificing their wants and desires
    and living in ways that honored oneness
    and decreased duality.

    We talk of equality and justice
    and of living in ways that honor the natural world,
    and we live in ways that destroy the natural world
    and make a mockery of equity and justice.
    And the other world is not to be mocked, or tricked, or fooled.

    We are living in ways that work against the things
    that enable us to live together,
    enjoying one another
    and all that life affords–
    and our life is anything but joyful and abundant.
    Because we try to create abundance
    through buying, spending, amassing and consuming
    instead of sharing and restraining our insatiable appetites.
    And the other world is not to be mocked, or tricked, or fooled.

    Balance and harmony,
    spirit, energy and vitality
    are the products of oneness,
    not duality.
    All of the old manuscripts say so.
    They knew what they were talking about
    in the old days.
    No one was listening.
    And here we are.

  5. 08/11/2020  —  Cape Lookout 05/23/2009 01 Watercolor Rendering — Cape Lookout State Park, Tillamook, Oregon May 23, 2009

    We are here to live our best life possible under the circumstances,
    understanding that our circumstances are necessary
    to bring us forth in utilizing all of the gifts/genius/daemon/spirit/virtues/character
    that we bring with us from the womb,
    because we are fundamentally lazy and lethargic,
    and will opt for the course of least resistence
    in all matters great and small,
    and have to be challenged to bring forth our best
    in all the times and places of our living.
    So we are here to do what we can with our circumstances.
    That is just the way it is.

    Every time we want to quit
    because it’s just not fair,
    and besides that it’s hopeless,
    and absurd,
    we have to remember that we are born for this,
    and cannot refuse to be–and go on being–
    who we are
    and do what is ours to do
    just because it’s hard and we don’t feel like it,
    or aren’t in the mood for it,
    and are tired of it
    and want to lie back and rest until we die.

    And then, get up and do what needs to be done.
    The way it needs to be done.
    When it needs to be done.
    For as long as it needs to be done.
    Because it is our place to do it,
    and if we don’t do it,
    it won’t be done,
    and we will have failed in our mission,
    and everything depends on us doing our part.

    (Whether it does or not doesn’t matter–
    we have to live as if it does
    and that it all goes to hell if we don’t,
    in order to get up and go meet the day every day,
    and it is important to those who depend on us
    that we live like it matters that we live
    because it matters to them!
    And, besides, bringing our best to bear
    on our circumstances gets our best out there,
    and who knows what will happen
    in response to that?)

  6. 08/11/2020  —  Katahdin Panorama 10/29/2009 — Mt. Katahdin range, Sandy Spring Pond, Baxter State Park, Millinocket, Maine, October 29, 2009

    We don’t have to be right about the meaning of life.
    We only have to know what is meaningful to us about our life–
    and live in ways which serve it
    to the best of our ability.
    And we have to be right
    about it being to the best of our ability.

    Doing our best in the service of what means the most to us
    will put us on the path to what is truly meaningful.
    Meaning has a way of leading us to meaning.
    Meaning grows us up,
    transforms us,
    brings us to life.

    Start anywhere with what is most meaningful to you,
    and you will wind up somewhere else.
    Actually, you won’t “wind up” anywhere.
    You will always be “on the way” in the service
    of what is most meaningful to you at the time,
    and, over time that changes in the most amazing ways.

    At one time, fishing was the most meaningful thing I could think of.
    But, as the old alchemists would say,
    “One book opens another,”
    and fishing led to nature photography,
    and nature photography led to experiences
    with ineffable wonder,
    and that led me to explorations into mythology
    and religion,
    and philosophy,
    and meaning,
    and now I am awash in things to explore.
    All because I liked to fish.

    We start somewhere,
    with something,
    and take off,
    not knowing what we are doing,
    or where we are going,
    or where it will lead,
    or what will be next.

    It is an adventure that unfolds before us
    as we start walking.

    It is called “Being alive to the life we are living.”
    If you can find something better than that,
    do it!

  7. 08/12/2020  —  Day’s End 10/27/2008 — Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, October 27, 2008

    Facts are not always what they appear to be.
    Seeing things changes things.
    What was good in our grandparents’ day
    may not be good at all today.
    Truth itself is on the block.
    What truth means changes with the clock.

    Ortega y Gasset might say,
    “True and false meet at the edge of the coin.”
    Everything is relative to something else.
    How we see things depends
    on how we look at them.

    Maybe yes, maybe no.
    Time will tell.

    In the mean time,
    we have to go with
    the time that is at hand,
    even though the times are a’changin’
    as we speak.

    But, here and now are the operative concerns,
    and what the situation calls for
    here and now
    may never be the same e’er again.

    Here and now, we make our best guess
    about what matters most,
    and what needs to be done about it,
    and do it.
    And let that be that,
    as we step into the next here and now
    and repeat the process forever.

    I wish I could do it all over again,
    some days.
    Other days I think I couldn’t make it
    much better with 10,000 tries.
    Because improving this,
    worsens that,
    and better is just a ratio
    between good and bad.
    And it takes time to tell.

    And some people never learn
    to tell time.
    And no two people are going to
    always agree about what’s what,
    much less which is better
    and which is worse.

    People are funny that way.

    Only you can make up your mind,
    and only you can change it.
    Even though no one changes their mind
    by trying to.
    If you don’t think so,
    just try it.
    But how we see things changes all the time.
    And what determines that?
    There is more to everything
    than meets the eye,
    and the hidden stuff
    is just a perspective shift away.

    We all are our grandparents,
    saying, “This is good and that is not!”
    And time will tell.
    And more time will tell something else.

    Time is funny that way.

  8. 08/13/2020  —  Lotus Light —

    Nothing is wrong with us
    that growing up some more again
    wouldn’t help.

    Growing up some more again
    is the solution to all of our problems today.
    And every day.

    Too few people world-wide
    ever get beyond the third stage
    of spiritual development
    (As devised by the Yogis, Hindus, Buddhists of lore,
    and which can be found a few days back here).
    And it’s a problem because no one
    can grow someone else up some more again,
    or at all.
    Jesus couldn’t do it,
    and they killed him for trying.
    They always kill you in one way or another for trying.

    Growing up is our responsibility.
    It is really all we have to do.
    If we are committed to growing up some more again
    for as long as it takes,
    we have everything it takes
    for our life-experience (and our life)
    to be as good as it can be.

    Our life is never as good as we would like for it to be,
    and thus, the need to grow up some more again.
    But we insist that our life be what we want it to be NOW!
    And it will never be what we want it to be ever.
    We have to grow up some more again about it.
    Which we refuse to do.

    And here we are.

    The only “solution” (And it solves nothing,
    just makes things as livable as they can be)
    is for those of us who can
    to grow up some more again as we are able
    throughout our life
    and let that be that.

    Salvation is an individual accomplishment.

    Nobody can save the world.

    Nobody can “make disciples of all nations”
    (And Jesus of all people would have known that,
    so those words were put in his mouth
    by those who felt they needed leverage
    for what they were doing–which is how
    the entire Bible got to be as it is,
    but that is for another time).

    Each of us is on our own.
    Our life is our responsibility.
    And growing up some more again
    is all we have to do.
    Everything will fall into place around that.

    It is another term for the spiritual journey,
    the Hero’s Journey,
    the spiritual Quest.
    And it waits for us to take it up.
    Every day.
    For the rest of our life.

  9. 08/13/2020  —  Rockport Harbor 10/15/2009 02 — 

    The Hero’s Journey and the heroic task
    await us all.

    But we are always confusing metaphor with reality,
    and think, “Oh, but there are no more dragons to slay!”

    There were never any dragons to slay.

    All that heroes ever did
    through all the ages
    was simply what needed to be done.
    Simply what the situation called for.

    Every moment has its dragon
    and is desperate for its hero
    to rise to the occasion
    and do what needs to be done about it.

    That’s where you and I come in.

    To act as liege servants
    with filial loyalty
    in doing what needs us to do it
    “Without hope,
    without witness,
    without reward”
    (Steven Moffat).

    all our life long.

    Not what we have in mind.
    We are here for bigger things
    than mopping the kitchen floor
    and taking out the garbage!

    Come the words of Jesus:
    “Those who are faithful in small things
    are faithful in much.”
    Those who can be counted on
    with the mopping and the garbage
    can be counted on.

    Heroes are those who can be counted on period.

    Come the words of Jesus again:
    “The harvest is plentiful
    but the laborers are few.”
    We miss the metaphor again
    and think that Jesus is talking about
    saying what Jesus has done to everybody everywhere.
    Jesus is talking about doing what needs to be done
    in every situation everywhere.

    Every situation cries out for something!
    “The harvest is plentiful!”
    And people everywhere
    are saying, “Not me, not me.”
    No one wants to do what is asked of them.
    Everyone is looking for a dragon to slay
    in order to make the headlines
    and reap the rewards
    and be accorded Hero Of The Realm!

    Superheroes have better things to do
    than mop the kitchen floor
    and take out the garbage.

    The things superheroes spit on
    need real heroes to do them.

  10. 08/14/2020  —  Stonington, Maine 10/12/2009 02–

    What do you call a White Supremacist
    who frequents tanning beds
    and applies artificial tan
    with lotions and creams?

    Kidding ourselves is what we do best.
    Self-deception in all its myriad forms
    has characterized humanity
    from the beginning.
    We are always fooling ourselves,
    looking in the mirror,
    never seeing who is looking back.

    If you are a member of an organization–
    or a group–
    larger than three people,
    you are a danger to the rest of us.

    There are Republicans who are convinced
    that Democrats eat children–
    literally, actually, in real time.

    Witch hunts were conducted by conspiracy theorists.
    Nazis and fascists were/are conspiracy theorists.
    Qanon never met a conspiracy theory it didn’t like.
    Everything is so much better with someone else to blame
    for things being the way they are.

    And hatred is at the bottom of it all.

    “It is people like you
    who make people like me
    hate people like you!”

    Try making peace with people like that.
    With people who just want you dead.
    After inflicting misery and suffering on you

    What’s the fix?
    How do people get to be
    the way they are?
    What is going on?
    “Why can’t we just get along?”
    How is hatred masking itself
    in the things you believe?

    If you aren’t self-aware enough
    to see what you look at
    when you look at you,
    you are a danger to the rest of us.

    with a particular sensitivity
    to denial,
    and delusion–
    is the solution
    to all of our problems today.
    And every day.

    The fix is found in assuming our individual responsibility
    for facing,
    squaring up to,
    dealing with,
    and managing the truth–
    particularly, as it pertains to us personally.

  11. 08/14/2020  —  Willow 04/06/2006 —

    We have to be able to bear the pain
    of seeing what we look at
    and knowing what we know.

    Bearing the pain of life as it is
    is the foundational step
    toward life as it may be.

    The catch is that life as it may be
    may be nothing like
    life as we want it to be,
    as we wish it were,
    at least not in our lifetime.
    And we have to bear that pain
    in doing the work that needs to be done
    to make things better than they are
    for future generations.

    How many generations out
    are we
    from life as it needs to be?
    It doesn’t matter.
    What matters is that we do the work
    in our time and place
    toward life as it needs to be
    in all times and places–
    without keeping score
    or caring what our chances are.

    human rights…
    are worth living and dying for
    across time and place.

    And we have to bear the pain
    of service to ends worthy of us
    in every time and place,
    even so–
    because everything depends on that,
    and flows from that.

    Living as though,
    as if,
    this is so
    makes it so!

    And we take our place
    in the long line of those
    who lived in the service of a good
    greater than their own, personal, good,
    in light of all that life may yet be
    for all who are alive
    throughout the time left for living.

  12. 08/14/2020  —  A Time for Shadows 02/12/2009 —

    We are minding our own business,
    going about life as usual,
    all our plans are in place,
    meeting our responsibilities
    and carrying out our duties
    in serving our own sense of The Good
    to the best of our ability,
    when along comes a war,
    or a pandemic slams the door on one future
    and opens the door to a starkly different one,
    requiring us to adapt and adjust in mid-stride.

    Transitions are tough to negotiate
    even when we see them coming.
    When they are thrust upon us
    out of nowhere
    we have to get our feet back under us
    with the world spinning around us
    while free-falling through a debris field
    of all that once was the world we lived in
    thirty seconds ago,
    they are a monster,
    eating our old life alive
    laughing at our prospects
    and mocking our chances.

    When everything is blown away,
    we have to connect ourselves consciously
    with the one constant that remains steadily in place
    through all the vicissitudes of time and space.

    That would be us.
    Carl Jung said, “We are who we have always been,
    and who we will be.”

    We remain constantly and continually ourselves
    through all that comes and goes throughout our life.

    We have to remind ourselves of that,
    and breathe slowly and deeply,
    as we recover our sense of our own being,
    reunite with our Original Nature,
    check to make sure our shadow is where it should be,
    and remind ourselves of who we are
    and what we bring to this moment
    and every moment flowing from this one.

    Our task is the same
    across all conditions and circumstances of life:
    We stop,
    take inventory,
    assess what is happening
    and what needs to be done about it,
    determine what is being called for,
    in each situation as it arises
    and respond to it
    with the gifts/daemon/spirit/virtues/character
    that came with us from the womb
    and accompany us wherever we go
    all our life long.

    Our work is the same in all times and places.
    We stand up,
    and step forward,
    rising to the occasion
    and meeting whatever faces us
    as only we can
    letting things fall into place around that
    and adjusting to new realities as they emerge,
    responding on the fly
    as needed all the way.

    Through all that comes,
    we maintain our conscious connection
    with the source and center
    of our Original Nature,
    being who we are
    when we are,
    where we are,
    no matter what
    every step of the way–
    allowing the path to open before us
    as we start walking,
    and trusting ourselves
    to the creative mystery within
    guiding us through the choices and decisions
    that are ours to make
    as though we know what we are doing,
    when in truth,
    we are only doing what seems to be
    the right thing to do at the time,
    and letting the outcome be the outcome–
    which will be just another situation
    where we stand up
    and step forward to meet
    and deal with as best we can.

    Resting and regrouping as we are able,
    and doing what can be done
    about what needs to be done
    all the way.

    Each of us is uniquely suited
    for the adventure that is ours.
    It only takes believing that
    and living as if it so
    for it to be so
    in every day that lies ahead.

  13. 08/14/2020  —  The Price Lake Variations V — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, ca, 2004 (with Grandfather Mountain)

    Do not have a plan.
    Do not think you know where you are going.
    Do not have to know where you are going.
    Do not need to know where you are going.
    Do not know where you are going.

    Do not think you know what you are doing.
    Do not have to know what you are doing.
    Do not need to know what you are doing.
    Do not know what you are doing.

    Do not think you ought to contrive a future.
    Do not think you can contrive a future worth having.
    Do not contrive a future.

    Do not try to figure your best move,
    or seek to serve your advantage,
    or strive to gain the advantage,
    or think you know what the advantage is.

    See what you look at.
    Ask the questions that beg to be asked.
    Say the things that cry out to be said.
    Listen to what you hear
    beyond what is said
    to what is implied,
    to what is meant.

    Know what is called for
    in each situation as it arises.
    Respond with what you have to offer
    out of your gifts/daemon/spirit/virtues/character
    and let things fall out around that.

    Let sincerity,
    and harmony
    be your traveling companions.

    Consult your creative center and source
    of your Original Nature,
    and allow them to lead you in acting
    to incarnate your nature
    in all of the times and places of your living,
    in each here and now of your existence,
    in doing what needs you to do it
    within the circumstances that unfold before you.

    Receive your life each day
    as an adventure waiting for you to live it.

    Dance with your contradictions
    and bear consciously the pain that is your to bear,
    always open to the joy and wonder of being alive.

    And your life will teach you
    all you need to know.

  14. 08/15/2020  —  Crescent Beach 05/24/2009 10, Eola State Park, Canon Beach, Oregon

    Forrest Gump is the metaphor for our time.
    If you were going to advise Forrest Gump,
    what would you tell him?
    Sit with that.
    Ponder it.
    Meditate on it.
    Play around with it.
    What would you say to Forrest Gump?
    What did/does Forrest Gump need to know?

    Imagine that you are Forrest Gump.
    What do you need to know?
    What would help you the most?
    If you could ask The One Who Knows
    what you need to know,
    what do you think he would tell you?

    If you were Forrest Gump,
    and I were The One Who Knows,
    I would tell you,
    “Forrest, be right about what you believe is so,
    and live as though it is.
    Live as if it were.
    In every moment
    of every situation as it arises,
    all your life long.”

    And, you being Forrest Gump,
    would likely ask,
    “But how do I know what is right to believe in?”
    I would tell you,
    “Your life will tell you what is right to believe in.
    Live with your eyes open,
    seeing what you look at,
    looking at everything.
    Your life will teach you all you need to know.”

    And, you being Forrest Gump,
    would likely say,
    “Ah, I already knew that!”
    And, I would say,
    “Everybody does.
    But only you are living as if it were so.”

    And, you being Forrest Gump,
    would likely say,
    “Well then, what do I need you for?”
    And, I would say,
    “Everybody already has all they need
    to find what they need,
    to do what their life needs them to do,
    but only you and I and a handful of others
    know it is so,
    and live as though it is.
    We are all like you, Forrest.
    But only a few of us know it.
    And it is good for us to be together
    from time to time,
    and pal around.
    Why don’t we find some popcorn,
    or go for a run?”

  15. 08/16/2020  —  Blue Ridge Pastoral 09/02/2004 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

    The work is always the same
    over time and place.

    Wherever we are,
    whenever we are,
    there is the work to wake up,
    be aware,
    see what is happening,
    do what is called for
    in incarnating our Original Nature,
    within the context and circumstances
    of our life,
    with sincerity,
    balance and harmony,
    energy, spirit and vitality,
    in the service of justice and equality,
    compassion and peace,
    grace and kindness
    all our life long.

    The old saw goes,
    “When Good stands up to be Good,
    Evil stands us to be Evil.”
    It is an unending cycle of life,
    like the coming and going of the seasons
    and the rise and fall of the tides.
    It means Good cannot quit being Good
    just because it is tired
    and needs a vacation.
    Evil doesn’t sleep.
    Good has to be on its toes.
    All the time.

  16. 08/16/2020  —  Hammock Creek 10/23/2003 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    Our opinions are killing us.

    We have opinions about everything.
    If physicians allowed their opinions
    to color their living
    the way everybody else does,
    everybody else would be better off
    staying away from physicians.

    Police are now partisan in New York.
    If you don’t wear a MAGA hat,
    don’t expect police to be much help there.
    And if you wear a Black Lives Matter tee shirt,
    you are soon to be in need
    of a physician without opinions.

    We got here by being asleep at the wheel.
    By being Absent Without Leave from our life.
    By not being aware of how our opinions
    were carrying us away,
    kidnapping us,
    hijacking us,
    commandeering us,
    shanghaiing us
    and making us captive
    to their narrow point of view
    and their absence of grace and kindness,
    compassion and bigness of heart.

    And we became snarly,
    and unsafe to be around,
    like that (snaps fingers).

    All because we have opinions
    about everything.
    And, with us, opinions are facts.
    The way we see things
    is the way things ARE!!!
    And everything SHOULD BE
    the way we want things to be
    RIGHT NOW!!!

    OR ELSE!!!

    You can look this up,
    or trust me when I say,
    opinions (ours and everyone else’s) are the cause
    of all of our troubles yesterday,
    and forever.

    And, if you think that is just my opinion,
    well, that’s YOUR opinion.

  17. 08/16/2020  —  Atlantic Moonrise 09/15/06 – Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

    Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell said two things (apiece)
    that pertain to us and our work
    of transforming our relationship with ourselves
    and living a life in accord with who we are.

    Carl Jung:
    “There is within each of us another, whom we do not know.”

    “We are who we have always been, and who we will be.”

    Joseph Campbell:
    “Where you stumble and fall, there lies the treasure.”

    “What you seek lies far back in the darkest corner
    of the cave you most don’t want to enter.”

    These four statements constitute
    the full scope of the work that is ours to do,
    which is, transforming our relationship with ourselves
    and living to incarnate/bring forth The Other,
    who is our True Self,
    The Face That Was Ours Before We Were Born,
    within the context and circumstances of our life
    in the world of time and space–
    the here and now of our normal,
    day-to-day, existence.

    Your assignment is to meditate,
    reflect on,
    play with,
    dance with,
    muse on,
    walkabout with,
    live with…
    these four statements
    in your imagination,
    and let them take on a life of their own,
    leading you down paths you would never think
    to explore,
    showing you what they have to offer,
    and what they have to ask of you–
    just allow your thoughts to run off with you
    and follow along,
    not knowing where they are going…

    Do this over a long period of time.
    Come back again and again to these four statements
    and what they have to show you
    that you have yet to see.

    The statements will not run out of things to say to you,
    to show you,
    to ask you,
    to require of you.
    And they will always be a doorway, a threshold, to you
    through all the stages of your life.

  18. 08/09/2020  —  Cove Morning 10/16/2003 Watercolor Rendering — Cade’s Cove, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Townsend, Tennessee

    Transforming our relationship with ourselves
    is our life-long task.
    The Hero’s Journey.
    The Spiritual Quest.
    Our Opus.
    Our Great Work.

    We are seeking ourselves
    along every path we take.
    And, are running from ourselves
    at the same time.

    So comes to bear upon us
    the words of Carl Jung:
    “We meet our destiny
    on the road we take to escape it.”

    And the words of Joseph Campbell:
    “We find what we seek
    far back in the darkest corner
    of the cave we most don’t want to enter.”

    Damn if we don’t!
    So why make it hard on ourselves?
    Why not just cut to the chase?
    And save ourselves the trouble
    of getting all the way to the end of our rope?

    Why don’t we just stop and say,
    “Okay! I know where this is going!
    I understand inevitability when I
    can no longer deny it!
    What do you want with me?
    What will it take to make you happy?”?

    I can tell you The Four Things Required,
    but it is up to you to put them in play,
    and you are on your own from this point.

    The First Thing is Sincerity.
    How long has it been?
    No contrivance.
    No games.
    No seeking your own advantage.
    No looking for what’s in it for you.
    No feigning interest when you couldn’t care less.
    No duplicity.

    Your heart has to be in it all the way.
    No! Your heart has to be leading the way all the way!
    If your heart isn’t in it,
    you are wasting your time.

    Liege Loyalty.
    Filial Devotion.
    Go and learn what these things are.
    It is called “Sincerity.”
    That’s The First Thing.

    The Second Thing is like unto it: Good Faith.
    No bullshit.
    No chasing after something better
    when something better comes along.
    No quitting when things get hard.
    No changing your mind.
    No waffling.
    No demurring.
    No trying to re-negotiate The Deal.

    You are owned by your Word.
    You are bound by your Word.
    Jesus said, “No one who puts their hand to the plow
    looks back.”
    Or to the left.
    Or to the right.
    Or up or down.
    A Good Faith commitment to the task at hand
    is The Second Thing.

    The Third Thing is a Spirit of Play.
    Playing is serious business.
    Playing is getting yourself out of the way.
    Playing unfolds according to its own direction.
    Its own inclination.
    Its own spur-of-the-moment urgency.

    No one plays by the rules!
    The Rules kill play!
    And suddenly you are back at work.
    Keeping the rules.
    “All games have their rules!”
    Okay, then.
    The rule of this game is “No Rules!”

    We play by playing,
    and that means Getting Out Of The Way.
    No winning.
    No losing.
    No keeping score.
    No concern for how well we are doing.
    No worrying about “Are we there yet?”
    We are just lost in the game,
    playing our way along the way.
    That’s The Third Thing: A Spirit of Play.

    The Forth Thing is The Third Thing.
    The Forth Thing is not The Third Thing.
    The Spirit of Play is the Third Thing.
    The Forth Thing is a different Third Thing.
    Play along here.

    The Third Thing is a thing,
    that is oblique to the Journey.
    The Task.
    The Quest.
    The Third Thing
     has nothing to do with what we are doing.

    The other two things are You
    and What You Are Doing
    (Seeking to transform your life
    by transforming your relationship
    with yourself).

    The Third Thing has nothing to do with that.

    The Third Thing could be anything.

    Oatmeal cookies.
    Sit down with actual oatmeal cookies,
    or with the idea of oatmeal cookies,
    and see where it goes.
    See what you do with oatmeal cookies.
    Let oatmeal cookies take over your life.
    Write an essay on oatmeal cookies.
    Write a letter to oatmeal cookies.
    Bake oatmeal cookies.
    Experiment with the recipe.
    Make the best oatmeal cookies
    that have ever been made.
    Play with oatmeal cookies.
    See where they take you.
    Watch how oatmeal cookies open doors
    you never expected oatmeal cookies to open.
    Doors you never knew existed.
    Leading to places you would have never ever
    gone on your own.
    Oatmeal Cookies become your Guide.
    Follow the leader.

    The old alchemists had a slogan:
    “One book opens another.”
    Oatmeal cookies are that way.
    The Third Thing carries you away like that.
    To what, and what else, and where that will go,
    you will discover in good time.

    Oatmeal cookies don’t have to be your Third Thing.
    Sit quietly and wait for your Third Thing to appear
    in a compelling kind of way,
    as if to say,
    “Let’s play.”

    Hang on for the ride!

  19. 08/17/2020  —  Day’s End 10/27/2008 02 — Pamlico Sound, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

    Joseph Campbell talks about
    Carl Jung’s idea of “Active Imagination”
    in Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor,
    and says,” One way to activate the imagination is
    to propose to it a mythic image for contemplation
    and free development.
    Mythic images…speak to very deep centers of the psyche…
    without strict game rules defining the sort
    of thoughts you must (think),
    letting your own psyche
    enjoy and develop (the image),
    you may find yourself running into imageries,
    experiences, and amplifications
    that do not fit exactly into
    the patterns (you expect or are comfortable with).
    What are you going to do?
    Are you going to let yourself go, following your own
    activated imagination?
    Or are you going to cut the run short
    at some critical point?
    …The world of life speaks within us
    when we let the active imagination function.”

    We can engage our Active Imagnation
    with any image,
    or any situation,
    or any idea,
    letting our psyche take over
    and wander where it will.

    For instance, you could imagine yourself
    standing on a beach,
    looking out to sea,
    and just stand there,
    to see what will happen,
    that you don’t intentionally will into being.
    Just look out to sea
    and see what happens next…

    At some point,
    when your psyche takes over,
    you may get to a thought or an image
    that so shocks you,
    you have to take control
    and get yourself out of there now.

    If you have ever frightened yourself
    with some of the things that come to mind
    over the course of a life,
    and quickly assumed control of your thoughts
    and changed the subject,
    you know what Campbell is talking about.

    Do we risk seeing what we have to show ourselves?
    Say to ourselves?
    Or will we dutifully follow the course laid out for us
    by society and the culture
    and the expectations and duties
    that shape, form, limit and restrict
    the kind of path we can allow our life to take–
    to the point of not even allowing ourselves
    to think thoughts that are prohibited by
    and anathema to the time and place of our living?

    What are we afraid of?

    “That which you seek is found far back
    in the darkest corner
    of the cave you most don’t want to enter”
    (Joseph Campbell).

    What do we do?

  20. 08/18/2020  —  Bass Harbor Moon 02 — Acadia National Park, Bass Harbor, Maine

    Our meanings are the most personal things about us.

    What something means to us
    sets us apart
    and makes us unique among
    the rest of humankind.

    Or disappears us entirely,
    and renders us indistinguishable
    from all the others
    wearing our collective team’s colors
    and cheering them on.

    Where does meaning come from?
    How do we know what is meaningful?
    How do we decide “This is,”
    and “That is not”?

    Getting to the bottom of meaning
    and what it does for us,
    how it grounds us
    and establishes us,
    defines us
    and gives us our place in the world,
    opens us to the depths of existence,
    and the doorways of realization.

    What means the most to you?
    Your life is formed and shaped by what?
    Do you live for football?
    Ice cream and apple pie?
    Your children?
    Daddy’s approving smile?

    Make a list.
    Add to it as things occur to you.
    Call it your book of meaningful things.
    Carry it with you through all times and places.
    How long will it be by the end of the week?
    How many meaningful things
    do you count in a day?
    What do you do that is meaningful every day?
    What makes them meaningful?
    What/who do they connect you with?
    What/who do they protect you from?
    What does your association with them
    do for you?
    What gives them their place in your life?
    How do new things get to be added to the list?
    What is the newest meaningful thing there?
    What are your guides to new meaningful things?
    What is your guide to meaning?
    What does your collection of meaningful things
    tell you about who you are?

    Upon what does your life depend?

  21. 08/18/2020  —  Mormon Row Barn 06/23/2001 — Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming

    There are:
    our Original Nature,
    the Source of our Original Nature,
    and the Source of the Source.

    When we connect with,
    live out of
    and express
    our Original Nature
    within the context and circumstances
    of our life,
    we are connecting with
    and exhibiting,
    the Source
    and the Source of the Source.

    We are one with all things.

    In accord with,
    aligned with,
    in harmony with,
    balanced by,
    the rhythms
    and flow
    of nature and life.

    What interferes with that,
    prevents that,
    sabotages that,
    keeps it from happening?

    Caring about the wrong things.
    Not-caring about the right things.
    Willing what cannot be willed.
    Wanting what we have no business having.
    Thinking the wrong things are important.

    Our orientation and direction.
    Having purposes at cross-purposes with our Purpose.
    Living with too much noise in our life to hear.
    Living opaque to ourselves.
    Turning off, tuning out, shutting down.

    What is the fix,
    the cure,
    the antidote?

    Hitting the solid rock wall of reality sometimes works.
    Getting to the end of our rope may do it.
    Having nowhere to turn
    and nowhere to go could do the trick.
    Running out of answers might be the answer.
    Seeing what we look at
    and knowing what we know–
    and what we don’t know–
    is always a reliable path back to the path.

    The catch is that no one can do it for us.

    The return to our Original Nature
    as liege servants swearing
    filial loyalty and devotion forever
    is up to us.

  22. 08/18/2020  —  Zen Sun Poster — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, September 03, 2010

    Personality is the key to everything.
    Who we are is how we respond to our life.
    Is what we do in the here and now,
    in the time and place of our living,

    And if it is not–
    if what we do is not a reflection/expression/incarnation
    of who we are–
    if how we live is some twisted,
    perversion of who we are,
    in the service of motives
    and desires
    that are devouring us
    as we pursue them,
    like some deranged Ouroboros
    gorging itself on itself,
    then we only have ourselves to thank
    for abandoning our soul
    to pursue dreams of everlasting glory.

    Everlasting is our Original Nature
    brought forth in response
    to the circumstances of our life.

    When our Original Nature is exhibited
    by our personality,
    we are a wheel turning out of its own center,
    guiding itself by its own inner sense of direction
    to ends worthy of its allegiance

    Personality leads us all along the way.
    Reveals us.
    Unfolds us.
    Expands us.
    Develops us.
    Brings us forth.
    Establishes us.
    Makes us known as the Real Human Being we are.

    Our relationship with our personality
    is our primary relationship,
    enabling us to be who we are
    in ways appropriate to the occasion,
    and birthing us anew
    again and again,
    all along the way.

  23. 08/19/2020  —  Peyto Lake in the Snow 09/20/2004 — Banff National Park, Alberta

    The people who don’t care
    about the impact of their actions
    are a threat and a danger
    to the people who do care
    about the things the people who don’t care
    don’t care about.

    It takes caring about things working
    for things to work.

    But, there is a catch.

    Just as we can care too little,
    we also can care too much.

    Caring is a tricky act
    of balance and harmony.
    Thin is the line
    and fine is the balance
    among not enough,
    just right
    and too much.

    If we are going to care,
    we have to care enough
    to get it right.

    That means monitoring the moment,
    Seeing the nature of our impact
    on what’s happening
    and what needs to happen,
    and adjusting our influence
    to moderate/adjust the effect
    we are having
    on the time and place
    of our living.

    We have to know what we are doing
    and what that is doing,
    and what we need to do about that.

    We have to pay attention,
    we have to be aware,
    we have to be alert,
    we have to know what’s what
    and what has to be done
    in response to it,

    And we learn as we go.

    The way we live
    will teach us how we need to live
    throughout our life.

    Throw away the rules and the recipes,
    and simply see what you look at,
    and know what you know,
    and let that be your guide
    as to how to respond to what is happening
    over time.

    It’s like learning to ice skate,
    roller skate,
    and ride a bike.

    We don’t find “the sweet spot”
    and rigidly remain in place.
    We wobble a lot.
    Now we have it,
    oops, now we don’t,
    ah, now we do…
    Controlled wobbles,
    all our life long.

    We have to care enough
    to care at all.

  24. 08/19/2020  —  Zen Sun 02

    Original Nature leads the way.

    Relying on our Original Nature to guide us
    is simply falling back on who we are
    in meeting the requirements of each here and now–
    after Carl Jung’s quote:
    “We are who we always have been,
    and who we will be.”

    That is all we need to do
    all we need to be,
    wherever and whenever we are–
    with this caveat:
    “In ways fitting to the occasion.”

    We cannot impose ourselves
    on our circumstances.
    We are here to honor Yin/Yang,
    to bear the pain of our contradictions,
    to bear the pain of the tension
    of mutually exclusive opposites,
    and incarnate the truth of who we are
    within the hostile circumstances
    of our daily life.

    This is what Jesus did
    and it killed him.
    Whether we die literally as Jesus did,
    or metaphorically as working parents do daily,
    as working people do daily,
    doing what it takes to pay the bills
    in order to do what we pay the bills
    to do.

    It is a contrary that pushes us to the limit,
    and William Blake reminds us,
    “Without contrary is no progression.”
    Dancing with our contraries
    all along the way of life,
    is the way of life,
    and the way to life.

    We live to be who we are
    within the time and place of our living,
    working to make where we are
    more like it ought to be than it is,
    becoming ourselves
    more like we are than we are yet–
    taking our place in the long line of our ancestors
    who rose to the occasion every day of their life,
    and made things better by the way they lived,
    and were a grace and a blessing
    upon all who came their way.

  25. 08/19/2020  —  Spring Streams, Watercolor Rendering — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Greenbriar District

    Musing on our Original Nature,
    our Virtues,
    and our Character
    opens up pathways of reflection
    that lead to new realizations.

    What are the things that make us us,
    that separate us from the crowd,
    that stand us apart
    and identify us as distinct
    from every other person–
    that are to our psyche
    as our fingerprints are to our soma?

    Would you recognize yourself
    if you heard someone else
    describing you?

    Would you say,
    “Hey! That’s me you are talking about!”?

    Do you know you well enough
    to see you through someone else’s eyes?

    How do you enhance,
    your relationship with your psyche-side?

    How do you come to recognize
    the qualities you possess?

    If you were to deliberately
    act like yourself,
    what would you do?
    If you were going to over-emphasize
    those things that are characteristically you
    (The way you would
    if you were doing your best John Wayne imitation),
    what would you do?

    What qualities,
    are you particularly proud of?
    How do you bring them into play
    in your life?

    Musing on our Original Nature,
    our Virtues,
    and our Character
    opens up pathways of reflection
    that lead to new realizations.

  26. 08/20/2020  —  Mattamuskeet Moon 01 — Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina

    There is only one thing
    standing between you
    and having it made,
    as much as anyone can have it made,
    living in a world where life eats life,
    and what we want prevents us from having
    something else we want,
    and our inner conflicts and contradictions
    make it impossible for us to have our way
    and enjoy our life.

    The one thing missing is this:
    You have to be able to bear the pain
    of living in a world where life eats life,
    and what we want prevents us from having
    something else we want,
    and our inner conflicts and contradictions
    make it impossible for us to have our way
    and enjoy our life.

    You have to be able to bear the pain
    of seeing what you look at
    and knowing what is called for
    in each situation as it arises
    and having what it takes
    to do what is needed
    without worrying about
    what it means for you personally
    and letting the outcome be
    whatever it is
    and trusting everything to fall
    into place around that,
    and trusting yourself
    to have what you need
    to find what you need
    to do what needs to be done
    in the next situation that arises
    all your life long.

    If you can do that,
    you have it made.
    as much as you can have it made…
    as long as you can bear the pain
    of being alive.

    If you can do that,
    the rest is a snap.

  27. 08/20/2020  —  Evening Light, Pastel Rendering — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingman’s Dome, Cherokee, North Carolina

    The energy to be engaged
    comes from tending our relationship
    with the Source of Rapture,
    that characterize the impact beauty has on us
    in art,
    and nature–
    though it also can arise from particular encounters
    with The Tao of Grace and Synchronicity.

    Whether there is such a thing as the Source of those experiences,
    I do not know.
    But I do know that if we live as if there is,
    it makes all the difference in our life.

    All people everywhere have experienced
    these things
    from the beginning of people,
    and they have all seen what they have experienced
    as issuing from God, or The Gods,
    by whatever name they have called
    “That Which Has Always Been Thought Of As God.”

    “God” comes entangled,
    bound up in,
    and doctrine,
    and assumptions
    that go far afield from the Source of Awe and Wonder.

    The Source of Awe and Wonder
    is all we can say about the Source of Awe and Wonder.

    Awe and Wonder happen to everybody everywhere.
    No one has to believe any particular thing
    or behave any particular way.
    We all just go about our life
    and are Whammed out of Nowhere by Awe and Wonder.

    Positing that as evidence of a Source,
    puts us in position to develop our relationship with said Source
    by meditating on the experience of Awe and Wonder,
    and tracking it to all of the occasions resulting in Awe and Wonder.

    One of those occasions is simply ourselves,
    and the fact that we could be moved by such experiences
    as those which move us.
    And the more we explore ourselves,
    the more we are open to being moved
    by the experience of being moved.

    At some point,
    we track onto our Original Nature–
    “The Face That Was Ours Before We Were Born.”
    Who is responsible for that?
    How do we come to be who we are?
    What an Awe and Wonder that is!

    And all of this tracks back to the supposed Source of it all.
    However, if we choose to stop here, fine.
    We can recognize the Knower Within as The End of the Line.
    If we track back to the Source,
    the Source will also be recognized to be the Knower Within,
    and we will be recognized to be One With The Knower AND with The Source.

    So how do you want to count to ten?
    By ones?
    By fives?
    By halves?
    We can get to ten in ten thousand ways.
    Well, a lot of ways anyway.

    Same with the Source.

    And improving our relationship with the Source
    is a matter of realizing all of the things that bless us
    with the Grace of Awe and Wonder–
    and putting ourselves on the path to be so graced
    on a regular and recurring basis.

    Simple! As! That!

  28. 08/21/2020  —  First Light on Pyramid Mountain — Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta

    There is nothing wrong with us
    that changing our mind about what’s important
    won’t correct.

    There is a catch.
    We have to change our mind about what’s important
    until we are right about it.

    Being right about what’s important
    is the solution to all of our problems today.
    And tomorrow.

    Why is it so hard to be right about what’s important?
    I was hoping someone would ask that question!
    It is because we want what we want
    and not what we ought to want.
    What we want is not important.
    I knew you were not going to like that.

    Being right about what’s important
    is not pain free.
    It is the right kind of pain.
    It is the kind of pain that pain is all about.

    Carl Jung said,
    “Neurosis is always a substitute
    for legitimate suffering.”
    He also said,
    “There is no coming to consciousness
    (Waking up)
    without pain.”

    We experience pain by denying or escaping pain,
    and we experience pain by embracing and accepting pain.
    It is a different kind of pain.

    We have to bear the right kind of pain–
    the pain of consciously bearing our pain–
    the pain of knowing and doing what’s important,
    no matter what.

    Our life revolves around escape from pain.
    Once escaping pain is no longer our primary diretive
    and motivation,
    everything changes for the better,
    We are not pain free.
    Pain is just no longer important.
    It is only the price we pay for being alive,
    and doing what needs to be done.

    People who are alive
    and not doing what needs to be done
    may as well be dead,
    and are dead
    to all that is life-giving
    and vibrantly alive.

    What you know needs to be done
    will probably not be what your mother/father/etc.
    thinks needs to be done.
    And this is where we came in:
    “Being right about what’s important
    is the solution to all of our problems today…”

    We have to be right about what is important–
    about what needs to be done–
    about what needs us to do it–
    and do it.
    No matter what our mother/father/etc. thinks.

    Joseph Campbell talked about The Primary Mask
    (The one our mother/father/etc. thinks we ought to wear),
    and The Antithetical Mask
    (The Face That Was Ours Before We Were Born–
    the mask we are built to wear,
    being right about what is important and doing it).

    Being right about what is important
    is not pain-free,
    but it is the kind of pain that frees us
    from the kind of pain that is killing us.

    There is the pain of death and dying,
    and there is the pain of life and living.
    Bearing the right kind of pain
    is dying the death that leads to resurrection
    and life everlasting on this side of the grave.
    Refusing to bear the right kind of pain
    is being sentenced to “bear” the wrong kind of pain
    (By trying to escape all pain),
    and that is to be dead, dead, dead on this side of the grave.

    Being right about what is important and doing it is life–
    regardless of the price we pay.
    We get to be alive all the way to the end of the line.

    The kind of life we live
    determines how alive we are.
    How alive we are,
    determines the kind of life we live.

  29. 08/21/2020  —  Blue Ridge Moon

    There is how things are.
    And there is how we wish things were.
    And there is how things ought to be.

    Our place is to be right
    about how things are
    and how things ought to be,
    put aside how we wish things were,
    and work diligently at the task
    of making things more like they ought to be
    than they are
    throughout our life.

    We work with the tools we have–
    our Original Nature,
    the gifts/genius/daemon/spirit/virtues/character/vitality
    that came with us from the womb–
    with sincerity, compassion and good faith,
    without contrivance or deceit,
    seeing what we look at,
    asking the questions that beg to be asked,
    saying the things that cry out to be said,
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    Doing that much will change the world.

    Prove me wrong!

  30. 08/22/2020  —  Smoky Mirror — Clingman’s Dome Parking Lot, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee, North Carolina

    Faith-based religion is like an AA meeting
    in which everybody declares they are not an alcoholic.

    “I’m Jim, and I am NOT an alcoholic!”
    “My father was an alcoholic and I wouldn’t touch the stuff!”
    “I’ve been a tee-totaler all my life!”
    And they pay the preacher to tell them they are all drunks.
    Drunk on denial.
    And they deny it.

    Every church is a denial factory.
    Churning it out.
    Passing it around.
    Giving it away.

    You can’t make sense of it.
    It defies belief.
    The best you can hope for
    is to walk away,
    shaking your head,
    muttering to yourself.

    You cannot make people see
    who think they see just fine.
    Who think you are the one who can’t see.
    People who see in the Land of the Blind
    are crucified.
    Or ignored.

    There is no solution.
    Leave the dead to bury the dead,
    and go off into the west
    to live out your life among the forests
    and mountains.
    At one with the natural world
    that is just as it is.

  31. 08/22/2020  —  The Sound at Sunset 11/01/2008 — Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    Faith-as-belief is another word for denial.
    Belief discounts,
    in favor of a different perception of reality.
    We believe ourselves out of one world,
    into another.

    Keeping faith with ourselves,
    on the other hand,
    enables us to live in this world
    exactly as it is,
    as those who are not disabled by it,
    but are focused on bringing ourselves forth,
    on doing-right-by-ourselves,
    within the context and circumstances
    of each situation as it arises.

    Keeping faith grounds us
    in what is deepest/truest/best about us–
    our Original Nature,
    The Face That Was Ours Before We Were Born,
    Who We Always Have Been
    And Who We Will Be–
    in the work of incarnating
    our gifts/genius/daemon/spirit/virtues/character/vitality
    throughout our life.

    So, what do we mean by “faith”?
    Something we believe?
    The doctrines and creeds of organized religion?
    Or something we do
    in living faithfully to the core and purpose
    of who we are?

    What do we mean by “being faithful”?
    Faithful to someone else’s idea of who we are supposed to be
    and what we are supposed to do?
    Or faithful to our inner nature
    and true to our sense of what is called for
    and what we need to do in response
    out of our realization of what is asked of us
    in the moment of our living?

    The one thing Jesus did not do,
    for instance,
    was to stop and ask what somebody else would do
    in the moment of his living.

    Faithful to our own Original Nature,
    we are free to live spontaneously,
    here and now
    in light of what is happening
    and what needs to be done about it
    in the this time and this place of our living.

    And that is the kind of faith
    that transforms the world.

  32. 08/23/2020  —  Green River Canyon 05/13/2020 — Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah

    When too much comes at us
    too fast,
    too often,
    we need to go “where the wild things are,”
    or at least read “The Peace of Wild Things,”
    by Wendell Berry.

    We need to immerse ourselves in the natural world.

    We were born into that world.
    We are a part of that world.
    We belong to that world.
    And when the artificial world
    we have constructed
    to take the place of that world
    and keep us comfortable and safe
    becomes unlivable,
    we have to regain our balance and harmony
    by reconnecting with the rhythms and wonder
    of the natural world.

    Two things we will notice
    are the silence and the noise.
    The silence and the noise
    transport us from the artificial world and its reality
    to the natural world and its reality.
    Step willingly into the silence and noise
    of the natural world
    and wait.

    You are waiting to be enveloped by the natural world.
    To make the transition.
    To belong.

    You are waiting for the shift in perspective
    that opens your eyes
    and makes all things new.

    If we spend our time in the natural world
    can’t waiting to get back to the Real World,
    we are wasting our time
    and our opportunity.
    We have to learn the trick of being there.
    It is the trick of being wherever we are.
    Being there is the best trick in the book
    (And one of the best movies in my experience,
    but that’s for another time).

    Being there/here transports us to the place of power–
    to the pivot point between past and future,
    to the fulcrum,
    “the still point of the turning world”
    (T.S. Eliot)
    where everything waits,
    holding its breath,
    to see where it all goes from here
    with everything hanging on what we do
    and how we do it.

    When too much comes at us
    too fast,
    too often,
    it is because we have lost the perspective
    of The Eternal Now,
    where time is suspended
    and nothing is happening
    because we are present
    with awareness and compassion,
    seeing all,
    and waiting.

    the tide is coming in,
    or going out,
    or turning around.
    And will continue to do so
    until it finds itself doing what it is doing then,
    coming in,
    going out,
    our turning around,
    in its own time,
    in its own way,
    when it suits it to do so,
    when the time is right,
    and things happen as they need to happen
    of their own accord,
    with nobody doing nothing.

    That is the way of the natural world.

    Nothing happens there before it time,
    or after its time,
    or out of time,
    out of sync,
    out of place.

    That’s the schtick of the Real World.

  33. 08/24/2020  —  Lower Antelope Canyon 05/18/2010 — Page, Arizona

    Sincerity is the core value–
    the essence of being human.

    Sincerity is non-contrivance.
    We aren’t trying to get anything by it.
    We aren’t trying to get anything.
    There is nothing to get,
    or have,
    or own,
    or possess,
    or want,
    or desire,
    or do,
    or be
    beyond being sincere.

    If you are going to be anything,
    be sincere.

    If you think there is anything more than sincerity
    to achieve,
    aspire to,
    go back to the womb
    and start over.

    If you understand
    the central place of sincerity
    in our life,
    live so that everyone understands
    that you understand that.

    Sincerity is the basis of humanity,
    the ground of both The Individual
    and The Collective.
    We cannot be an “I”
    until we are sincere.
    We cannot be a “We”
    until we are sincere.

    Most of the “We’s” we are a part of
    require us to leave our “I” at the door.
    We have to scrap our sincerity to join the commune.
    We have to say “we believe” what everybody believes.
    To be sincere is to be a heretic.
    To blaspheme.
    To “go rogue.”

    Give me a We that is sincere–
    particularly about not-knowing
    what it doesn’t know.
    “What’s best,” for example.
    “What’s right,” for another example.
    “How things ought to be,” for another.

    Give me a We that doesn’t say,
    or imply,
    “Our way or the highway!”

    Give me a We that says,
    “You are welcome here!
    We are a place where everyone listens
    everyone else to the truth
    of what they are saying–
    which is the truth of who they are–
    where everyone is glad to be in everyone’s company,
    and to be blessed by everyone’s presence,
    without telling anyone who they ought to be,
    or what they ought to believe/think/do.
    So, come in!
    You will know whether you belong here
    within five minutes.”

  34. 08/24/2020  —  Left Behind 09/20/2010 — Stonington, Maine

    Develop an intense curiosity
    about what meets you in the silence.
    And how you react to it.

    Everyone who has thought about it through the ages has said
    there are only three things
    that impact us throughout our life:

    How we live is how we live in relation
    to the mixture of these three elements.
    Once we come to terms with them,
    it is clear sailing
    with “fair winds and following seas.”

    In the silence,
    you have ample opportunity
    to study your response to
    Desire, Fear and Duty
    over the course of your life
    to this point.
    Therein lies the key
    to living differently
    over what remains of your life.

    You will also get all the help you need
    from your nighttime dreams.
    Our dreams are always coming to our aid,
    and we are always saying,
    “Honey, you won’t believe the stupid dream
    I had last night!”

    And, stepping back into our traditional ways
    of dealing with Desire, Fear and Duty.
    Our traditional ways of dealing with them
    has us exactly where we are.
    Time for review and redirection, don’t you think?

    That begins with you developing an intense curiosity
    about what meets you in the silence.
    And how you react to it.

  35. 08/25/2020  —  Fishing Shacks 09/25/2008 Watercolor Rendering– Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

    “The human predicament” is what to do
    with our time.

    We are born without purpose or direction.
    “Food, clothing and shelter”
    take care of the basics,
    but so does solitary confinement for life.

    “Here we are, now what?”
    is the perennial question of the species.

    “Sex, drugs and alcohol”
    seem to be perennially favorite answers.

    Anything to take our mind off the problem.
    Of time–
    and what to do with it.

    Here’s an all-weather,
    option for you:
    Take it to the silence.

    Silence is the last place we would ever go.
    Silence is reserved for the grave.
    Until then,
    all we care about is action.
    Any kind of action.
    Something quick to take our mind off the problem.

    We don’t solve any problem
    without bearing the pain of the problem.
    Without bearing the pain.

    Pain IS the problem!
    The pain of not knowing what to do with ourselves
    in the time we have left to do it!

    Nothing happens without bearing the pain
    of nothing happening.

    Sit in the silence,
    bearing the pain,
    and waiting.

    The silence is the solution
    to all of our problems today/tomorrow/ever and always.
    Sit in the silence
    long enough
    aware enough,
    and we find exactly what we need
    to do what we need to do
    right here,
    right now.

    Disclosure time:
    The silence is not good for five year plans.
    Long range solutions are impossible
    given the chaotic nature of our circumstances,
    with everything at the mercy of something else,
    and nothing having any mercy on anything.

    What to do with our time
    depends on too much
    for there to be much more
    than provisional,

    The over-all purpose/direction of our life
    is a function of our Original Nature
    and Fundamental Attitude
    toward ourselves and our circumstances–
    and it depends exclusively
    on our ability to face up to what is happening now,
    and adjust ourselves accordingly,
    in conjunction with our Nature and Attitude.

    We are going to spend a lot of time
    in the silence
    over the full course of our life.

    If you cannot bear the thought of that,
    sex, drugs and alcohol,
    or some variation of that version
    of escape, diversion, distraction and denial,
    are all that is left to choose from.

  36. 08/26/2020  —  Sunrise East Fork Overlook 05/30/2011 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

    Carl Jung said,
    “We meet our destiny
    on the road we take
    to escape it.”

    And, he said,
    “We are who we always have been,
    and who we will be.”

    The Buddha died from eating bad pork
    (How enlightened was that?).
    He was betrayed by his disciple who served it.

    Jesus was betrayed by all of his followers–
    a trend that continues through all of time
    and into the present moment.

    Live with authenticity,
    and let the outcome be the outcome.

    Do not live to serve your advantage,
    corner some market,
    cash in on your opportunities,
    paint the town
    and sit in the cat bird’s seat.

    See what is happening
    and do what is called for in response,
    out of your own center,
    with your own gifts/genius/daemon/spirit/virtues/character/grace.

    And let that be that.

  37. 08/27/2020  —  Thunderstorm at Sunset 08/11/2011 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, West Jefferson, North Carolina

    As long as we are doing “this”
    so “that” will happen,
    “this” is contingent upon “that.”
    And “that” is contingent upon 10,000 things.
    None of which are in our control.

    Doing “this” so “that” will happen
    is called “Willing what cannot be willed.”

    “Willing what cannot be willed”
    is the source of all of our problems today.
    Any day.
    Every day.

    The Wasteland and
    The Void.

    We will save ourselves a lot of pain,
    difficulty and
    we will only
    do “this” so “this” will happen.

    what will happen next.

  38. 08/27/2020  —  Great Blue Heron 08/04/2011 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina

    It would be GREAT if we felt like doing
    what needs to be done!

    Nothing would make the difference
    that feeling like
    living the life
    that needs to be lived
    would make in our life
    and in the world.

    “I don’t feel like it,” is all it takes
    to make things exactly what they are.

    We have to get over it.
    Get over not feeling like doing what needs to be done.

    If only we had the power
    of Powder Milk Biscuits!

    Well, we do.
    It’s called “Overriding our feelings.”
    We can do what we do not feel like doing.
    No kidding.
    It’s called,
    “Faking it until we make it.”
    It’s an old AA slogan.
    It means doing what needs to be done
    whether we feel like it or not.

    Like not-going to a bar.
    Not-taking a drink.
    Not-buying a six pack…

    What do our feelings know
    about what matters most?
    About what’s important?
    About what hangs in the balance
    in every moment
    of each situation that arises?

    We cannot allow our feelings
    to guide our boat on its path through the sea.
    To direct our actions.
    To run the show.

    There is more at stake in our life
    than doing what we feel like doing,
    and waiting to feel like it
    before changing the baby’s diaper
    or wash the dishes.

  39. 08/28/2020  —  Road to Botany 12/01/2014 — Botany Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Preserve, Edisto Island, South Carolina

    Joseph Campbell said
    “Everyone gets the adventure
    they are ready for.”

    Which means no one can dial up their adventure.

    Dialing up anything is the core problem
    with human existence.
    “Not This! That!”
    Is the bane of humanity.

    It is Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
    The moral of that story is
    “Humans think they can improve Paradise.”
    Also rendered as,
    “Humans can find something wrong with everything.”
    “Humans can’t be happy with anything for long.”
    “Dissatisfaction is the heart of being human.”
    It goes on,
    but you are already getting bored with it by now,
    “This better pick up
    or I’m out of here.”

    All of which is to say that
    no one is ready for the adventure
    they are ready for.

    Everyone scoops up the adventure they are ready for,
    thinking they are on some other adventure,
    the one they are ready to be ready for.
    Which is the flip side of
    “No one can dial up their adventure.”

    Which opens the door to all manner of possibilities–
    which means ANY door will do!
    This is on the order of
    “All roads lead to Rome,” and,
    “All paths lead to the top of the mountain,” and
    “We are never more than a perspective shift
    from The Farther Shore.”

    Ah, that perspective shift is what we are all seeking.
    Thinking it is something else.
    (Who would go around looking
    for a perspective shift?
    Yet, that is all every adventure is good for–
    changing the way we are seeing.
    Which is another way of saying:
    Growing Us Up.
    And, since we all grow up against our will,
    that requires an adventure we aren’t ready
    to be ready for.)

    This is great.
    I don’t know if you have picked up on that, but.
    It’s great.
    The paradox.
    The contradiction.
    The Yin/Yang.
    The “We aren’t ready for what we are ready for.”
    That’s great.
    If you can’t appreciate the greatness of it,
    you are exactly where you need to be, thinking,
    “What am I doing here?”
    And, if you can appreciate the greatness of it,
    you are also exactly where you need to be:
    On the adventure you are ready for,
    when you didn’t know you were on an adventure at all.

    The spirit of adventure
    is knowing you are on an adventure,
    and not-knowing anything else,
    not-anticipating anything at all,
    sitting on the edge of your seat,
    waiting for what happens next,
    knowing only that it will be exactly
    the right thing needed
    to take you on the next step
    to wherever it is you are going–
    which is only a slight perspective shift
    from where you are right now.

    The adventure is a journey of perspective shifts
    all the way down.

    We are never done seeing all there is to see
    the way it needs to be seen.

    Which means we are never grown up,
    always growing up,
    against our will–
    which eventually becomes merely surprising,
    not shocking,
    and certainly not traumatizing,
    and more on the order of
    thrilling and
    all the way.

  40. 08/29/2020  —  Coming In 02/08/2013 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina

    Serenity is a function of sincerity.

    Sincerity lives in light of what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises,
    and lets that be that.

    No willing what cannot be willed.
    No forcing anything out of time.
    No pushing things past their limits,
    or disregarding boundaries,
    or ignoring what fits
    and what does not belong.

    Just knowing what is called for–
    and when
    and how–
    and doing that.

    And letting that be that.

    Without looking for anything in return.

    In a “This is the way things are,
    and this is what can be done about it,
    and that’s that”
    kind of way.

  41. 08/29/2020  —  Lotus Flowers 2018 10

    Common courtesy and mutual respect
    are hard to find these days.
    That’s where we come in.
    Exhibit it.
    Extend it.
    Expect it.
    Be kind.
    Let everything fall into place around kindness.

  42. 08/29/2020  —  Spider Web 07/12/2014

    Readiness is a function of time and place,
    and disposition.

    “When the student is ready,
    the teacher appears,”
    When the teacher is ready,
    the teacher waits.

    Obi wan Kenobi and Yoda
    spent most of their lives waiting.

    “When the flower opens,
    the bees appear,”
    When the bees are ready,
    they send out the scouts.

    Jesus cursed the fig tree
    because it wasn’t ready when he was.
    I know the feeling.
    So do the bees.
    As do the Obi wan Kenobi’s and the Yoda’s
    of every generation.

    But hurrying readiness is not ours to achieve.
    We can send out the scouts
    and open ourselves to the lessons
    each moment is there to teach
    those who are ready to receive
    what the time and place of our living
    have to offer.

    The fig tree was Jesus’s teacher.
    If he was ready for the lesson.

  43. 08/30/2020  —  Moonrise 10/17/2013 07 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    We think everyone has to be doing it right
    for anyone to be able to do it right.
    That everybody has to be on the same page,
    serving the same values,
    working for the same ends,
    or it’s all a waste of time and effort.

    We waste a lot of time and effort–
    our entire life–
    trying to get all people to do it
    like we think it ought to be done.
    When not even we are doing it
    like we think it ought to be done.

    We get all depressed and mournful,
    woebegone and undone
    because They aren’t doing it right,
    and we let that keep us from doing it right.

    We play the
    “Woe is me!
    Ain’t it awful!
    Everything is hopeless,
    and absurd!
    So, so what?
    Who cares?
    Why try?
    What good would it do?
    What difference will it make?
    Why go on with it?
    I’m just going to lie down and die!”
    without end.

    Which lets us nicely off the hook,
    and keeps us from having to do anything
    we don’t feel like doing,
    and who could feel like doing anything
    in a world as sorry as this one is,
    with no one giving a wet noodle about any of it?

    We talk ourselves into doing nothing
    beyond complaining about how foolish
    it would be to make an effort,
    given the nature of our circumstances
    and the quality of our situation.

    Let me explain:
    It is all useless,
    futile and absurd–
    and coming to a very bad end:
    We all die!
    How we live in the meantime
    makes all the difference!

    It is all there is!
    Ever has been!
    Ever will be!

    It matters how we live in each moment!

    If you are going to believe anything
    (And everyone is currently believing
    “Nothing matters so why do anything?”),
    believe it matters how we live in each moment–
    all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding!

    And pick yourself up,
    dust yourself off,
    and do what needs to be done
    right here,
    right now,
    throughout the time left for living!

    Everybody does not have to be on the same page.
    Everybody does not have to be doing it right
    before anybody can do it right.
    Do it right.
    Starting right here right now.

    If the dishes need washing,
    wash the dishes–
    the way the dishes need to be washed.
    With the right attitude,
    in the right frame of mind.
    And so on to the next thing,
    all the way to bedtime.
    And do it again tomorrow.

    Get your feet under you
    and on the right track,
    and start walking.

    Don’t wait for someone else to go first.

    Because how we live in the meantime
    makes all the difference!
    It only takes acting as if it is so
    to make it so.

  44. 08/30/2020  —  Eagle in Flight 11/05/2014 02 — James River, Roanoke, Virginia

    A life without character development
    is like a mayonnaise sandwich
    without the mayonnaise or  the bread.

    Character development is the missing ingredient
    in life as we know it.

    Doctor Who lives 200,000 years with no character development.
    Sounds about right.
    The Honeymooners had no character development.
    Alice would still be getting hers one day
    if the show was still on.
    Archie Bunker?
    Same story.

    All of our stories are the same story.

    We don’t want our characters changing.
    The Walton’s?
    Still saying goodnight.
    Nobody grows up ever in our world.

    Star Wars?
    How many episodes until no one is killing anyone?
    Who ever grows up in Star Wars?
    No growth whatsoever.
    That’s because he’s perfect, right?
    Perfect means nothing changes throughout time.
    Perfect means nothing changes.

    What is perfect about nothing changing?

    We live to get everything right
    and freeze it in place.
    Or just freeze it in place.
    So that one day is just like all the others.
    “There will be no growing up today!”
    Or ever.

    But growing up isn’t something to achieve–
    it is something to be doing forever!
    We are never Grown Up.
    We are (to be) always growing up.
    But Never mind.
    No one is ever growing up.

    I was a Presbyterian (USA) minister for 40 years and 6 months.
    I served 5 congregations.
    Each one paid me to talk to them about God.
    And none wanted me to tell them anything
    they hadn’t already heard.
    You can’t make any sense out of this.
    And you can do it for 40 years and 6 months
    only by refusing to take it seriously,
    and telling them something new about God every week.

    If anything needs changing it is theology!
    Alcoholics Anonymous is the church of the future,
    and the best thing it has going for it
    is No Theology.
    It’s steps need revision, though,
    and a 13th step added:
    “After Sobriety What???”
    With everybody working on that individually
    for the rest of their life–
    growing up some more again day-by-day.
    But this is for another time.

    Today’s work is getting used to the idea
    of tomorrow being different from today,
    and doing what needs to be done today
    to make it possible for tomorrow to be different–
    and not just “another day.”

    Character Development has to be the goal of our life!
    The goal of our churches!
    The goal of AA!
    The goal of politics!
    The goal of culture and society!

    Can you imagine?
    Nothing would be more counter-cultural than growing up.
    Nothing would be worse for the economy.
    Nothing would be less likely to happen.

    Which means it is up to us to make it happen–
    by refusing to make Arrested Development
    the life goal we are told it should be,
    and spend our life in the service of Character Development
    By living to see that it happens,
    determining to make it happen,
    with liege loyalty and filial devotion
    to the cause of growing up some more again every day–
    and living the pledge into being one day at a time.

  45. 08/30/2020  —  Mothball Fleet 10/12/2013 — North Carolina Maritime Museum, Southport, NC

    The Christ returns again in each generation.

    This is the meaning in Jesus’ declaration,
    “This generation will not pass away
    (Before the Christ returns).”

    And this is what is wrong with theology in every form.
    It locks things down.
    It takes the metaphorical and the symbolic
    and turns them into facts.
    But they are not facts.

    Ask a believer why they believe what they believe is so,
    and they will say they take it on faith.
    They no sooner “take it on faith,”
    than it becomes an absolutely rock-solid,
    indisputable and actual in every way FACT
    that everybody has to embrace or go to hell
    (Which is also a literal FACT).

    None of it is a fact.
    God is not a fact.
    God is an experience that cannot be denied.
    The experience is a fact.
    Not God.
    What is experienced is called “God,”
    but it is only evidence of “More Than Meets The Eye.”
    And more than that cannot be said.
    Don’t try.
    Stop talking.
    Ditch theology.
    Open yourself to the experience of being alive.

    When you open yourself to the experience
    of being alive,
    you open yourself to yourself experiencing
    being alive.
    Being open to yourself experiencing
    is to experience yourself,
    perhaps for the first time.
    Experiencing yourself experiencing
    is the path to what has been called

    Once we start seeing what we are looking at,
    everything is transformed,
    and “pickles are green.”

    Once we start seeing what we are looking at,
    the way is clear for the Christ to return again
    in each generation.

    The Christ is the one who sees.
    The one who is come
    (Like the Buddha is “The One Thus Come”).
    The one who is simply who he, who she, is.
    The one who is sincerely,
    In each moment,

    That transforms (you could say redeems) the world.
    Seeing the world transforms the world.
    Start seeing what you look at
    and you will see what I mean.

    But this is the end of theology and doctrine,
    catechisms and creeds,
    because being yourself,
    as “The One Thus Come,”
    means being you responding to the moment
    in its unfolding–
    not as you are “supposed” to,
    but as you are called to do by the moment.

    No one can tell us what to do beforehand.
    The moment calls us into being in that moment,
    and the next moment may call us to be the opposite
    in that moment.
    Our Being is a spontaneous,
    of ourselves “thus come”
    in that moment.

    The freedom to live that way is complete freedom.
    Which is the meaning behind Jesus’ word,
    “You shall know the truth (of who you are)
    and the truth shall set you free (to be who you are).”

    The end of theology
    is the beginning of life.
    But you have to know what I mean
    to understand what I’m talking about.

  46. 08/31/2020  —  Ocracoke Lighthouse 10/20/2013 04 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    We have spent a lot of time over time
    as a species
    trying to control what happens to us.
    Trying to make happen
    what we want to happen,
    and to keep from happening
    what we don’t want to happen.

    Considering that not one of us
    intended to be where we are
    here and now.

    We are no more in control
    of what happens and doesn’t happen
    than we are in control
    of what we will dream tonight.

    “Acceptably in control most of the time”
    is the best we can hope for.
    Acceptability is a floating point on a scale
    that is, itself, dependent upon the situation.
    We are more accepting
    of “out-of-control-ness”
    in some situations than others.

    If we expanded our acceptability
    across all situations equally,
    we would be much more in control
    of our reactions to our circumstances,
    and much less controlled by
    our obsessive/compulsive need
    to be in control of everything.

    Control is an illusion.
    A delusion.
    It is not what we think it is.

    Pick a day in the coming week,
    maybe Sunday.
    Not much has to happen on a Sunday,
    at a particular time,
    in a particular way.
    We can blow a Sunday off from time to time
    and not miss anything important.
    So you might try the next Sunday that comes along.

    Get up and step into the day
    without having to control anything.
    Live entirely out of your whim-of-the-moment.
    Do what you feel like doing
    when you feel like doing it.
    Ease into every moment wondering
    “What is this moment calling for?”

    Not doing anything here in order for anything to happen there,
    or to not-happen there.
    Live throughout the day
    with no thought of doing this so that will,
    or will not, happen.
    Just do this so this will happen.
    See how things go without being micromanaged.

    Live for the entire day without contriving anything.
    Not-knowing what you will do next,
    or why you will do whatever you do.
    Waiting to see what is called for–
    like going to the l00.
    What has an urgency about it
    similar to the “call of the loo”?
    Wait for that.
    Do that.
    Moment by moment.
    The entire day.

    It will shift your perspective of being in control,
    put control in its place.
    And give you more freedom to be yourself
    than you have ever had
    anywhere in your life.

    You can trust yourself to know
    when to go to the loo
    and what to do once you get there.

    Just so.
    You can trust yourself to know
    what to do when,
    or when to do what,
    throughout your life.

    Simply wait for the mud to settle
    and the water to clear.
    And see what calls you to do what when.
    If you dare.
    And, if you don’t dare,
    you might get to the bottom of that,
    asking, “Who/what is in control of whom here?”

  47. 08/31/2020  —  Going Home, Geese flying past the moon

    Seeking the center,
    returning to the source,
    present in the moment,
    alive to the time
    that is at hand,
    we are ready
    to respond as needed
    to the occasion as it arises
    without anxiety about,
    or interference from,
    the 10,000 things
    afoot in the world.
    Like the moon in its course,
    or geese in flight.

  48. 08/31/2020  —  Garden Spider 08/13/2016

    We find the anchor we seek
    in the source of our original nature.
    We are what we have to work with
    in each situation as it arises,
    in whatever circumstances
    describe our station.

    Returning to the Self
    is remembering/realizing
    the essence of who we are–
    reaffirming our allegiance
    and loyalty
    to the service,
    of the grace,
    and vitality
    that have been ours
    since before we were born,
    and constitute our unique identity
    among our kind.

    Our identity “thus come”
    (Which is what they said
    about the Buddha,
    “The One Thus Come”),
    is who we are,
    coming forth
    to bless the time and place,
    the here and now,
    of our living,

    If we are living in light
    of some other purpose,
    in pursuit of some other goal,
    we are on the wrong path,
    and we need to redirect
    by simply returning to the Self
    and bringing our Self forth
    to meet what faces us
    every day.

    It is not what would Jesus do,
    but what would our Self do
    within the occasions
    and circumstances
    that compose each day.

    Let us commit ourselves
    to living to discover
    what our Self would do
    with the day.

    Let us live to allow our day
    to bring us out
    like the drum brings out the drummer.

  49. 09/01/2020  —  Water Rock Knob 09/02/2014 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggy Valley, North Carolina

    The more serious something gets,
    the more absurd it becomes.

    The Right To Life movement
    has proven itself to be unworthy of the title
    by embracing Donald Trump
    and allowing him to kill as many people as he wants
    as long as he makes abortion punishable by death.

    “We know he is a snake, but he will make abortion illegal–
    and anything else he wants to do is fine with us!”

    The position is absurd,
    and deadly serious.

    We live on a continuum between serious and absurd,
    and have to strike a balance
    between being serious enough
    without being too outlandishly absurd.
    Life in the extremes is untenable,
    no matter what the continuum connects.

    “Live toward the center!”
    is the wisdom wrung from the ages.
    “Back to the center!”
    is the lesson every generation
    learns the hard way,
    because extremes beget extremes,
    and no one knows where the center point is
    until well after it is past.

    We find the center
    by moving back to it,
    not by realizing where it is
    when we are there.

    We are always looking for the center,
    though we do not often realize
    what we seek.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “That which you seek
    lies far back in the darkest corner
    of the cave you most don’t want to enter.”

    That would be the center he is talking about.
    Particularly the center of ourselves.
    The heart,
    and source
    of our own being.

    Knowing who we are
    in a “This is who I am,
    and this is what I stand for,
    and this is what is most important to me,
    and these are my gifts,
    my genius,
    my daemon,
     my spirit,
    my virtues,
    my character,
    my values,
    my vitality,
    my energy,
    my life–
    and who are you?” kind of way.

    Knowing who we are,
    and being who we are,
    in relationship with others
    who are knowing who they are
    and being who they are,
    with mutual respect and concern,
    acceptance and compassion,
    in recognizing and embracing
    our differences
    and allowing them to be
    is the sine qua non of community,
    and the single most essential requirement
    for living together
    in ways that honor everyone’s
    right to be who they are
    at the expense of no one else’s
    right to be who they are.

    Robert Frost observed,
    “Good fences make good neighbors.”

    Knowing where we stop
    and our neighbor starts
    is essential knowing.

    Respecting/honoring the differences
    that set us apart,
    makes possible the attitude toward each other
    that holds us together,
    and makes life all it can be
    for every one.

    If the only way we can live together
    is for you to do it like I do it,
    or for me to do it like you do it,
    we won’t be able to live together
    for very long.

    Honoring our right to be different
    makes life possible for us all.

  50. 09/02/2020  —  Goodale 11/04/2018 18 Panorama — Adams Mill Pond, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    We can make too much of anything.
    Sincerity and authenticity, for instance.

    What is called for is the question,
    and “Always do it this way!”
    is not always valid,
    or fitting to the occasion.

    “Always do what is called for!”
    fits every occasion.
    It is the only thing that does.

    I have gay friends who are married
    with children,
    who feel as if they have betrayed themselves
    and are being inauthentic and disingenuous,
    are living a lie,
    and should have come out early on
    and been real from the start.

    I ask them to look at the life they have lived,
    and to imagine who they could have been
    better partnered with,
    and how the world would be better off
    without their children in it,
    and consider that “walking two paths at the same time”
    is an eternal and everlasting
    condition of life
    and requirement for living,
    and to shut up with their whining
    until “the mud settles
    and the water clears,”
    and they know with unparalleled certainty
    that their situation is calling for
    them to come out and be real.

    No one knows what will be called for.
    Everyone lives with the burden of knowing
    what that is in each situation as it arises
    and of doing what is needed
    when the time is right
    and letting the outcome be the outcome.

    We live moment-to-moment.
    We do not know what will be called for
    from one moment to the next.
    Our responsibility consists of being clear
    and courageous–
    which is really one thing:
    Clarity creates courage.

    Clarity is all we ever need,
    and it is rarely what we think it will be,
    or ought to be.
    We are likely to be shocked and surprised
    at what is being asked of us.
    And walking two paths at the same time
    is frequently the best of our available options.

    And, what that will mean,
    and how we work it out in our life,
    is one of the great challenges
    and lasting adventures
    along the way
    of being alive.

  51. 09/03/2020  —  Maine Moon 09/27/2012 — Deer Isle, Maine

    We walk through scenes everyday
    with eyes on something else.
    Not looking at what is there,
    not seeing what we look at.
    captivated by,
    lost in,
    inseparable from,
    the 10,000 things.

    It has always been so for everyone.

    It takes Buddha-mind–
    to be here now.

    It was realized at the time,
    and through all of the ages since then,
    that the Buddha was everyone
    when they were awake.
    It was said,
    “If you meet the Buddha on the road,
    kill him!”
    As a reminder that we are to be the Buddha,
    and not to worship the Buddha,
    or think for a minute that the Buddha
    is more special than,
    or different in any way from,
    the rest of us
    and who we each are asked to be.

    Jesus said, “I am in you
    and you are in me!”
    Which is to say,
    “As I am, so you are!”
    And, “Why don’t you judge
    for yourselves what is right?”
    Which is all Jesus did.
    And, “Blessed are you
    if you know what you are doing!”
    Which means seeing what needs to be done
    and doing it–
    which is all Jesus ever did.

    Being awake,
    seeing what we look at,
    and doing what needs to be done about it,
    is all there is to it.

    To make any more of it
    is to miss the whole point of it,
    and the importance of the relationship
    we have with it,
    with “it” being every moment of our life
    through all times and places,
    contexts and circumstances.

    Seeing/doing what is right,
    all our life long.

    We have to do something
    all our life long.
    Why not do what is right?
    Here and now?

    What is keeping that from happening?

  52. 09/03/2020  —  Bamboo Impressions 03

    What needs to happen here, now?
    That is our only problem:

    What is pressing in from outside here and now?

    Make a list.
    Pressure producing items
    from near and far.

    What am I going to do about the job,
    about the relationship I’m in,
    about not being in a relationship…
    all the things that destroy our peace
    and ransack our sanity.
    You know the things I’m talking about.
    The 2:00 AM things.
    The entire list.

    Now, find a quiet place
    and sit in the silence with the list
    becoming  fully aware of the list.

    Consider each thing one at a time.
    Being fully aware of each thing
    and how it is bearing down upon you
    demanding answers you don’t have.
    Become intently, intentionally, aware
    of each thing
    and tuck it away in your awareness.
    You can keep it safe forever there.
    Put it in your awareness for safekeeping,
    and consider the next thing.
    Do the same thing with it.
    And with each thing remaining on your list.

    Now, bring your awareness to rest
    in the here and now.

    What is this here and now,
    right here, right now,
    calling for?
    What needs to happen right here right now?

    Do it,
    and move on to the next thing.
    “Now what needs to happen?”
    Do that,
    and move on to the next thing.
    And so on,
    until it is just you and the silence.

    Tell the silence
    about the things in safekeeping
    in your awareness,
    and see what arises in the silence
    to meet your discomfort.

    May be an image.
    A word.
    A realization.
    A feeling…

    The silence is good for clarity.
    A great place for letting the mud settle
    and the water clear.
    Clarity is the solution
    to all of our problems ever.
    And we cannot force the water to clear.
    We can allow it to clear,
    and wait for it to clear.
    And simply be with the silence,
    off and on,
    during the interim.

    The silence is the source,
    the origin,
    of everything.
    It is always with us.
    Is always happy to see us.
    Is always welcoming,
    and kind.

    Who wouldn’t want to be
    in a place like that?

  53. 09/04/2020  —  Rocks and Clouds — Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, April 26, 2006

    We are never more than a slight perspective shift away
    from the realization of the wonder and awe
    of the mysterium at the heart of existence.

    Joseph Campbell was fond of recommending
    that we draw a frame around any scene,
    or object,
    or person,
    and sit in its presence,
    as one might contemplate
    an optical illusion,
    until the shift happens
    and we are moved to amazement
    at the astounding realization
    that there is something,
    and not nothing!
    And we are present to know it,
    honor it,
    relish it,
    rejoice in it,
    and hold it as venerable and sacred forever!

    From that moment,
    we will never be able to look at anything
    the way we once looked at everything.
    The world will have shifted in its orbit.
    Nothing will be what it was.
    And we will be startlingly transformed for life.

    And live as an agent of the mysterium
    at the source,
    of all that is
    for as long as we shall live–
    and perhaps beyond,
    who knows? 

  54. 09/04/2020  —  Cone Manor 10/9/2018 02 — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

    My friend, John Payne, died on August 26 from complications due to Alzheimer’s. He was 77 years old. John was a fellow Presbyterian (USA) minister, whom I met in 1984. John and I were within “coffee distance” when he was in Nettleton, Mississippi and I was in Amory, Mississippi, and again when I was in Batesville, Mississippi and he was in Nesbit, Mississippi.

    John was a member of Mensa, but did not want it known, because, he said, “Then they will expect me to be smart.” He had a lot to say about “being smart.”

    “Being smart gets a lot of hype, but between being smart and being lucky, take being lucky.”

    “Being smart doesn’t know which person to marry, or when to take no for an answer, or what to do when you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

    “Being smart doesn’t help a bit when you have to grow up some more again, and do what you don’t want to do even though it is clearly what needs to be done.”

    “Being smart is not as reliable a guide to knowing what to do when as being silent and listening to the source of your own nature, and sensing what resonates with you, and following the drift of your own heart and soul.”

    “We all drink from the same well when it comes to instinct and intuition, and that is a different kind of knowing than the kind that comes from being smart.”

    “Being smart is no indication of our capacity for being kind–and being kind saves the world.”
    The world was a better place with John Payne in it, and I am glad he will always be with me–because as Jim Hollis likes to say, “Death doesn’t end a relationship any more than divorce ends a marriage.”

  55. 09/04/2020  —  Corn Field 11/12/2018 Panorama — Lancaster County, South Carolina

    Dolly Parton is a current manifestation/embodiment/incarnation
    of the Christ among us.
    Dolly does Dolly the way Jesus would do Dolly
    if we were playing charades.
    And Dolly does Jesus the way only Dolly
    can do Jesus–
    which is what each of us is asked to do:
    be Jesus, or the Buddha, or Dolly Parton
    the way only we can do them.

    We are asked to do them the way they would do them.
    By being completely ourselves,
    the way they were completely themselves.

    The road opens up at this point,
    branches off,
    and we could go in 360 directions
    (Yes, even back in the way we came,
    because by now it would be new),
    all of them equally interesting,
    and all of the leading to the same destination:
    The full realization and expression of ourselves in our life.
    That is where we are all going.
    There is nothing more to ask,
    or want,
    or seek,
    or desire
    than that.

    Dolly’s on it.
    So was Jesus.

    But, back to where I’m going to go with this.
    Playing is the most important thing.
    Full investment in the game.
    Total commitment to the game.
    Complete awareness of the truth
    that we are all playing the game.

    Most of us (After R.D. Laing)
    are playing the game of not playing a game.
    We are serious.
    What we do is serious.
    Playing is what we do
    when we take a break
    from what we are doing.
    To accuse us of playing
    is to accuse us of playing around
    and not giving our best effort,
    of slacking off
    and not trying.

    Here, we are in need of Paul Watzlawick’s observation,
    “The situation is hopeless,
    but not serious.”

    The more serious we are
    the more immersed we are
    in the game we are playing
    (of not playing a game).

    It is all a game.

    “There is only the dance”
    (T.S. Eliot).
    Dance/game, same thing.

    Here’s the thing.
    We have to play the game
    with our whole heart.
    We have to know what we are doing,
    and do it completely,
    as if it were real!

    It is as if we were actors playing the part
    of ourselves in a movie about us.
    We don’t win the Oscar
    without being completely who we are!
    Even though it is “just a movie,”
    “just a game.”

    And, comes to mind the Grantland Rice quote,
    “It matters not that you win or lose,
    but how you play the game.”

  56. 09/04/2020  —  Lake Haigler Fall 11/03/2013 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    If you are like everyone else,
    you take the wrong things too seriously,
    and the right things not seriously at all.

    Growing up is learning to see with right seeing,
    and to live accordingly.

    All of our problems
    that we live seeking to solve
    fall into one, or more, of these categories
    (Which have been identified as the source
    of all ills
    since the beginning of thinking people):

    We all are as we are
    because we are afraid of something,
    because we desire something,
    because we think we ought to do something,
    or be someone else.

    We suffer from Inappropriate Assessment Syndrome.
    It is a deficiency afflicting the entire species.
    And is probably entirely responsible
    for having us where we are today–
    by driving us incessantly to be somewhere else.
    Having something else.
    Doing something else.

    The Bane of Neanderthal
    was being quite content to be where they were.

    Without fear,
    or duty,
    we would be completely at peace
    with ourselves just as we are,
    and with our circumstances just as they are.

    Which would not be good for the economy.

  57. 09/05/2020  —  American Crow 06/20/2018

    The Christ is the Antichrist.

    Growing up is dying again and again
    our whole life long.

    We grow up against our will every time.

    The old ways of being have to die
    in order that the new ways to be
    may move in and set-up house.

    The developmental tasks require us
    to submit to the terror of death
    in order to experience the wonder–
    purchased with a price–
    of new life without end
    (Merely interrupted by the next sweeping out
    and moving in).

    The price is our death on the cross
    (Metaphorical and eternal/everlasting)
    at every transition point on the path.

    “The path” is our passage way from
    “The face that was ours before we were born,”
    to “The face that was ours before we were born.”

    We are The Christ becoming The Christ.
    The Christ killing The Christ
    so that we might become The Christ
    by “Leaving God for God,”
    (“My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”)
    and growing up some more again today
    all along the way.

  58. 09/05/2020  —  Bamboo Impression 01

    Is it better to have things going our way
    or not going our way?

    Which way opens us to the way things need to go?
    Which way shuts us off from the way things need to go?

    There is being at one with our life,
    and there is our life being at one with us.
    Which way is the way of oneness?

    No opinion.
    No judgment.
    Just this.
    Now what?
    Now what in light of what?
    Now what in the service of what?
    What are we living toward?
    What are we living away from?

    When our life is on track,
    how is that different
    from our life being off track?

    I used to stalk photographs
    the way a lion stalks an antelope.
    I sought out photographs.
    I went in search for photographs.
    I got up early and stayed out late for photographs.
    My life changed without warning.
    With no explanation.
    Now I take a photograph that happens along.
    Why strive to do it like I used to do it?
    I am disinclined to make the effort.
    Why resist my inclinations?
    Where am I better off?
    Not getting up for a sunrise,
    not staying out for a sunset.
    Listening to my inner drift of soul.
    Seeing what the situation calls for.
    Adjusting to my changing ways.

    I bought a drum because it was called for.
    A beginner’s djembe.
    I may be listening for my inner rhythms.
    I don’t know what I’m doing.
    I’m playing with playing the drum.
    I don’t know why.

    And I wish my point of origin
    had included people who did things
    without knowing why.
    My point of origin made it incumbent
    upon me
    to do things without knowing why.

    Are we better off with our points of origin
    as they are
    than we would be with points of origin
    as we wish they had been?

    Here we are.
    Now what?
    Now what in light of what?
    Now what in the service of what?
    What are we living toward?
    What are we living away from?

    How do we decide “in light of what”?
    “In the service of what”?
    “Away from”?

    How do we know what to do?
    How do we determine direction?
    What is worth our time
    and what is not?

    What is guiding our boat
    on its path through the sea?

    What do you do without knowing why?

  59. 09/05/2020  —  Jordan Pond 09/23/2012 — Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

    How do you bear your pain?
    Everything tends to take shape around that.
    Coming to terms with the pain of life,
    the pain of being alive,
    is one of the primary developmental tasks.
    Get it wrong
    and we are in a death spiral
    until we get it right.

    is getting it wrong.

    We have to find ways
    of folding our pain into our life,
    of allowing our life to be big enough
    to receive it well,
    make room for it
    and learn from it.

    Our pain calls into question
    our sacred assumptions,
    and requires us to come to terms with
    unwanted realities that demand our attention.

    Where do you turn
    when you have nowhere to turn?
    What holds you up?
    Keeps you together?
    Enables you to keep going?
    Sees you through?

    We have to develop a philosophy,
    a point of view,
    a way of seeing
    that enables us to take
    our pain and its source into account,
    meet it head on,
    square up to it
    again and again,
    and go right on living–
    even so.

    We have to tell ourselves something.
    We have to tell ourselves the truth
    in a way that boldly considers
    how things actually are,
    and enables us to deal with
    what we face with courage and resolve.

    What is the source of your courage and resolve?
    What keeps you going?
    What is the nature of your pain?
    How have you managed it to this point in your life?

    Pain management strategies abound!
    Healing groups and communities.
    12 Step organizations.
    Compassionate Friends.
    Chronic Pain associations.
    Internet Searches…
    We are not without resources.
    Help is available, but.
    We have to help people help us.

    Putting pain in its place,
    and honoring it and its place in our life–
    with an appropriate degree of respect
    and appreciation for what it can teach us
    that will be of value for the rest of our days–
    is a step on the way to healing and wholeness
    in a world where pain does not sleep.
    or take a day off.

  60. 09/06/2020  —  Light Rays at Water Rock Knob 09/02/2014 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggie Valley, North Carolina

    Being smart doesn’t mean you know
    what’s worth going to hell for.
    That knowledge is there for everyone
    who has eyes to see,
    ears to hear,
    and a heart that knows what’s what.

    Knowing what’s what is all we need to know.
    And that is the first thing that goes in this culture.
    This culture is grounded on
    someone else being the authority
    over our life.

    “What would Jesus do?”

    The one thing Jesus would never do
    is wonder what someone else would do.
    He did not pause to think,
    “What would Moses do?”
    “What would Elijah do?”
    “What would Abraham do?”

    Jesus just did what needed to be done
    in the moment of its arising.

    He knew if we think too much about anything,
    the time for doing it is long past
    before we act.

    Jesus said, “Why don’t you decide for yourselves
    what is right?”

    That’s what Jesus would do!
    Decide for himself what is right!

    We have to become the authority determinng
    what we do
    in each situation,

    And if we are wrong,
    we learn from the error
    and decide for ourselves
    what to do about it.

    Where do we go to commune with ourselves?
    How often do we go there?
    How long do we stay?
    Who would be the authority over our life?
    Who would tell us what to do when?
    Who is interfering with our responsibility
    for knowing what’s what?
    Stay away from those people!
    Find some new friends,
    or relatives.
    Decide for yourself what is right–
    but not because I say so.
    Because you know so.

    And, if you don’t know that you know so,
    go commune with yourself
    and see what yourself has to say
    about what’s what
    and whose judgment you can trust.

  61. 09/06/2020  —  Dockside 11/14/2017 14 — Port Royal, South Carolina

    We do not know whom to trust–
    so we trust ourselves to deal with betrayal of trust.
    And, listening to our inner guides,
    step into the day.

    The key to trusting ourselves
    lies in communing with ourselves.

    When we “return to the source,”
    we are returning to ourselves.
    WE are the source of who we are!

    In seeking “the face that was ours
    before we were born,”
    and living out of our Original Nature,
    in each situation as it arises,
    we live with sincerity
    and authenticity,
    meeting the moment
    in search of what is being called for,
    and responding
    with the best we have to offer,

    We make our best guess
    (Call it “judgment,” if you like)
    about what to do
    based on the information
    available to us at the time
    and let that be that.

    We make adjustments as necessary
    and step into the next moment–
    trusting ourselves to see and do
    what is called for
    throughout all of the times and places
    of our life.

    We dispel fear and anxiety
    by trusting ourselves
    to deal appropriately with each situation,
    including the situations arising
    from being wrong with our response
    in any situation.

    We have what it takes to meet what meets us
    in a day.
    Every day.

    If you are going to take anything on faith,
    let it be that,
    and step into the day!

  62. 09/07/2020  —  The Limb — Fire Tower Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

    You have to know what I mean
    before you can understand
    what I’m saying.
    Which means, of course,
    that my only role in your life
    is to articulate what you already understand
    to be so.
    I recognize that as a vital part
    of your awakening to, well, you.

    We all have exactly what we need
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done–
    what needs us to do it–
    in the time and place
    (the here and now)
    of our living.

    The most important thing
    anyone can give us
    is ourselves.
    When we wake up,
    we wake up to the infinite value
    of us.

    Start paying attention to our dreams,
    and being aware of our thoughts,
    and all of the things
    that make us us.

    We devote time to nurturing
    our relationship with ourselves,
    and take ourselves out to lunch,
    and listen intently to all we are saying–
    our ability to know what we know,
    see what we look at,
    hear what we are saying
    and what is being said to us,
    asking the questions that beg to be asked
    and saying the things that cry out to be said,
    and knowing when we don’t,
    and wondering why we didn’t…

    The entire world and all of life
    open themselves to our
    and infinite

    We discover that knowing what we know
    leads instantly and directly
    to knowing what we don’t know–
    to knowing that we don’t know–
    and doing the work of finding out,
    letting, in the way of the old alchemists,
    “One book open another,”
    and we are off,
    lost in the allness and the wonder
    of everything.

    If it takes forever for us to wake up,
    well, that’s what forever is for.

    Once we wake up,
    we realize it will take forever
    to get to the bottom of all of it,
    and, that too, is what forever is for.

    Don’t slack up,
    knowing you have forever!
    There is not a moment to lose!
    Not a second to waste!
    The game’s afoot!
    The chase is on!

    It all starts with knowing what you know.
    And what you don’t know.

    That’s all you need to know.

  63. 09/07/2020  —  Lotus Flower and Koi Fish

    If we work with our life,
    our live works with us.
    If we work against our life,
    our life works against us.
    We can gauge the degree to which
    we need to adjust ourselves
    in relation to our life
    by the way things are going
    with us and our life.

    The old biblical adage applies:
    “It hurts to kick against the goads!”

    Our life will tell us
    when we are out of accord
    with our life.
    The trick to getting back in sync
    with our life is simple:
    Sincerity Not Contrivance!

    If we are trying to do this
    so that will happen,
    we are gaming our life.
    If we are frustrated
    because our ideas for our life
    are not being realized,
    we are pushing our life
    to be other than it is.

    Our place is to listen to our life,
    and to align ourselves with it.

    Our life has a mind of its own.
    It is like any living thing.
    A flower turns toward the sun.
    A tree leans toward the light.
    Our life has a built in cant toward
    its preferences
    and away from its aversions.
    Our place is to learn what our life likes
    and do that.

    What are we built for?
    Do that.
    Let everything fall into place
    around that.

    We are made for our life
    the way a stream is made for the sea.
    If we are working against our life,
    it is as though the stream decides
    on a destination different than the sea.

    Guess how that would work out.

  64. 09/07/2020  —  Moonrise 10/17/2013 01 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Outer Banks, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    Religion died when it invented theology.
    Theology is Substitute Religion.
    It is somebody else’s Religion.
    Theology is Second-hand Religion.
    Theology is equivalent to what the people did
    when Moses came down from the mountain,
    and his face shone so
    with the absorbed Glory of God
    that the people couldn’t look directly at him,
    and draped him with a cloth
    to conceal the reality of God.

    Carl Jung said that theology was created
    to save people from the experience of God.

    Religion is the experience of God.
    God experienced as Other and as I.
    Religion is the knowledge of Thou Art That.
    Moses was one with God
    and the people couldn’t handle it.

    The Transcendent becomes Imminent
    in this here this now,
    becomes one with us–
    so that we become “Transparent to Transcendence”–
    and it is terrifying
    and transforming.

    It messes terribly with our life.

    To save ourselves the trouble of Religion,
    we invented Theology,
    and we talk about God.

    Keeping God at a safe distance.

    It is much safer to talk about God
    than to be carriers of God,
    to be the embodiment of God,
    to be the incarnation of God.
    Just ask Jesus what it is like
    to be able to say, “The Father and I are one.”

    We talk about God.
    We memorize the books of the Bible in order.
    We have Sword Drills
    to see who can find a scripture passage the fastest.
    We memorize catechisms
    and talk at length about our favorite questions
    in our favorite catechism.
    And read books of doctrine,
    putting them to music
    and calling them “Hymnbooks.”

    It is all very inspiring.

    It is almost like being alive.

  65. 09/08/2020  —  Goodale 11/04/2018 40 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    With us:

    Which will be the last to go?
    Joy or sorrow?
    Jocularity or despair?
    Laughter or wailing?

    Why one and not the other?

    They are only a perspective shift apart.

    Jovial or deathly serious depends upon what?

    What leads us to see the way we see?
    To ascribe meaning the way we ascribe meaning?
    To say “This!” and not “That!”?

    What stands between us
    and “The icy winds howling up from the Void”?

    What is our solace and our comfort?
    Our source of resolve and resiliency?

    The way we see things
    keeps us going.
    Or stops us from taking another step.

    What governs the way we see things?

    How will we approach
    “The end of the line”?

  66. 09/08/2020  —  Mile Post 244 08/13/2018 04– Blue Ridge Parkway, Doughton Park, Laurel Springs, North Carolina

    Here we are.
    Caught up in a pandemic,
    at the mercy of a crazy (As in certifiably insane) President
    and a GOP majority in the Senate,
    aiding and abetting his every move,
    with the world as we know it
    going to hell as we watch,
    and nothing more effective to offer
    than protest marches
    and rants on social media.

    The situation has exposed our lack of a foundation–
    the absence of a source of guidance and direction,
    comfort and confidence,
    security and stability,
    balance and harmony…

    We are in free fall
    with nowhere to turn
    and nothing to orient us
    or assist us in finding our bearings,
    in order to make our way through a wasteland
    of lost hope
    and demolished dreams
    to a better perspective,
    and a more trustworthy life.

    Joseph Campbell would say
    there is nothing wrong with us
    that finding a valid myth to live by
    won’t fix.

    He would also tell us not to look for someone
    to tell us what our grounding myth is.
    His two guidelines for discovering our myth are these:

    “Where you stumble and fall,
    there lies the treasure.”

    “That which you seek
    lies far to the rear,
    in the darkest corner
    of the cave you most
    don’t want to enter.”

    He would likely add,
    “The treasure you seek
    is nothing other than the self
    you also are.”

    Free-falling is a symptom
    of being alienated from ourselves,
    out-of-sync with our heart’s true purposes,
    out of accord with the Tao
    of our own spirit
    and clueless as to who we also are
    and what we are called (by ourselves)
    to do with our life.

    We have lost the way,
    wandered away from the path,
    and need to get back on track,
    together with ourselves and our life.

    The prescribed ritual for accomplishing
    this return to ourselves/our life,
    to find our myth and live it,
    is to stop/look/listen.

    To sit down,
    be still,
    and wait in the silence
    “for the mud to settle
    and the water to clear,”
    and attend what arises/occurs to us/comes to mind there.

    The silence connects us with the source
    of our own Original Nature–
    which is where we find all we need
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done
    in the wasteland
    of lost hope
    and demolished dreams.

    It takes doing it
    to know it is so.
    And it takes trusting ourselves
    to the inclination/urge-to-action
    that occurs to us in the silence.

    We do not think our way to a myth worthy of us.
    We live our way there.
    By looking/listening within–
    by looking/listening to our body
    and what it is revealing to us.
    And by working with our nighttime dreams
    and our flights of fantasy,
    to discover what we are saying to ourselves,
    hoping that we will pay attention,
    and follow where we are being led.

  67. 09/09/2020  —  Great Blue Heron 08/13/2013 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina

    Our idea of God is not God.

    This is the foundational realization.

    We can never get beyond our idea of God to God.

    In order to approach God,
    we must abandon our idea of God.

    Theology has to go.

    Meister Echart said,
    “The final leave-taking
    is leaving God for God.”

    Our idea of who we are is not who we are.

    The final leave-taking
    is leaving ourselves for ourselves.

    We become God.
    God becomes us.

    And that’s that.

    In the end, we are all one.

    All of our divisions are false divisions.

    All of our dichotomies are false dichotomies.

    All of our dualities are false dualities.

    Our idea of reality is not reality.

    It is all a joke we play on ourselves.

    It all ends in laughter.

    That never ends.

  68. 09/09/2020  —  Eno River Spring 05/05/2011 — Eno River State Park, Durham, North Carolina

    We have to know what moves us
    and allow ourselves to be moved by it–
    to be owned by it–
    to belong to it–
    to be possessed,
    dominated and controlled
    by the things that move us–
    moved against our will–
    “Without hope,
    without witness,
    without reward”
    (Steven Moffat)–
    to live in the service of,
    with filial devotion
    and liege loyalty to,
    that which moves us!

    In the spirit of the old alchemical formula,
    “One book opens another,”
    the thing(s) that move(s) us
    will move us to the thing(s) that move(s) us,
    and we will be carried all our life long
    from one thing to another
    on an adventure that never ends.

    This is the Hero’s Journey.

    Don’t be a sissy.

  69. 09/09/2020  —  Eno River Reflections Panorama 11/09/2011 — Eno River State Park, Durham, North Carolina

    Notice what catches your eye,
    and look closer.
    Move toward that which moves you.
    Pay attention to the things
    you are quick to dismiss,
    and stop doing that.

    The Most Important Things
    are the cornerstones the builder dismisses,

    “Nothing good comes from Nazareth!”

    The pearl of great price
    lies in the bin of costume jewelry
    waiting for one who sees
    to take notice
    and look closer.

    Our destiny hangs in the balance,
    dangling by the finest thread.
    Our name is called
    by the faintest whisper.
    The first test is the hardest:
    Will we see what we look at?
    Will we hear what is being said?

    Nothing of consequence
    is the key to everything that follows.
    The path that leads to awakening
    and enlightenment
    begins with the silliest choices.
    Our future life hinges on–
    and takes shape around–
    our being open to the offerings
    of the present moment,
    and willing to trust directions
    from the unlikeliest of guides.

    Having expectations,
    strong opinions
    and harsh judgments–
    being impatient,
    and hard to please–
    increase the internal noise level,
    and make it difficult
    to recognize the grace at work
    in our circumstances,
    or to allow impromptu shifts
    toward uncertain outcomes.

    We are always forgetting
    that we did not intend to be
    where we are,
    or plan any of the steps
    that led us here.
    The future will be an extension of the past
    in this regard,
    and we can rely
    on knowledge beyond reason,
    and intellect
    to pilot our boat
    on its path through the sea.

    Those gifts are well-qualified to deal with How,
    and Where
    are within the purview
    of more than words can say.

    Choosing the gifts and the giver
    puts us in the position
    of the moved in response to the mover.
    Recognizing what is asked of us
    and responding in ways
    appropriate to the occasion
    are all that is asked of us
    in each situation as it arises.

    All our life long.

  70. 09/09/2020  —  Lake Haiger Fall 11/03/2013 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill South Carolina

    Our life does not happen accidentally,
    while we are in pursuit of our dreams.
    It isn’t what occurs while we are doing something else.
    Something more fun.

    Our life is the intentional production
    of the mutual collaboration
    between the conscious
    and unconscious
    aspects of ourselves.

    We are two selves:
    and Unconscious
    (We call it the Unconscious because
    the conscious side of us
    is not conscious of it,
    which makes dealing with it
    a full-time operation
    requiring our complete attention,
    total devotion
    and faithful allegiance).

    When the old Chinese mystics talked of the Tao,
    they were talking about the Unconscious self.
    And being in accord with the Tao
    was held to be the key to balance and harmony,
    and peace.

    It still is.

    Our Conscious self is good for knowing
    how to do something,
    relying on intellect,
    and reason
    to come up with the best,
    most efficient,
    way of getting things done.

    On its own, it has no idea of what to do.
    Consciously, we know what we want
    and don’t want,
    what we like and don’t like,
    what is pleasing
    what is displeasing,
    but we have no notion
    of what we should want,
    or of what we have no business
    even thinking about.

    Our Unconscious self is good
    for what, when and where,
    and has a knack for knowing
    what is called for
    in each situation as it arises.

    When our Conscious and Unconscious selves
    are communing with each other,
    in full accord,
    and on the same page,
    our life has a radiance about it
    and a flow to it,
    that cannot be fabricated
    in some other way.

    Our duality is dancing
    in a manner that declares our unity,
    which is something to be relished
    and enjoyed
    as the purest expression
    of the experience
    of being alive.

  71. 09/10/2020  —  Moonrise 10/17/2013 08 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina

    We cannot help the way we see things.
    Growing up means seeing things differently.
    We grow up against our will–
    against ourselves–
    throughout our life.

    Seeing things differently is like dying.
    Growing up is dying.
    This is the cross that is central to Christianity.
    We die again and again
    in the work to see things as they are.

    I was standing in a cotton field
    talking to a Mississippi Delta planter
    about race relations and gay rights,
    who was saying,
    “Hell, Jim–
    this ain’t how I see things!
    This is how things are!” 

    Theology allows us to talk about the cross
    without experiencing it–
    to talk about growing up
    without ever once dying to do it.

    Take your cherished ways of seeing things,
    your precious rites and rituals
    that are central to who you are,
    and throw them in the burning barrel.

    That’s what Jesus meant when he said,
    “If you are coming with me,
    pick up your cross every day–
    die every day–
    to the way you see things,
    that the way things are
    might have a chance of breaking through!”

  72. 09/10/2020  —  Cedar Rock Falls 10/13/2011 — Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, North Carolina

    The straight and narrow
    is the dangerous path
    along the slippery slope
    like the razor’s edge
    between the dualities
    that have to be integrated,
    in a way that takes everything into account
    and responds to what is called for
    in each situation as it arises
    with exactly what is needed at that moment
    in that place
    without thinking about it
    or knowing what we are doing,
    by moving in conjunction with time and place,
    as a dancer dancing with an invisible partner
    to music that cannot be heard,
    carried away by synchronicity,
    and transforming the world.

    That is what we are living to be able to do.
    Living like that,
    is what life is all about.
    How do we get there?
    Isn’t that the question, though!

    We live our way to the answer.
    We do not think our way there.
    Thinking about our thinking will do it.
    Watching our seeing.
    Being intently/intentionally aware of
    who we are
    where we are
    how we are
    what is happening
    what is happening in response
    to what is happening
    and what is happening to that–
    within us
    and outside of us–
    receiving it with compassion,
    without opinion,
    without judgment,
    “Just this, just that,”
    and simultaneously,
    holding it all in our awareness
    and allowing it to sink into
    our body
    and our mind
    so that we know what’s what,
    and wait to see what we do about it
    without consciously willing any response at all
    beyond waiting and watching and wondering…
    until BOOM! (As John Madden would say)
    we find ourselves doing something
    we never imagined ourselves doing.

    Where did that come from?
    That’s were we have to live from!
    Call it The Center.
    Call it The Still Point.
    Call it The Source.
    And let ourselves trust it
    to be what is needed–
    beyond knowing what is needed–
    and live from there,
    threading the needle
    along the straight and narrow

  73. 09/10/2020  —  On Roan Mountain 05/15/14 05 — Carver’s Gap, North Carolina/Tennessee

    “It’s only in my (your) imagination,”
    is as dismissive and as disrespectful
    as we are capable of being.
    Everything we have done as a species
    came right out of the silence
    into our imagination.

    Our imagination is the greatest sense organ
    at our disposal.
    It connects us with dimensions
    beyond those we associate with space and time,
    and with our unconscious,
    and our “other” self at the center of that world
    (Carl Jung said, “There is in each of us another,
    whom we do not know”–
    whom we know through our imagination!).

    James Hollis said, “Death does not end a relationship
    anymore than divorce ends a marriage.”
    And that relationship is maintained and deepened
    through our imagination.

    Our imagination creates possibilities
    for our life in this world
    of normal,
    by enabling us to see things into being.

    Writers and artists,
    plumbers and carpenters,
    musicians and quarterbacks,
    scientists and teachers,
    and all of the rest of us
    regularly experience flashes of realization,
    and creativity
    that pop into our awareness
    right out of our imagination.

    When we meditate,
    our imagination stirs to life,
    and stirs us to life
    with inspirations,
    and things that occur to us
    “right out of the blue,”
    and it doesn’t always wait
    for us to meditate,
    but stops us in mid-stride
    with a seizure of “esthetic arrest,”
    (James Joyce)
    that transforms our life
    and propels us into directions
    and destinations we would have never planned
    or considered on our own.

    And Joseph Campbell was fond of saying
    that none of us planned to be where we are.

    Honor your imagination with the esteem
    that is its due.
    Devote time to deepening your relationship
    with that aspect of yourself.
    Serve it with filial devotion
    and liege loyalty.
    It is the most magical tool at our disposal,
    and ‘twould be a shame
    to deny it the opportunity
    to show us what it can do.

  74. 09/10/2020  —  Roaring Fork Falls 09/03/2012 — Pisgah National Forest, Burnsville, North Carolina

    Chief Seattle and Black Elk did not have a PhD between them.
    Or a Masters Degree.
    Or a Bachelors Degree.
    Or a high school diploma.

    And they were brilliant men of soul,
    fit for the company of Gandalf the Grey,
    Albus Dumbledore,
    Obi wan Kenobi
    and Yoda.

    Dolly Parton would belong to that group.
    And Linda Ronstadt.
    And Maggie Smith.
    And Mary Oliver.
    (The list is long of women who know what’s what)

    All the people who know,
    know the same things.
    They know what counts,
    makes a difference.

    Chief Seattle said,
    talking about putting himself
    in accord with the reality of life and death,
    “Why should I lament the disappearance
    of my people?
    All things end,
    and the white man will find this out also.”

    Joseph Campbell (also a member
    of Those Who Know) said
    that we can be at peace with all things
    as they are–adding
    “This doesn’t mean
    that one shouldn’t participate
    in efforts to correct the situation,
    but underlying the effort to change
    one must be ‘at peace.’”

    At peace with the “is-ness” of things,
    in a “This is the way things are,
    and this is what can be done about it,
    and that’s that,”
    kind of way.

    Those who know
    know this is so,
    and joyfully embrace the terms
    governing the game,
    giving themselves
    to full participation in the game,
    and, when it is done,
    letting that be that.

  75. 09/11/2020  —  Cullasaja River 10/21/2014 01 Panorama — Nantahala National Forest, Highlands, North Carolina

    Extremes not only beget extremes,
    they also become increasingly extreme over time.
    Knowing when to stop and stopping
    would be ideal,

    Diets go over into anorexia like that (snaps fingers),
    and anorexia spins off into bulimia,
    and knowing when to stop doesn’t mean stopping.

    Having someone explain the danger of excessive
    devotion to a cause
    doesn’t immunize us against extremism.

    Hearing someone advise us
    to “Live toward the center!”
    doesn’t enable healthy limits.

    Vulnerability to being “carried away”
    seems to be a human characteristic.
    We cannot be trusted to know
    where and when to draw the line,
    and to draw it.

    How often have we heard/said it?
    “We are our own worst enemy!”
    “No one can save us from ourselves!”
    “It’s all up to us!”
    “Our safety is our responsibility!”

    And we remain a threat to ourselves and others,
    walking through our life,
    waiting for something to trigger
    our Excessive Response Mechanism,
    and propel us into action.

    Which underscores the danger
    of Russian interference in our elections,
    and manipulative language exploiting
    our tendency to be emotionally hooked
    into an ideologically based reactive
    way of living.

    We are this close (crosses fingers) to being
    swept up and away at all times.
    Knowing it and being alert to it,
    sensitive to,
    and aware of,
    the ease with which language
    inflames and engulfs us,
    may be our best defense
    against the extremes,
    and our best chance
    of remaining grounded in the center.

  76. 09/11/2020  —  Sanskrit AUM 02 — From my Symbols of Transformation Collection

    “Freedom’s just another word
    for nothing left to lose…”
    I don’t know if Kris Kristofferson
    knew what he was saying
    when he wrote these words
    (To “Me and Bobby Magee”),
    or if he was just rhyming words,
    He is spot on.

    We aren’t free until
    we aren’t afraid of loosing anything.
    Until we are free from trying/hoping
    to gain anything.

    Freedom is having nothing to hold onto.
    Freedom is letting everything go.
    Standing at “the still point”
    (T.S. Eliot)
    of that place,
    there is nothing anyone (or anything)
    can do to us.
    We are grounded there in a way
    that nothing can touch us.
    Nothing can knock us off that spot.

    We are the adamantine Buddha
    seated under the Bo tree,
    unmoved and unmovable,
    at one with ourselves
    and free to do what is necessary
    to be what is needed
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long,
    unafraid of anything.

    At that place,
    we are our own authority
    in determining what we do,
    unafraid of going to hell even,
    so confident we are in our own ability
    to know what needs us to do it,
    and free to follow our own sense of direction,
    content to live with any outcome
    no matter what it may be.

    How do we get there?
    We are never more than
    a simple shift in perspective
    from here to there.
    We are going to die.
    There is nothing to gain or to lose.
    All we have is who we are.
    And what is that if we do not
    live so as to express who we are
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long?

    Why hold anything back?
    What are we saving it for?

  77. 09/11/2020  —  Bog River Falls 09/29/2014 01 Watercolor Rendering — Adirondack State Park, Tupper Lake, New York

    We pretend it is going to last forever.
    We do not look at the score.
    We do not look at the clock.
    We do not wonder “How much LOOONNNGGEEERRR
    as though we need it to be done, NOW!

    Our full attention is on the moment,
    this moment,
    the time and place of our living.
    The moment that never ends,
    but flows,
    uninterrupted into the next moment,
    and the one following,
    on and on…

    Though we will step out of the action,
    the moment of our stepping out
    will continue without end
    through all of time
    and beyond.

    The universe can disappear
    into a Black Hole,
    but the moment of its disappearing
    goes on and on…

    Our place in this “great scheme of things,”
    is to shine as brightly as we can
    for as long as possible,
    bringing ourselves forth
    as a blessing and a grace
    on all of the times and places
    of our living.

    Offering the gifts,
    and life
    that came with us from the womb
    to the contexts and circumstances
    of each situation that comes our way
    over the full course of our life,
    in ways that respond appropriately
    to what is being called for–
    “Without hope,
    without witness,
    without reward”
    (Steven Moffat in “Doctor Who”),
    as an expression/incarnation
    of our Original Nature
    because that is what we are born to do,
    and it would be such  a shame not to do it.

    We discover who we are
    in the act of standing up to meet the moment,
    naturally doing what needs to be done
    as only we can do it,
    surprising ourselves by showing everyone
    how much more to us than meets the eye.

    We begin living that way
    by daring to not know what we are doing,
    and being curious about everything,
    playing at being who we are
    as we reveal ourselves to ourselves
    to our continuing amazement,
    all our life long.

  78. 09/11/2020  —  Sailboat Mooring 10/12/2013 Bath Harbor on Bath Creek, Bath, NC

    Here is my version of the Chinese classic, “The Lost Horse Returns”:

    Once there was there was a poor farm family in the high mountains of China who eked out a living on the slopes with one plow horse and much hard work. One evening the son forgot to fully close the gate of the corral and the horse wandered out and off during the night.

    The next morning, the son was distraught. “Oh, Father,” he said. “We are ruined! We cannot work the farm without the horse to plow the field! We are lost, and it is all my fault!” The father replied, “We’ll see.”

    The next day, their horse returned to the corral, bringing with him three wild mares and two colts. The son was ecstatic. “Father! We are blessed! Now we can work more land than we ever could before! We  can sell a mare and a colt, and have money to buy new equipment! It is a wonderful day!” “We’ll see,” said the father.

    The next day, as the son was training one of the mares, he was thrown from the horse and broke his  leg. “Oh, Father!”, he lamented. “Now, I won’t be able to help you in the field, and you cannot do the work alone! I can’t believe how things can turn out so badly just when they were looking so perfectly wonderful!” “We’ll see,” said the father.

    The next day, the Chinese army came to the house looking for conscripts to fight in its war with the barbarians. The son with the broken leg was passed over. “Oh, Father,” said the son. “If it were not for my leg, there is no telling what may have come of us! This is truly a blessed day!” “We’ll see,” said the father.

    And so it goes… But. The one thing I want to make sure you do not miss is that on the day, when the lost horse returned with the mares and the colts, the father made certain that the gate to the corral was securely fastened that night,
    and every night following.

    It is one thing to “take things as they come,” and it is another to understand the importance of being right about what is important, and living and working in the service of what matters most through all of “the vicissitudes of time” over the full course of our life.

    Get that down and you have it made. As much as you can have it made in a world where things are always coming and going, and you never know what you can count on, or what is going to happen next.

    Be right about what you take seriously, and keep it to a bare minimum. And be right about what that is. He said, laughing.

  79. 09/11/2020  —  Japanese Heart — From my Symbols of Transformation Collection

    When people ask me if I believe in God,
    I ask them if they believe in Grace.
    Most say something on the order of
    “Of course!”
    I follow up with,
    “Why do you believe in Grace?”
    Most say something on the order of
    “I have experienced it in my own life!”
    And I say,
    “That’s the difference between
    believing about God
    and knowing God as directly as we know Grace.”

    And, I follow that up with,
    “And when you have experienced Grace,
    you have experienced That Which Has Always Been Called ‘God.’
    And that is all we need to know of God,
    and all we can say of God.”

    When people ask me if I believe in Jesus,
    or, if I have received Jesus Christ as my personal savior,
    I respond by holding up my right hand
    with my Pointer and Tall Man crossed,
    and say, “Jesus and I are just like that!”
    And follow that quickly with, “NO!
    Jesus and I are just like THAT!
    Taking Tall Man down,
    leaving only Pointer standing straight in the air.

    At that point, there is nothing left to say.

  80. 09/13/2020  —  Sandy Stream Pond Autumn 09/2007 Watercolor Rendering — Baxter State Park, Millinocket, Maine

    I do not know where we go
    to find what we are looking for
    in terms of the best humanity has to offer.

    Where would we have to do to surround ourselves
    with kindness,
    and the rest of the list
    we say we admire
    and strive to be?

    What strata of society
    is best representative
    of the way
    we say
    we are
    supposed to be?

    Where would we be
    least likely
    to encounter
    and the entire list
    of things
    held to be deplorable
    and despised?

    Or, narrow it down to stupidity.
    Where would we go to be free
    of the burden of stupid people–
    with stupidity having nothing to do with
    the amount of education a person has
    or the degree of their intelligence?

    Face it.
    “We have met the enemy
    and they are us!”
    (Walt Kelly).

    The people who talk the most about
    the importance of
    “expanding consciousness”
    and “being awake to the moment
    of our living,”
    are as blind to their blind-side
    as any other group of people on the planet.

    Their arrogance,
    and lack of self-transparency
    (For all their talk about being transparent!),
    is as high as that of any other
    segment of society.

    Where do we go to find
    people like the people we say we want to be?

    Do not spend much time
    with this question.
    It will only depress you.

    Just devote yourself to the life-long work
    of being more like you need to be tomorrow
    than you are today,
    and step into the day!

  81. 09/13/2020  —  Japanese Truth 03 — From my Symbols of Truth Collection

    We have to be right about what is important
    and live as though it is
    in each situation as it arises,
    no matter what.

    It is never more difficult than that.
    It is always that difficult.

    In order to pull it off,
    we have to be mindfully aware
    of what matters most to us
    and whether it deserves its rank
    in our life.

    Are we right about the value
    of what we value?

    This requires intense self-examination,
    objective scrutiny,
    ruthless evaluation,
    on-going introspection,
    seeing what we are seeing,
    hearing what we are hearing,
    knowing how we are responding,
    No sleeping at the wheel
    for those who think being awake
    to being awake
    to the time and place of our living
    is the most important thing.

  82. 09/14/2020  —  Portland Headlight at Dawn 09/26/2007 — Portland, Maine

    “Live with sincerity,
    in the service of your original nature,
    and follow your heart.”

    This old adage from
    the Age of the Taoists
    sounds helpful
    until it is read
    in light of those stating:

    “We grow up against our will.”

    “The last leave-taking
    is leaving ourselves for ourselves.”

    “If you meet the Buddha on the road,
    kill him.”

    “That which you seek
    lies far back in the darkest corner
    of the cave
    you most don’t want to enter.”

    “It took the Cyclops
    to bring the hero
    out in Ulysses.”

    “The only thing standing
    between us and the treasure we seek
    is us.”

    “The people who don’t take the time
    to appreciate,
    and dance with
    the contradictions
    aren’t worth talking to.”

    “The slippery slope,
    the dangerous path,
    the razor’s edge
    require us to pick up our cross daily,
    dying to ourselves again and again,
    and bearing the pain of the journey joyfully
    all the way to the end of the line.”

    And the ultimate contrary
    of them all:

    “The Path that is discernible
    is not a reliable Path.”

    It is called The Hero’s Journey
    for a reason.

    Realization comes with a price,
    paid only by those
    who can laugh
    shout “YEA!”
    and participate wholeheartedly
    in the wonder of it all,
    seeing the incongruities
    and dichotomies,
    as antiphonies–
    and joining in round after round,
    all their life long.

  83. 09/13/2020  —  Chinese Tao 05 — From my Symbols of Transformation Collection

    People have been missing the point forever.
    Thinking they/we are the point,
    and that everything here is
    for our benefit and enjoyment–
    to “fill the earth and subdue it,”
    party hardy
    and pass a good time.

    We plop out of the womb
    figuring the angles,
    calculating our chances,
    always with an agenda in hand
    and an angle in mind.

    God can’t get us out of his mind.
    His day revolves around us,
    who is in and who is out,
    keeping score,
    writing everything down in the Book of Life
    (So he won’t forget?).

    We are the point.
    And, thinking that,
    we miss the point.

    How much silence can you take
    before you have to find something
    to relieve your boredom,
    which is concealing something much worse:

    In the silence,
    we catch the scent of emptiness
    stirring in the darkness,
    and must lose ourselves
    in the noise of our lives
    to avoid the truth of nothing.

    We are afraid there is nothing there.

    That comes with missing the point.

    And that gets us to where we are:
    Needing to face the truth of nothing to it,
    of the Void
    and the Abyss,
    in order to find our way
    to “the still point of the turning world”
    (T.S. Eliot).
    And know the Other within
    whom we do not know
    (Carl Jung),
    and discover our place
    as the Moved to the Mover,
    the Seeker to the Knower,
    and begin again,
    this time in right relationship
    with the Heart of Life and Being.

  84. 09/15/2020  —  The Viaduct Fall 10/18/2015 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

    Waking up is growing up,
    growing up is waking up.
    Everyone has a blind side
    keeping them immature and unseeing.

    If you are not laughing at yourself,
    you are not growing up.
    If the tone of your laughter is mean
    and vindictive,
    you are not growing up.

    The quality and degree of our laughter
    is a signature sign
    of the quality and degree of our maturity
    and wakefulness.

    Seeing is laughing.

    Laughter and sorrow
    have an antiphonal relationship
    with each other,
    singing the song of life
    to each other
    through the ages.
    Best friends forever.

    Life and death.
    Death and resurrection.
    It never gets old.
    We never outgrow it.
    We welcome it again,
    and step into the day.

  85. 09/15/2020  —  Mouse Creek Falls 11/08/2006 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek Campgrounds, Waterville, North Carolina

    Our symptoms,
    loss of purpose,
    lack of enthusiasm for life,
    poor posture
    and lousy disposition
    are all attributable
    to the sorry quality
    of our relationship
    with ourselves in general
    and with our Original Nature in particular.

    Our lot is not going to improve
    until we realign ourselves with ourselves,
    and live in accord with our nature.

    This does not mean doing whatever we want.
    It means doing what is ours to do
    whether we want to or not.

    “What is ours to do”
    is not something someone assigns us.
    It is not what parents,
    or our desire to succeed and excel
    impose upon us.
    It is what is ours to do
    from before we were born.

    You could call it destiny,
    but that sounds like achieving something.
    It is more on the order
    of simply being who we are–
    doing what needs us to do it
    the way we alone are capable of doing it.
    Living our life the way only we can live it.
    Whether anything comes of it or not.

    The stream flowing to the sea
    is fulfilling its destiny
    by being what it is,
    doing what it does
    the way it would do it
    in each situation as it arises.

    Be the stream.
    Flow to the sea.
    It has never been
    more difficult than that.
    Never will be.

  86. 09/15/2020  —  South Carolina Icon

    What symbols are living symbols for you?
    Which ones bring you to life?
    Ground you?
    Open you to the moment,
    and to the wonder of life,
    the mysterium tremendum,
    the awe inspiring mystery,
    at the heart of being alive?

    What symbols enable you to face anything?
    Serve as a guide through dark times?
    A beacon calling us past waves crashing on the rocks
    and heaving amid the howling wind
    on the wine dark sea?

    What symbols do you turn to
    when there is no place else to turn?
    What symbols are at the heart of your life?

    Start with these symbols
    and search them for the metaphors they represent.
    What are the metaphors behind each symbol?
    What are the meanings you attach to each metaphor?

    One of my favorite symbols is a ceramic egg,
    about six inches high and eight inches in diameter.
    a section of the shell has broken away,
    and a scaly foot of a baby dragon
    has come out of the egg
    into the light of day.

    I have used this egg as a teaching metaphor
    for Easter Morning sermons,
    as a different kind of Easter Egg,
    with the theme,
    “The new life in Christ
    will eat your old life alive!”
    Using the text from Luke 9:24,
    “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it,
    but whoever loses their life for that which is greater than they are
    will save it.”

    What will we lose our life (Metaphorically speaking) for?
    What are we willing to go to hell (Metaphorically speaking) for?

    Our symbols take us to the truth of who we are.
    To the truth of what our life is.

    Ask the questions your favorite symbols beg to be asked.
    See what they really have to say.

  87. 09/16/2020  —  Cullasaja River 10/21/2014 02 — Nantahala National Forest, Highlands, North Carolina

    Count the number of times
    Jesus says the equivalent of
    “To hell with you!”
    Or, “To hell with them!”
    In the Gospels.

    And then take your idea
    of “unconditional love”
    to the burning barrel.

    To love white supremacists unconditionally
    is to BE a white supremacist.
    To love police brutality unconditionally
    is to be a member of the Brutal Police Officers’ Union.

    And don’t give me the double talk
    of “Loving the Sinner
    and Hating the Sin”!
    Sin and Sinner cannot be separated
    any more than Darkness and Light
    can be combined.

    And, while we are on the subject,
    the only Sin is refusing to be who we are
    because of our strong attachment
    to who we also are.
    And the only solution to that Sin
    is to walk “the straight and narrow,”
    which is “the dangerous path”
    along “the slippery slope”
    like “the razor’s edge”
    between who we are
    and who we also are
    through all of the times and places
    of our living
    our entire life long.

    Who we are is the Christ.
    Who we also are is the Antichrist.

    And our burden is the Cross
    which connects Heaven and Hell (Earth)
    with the crosspiece of the Here and Now.

    Or the Star of David
    with the apex of one triangle reaching for Heaven
    and the apex of the other triangle straining for Hell (Earth)
    and the meeting place of us
    in the Here and Now of our life.

    Or the Yin/Yang
    with its border between the eternal opposites
    being the individual integrating the opposites
    in each here and now of their life
    over the long course of time.

    When we throw out religion
    with its blah-blah about believing
    this or that
    and step into being who we are
    and who we also are
    in each situation as it arises
    through each here and now of our life,
    we know the truth whereof we speak
    of Alpha and Omega,
    Darkness and Light
    Death and Life
    working their way out
    in the contexts and circumstances of our life
    by bearing the pain of our contraries
    for the joy of participating in the wonder/agony
    of being
    all our life long.

  88. 09/16/2020  —  Dockside 11/14/2017 06 — Port Royal, South Carolina

    We don’t know what is going to happen,
    We are here, now, because we have dealt
    with everything up until here, now,
    successfully enough to be here, now.

    That is evidence enough for me
    to trust myself
    to deal with whatever happens
    in a way that carries me on
    into wherever this is going.

    I’m interested in seeing what happens,
    and what I do about it.
    I’m not the least bit worried,

    Something is always happening,
    and I am always doing something in response.
    So are you.
    And here we are.
    What’s the problem?

  89. 09/17/2020  —  Eno River Fall 11/9/2011 — Eno River State Park, Durham, North Carolina

    Joseph Campbell said the Bhagavad Gita
    could be summarized with:
    “Get in there and do your thing,
    and don’t worry about the outcome!”

    The outcome is always messing with us.
    We live from one outcome to another.
    We are always trying to achieve some outcome.
    Always invested in some outcome.
    Always enamored by some outcome.
    Always attached to some outcome.

    We do “this” so “that” will happen–
    or to keep “that” from happening.

    Doing “this” so “this” will happen
    is the whole point of playing.
    Living is a serious matter
    and can only be engaged in
    by those who do “this” so “that” will happen,
    or not happen.

    Doing our thing
    “without hope,
    without witness,
    without reward,
    (Steven Moffat)
    is, for us, the greatest absurdity.


    Doing our thing
    for the sole purpose,
    entire point,
    and complete joy
    of doing our thing
    is the very essence
    of being alive.

    Alan Stacell said,
    “I paint like a dog wags its tail.”

    What do you do
    like a dog wags its tail?
    How often do you do it?
    How long do you do it
    when you do it?

    Why not do it more often?
    For longer periods of time?

    Without ever having an eye on the outcome?

  90. 09/17/2020  —  Six-point Star O6 — From My Symbols of Transformation Collection

    The six point star,
    with its two inverted triangles,
    one pointing upward to the heavens,
    light and enlightenment,
    and the other pointing downward to the earth,
    darkness and abject cluelessness,
    reflects the eternal plight
    of human beings,
    living out our lives between
    the best and worst
    we can do, be, become,
    in each situation as it arises,

    “We have met the enemy,
    and they are us!”
    (Walt Kelly)

  91. 09/17/2020  —  Around Bass Lake 10/13/2014 10 — Moses H Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

    The fundamental duality,
    at the heart of humanity
    throughout time
    is contrivance/sincerity.

    Even when we are sincere,
    we think we ought to get something out of it.
    Sincerity should be good for us in some way.
    And we are always shocked and chagrined
    to discover that sincerity
    means being good for nothing.

    Because that is who we are.

    Yet, how many of us are that way?
    Good for nothing?

    Everything is a ploy with us.
    A device.
    A means of getting something,
    or somewhere,
    or avoiding something,
    of coming out ahead,
    of getting what we want–
    and what we want is never, ever,
    being good for nothing,
    for no reason,
    “just because.”

    Just because that is who we are.

    From as long ago as the Bhagavad Gita (200 years BCE)
    has come the call:
    “Get in there and do your thing–
    with no idea in mind of getting anything from it!”

    You know,
    like a child playing in a sandbox.
    Like a dog wagging its tail.
    Like a walk in the woods.

  92. 09/17/2020  —  Atlantic Moonrise 08/08/2007 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    This isn’t  a competition.
    No one is keeping score.
    We are not being graded.
    Our work is not
    to do or be better than anyone else
    at anything.

    Our work is simply
    being as good as we can be
    at being who we are.
    At being ourselves.

    Our work is developing
    our relationship with ourselves.
    Knowing who we are.
    Living in accord with our Original Nature.
    Being us.
    Doing our life the way we would do it
    if no one were watching.
    What do we care who is watching?

    What is our natural way of doing things
    that we don’t do
    because it won’t fit where we are?

    What is so important about where we are
    that our self wouldn’t be comfortable
    if we brought him/her to meet our friends?

    Whose side are we on?

  93. 09/18/2020  —  Cullasaja River 10/19/2000 — Nantahala National Forest, Highlands, North Carolina

    Alan Watts said, “When you want things
    to be different than they are,
    you are wishing for your situation to be different than it is,
    and thinking that it should be otherwise.
    When that is the case,
    shut out any thought
    that your situation should be otherwise,
    and stop ruining the experience
    you could be having
    with your life just as it is.
    Tell yourself:
    ‘This is it! This is life!
    Look at it! Don’t miss a thing!’”
    (Or words to that effect)

    Joseph Campbell would add:
    “The psychological transformation (here)
    would be that whatever was formerly endured
    is now known,
    and served.”

    Campbell goes on to point out:
    “The aim of all religious exercises
    is a psychological transformation.”

    The “psychological transformation”
    Campbell and Watts are talking about
    is the slight shift in perspective
    that is required
    to see the optical illusion “click”
    from the haggard old woman
    to the beautiful young girl,
    from the silhouette of a wine glass
    to the silhouettes of two people facing each other.

    Our life is an optical illusion.
    What we see is a function of how we look–
    of what we look for–
    of what we expect to see.

    Being fully With our life
    in each situation as it arises,
    is to know it is just so
    and is asking for “just this” from us.

    Why withhold what is being called for?
    Why resist the moment
    that is unfolding before us?
    Why not take “NO!” for an answer to us
    from the moment,
    instead of declaring “NO!” to the moment?

    This doesn’t mean lie down,
    become a door mat,
    allowing “the moment”
    to walk all over us
    and wipe its feet on us.
    We can participate in the sorrows of the world,
    in the agony of the moment
    as we work to transform the world
    and redeem the moment,
    even as we do what is being called for
    in any particular situation/moment.

    This is dancing with the contradictions,
    embracing the polarities,
    integrating the opposites,
    and bearing the pain of the world “thus come”
    with the joy of doing “what is set before us”
    in doing what must be done about things as they are.

    Our work is the redemption and transformation of the world.
    This doesn’t mean demolishing and destroying
    the world “thus come.”
    It means saying to the world “thus come,”
    “Sit with me and tell me your story,
    and I will tell you mine…”

    The work of redemption/transformation
    is the work of participating in the sorrows
    of the world “thus come”
    as we joyfully do what is called for
    in loving that world into all it may yet be.

    Our ability to do that
    rides on our being capable
    of not demanding that the world be otherwise right now!
    That it not be different than it is instantly.

    How soon things can change
    and how quickly we want them to change
    have to be seen for what they are.
    We have to do what needs to be done
    to enable things to be different than they are
    without insisting that the world
    be what we want it to be immediately.

    The pain of transition must be borne consciously,
    with awareness
    and compassion.

    How long has the world been as it is?
    That is a lot of momentum!
    A lot of inertia!
    Do not despair that ours is the Sisyphusian task
    of rolling the ball through time!
    Put your shoulder to the wheel
    and keep it turning!

    Our work is to do the work
    that needs to be done!
    In each situation as it arises!
    Waking up those who can be awakened,
    without thinking that our prospects should be otherwise
    from moment-to-moment-to-moment.

  94. 09/18/2020  —  Dorys 09/25/2006 — Rockport Harbor, Rockport, Maine

    Wait. A. Minute!
    I see what your problem is!
    You want things to be different than they are!
    If things were just what they ought to be,
    you would be fine!

    That’s a problem.

    We all live in the space
    between how things are
    and how we wish they were.

    We all have the same problem.
    How well we deal with it
    is a matter of our individual idiosyncrasies.
    And a reflection of our degree
    of personal awareness
    of our situation,
    and of the possibilities that exist for us,
    and of our opinion of our choices.

    How long are we willing to wait
    for things to change?
    What are we going to do in the meantime?

    Is there anything we can do to make things better?
    How soon can we expect our actions to have an impact?

    “This is the way things are,
    and this is what we can do about it,
    and that’s that!”

    Coming to terms with our situation in life
    and the options available to us
    is the sine qua non of growing up.
    Growing up is the Final Solution
    to all of our problems ever.
    When there is nothing we can do about it–
    any of it–
    any of the things that are Really Important–
    we can always Grow Up Some More Again.
    The Swiss Army Knife fix
    for all that we don’t like about our life
    and life in general.

  95. 09/18/2020  —  Yellow Maple 11/28/2007 Watercolor Rendering

    Our work is to respond appropriately
    to what is called for
    in each situation as it arises.

    Each situation calls for something.
    How we respond to that call
    makes all the difference.

    When we are more concerned with
    what we are asking for from the situation
    than with what the situation is asking for from us,
    there is a problem.

    Our place is to live in accord with the rhythm of life
    in the moment of our living,
    in harmony with the ebbs and flows
    of the tides of life.

    What is it time for here and now?
    What is proper for this occasion?
    What is happening?
    What needs to happen in response?

    What we want is irrelevant to what is needed.
    We may not want to take
    the terrible tasting medicine,
    but if it is time to take our medicine,
    that takes precedent over every other concern.

    We may not want to go to work,
    but if it is time to go to work,
    that takes precedent over all of our wants and wishes.

    Every situation has its needs.
    Some of those situations allow for our wants
    to be honored,
    but not every situation.

    Our place is to acquiesce to the needs of the situation
    when that is required,
    and to serve our own interests
    when that is permitted
    without damaging the situation.

    We have to read the situation correctly
    and respond as needed.
    Our failure to do that
    has things where they are
    in all situations great and small
    around the world.

    As a species,
    we are not reading situations correctly
    or responding as needed
    to what is happening
    in each situation as it arises.

    And here we are.

    We could start turning things around
    in the next situation that comes along.
    How ’bout we do?

  96. 09/19/2020  —  At Buttermilk Falls 09/30/2014 — Long Lake, New York

    What is the nature of your pain?

    What are you doing with your life?

    I think one contributes to,
    flows from,
    the other.
    Our pain forms our life,
    our life shapes our pain.
    We exist at the mercy of the two,
    or as the meeting place of the two,
    or as a collaborative partner with the two,
    but the three of us are inseparable from birth to death.

    Working out the details
    of our relationship
    with our pain and our life
    is ours to do,
    or not,
    in the time left for living.

    Why not?

    I’m standing in complete darkness,
    looking out at the sound of the surf.
    The place has an underground feel to it,
    if you can imagine infinity underground.

    To my left is a rocky outcropping sloping down
    to the water–
    which I know without seeing.
    I see only the sound of the surf.

    I don’t know if the tide is coming in or going out,
    or what would happen if I stood there long enough
    (I think nothing),
    or where I would go and started walking
    with the sound of the surf to my back
    (I think I would just walk forever).
    I’m simply there waiting, watching, listening.

    This is the place I go when I enter the silence
    and seek the Source.
    I think of this place as the interface
    with my Psyche.
    The water is my Unconscious.
    I come there regularly
    to receive “gifts from the sea.”

    My gifts are in the form of realizations,
    the things that occur to me,
    arise within me,
    come to my attention…

    As I stand there,
    I am also lying in bed at 3 AM,
    or sitting in my recliner,
    or somewhere equally pedestrian
    and nondescript
    where I left for the silence at the Source,
    to check in
    and see whatsup.

    Whatsup last night/early this morning
    were the two questions I started with,
    about the nature of my pain
    and what I’m doing with my life.

    The nature of my pain at this point is
    mostly about regret–
    regret mostly about being unaware
    of my life and my place in it.
    And what I’m doing with my life at this point is
    mostly about being aware
    of what’s happening
    and what I’m doing in response
    and what I might be doing in addition,
    or instead.

    Old age (I’m in the last month
    of the third quarter
    of my 76th year) for me
    is mostly about reflection,
    in search of realization,
    making connections,
    growing up.
    Some more/still/again.

    I frequently return to the silence and the Source
    to see Whatsup,
    and enjoy the peace and restorative qualities
    of the oasis within.

    I regret that I haven’t been doing it all my life,
    and redeem that by doing it now.

    What is the nature of your pain?
    What are you doing with your life?

  97. 09/20/2020  —  Curtis Island Headlight 09/19/2006  – Camden, Maine

    James Joyce said, “Any object,
    intensely regarded, may be a gate
    of access to the incorruptible
    eon of the gods.” (Buck Mulligan, Ulysses)

    Joseph Campbell said, “Take, for example,
    a pencil, ashtray, anything,
    and holding it before you in both hands,
    regard it for a while.
    Forgetting its use and name,
    yet continuing to regard it,
    ask yourself seriously,
    ‘What is it’
    (‘What is it good for?
    What is its purpose?
    Why is it here?’)…
    Cut off from use,
    relieved of nomenclature,
    it dimension of wonder opens;
    for the mystery of the being of that thing
    is identical with the mystery
    of the being of the universe–
    and of yourself.”
    (A Joseph Campbell Companion).

    It is a simple meditative exercise
    that takes you to the heart of the matter
    “as straight as a Martin to its gourd.”

  98. 09/20/2020  —  Lower Falls 04/25/2007 — Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury, North Carolina

    Can you take “No” for an answer?

    It comes down to that.

    When is the last time you took “No” for an answer?

    How often have you taken “No” for an answer?

    Hold that thought,
    and consider this:

    Here’s the way Howard Thurman said it:
    “Don’t ask what the world needs.
    Ask what makes you come alive,
    and go do it.
    Because what the world needs
    is people who have come alive.”

    It can’t be said better.

    It’s what those who know
    have been saying
    since the first one knew.

    It’s what people have been waking up to
    for as long as people have been waking up.

    Being Alive.
    That’s it.

    Where is life found?
    What does it take to be alive?
    Where does your heart tell you “This is IT?”

    You have to spend more time there,
    doing that.
    The future of the world depends on it.

    And within that frame work
    of you doing what brings you to life,
    you have to know what you are going
    to say “No” to
    and what you are going to say “Yes” to–
    and when you are going
    to take “No” for an answer,
    and when you are not going to be stopped,
    or moved away from your own truth,
    by anything in the world
    or beyond it.

  99. 09/20/2020  —  Monument Valley Sunrise 09/25/2007 — Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona

    I transplanted an Oak Leaf Hydrangea
    and a Pink Hydrangea,
    and planted a Southern Wood Fern
    this morning,
    and Jesus couldn’t have done it better.
    Jesus and I are one in that regard.

    When Jesus said,
    “The Father and I are one,”
    he was saying,
    “The Father couldn’t do it better
    than I’m doing it.”

    We do a lot of things as well
    as Jesus and the Father could do them–
    and that’s the idea with all that we do.
    The only thing standing in our way
    is us.

    We get in our way
    when we allow our preferences
    and opinions
    to interfere with our judgment
    about what needs to be done
    and how to do it.

    When we are on the beam,
    in the flow,
    at one with the Tao,
    centered on the path
    and in tune with the moment
    and what needs to happen there,
    no one could do it better than we are doing it.

    Jesus is a symbol for being conscious
    of what is called for
    in each situation as it arises,
    and for stepping forward to meet the situation
    with exactly what is appropriate
    for the occasion,
    in all times and places of our living.

    When we are on,
    nobody could do us better
    than we are doing us.
    We just need to be better
    at getting out of the way.

  100. 09/20/2020  —  November Maples 11/06/2005

    The fulcrum–the pivot point–from past to future
    is to live with nothing at stake in the outcome.

    Giving our best to the moment
    with nothing to gain and nothing to lose,
    intent only on honoring the situation
    as it unfolds around us
    by responding to what is called for
    with the gifts we have to offer
    to each here and now,
    and letting what happens
    just be what happens
    to create the next moment
    in which we respond to what is called for
    with the gifts we have to offer…

    So that our life unfolds
    with us getting better
    at being who we are
    offering what we have to give
    to each time and place of our living,
    with nothing ever to gain,
    and nothing ever to lose,
    but always with another moment to shine
    and show our stuff
    by being who we are
    to the best of our ability
    just for the hell of it,
    day in and day out.

    What a life this is!

  101. 09/13/2020  —

1-208-867-5320 – Katie Payne

Hi John, This is Jim Dollar. I understand you’ve had better days, and I’m sorry things aren’t better than they are right now.

I want you to know I have enjoyed your company and have been stabilized, and remained upright because of your presence and influence. You have that kind of righting and making right demeanor, and it is a joy to have been a part of your life. I haven’t been more a part of your life, because I took a vow of solitude and silence about 5 years ago, and haven’t had a conversation with anyone outside of my immediate and extended family for that long, or longer. It has been good for me in terms of finding my balance and harmony, but not good for my relationships, so I apologize to you for withdrawing without notifying you, but I didn’t talk and I knew you didn’t type or email, so here we are.

One of the things I always admired about you is your love for people, and the fact that you truly enjoy all people of every variety. It is a beautiful thing, and one of the things those of us who know you love about you. It is wonderful. I also have taken comfort in the fact that you didn’t want anyone to know you were a Mensa member because they might expect the wrong things from you. I’ve kept myself somewhat secluded with your model in mind, and it has served me well.

I’m going to leave you with this story of an old shaman in the Siberian tundra in the 1850’s. He was interviewed by an explorer and made what I believe must be the earliest declaration of faith on record. He spoke the words of a song of his ancestors, going back  to 2 to 3,000 BC, and said, “The gods have told us to tell our people, ‘Do not fear the Universe—there is nothing to harm you there.’” I think that same core belief is to be found in the heart of every religion that is or has ever been on earth, and I share it with all those who have shared it through the ages. There is something deep within us, within our Psyche, that resonates with that conviction, and knows that it is so. And with that I can leave you with “Peace be with you, now and forever, John.” I love you. Amen.

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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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