Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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The Light keeps a place for each of us

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Photo: David Campbell / http://gbctours.com

For two years in a row, I had the pleasure of wandering around the fairy-tale scenes of Germany in Advent. It’s a time full of the beauty and light that the Solstice brings, even as it’s paradoxically the time when our ancestors huddled near fires hoping their stored-up harvest would last long enough.

One December day, I made my way to the market I purposefully frequent for my own supplies. It’s a store that probably would have been put out of business by the much larger one built on the edge of town recently were it not for the one resource it provides that the other behemoth cannot: community.

Kauf2Every employee, without fail, says hello, even shares a thought or remark that invites conversation.

The aisles are narrow, yet we all seem to be able to find what we seek and, as if by tacit, unspoken agreement, move thoughtfully, so there never seems to be jostling or haste. Shoppers go to the larger store, if they’re looking for those things.

Customers wait patiently in the single check-out line, actually talking to each other, as the cashier assists the pensioner who moves quite slowly, and then forgets to retrieve his cane.

A young man leaves his place in front of me to run after him with it.

I watch their silent exchange outside through the window behind the cashier, who has also stopped to watch, along with the mother and toddler who are next in line.

Nobody seems to mind that this incident has brought everything to a halt.2501c71da8c20a0d6985117771781830

The old man’s face first looks startled, then lights like a sun. For an instant, it’s a boy’s face again.

The young man looks modest, then happy.

They part with a wave.

Seconds later, he reappears inside the store just as I’m arriving at the cashier. He shows no sign of expecting anything other than heading to the end of the line.

I have so little German – mainly a smile, and enough words to thank him, and tell him that his place in line has waited for him, right here, as I point in front of me.

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Photo: David Campbell / http://gbctours.com

His face is a precise reflection of that sun in the old man’s.

My heart feels as though all time, and all happiness, are here with us in the perfect oneness of this moment. There is enough light in us never to leave anyone in the dark, nor cold or hungry, or lonely or forgotten.

What a bonus comes home with my shopping bags – the very Spirit of the Christkind, the Christ Child.

It didn’t cost me a thing. Yet how much poorer I’d feel without it.


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The heart’s kind road to peace

A Flock of Geese, Laindon Common, Billericay 50

Photo: Kathy Gilman

Our spiritual nature has a value system that places priceless relationships above any object or hoped-for outcome.

But our human nature, if left in charge of our lives without divine illumination, cannot do this. Left to its own devices, it will focus only on its own survival.

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Photo: David Campbell

The sign that we’re in a situation that requires a shift from the eyes of our human nature to the vision of our spiritual one is when we find ourselves focusing on the imperfections of others to such an extent that we experience an increasing intensity of negative emotions that, in turn, causes deterioration in personal relationships.

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

The only escape from this vicious cycle is to change what we see and elevate our perception and begin looking at others with the imperfection-covering eye of the spiritual nature.

The spiritual nature doesn’t dwell on perceived imperfections but instead seeks the missing spiritual attributes that the situation is calling for and creates an act of service designed to release those latent virtues. They exist within the heart of every one of us.

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

When that happens, the destructive negative emotions and imperfections begin to dissipate. They are, after all, merely perceptions and `decisions’ of the mind or human nature, and the resulting emotion is the energy of those thoughts in motion.

However, in the survival-motivated blind imitation that is the lower nature’s customary behaviour, our mind and emotions can liken the current experience to one that has registered as negative in the past. In order to truly investigate the reality of the matter, we need the spiritual nature and its vision to come into the driver’s seat, to interrupt this reflexive imitating of what happened — or what we perceive to have happened — in the past. If we are unwilling to do this, we will remain prisoners of that past, and of what, in essence, is actually an imagined past, the perspective of the mind alone.WTOEimage.php

A sign that we’re progressing away from imitation towards investigation is that we will feel negative emotions being replaced by positive ones. There will be a noticeable improvement both in the way we ourselves feel and within the tone of the relationship.

Excerpted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality? from George Ronald Publisher.

Find more about the book at:

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=asap_B00IS9LEZA_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416933494&sr=1-3h


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Eternal life begins with what lasts forever

Some thoughts in darkening hours, and a dawning Season of Light:

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Photo: Oliver Schratz

Nothing that exists remains in a state of repose. Everything is either growing or declining.

Benevolent Forces are in evidence, as we are invited away from “fighting evil” toward our human family’s next exciting stage: creative, collaborative, and limitless building of the good.

We are here to mirror to each other the attributes of our Creator.

Every attribute and faculty we possess, known and unknown, comes into balance as we strive to align the acts of giving and receiving.

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Photo: David Campbell / http://gbctours.com

Eternal life begins when we honor what lasts forever.

The gift of this age, bestowed on all humanity, is the right each one of us has to investigate reality independently, and to learn to see with the eye of oneness.

The natural outcome of that is to express willing, joyful acts of service — our personal and collective pathway for building the good.

These should be more than enough points of focus to free my heart from the weight of a world’s unreal illusions this week.

Here’s hoping.

Learn more about these possibilities in With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?

Find more about the book at:

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=asap_B00IS9LEZA_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416933494&sr=1-3h


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When giving is receiving

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Painting: “Wings of Freedom”
from Diane Kirkup / D. Kirkup Designs.

One year as the December holiday season approached, life gave me a precious experience in giving. One of the very last things I’d bought for my father the previous year was a Christmas tree. He’d been struggling to make peace with entering assisted-living care as he also entered the final months of his life. I was feverishly trying to create Christmas around him – in fast-forward — while my heart seemed to be simultaneously breaking in half.

My daughter helped me find an artificial tree, the very last one the store had, with twinkling tiny lights already attached. After my father died the following June, that tree and the box it came in got stockpiled, along with many other things I wasn’t ready to face quite yet. Finally, as the next Christmas neared, I knew it was time to pack it up, along with other things I needed to bring to the thrift shop. But it was very, very hard to think about taking it there.

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CHRISTMAS TREES GIVEAWAY – Win these sweet trees from designer D. Kirkup Designs.
Through Dec. 14, 2014 – email info@phyllisring.com with the word “Trees” in the subject line to be entered in a drawing to win these and a Kindle copy of Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details, where this story first appeared. See more of this artist’s lovely work at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/dkirkupdesigns

The following day, I drove a car packed to the gunwales to the local secondhand thrift store, feeling the weight of the grief and sadness that had been stirred by sorting through so many of my father’s things.

Then as I was unpacking the tree from my car, they magically appeared — a kind-faced young man with his little girl clutching his hand. They came up to me tentatively and asked very politely whether, if I planned to leave the tree there anyway, it might be OK for them to take it.

I hugged them both spontaneously then said that, of COURSE, I knew that it would delight my father if they were to have it, and I hoped that they were going to have an absolutely wonderful Christmas. The best they’d ever had.

Then I noticed the woman who was with them, standing off to the side. I was thinking that they all must think me crazy when she gave me a warm smile and thanked me, and then the other two, still a bit stunned by my response, began thanking me, as well. Her smile reminded me of my mother’s, I have to say.

In a little book called “The Hidden Words,” Baha’u’llah says of divine design, “To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine.”

What a gift it is to us when life allows our giving to be the precise answer to someone’s need.

From Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details

Through Dec. 14, 2014 – Enter to win the trees pictured above and a signed copy of the book by sending an email to info@phyllisring.com with “Trees” in the subject line.

See more of Diane Kirkup’s work at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/dkirkupdesigns


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The state of mind that approaches prayer

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Photo: Kathy Gilman

Gleanings found here and there:

The important thing is to work in a state of mind that approaches prayer.

~ Henri Matisse

It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.

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Photo: Saffron Moser

~ Wendell Berry

The practice above all practices is to relinquish the immature desire to be taken care of (by our parents, spouse, government, guru, church, etc.), and to parent our own originality. To give ourselves the support that we may never have received.

To get behind the creation of one’s life is to recognize your influence in ‘the way things are,’ and nurture your vision with protective discipline until it is strong enough to serve in the world on its own.

~ Toko-pa

Wertskyline10628299_827947707229100_5000927020300862535_nWe must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for in our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.

~ Hermann Hesse

The mind asks, the heart is the answerer.

~ Elizabeth Peru


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We are the path to a kind world

 

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Winter beauty in a seasonal giveaway through Dec. 12:

sweet trees from New Hampshire designer Diane Kirkup.*

To enter, send an email with “Trees” in the subject line to:

info@phyllisring.com

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Photo: David Campbell / http://gbctours.com

As Winter overtakes my days, I love hearing from readers of Snow Fence Road, a tale with its share of wintry scenes and weather. Two years ago this week, after what can only be described as a rather insistent, invisible “nudge”, I tried my luck with Black Lyon Publishing, and have been thankful ever since.

I appreciate every kind reader’s response about the book, and a reviewer’s words about its story continue to strike a chord:

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Photo: Saffron Moser

“One of the things I also enjoyed was that this took place in a kind world, with supportive and loving folks, despite their past difficulties, even with each other.”

This is the reason that I write –  from the belief that this is the world that all of our hearts want – and that all of our hearts are capable of helping to bring it into being. Our minds can be reinforced in a thousand ways to believe that this is unrealistic and impossible. But our hearts know so very much better. What helps them to act on what they know? 

Our experience of life in these times can feel harsh and cold and unyieding. Those are the times when our hearts can feel stricken, fearful, confounded.

But like the sun, even in winter, there is always, each day, that waiting possibility of “radiating light throughout the world and illuminating your own darknesses” so that “your virtue becomes a sanctuary for yourself and all beings.” 41i8C3ayyVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-72,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Lao Tzu’s words, shared such a long time ago, capture the timeless essence conveyed in what we remember in every new Season of Light: the light does, indeed, shine forth most brightly, unmistakably, in darkness.

* Find more of Diane Kirkup’s lovely work at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DKirkupDesigns

Find more about Snow Fence Road at: http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Fence-Road-Phyllis-Edgerly-ebook/dp/B00DDVB106/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-2&qid=1372083362


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Making room – for Life

MDB105028-zuganzeige_4zu1_704x176Three years ago this week, I had a long day of train travel ahead of me from the southern edge of Germany to the northern one.

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Photo: David Campbell / http://gbctours.com

The night before – the entire day before – I’d been riddled with anxiety. I had four train connections to make, and my mind was unhelpfully cataloging every single thing that could possibly go wrong.

This kind of turmoil eventually arises every time I travel alone for extended periods of time, and always for the same reason. After the dreamy honeymoon of my first few days, just the fact that I’m on my own in a place that’s out of my element triggers an inner myth that’s as unkind as it is false: I need to find some way to be in control, in order to be safe.

Since, deep down at the heart of truth, I recognize that I’m never going to be able to do that, this leads inevitably to a separated sense of aloneness that feels eternity-sized. I also know it’s an experience that’s universal, not one of us escapes it. Surely, this is what any addictive tendency seeks to squelch and suppress – anything but have to face it.Tollebooks

Reading a wonderful manuscript from a writer friend reminds me of the power question I’ll have ready next time this happens: “Is control something I ultimately even WANT?”

The night before that trip, I finally stumbled on some steadying words from Eckhart Tolle:

Your life situation may be full of problems — most life situations are — but find out if you have any problem at this moment. Not tomorrow or in ten minutes, but now. Do you have a problem now?

“When you are full of problems, there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution. So whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath your life situation.”Lenggriesexterior-view

In that cozy Bavarian hotel room, I hadn’t a problem worth noting, other than my monkey mind. It was the eve of a holiday in Germany called St. Niklaus Tag, Dec. 6, and every aspect of the setting in which I found myself was idyllic, supportive, friendly and inviting. Yet I was depriving myself of the experience with every anxious moment.

So, relaxing into Tolle’s invitation, I remembered the spirit of this holiday, one of the first I experienced in my childhood, filled with warm, lovely memories.

Suddenly the thought popped up, as brightly and boldly as a child’s would: “I wonder whether, if I put my boots outside the door, they’ll be filled for St. Niklaus Tag?” It seemed silly, and it made me happy, and for the rest of the night, I enjoyed my hours and had a restful sleep.Weihnsort4013900850022-gdcom

The next morning, when I opened the door of my hotel room to wheel my luggage out and head for that first train, there in the middle of the floor outside was a red gift bag festooned with stars. Inside were a variety of seasonal treats, including a tall chocolate “Christmas Man”, an orange, apple, tiny ginger star cookies with icing, and 2 each in the shell of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.

Exactly the contents that might fill a child’s shoes on St. Niklaus Tag.

I was so stunned, I wondered whether I’d only dreamed waking up and bundling myself out that door.

Surely they did this for all the guests? (There was a conference-worth of them staying.) But the bag outside my door was the only one I saw waiting in that hallway.

zimtsterneWhen I asked the woman at the desk about it as she checked me out, Bavarian-friendly but completely non-committal, she told me, “Oh, aren’t there always all kinds of nice surprises that can happen in a day? Have a good trip.”

As I munched my treats from south-to-north, I had so much fun watching the scenery, visiting with fellow travelers, and enjoying the journey, I forgot to worry about anything at all.

“ …make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath your life situation.” So that you can LIVE it.

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