Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details

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The ways encouragement “gives heart”

Happy to share some thoughts this week

in a Guest Post at

Women of Spirit and Faith’s The Divine Feminine:

To “encourage” each other, meaning literally “to give heart”, is one of the most timelessly beautiful gifts we can share.

Perhaps the very scarcity of encouragement in daily life is what has so many feeling weary, fearful, and uninspired. 


Read the post at:

Sharing the heart-swelling gift of encouragement.


Receiving the gifts that await within


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


For the first time, the realization of human oneness is within our grasp. And each of us is invited to discover our unique, true identity as a soul, as well as our unique purpose, and our unique way of solving problems.

How does coming to understand who it is we are created to be change the way we see ourselves, each other, and our world?

Perhaps this understanding welcomes in a new way of thinking that evolves out of love and attraction toward the latent spiritual gifts in myself and others that are waiting to be revealed. Do I remember that I can always choose this love and attraction over the kind of near-instinctual reactions that arise from a fear that’s rooted in preoccupation with physical survival?

That crippling fear has kept humanity, human thinking, and our greatest possibilities entrapped for eons. I might have the chance to begin living in an eternal kind of way, however, as I welcome and apply what lasts forever – those gifts waiting within, like gems in a mine.

WTOEimage.phpOnly our spiritual nature can look beyond outward appearances, first impressions, and personality flaws to see all the virtues of the world of humanity latent within ourselves and each other, I remind myself. It’s this core part of my self that has the capacity to perceive honor and nobility in every human being, including the one who looks back from the mirror each day.

Adapted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past, When We Can Investigate Reality?


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Delivered from a darkened world

Some waftings of inspiration I’m pondering this week, to see how they relate to and inform each other:


Photo: Lara Kearns

“When I speak of health, I refer to spiritual health.

The health of the body is impermanent.

But spiritual health passeth not away;

it is attained when the spirit of man is delivered from

the conditions of the darkened world, and becomes

enveloped and permeated by divine qualities.”

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Throne of the Inner Temple, p. 20


What is my personal relationship to and perception of spiritual health?

What are the elements of eternal life (divine attributes) by which I am willing / desire to be enveloped and permeated?



Photo: Lara Kearns

And how do each of these relate to the following concept?

“The world civilization now on humanity’s horizon must achieve a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life.”

~ The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message 2010


If spiritual well-being is the lasting, permanent reality, how does material life serve it?


The remedy still resides in us


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

My thanks to BoomerCafe for including a piece of mine this week:

Thirteen years ago, my father and I were reminiscing about his years in Civil Defense after a 22-year Army career, my mother’s experience during the London Blitz in World War II, and the incredible good that terrible times can uncover in people.

Then, as we were passing through Atlanta on I-75, we spied an electronic highway message board that read: “National Emergency — All Airports Closed.” As the car radio revealed a cascade of events too large to grasp, I experienced a feeling of smallness and vulnerability unlike any I remember as all my illusions of safety came down at once, like those two destroyed skyscrapers.

Four days later, after a Category 3 hurricane had made landfall near my dad’s Florida home and I’d truly begun to wonder whether the world was coming to an end, I took my place in a blocks-long line at Tampa’s International Airport. I was praying this might be the day I’d finally be able to get home to New Hampshire, on one of the very first flights in the country after eerily quiet days of empty skies.


Photo courtesy Jen Verhelle

Every single child I saw that day looked scared. Most of the younger ones clutched their backpacks like stuffed animals, if they didn’t happen to be holding those, too. Their parents looked grim, if not equally frightened.

One boy of about 9, who, with his parents and younger brother was waiting to board the same plane I was, seemed unable to contain his terror. His plaintive sounds were agonizing, perhaps because so many of us also had them muffled way down deep. His parents, exhausted after days of canceled flights — a trip to Disney World that had become a nightmare from which they couldn’t seem to awaken — were doing their best to calm him, with no effect.

Gradually, others stepped forward to try, including airline employees. Obviously a polite child, he would hear them out, but then his sobs and agitation returned. He was convinced that if he got on that airplane, on any airplane, he was going to die.

Read the rest at: http://www.boomercafe.com/2014/09/11/remembering-9-11-importance-family



Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details: 



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Become subtle enough


Photos: David Campbell / http://GBCTours.com

Become subtle enough
To hear a tree breathe.

Succumb to warmth in the heart
Where divine fire glows.

~ John O’Donohue

It [the struggle with evil] makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail.

~ Helen Keller


Photos: David Campbell / http://GBCTours.com

When you live at the periphery of your being, your thoughts are often scattered, pulling you in different directions, and draining your energy. Too much mental activity leads to overload and, oftentimes, burnout.

When you take the time to ‘go within’ each day, by breathing deeply and fully, feeling the ‘space’ inside yourself, and witnessing your thoughts and emotions without judgment, you return to a very natural, deep sense of aliveness, which is actually your true nature; then your thoughts naturally slow down, and simultaneously gain more power and cohesiveness.

Think of the small, choppy waves that dance across the surface of the ocean; these represent your scattered thoughts. Then visualize the huge waves that rise up from underneath, much like the giants the pro surfers ride. Note the difference in power.

~ Jaime Tanna


The divine art of living


Photo courtesy Thomas Tufts


Sixty years ago today, during a brief 24-hour lull between two hurricanes, my mother-in-law delivered her first child at the hospital of the Kittery Naval (not to be confused with navel) Shipyard in Maine. (I’d make my own appearance in the world at another Navy hospital in Queens, NY, 15 months later.

The photo to the right, taken on the roof of my husband’s childhood home (one of them, anyway) embodies his spirit, for me. Second from the right, he’s facing the photographer almost completely, in a stance that suggests balance, and ease. I seldom write about him — go out of my way to avoid it, more likely, as a means of respecting both sanctity and privacy.

photo-1But on this day that marks six decades of life for him, I’ll go out on a limb (or a peak) and suggest that while he may not always feel balance and ease within himself, (and who of us does?) I can say with certainty that it is his heart’s desire for everyone else.

On one of many journal-writing days, he captured (photo left) some of the feel of that as he contemplated words of writer Anne Lamott’s about being part of the tapestry of life and of relationships and the pathway by which souls learn and grow and evolve.

It reminded me of this: “Heirloom is a compound word, with its roots in heredity + looming. Weaving, writing and painting our stories into the things we create is a way of feeding the Holy in Nature, which has kept us fed and alive. And as we put all of our lostness and longing into the beauty we make, we do so knowing that we may never hope for more than to pass on these heirlooms to the young ones so they may find their way home across the songlines, as we have been found by those who made beautiful things before us. If even one generation is denied their inheritance, the story and the way home may be lost. As it is said in West Africa, ‘When an elder dies, a library burns to the ground.’” ~ Toko-paWertturm1913314_10152219867207641_1323240910_o

After nearly six decades of my own life, I’m finding more and more each day that the most pervading art form and inheritance we leave in the world may be summed up in the following questions, for which I thank author Ronnie Tomanio — and my husband, for years of willingness to live them together:

At this moment in time, what is the act of service that I am capable of giving that will build up the good in in this relationship?

At this moment in time, what is the act of service that I am capable of receiving that will build up the good in this relationship?
The title of this post is borrowed from that of a wonderful compilation of guidance and reflection about the living of our one wild, precious, sacred gift of a life. Find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Divine-Art-Living-Selections/dp/1931847185/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409243358&sr=8-1&keywords=divine+art+of+living

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Learning to fly, again


All Photos: David Campbell

I was discussing the ebb and flow of life with a friend recently. Naturally, a topic like that led to thoughts about the weight of the world’s pain, and the often contrasting lightness of the things a soul feels called, attracted, toward.

The conversation turned up the possibility that sometimes our doing what we do is a kind of imitation of our own past, a habitual need or effort to control what goes on around us to eliminate surprises or feelings of powerlessness. But that doesn’t relieve pain.

At times like these, I’m reminded of a phrase from a prayer I’ve been saying daily. It’s a kind of acknowledgement that I — and others — can feel like a bird struggling to fly again:

” … grant that this broken-winged bird attain a refuge and shelter in Thy divine nest that abideth upon the celestial tree“.

DCdove427315_10150775762841802_1281660509_nMy friend wondered whether our part, in relation to what this passage points to, is a matter of following our heart, and keeping that heart connected to what is its Source. A bird, we recognized, flies in accord with the forces that make its flight possible, in spite of what may pose obstacles or threaten to impede that.

When in such a heart-open, flight-focused mode, my companion noted, “I understand that what we do is like a river. It flows and moves, it changes its course according to conditions … I have to flow with it — and I never arrive.

She cited a passage she especially loves:

I am the royal Falcon, on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird, and start it on its flight.”

“I realize,” she said, “that the unfolding of the wings of this broken bird is from moment to moment. There is not some moment in the past when I was broken, and my wings were unfolded, and that was it. No, moment by moment by moment, my wings are unfolded and I am started on my flight.”

DCGanse996728_10151804325191802_146979027_nThat unfolding, she suggested, brings with it a changing of our perception, an inner knowing that helps us remember that we are never stuck, earthbound, if we don’t choose to be.

A willingness to have our wings “unfolded”, to listen and hear with our heart, seems to awaken and increase our capacity to respond, and to respond differently.

To fly free, again.


Cited passages from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.


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