Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Love’s lonely offices

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Photo courtesy Eric Olson

 

My thanks to lover of art and beauty Inger Gregory for reconnecting me with the following gem of poet Robert Hayden’s.

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

 

When I was much younger, those words, “What did I know, what did I know …” stopped me in my tracks; humbled me, the first time I heard them. Today, they become a question to take into each day, and even make present-tense.

 

Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden
Sundays too my father got up early 
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, 
then with cracked hands that ached 
from labor in the weekday weather made 
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. 
When the rooms were warm, he’d call, 
and slowly I would rise and dress, 
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

Speaking indifferently to him, 
who had driven out the cold 
and polished my good shoes as well. 
What did I know, what did I know 
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Poem courtesy of http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/those-winter-sundays


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The eternal circle of the beauty we love

Acer

Photo: Kevin Lane

Young friends described the rapid, often overnight changes appearing in the garden they have tended so carefully. Not long ago, there was limitless, burgeoning life in summer’s relentless sun and heat and rainfall.

Then, like a puff of breath on a dandelion gone to seed, it is spent and gone; fading away, or into decay.

In New England especially, these changes arrive as abruptly as the night chill that turns the leaves from green to scarlet and gold.

“Stay at the center of the circle, and let all things take their course,” urges the Tao Te Ching.

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

Out at the sharp edges of the periphery, our very human selves can feel small and overcome, overwhelmed, in the inevitable enormity of change. The mind, confounded, struggles for purchase it can’t find.

It’s then that a way is opened through which feelings, those unexpected guests left waiting so long in a side room, can emerge. Autumn, in particular, with its cycles of death and harvest, seems well-suited for inviting forth the grief and pain that so much effort has tried so long to avoid, or contain.Those seeds of unclaimed treasure found only in a heart broken open.

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Photo: Kevin Lane

The center of the circle, that trustworthy core, can hold these, and us, as it holds all, and remind of what Rumi saw with such kind wisdom:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and scared. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do. 
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the earth.

What is the beauty we love? What are those hundreds of ways?


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Building the good

Painted Desert

“Painted Desert” by Judy Hughey Wright

Dwelling on imperfections, berating myself or others for them, saps time, energy, and attention (those resources over which I have choice). It offers them to what is counterproductive, even destructive — when I have been invited, instead, toward the building of the good.

“Their whole energy is directed towards the building of the good, a good which has such a positive strength that in the face of it the multitude of evils – which are in essence negative – will fade away and be no more.”  ~ From a letter from the Universal House of Justice, 1974

The same letter noted, “… demolishing one by one the evils in the world is a vain waste of time and effort.” When asked about evil, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá offered this definition: Evil is imperfection.

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“Pueblo” by Judy Hughey Wright

When I choose to participate in the building of the good, I become aware of how much preoccupation with negativity can surround our lives, fill our thoughts, and absorb our personal resources. I can also come to see how this is the debilitating presence of blind imitation of the past, including the kind of thinking that was born in earlier, fearful experiences and has led to attitudes, behaviors, assumptions, and beliefs that have no basis in reality — nor, indeed, anywhere near it.

My encounter with the contrast of imperfection can urge me toward accepting that there is much I don’t know, or can’t change, yet I can always discover the limitless possibilities of love in that more-productive kind of response that I’ve been created and equipped to make.

WTOEimage.phpRather than exercising my survival-driven instinctual reaction to fight imperfection, or try to escape it, there’s a response better-aligned with the purpose for which I’ve been created. It will contribute toward building what “has such a positive strength that in the face of it the multitude of evils – which are in essence negative – will fade away and be no more”. 

I open, today, to the possibilities of that response.

 

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

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410352058&sr=8-1&keywords=with+thine+own+eyes


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Harvests of the heart

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

Autumn is that time when so many endings seem to arrive at once, as the summer skies in which our dreams have soared in days of endless light grow overcast, like the darker mornings that are pointing us toward winter.

The intensity of contrast can be shocking when it appears. It reminds us of all that we do not yet know, and of the freedom in embracing that.

greens1374978_233813396773683_648730168_nEvery autumn, a part of me feels sad, as well as reminded, and also — like those spiked hulls from which such bright shiny chestnuts emerge — freshly broken open, once again.

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable,” urges poet Mary Oliver.

Theologian Paul Tillich reminds,“The first duty of love is to listen.”

colortip1383238_233814043440285_366268116_n“ … if you are willing to let your heart break completely open, with no internal narrative controlling the opening, you will discover the pure, innocent love that is alive in the core of every emotion, every feeling, everybody,” writes Gangaji. “It remains pure and spacious regardless of change or loss.”

Once this happens, then perhaps we are equipped at last for what these words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s invite:

rotetry1379621_233814693440220_853513411_n“Make ready thy soul that thou mayest be like the light which shineth forth from the loftiest heights on the coast, by means of which guidance may be given to the timid ships amid the darkness of fog …”

Including those often-timid ships of our own small selves.

Leaf photos courtesy of photographer Nelson Ashberger.


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Time for a new story

 Gleanings found here and there:

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

The Earth and your own soul require you to live magnificently and fiercely; it is time for a new story.

~ Mary Reynolds Thompson, author, Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness

In the morning when you wake up, reflect on the day ahead and aspire to use it to keep a wide-open heart and mind. At the end of the day, before going to sleep, think over what you’ve done. If you fulfilled your aspiration, even once, rejoice in that. If you went against your aspiration, rejoice that you are able to see what you did and are no longer living in ignorance. This way you will be inspired to go forward with increasing clarity, confidence, and compassion.  ~ Pema Chödrön

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Seneca Grandmother Twylah Nitsch

One of the first things Seneca children learned was that they might create their own world, their own environment, by visualizing actions and desires in prayer. The Senecas believed that everything that made life important came from within. Prayer assisted in developing a guideline toward discipline and self control.  ~ Twylah Nitsch, Seneca

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.  ~ Thomas Merton

Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.

 ~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching


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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.


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Receiving the gifts that await within

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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?

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410352058&sr=8-1&keywords=with+thine+own+eyes

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