Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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You CAN go home

 My thanks to writer Tracey Edgerly Meloni for this glorious journey of a Guest Post. Photo thanks to David Campbell of GBC Tours. While the shots may not be Bordeaux, I think they embody the atmospheric rightness, just the same.

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

You Can Go Home Again

by Tracey Edgerly Meloni

I am driven to return to the far-flung places where I lived so briefly, first as an Army brat and then as a Navy wife. Going back to childhood homes has become a quest, to see if the things I “remember” are my own memories, or if I’ve just heard my parents tell stories so often that I believe I remember them.

Even when dealing with my adult memories, I’ve learned that nothing ever stays the same.  Barbers Point, in Hawaii, felt obscenely festive in the late ‘60s when I waited there alone during Vietnam. It took returning to realize that we “Wanda Warbrides” were working hard to maintain morale. The quarters at Riverview Village in Indian Head, Maryland, where my husband practiced not blowing himself up in EOD training, had vanished like Atlantis when I re-visited.

So I was anxious about going back to Bordeaux, where I began school when my Dad was assigned to the 529th Transportation Depot. I already knew that my childhood home outside Pessac was long gone, and that any American military presence had disappeared from French soil years before – what did I really hope to find?

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

We sailed up the Garonne River, past some of France’s most celebrated Chateaux and vineyards. I squinted at the glorious passing scene, searching for puzzle pieces to trigger memory. Suddenly we were there, gliding up to dock directly in front of the Place de la Bourse and the wonderful 18th century limestone buildings lining the Quai. Our shipboard verandah looked right up the narrow pedestrian Rue Saint Remi, where long ago my parents shared a peculiar little bird for dinner while I munched happily on bread and cheese.

I need not have worried. The memories of a six-year-old are carved in bedrock, and they flooded back as the landscape around me unfolded.

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

From there it was a short mental hop to the school, where all students were divided into two rooms, with only four teachers. I was the sole first grader. The harassed lower-grade teacher looked at me sternly and demanded, “Can you read?” I nodded solemnly. “Good,” she said, “you’re in second grade.” Thus my very first school challenge became fathoming the making of change using American coin references – nickel, dime, penny, quarter – while all we had to practice with was “pretend” Scrip. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we had franks and beans for lunch. Tuesdays and Thursdays featured Franco American spaghetti, all washed down by “vin ordinaire” diluted with fizzy water brought along by French children invited to join us.

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Chateau Grand Barrail

I remembered that Bordeaux was my introduction to a less than perfect world. There were mice living in the mattresses at “Tu et You,” the whimsical name applied to our odd little gatehouse by the Frenchwoman and her American officer husband who lived there before us.   Huguetta-the-maid scraped snails off the walls of the well and crushed them under her heel to eat. And, alas, that well was foolishly located downhill from our dubious cesspool, leading to repeated bouts of dysentery for all of us.

Bordeaux also was my introduction to an exciting world. My mother insisted that we learn to speak the language wherever we were, and I learned terrible gutter French from orphaned children I befriended along the waterfront. I used it to order wonderful marzipan candies shaped like vegetables in the marketplace. With my mother, I would order meat from the butcher with the horse’s head over the door, not realizing until years later what it was. And I spent what seemed like hours debating which pastries to select at our favorite patisserie.

On my recent return, I let the memories rule. I erased the hideous architectural monstrosities growing up among Bordeaux’ gracious historic buildings and concentrated on the soaring spire of St. Michel’s church. I stayed away from horsemeat and had lunch in Chateau Grand Barrail, a highly acclaimed hotel once built to house the mistress of a nobleman. And I went back to the site of the Officer’s Club where Christmas dinner was served to everyone in those divided mess trays, with gravy on your pie.

tracey_edgerly_meloniWhat did I hope to find? Just my memories, but I got much more. I got reacquainted with my early self, made sturdy by my Brats experience.

Not only can you go “home” again – you really should.

Writer Tracey Edgerly Meloni won first prize in Ingenue Magazine’s short-story contest when she was 14 and just kept on writing. Her most recent award is a first place in feature writing from the Virginia Press Association. Formerly press secretary to three California Congressmen and Virginia’s senior Senator, she contributes regularly to several magazines, writing about food, health, the arts, and travel.

 


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Snow Fence giveaway

A reminder that Clean Romance Reviews is offering a giveaway bundle for Snow Fence Road this week (chocolate, too, weather permitting. :) ) Learn more about it in the caption for one of the prizes, pictured below.

And more very welcome words I’m grateful to share:

When a reader and reviewer understands a writer’s deepest intentions for a work, it’s a big gift.

My deepest thanks to Goodreads reviewer Stella for such response:goodreadsh

Stella‘s review
bookshelves: 5-stars, contemporary, favorites, good-message, small-town-romance, standalones, 2014-04

Read in April, 2014
Ms. Phyllis E. Ring I saw what you did there, and I loved it! ;-)

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Enter to win these vintage-design Swarovski-crystal earrings from NH artist Diane Kirkup and a book/gifts bundle at http://www.cleanromancereviews.com/2014/08/giveaway-snow-fenced-road-and-purple.html. Contest ends Aug. 27.

This story is so good but so good I call it DE-TOX. It reminds me of SWEET GUM TREE, another super cute and heartwarming story. If you’re looking forward to a break from those insta-love/insta-lust bilateral MC’s so common in our favorite ‘modern’ stories – this is YOUR BOOK. I fell in love with all characters Main and Secondary. The writing style is involving, captivating… poetic. I missed reading a story where I would wait a hundred pages for a mere brush of lips between the MC. And I don’t say it in a bad way. Everything in this story is so well-balanced and well-paced that things happen WHEN they are supposed to. Read it in one sit. DEFINITELY RECOMMEND IT. 41i8C3ayyVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-72,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Snow Fence Road

A village on the coast of Maine holds painful secrets – the kind only the miracle of new love can heal.

More about the book at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DDVB106/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00DDVB106&linkCode=as2&tag=leaofthetre-20″>Snow Fence Road<


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The journey from mind to heart

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“Colorado Moon” by Judy Hughey Wright

 

Perhaps the most subtle and most difficult transition for us to make is to move from the use and understanding of human traits by the human nature to the employing of divine qualities by our spiritual nature. This has been described as the longest journey — from the mind to the heart.

The human nature, using the limited vision of the rational mind, doesn’t have the capacity to perceive divinity and easily makes the mistake of believing that we, ourselves, are the source of such spiritually motivated actions as generosity, mercy and justice. This misconception leads inevitably to arrogance, the hallmark of the ego, and we cannot approach God with what is essentially the exact opposite of the attribute that is required for this — humility.

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“Bright Spot” by Judy Hughey Wright

In his book Love, Power and Justice author William Hatcher notes that “we are the only creatures of God who have the capacity to be aware of our dependency on God”.

It is the spiritual nature that possesses the capacity to recognize that the amazing virtues of love, mercy, kindness originate with God and that we are privileged to use these infinite attributes that God has placed within us in infinite combinations to enhance our lives. We can remember now, when someone thanks us for being kind or merciful, to acknowledge in our heart the divine source of kindness or mercy. In this way we can grow in humility,  and carry in our awareness the source of these qualities and thus draw closer to that source.

The animal and human nature each ask the same question in all our interactions with the world: “Do I eat it or does it eat me?” The human nature wears better clothes and couches the same question in more sophisticated language, such as, “Do I win or do you win?” or “Who controls who in this relationship?”

WTOEimage.phpThe spiritual nature always asks the same question, no matter in what world it happens to reside: “What do I need to do to ‘approach the Divine’?” Or perhaps more specifically: “What act of service do I need to give or receive in order to ‘approach the Divine’?”

 

Excerpted 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=la_B00IS9LEZA_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404764134&sr=1-4

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Following the way to wholeness

Eva_Braun_by_PrinzessinHeinrikeSix years ago today, I experienced an unexpected eruption in my world. I then returned home to discover that a bid I’d made on eBay had won a portrait of an individual whose story I’d wind up following in these subsequent years.

I’d been writing for about a quarter of a century and had no awareness of the very definite, very surprising path that day’s turn of events was launching. That new stage was about to reveal that, more than being what I do, writing itself is something that acts upon me, strengthening a sense of connection with my own wholeness, and with that of others.

My role — my responsibility — is to listen and watch for these revelations, rather than attempting to impose ideas or plans of my own on what unfolds as a story — or anything else.

Along the way, I’ve been thankful to discover that this is also a kinder and generally more effective approach to living, daily — as in one of them at a time. This has brought a very different relationship with time, one more fluid and expansive.

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“Glacier Falls” by Judy Hughey Wright.

Writers often notice how during generative times in their work, their experience of energy is a flow that can seem almost like dreaming — a soaring over great expanses until suddenly, we’re compelled to stop and rest wings whose strength trails off for a while.

Then a cycle of recharging, refilling, becomes needful. We encounter that juncture of the energetic difference between being inspired to do, until we reach a point of having, and then remembering, often through a kind of fatigue, that within this cycle we need to be “re-sourced” from what it is that reinforces our being.

Writer Penney Peirce offers a helpful model of this inner cycle in her book, The Intuitive Way. She describes how, moving from a centered place of being, and receiving what comes to meet us there, we are inspired toward doing, and this takes shape in action that eventually leads to achieving or having. We may then begin to notice a fading, a weakening of the wings, so to speak, that is the reminder that it’s time to do what our very cells know they must: rest, recharge, and be restored again to a state of being that’s ready for the next cycle. Ready to receive. Cells do not restore themselves after they expend their energy, but are restored by something beyond themselves. Cells seem to know innately the wisdom of returning to their fullest being through the “re-sourcing” of what truly sustains them.

Intuive WaySo often today, the world and its suggestions can make it very easy to get caught in just one segment of this cycle Penney Peirce describes – stuck on a repeating, depleting loop of constantly attempting to do and have. In fact, collective consciousness (which, so often, actually seems more UNconscious)  offers more reinforcement to do this than to comply with the requirements of that cycle of inner wisdom.

However, waiting for me each and every day is a choice point:

I can accommodate the demands and insistence of the world.

Or I can turn toward the more trustworthy and sustaining one — a world without end, referenced so long ago, by Ones who saw it, and invite us toward it.

The fact that writing and creative exploration are so inextricably woven with it — are, in fact, the very path to it — is one of the sweetest graces I’ve yet discovered.

 


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Giveaway, with Gratitude

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Thanks so much to Jennifer at Clean Romance Reviews for hosting a book/gift bundle giveaway for Snow Fence Road that continues through Aug. 27. (Details with photo, below.)

And my big thanks to Nicole of Ariesgirl Book Reviews for her very thoughtful words about the book:

Snow Fence Road is a short, sweet and power-packing book. Readers will be riding an emotional rollercoaster, while turning each page as they try to figure out each twist and turn. One thing that the author focuses on is that tragedy, while devastating, could lead towards unanticipated opportunities.

Your can see the entire Aug. 10 review, and more of Nicole’s thoughts on books, at: http://ariesgrlreview.com.

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Enter to win these vintage-design Swarovski-crystal earrings from NH artist Diane Kirkup and a book/gifts bundle at http://www.cleanromancereviews.com/2014/08/giveaway-snow-fenced-road-and-purple.html. Contest ends Aug. 27.

Snow Fence Road

A village on the coast of Maine holds painful secrets – the kind only the miracle of new love can heal.

More about the book at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DDVB106/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00DDVB106&linkCode=as2&tag=leaofthetre-20″>Snow Fence Road<


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Eulogy for a tree of Life

 

"Green" by digital artist Lauren Chuslo -Shur

“Greens” by digital artist Lauren Chuslo-Shur

Last week, I spent time with the big, old, now-dead ash tree, a towering skeleton in our yard, its bark sloughing off in sheets.

If ever there was a physical metaphor for vanquished life, embodied sorrow, this was it.

Yet how deceiving appearances can be. There was so much more here.

Since it would be gone by the time we returned a few days later, I wanted to make my goodbyes, express my appreciation.

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

For all of those years of shade, all of the homes it has provided for so many living things. For how its leaves have nourished the soil, and for not once creating any damage to property, or others, despite the great number of intense storms it has endured; the weight of snow and ice it has borne.

Yes, my petty thoughts noted, it was difficult to grow tomatoes out there under all that shade.

But the blessings this relation of ours from the plant kingdom has showered are not only numerous but, more humbling, so often taken for granted, day by day.

In a way, as the stage of its death has played out over a span of time, it feels that there is sadness and grief, former burdens carried by hearts like mine, that this decades-long companion is bearing away with it when the workers and their equipment take it down and haul it away. Israel 139

Even its final act is service: heat for our neighbors in some future wintry days.

I read recently that the denizens of the natural world, the trees and their brothers, streams and their sisters, all expend their energy to offer up what benefits others, yet never make use of it themselves.

This reality is the most timeless of the gifts my Ash brother leaves behind him.

 

 

 


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A leaf in the wind

 

Most grateful today to share the words of Guest Writer Esther Bradley-DeTally:

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

Forgiveness

By Esther Bradley-DeTally

To everything but anguish the mind will soon adjust … ~ Roger White

 

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

After a great wound no feeling comes
A white hot pain settles upon you
You stand in the fire of agony shivering
“Forgive them Father, they know not what they do,”
is a whispered voice, wrapped in cumulus clouds,
Tributaries of feeling blocked, the heart a mere stump
Enough, enough, enough

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

The well-intentioned speak of forgiveness skippingly on the tongue
Turn the other cheek produces a yellow, curled up feeling within
You’ve turned the other cheek so much, you have whiplash, and
your chiropractor is upping his fees.

You are so done
Chumped out by the world
Sick of greed lurch on the planet
Numb to the scalding rhetoric of gossip,
absolute abandonment of your Lord’s teaching
on mercy, on love Thy neighbor,

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

Dormancy is a tickling feeling
You feel your dormancy and know despite
Not wanting to, you are coming to life
It’s a crucible this world, and you have
Gone through the white heat of change
Ignorance and love will not cohabit within
You cast away the purple bruise of resentment
Which led you to the heart of your journey.
Your crucible.

You will no longer resent
You will not forget
Never forget
But, you are a leaf in the wind
Of the Will of your Lord

And you will love again. E.-Bradley-DeTally-175x26211

Copyright © Esther Bradley-DeTally
Writer Esther Bradley-DeTally teaches writing and traveled from Moscow to Siberia, and to Ukraine, then returned with her husband to live in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and Minsk, Belarus. 

She is the author of Without a Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You Carry the Heavy Stuff.

Her blog can be found at: http://SorryGnat.wordpress.com .

 

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