Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details

The Munich Girl: http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448474864&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Munich+Girl

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The unexpected ways that love arrives

8b1eb59397011a81c3ee5df8596ef411My new novel, The Munich Girl, is about many things, including a secret friendship between two women, one of whom was Hitler’s mistress, and later wife, Eva Braun.

But it really about two realities that matter a great deal to my heart.

The first is the experience of reunion with and “coming home to” our truest self that we all must eventually encounter in our life. We each have our own timetable for this, but my opportunity to accompany many people toward the end of their lives has assured me that this is so.

The second, and particularly fascinating, for me, is the mysterious role that others play in that process, often in highly unexpected ways.

munichgirl_card_frontAs a child in Germany, and when I returned to visit as an adult, I heard little about the years of the Second World War — mostly just “thank God it’s behind us.”

Yet, similar to characters in the story, some of the kindest, most morally courageous Germans I knew were those who never wanted the war, or National Socialism, and found creative ways to outlast it and to help others as they did.

They found the way to endure, not lose heart, and keep faith and hope in times of enormous destruction and suffering.

And, they made meaningful choices wherever they could, mostly on behalf of others, more than themselves.

11072937_833787143357991_5837640068723456300_nI believe that the example in their lives applies more than ever in our world, and that we’ve barely tapped into the spiritual gifts and lessons they offer.

As Elizabeth Sims, novelist and contributing editor at Writer’s Digest noted in her kind comments about the novel:

Love can manifest itself in enigmatic—and unexpected—ways.”

This month, life unfolds a continuing series of wonders about how our human family is going forward together, whether or not war — and hatred — try to assert their presence in the world. I am humbled daily in my encounters here in Germany with those who are seeking a safe life for their children and themselves, and those who have open willing hearts to help them. There is so much learning (and laughter!) on both sides of this engagement and interaction. A new culture of learning together, one might even say. Wertroofs76971_374138912682406_791237199_n

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would write a novel with Hitler’s wife as one of its characters.

Never for a moment did I imagine that the book would come out into the world while I am in Germany. Certainly, I never planned for that.

And never could I have imagined that I would find the themes of that book’s story reflected back to me as the descendants of those who were once in flight for safety here themselves — plus a few who remember the actual experience from childhood — so willingly offer their hands and hearts to the many who are arriving here.

Find more about The Munich Girl: A Novel of The Legacies That Outlast War at:



Yes! Finally! The Munich Girl

The Munich Girl is now, at last — really — available to order at Amazon —
and at any bookstore or book-sales outlet where readers prefer to shop.
Thank you so much to the readers who have already journeyed through the story and are sending your feedback and response, and to those who are posting your reader reviews and telling others about the book. Author, Eric Mondschein, my special thanks for your review:
5.0 out of 5 starsThe Munich Girl is definitely a Keeper!, November 22, 2015
“The Munich Girl … both a mystery and a love story.  … a woman’s quest to discover why there was a portrait of Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler’s mistress, hanging on the wall in her family’s dining room and just what connection, if any, Braun had with her family.
The story introduces us to Eva Braun and the time just before and during World War II in Germany. But it is also so much more. It is about the human spirit, survival, friendship, love, betrayal, discovery and denial as the reader is taken on a journey through time and place. Ring draws the reader in with her unique ability to bring her characters to life—and compels you to want to get to know them.
Although this is a work of fiction, it is also an historical portrait about real-life characters. Ring paints a mosaic through dialogue and setting that allows for the possibility to imagine that this story just might have taken place.”
And, my gratitude to columnist, reader and reviewer Leslie Handler:
Fiction So Convincing, You’ll Think It’s Real –
“I knew I was reading fiction, but the read felt so unusually personal that I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe, just maybe, it was an actual memoir of the author’s mother and her real life relationship with the girlfriend of the world’s most infamous figure.
And then I found out the truth. Phyllis Ring actually owns the real portrait of Eva Braun! A fiction, truly based on facts, Ring’s newest novel is a must read.”
Find more about The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War at:


The grace of wild mercy

photo 2

Quilt: Joan Haskell

As I share themes from my new novel The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War during my travels in Europe this month, the following two passages of inspiring thought seem especially relevant:

We are all of us searching for love, for the intimacy, closeness, tenderness we may remember from when we were in our mother’s arms or may have glimpsed in a lover’s embrace.

Or we may know it just as a sense of something we always wanted, something missing from our life.

This love is at the core of our being, and yet we search for it everywhere, so often causing our self pain in the process, losing our way, becoming entangled in our desires and all our images of love.

Then, one day, something makes us turn away from the outer world to seek this truth within us.

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

photo 1

Quilt: Joan Haskell

The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. …

To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle.

Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace.

Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.

 ~ Terry Tempest Williams


Find more about The Munich Girl, available again soon, at:




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Our place in the family of things

Wertkirch10410993_720232961406331_7638425707201853089_nIn the experience of writing fiction, I become captivated by place. Sometimes, I have found, it is among the very first of the story’s “characters” to appear.

In the process of writing The Munich Girl, the novel releasing this month, I’ve accumulated three journals and two photo-album-style scrapbooks. I’ve done this, I suspect, because the best-known of the characters, Eva Braun, was a passionate photographer. Yet so many of the images and passages recorded in those journals and albums are about the essence of places.EB pix Germany and more 683

I believe I’m so irresistibly drawn to place because, as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote about what the Sahara Desert taught him about the meaning of life:

“Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.”

Place is an essential element of the story, of course. As some have said, oftentimes in a book, place is also character, or a facet of the story that reveals aspects of character. An Aboriginal proverb observes:

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home. “

overlookpanoAlong the way, the places that we pass through have a lot to reveal to us.

Carl Jung lived nearly half of his life in a home he built in the village of Bolligen located along the northern shore of Lake Zurich, Switzerland. In this place, to which he felt particularly drawn, Jung wrote about his many sensory experiences published in his memoir, Memories, Dreams, Reflections:

“At Bolligen I am in the midst of my true life, I am most deeply myself… At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons… In Bolligen, silence surrounds me almost audibly, and I live ‘in modest harmony’ with nature.”

EB pix Germany and more 074In “The Power of Place,” writer Linda Sechrist has written: “Since we personally interpret the qualities, values, and spaces that make a place special in the context of other places, childhood experiences of where we are born and grow up, as well as the places where we spent our childhood summers, are the well of memories from which we most frequently draw.

“This relationship is one that Eudora Alice Welty suggests we, in the words of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner, carry within ourselves as ‘postage stamps of native soil.’

“Welty wrote, ‘It is the memory of this place that nurtures us with identity and special strength and it is to this place that each of us goes to find the clearest, deepest identity of ourselves.’ ”

In her poem, “Wild Geese,” poet Mary Oliver sums this up eloquently:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

  ~ from Dream Work by Mary Oliver, published by Atlantic Monthly Press.


munichgirl_card_backThe Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War is set to publish this month.

To be on the mailing list for notice of release and related events, please email info@phyllisring.com.


Find more about The Munich Girl at http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447745076&sr=8-1&keywords=the+munich+girl.

And order at your favorite bookstore. :)


The many kinds of homecomings



QUICK UPDATE: She was here, then she was gone.

Yes, THE MUNICH GIRL is in process of becoming a published book, an interesting process for this author working with a book designer, with an ocean between us, at present! And I thought I already knew what big learning curves looked like. Sometimes, whole extra curves get thrown into the mix.

For those with any questions about the book, please feel free to email me at the address at the bottom here. For those awaiting your orders, know that they will come! :)

Yesterday, my husband and I had the opportunity — privilege – to be of some small service to a family of 16 from Syria as they made their way by train from my former hometown in Germany to Frankfurt. I think, if I am fair, that no matter what may transpire in a day, I’m going to have to search very hard to find what I could call problems in this life I’ve been given. Now, back to the regularly scheduled blog post:

I have the opportunity to spend time in Germany just as my novel, The Munich Girl, comes full-circle.

In the weeks I spent reading the book’s galleys, the scenes drew me back to settings I will carry with me always, whether as part of my inner geography, or because they are actual locations in which the story takes place. Many of these, from cobblestone passageways to Alpine vistas, tiny villages to market squares filled with symphonies of church bells, are ones in which I did the actual writing.

Much like the book’s protagonist, Anna, I repeatedly experience the many kinds of homecomings, spiritual and material, that life brings to us. Much like her, I often find myself in a kind of unbelieving daze as I sit in the same café I’ve known since childhood. Two years, ago, and maybe also five, I sat here capturing down pieces of a story that has always felt more like finding my way toward a puzzle’s finished image than it has any strategic plotting.

If the remedy for feeling out-of-sync in life is to reside in the moment, then we are all here today as I type this: my child self, sitting alongside my parents; that story-struck one who aspired to go the distance with wherever the writing process led (and wondering, at times, whether I truly would); and my self today, blessed to reach a point of completion. 15852216

A highlight for me this month was my return to the first place in Germany where my family lived when I was that child, a village on the Main River called Dorfprozelten. On a cloudy Saturday afternoon, as my life reached six decades, I was able to stand facing the river and offer my prayerful thanks at the grave of Herr and Frau Geis, who shared their house with my family back in 1960.

At the age I am now, seasons pass the way a month used to, but in those lovely days, my ten months in that village still seem like a little lifetime. I know that’s partly because since my military family lived “on the economy” in this way, we established much closer ties with actual Germans themselves, something that has played an important part in my life ever since.

984243_885496241474499_535556467277297526_nThe story of The Munich Girl is about many things, including, of course, Eva Braun and history from the time of the war in Germany. It is also about the power of friendship, and the importance of our often ignored and overlooked inner life, without which our world careens increasingly out-of-balance.

The novel is also a story about outlasting that chaos and confusion by valuing, and believing in, the ultimate triumph of all of the good that we are willing to contribute to building, together. When my family arrived at the Geis family’s home, there had been some very dark times, the kind that can make it easy to lose hope. Yet within months, we would embark on what we’d remember as some of our happiest years. munichgirl_card_front

As one character in my novel observes: “Sometimes, we must outlast even what seems worse than we have imagined, because we believe in the things that are good. So that there can be good things again.”

Find more about The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War at;

To be on the mailing list for news about the book and author events, please email info@phyllisring.com.

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Eternal light, immortal spirit

Israel 139

Grateful this week for this guest post from author

Ron Tomanio:

             My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.

~ The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh

How can a painful or tragic event be “light and mercy”?

It may help to see the attributes of God more like diamonds with infinite facets as opposed to a one- or two-dimensional mirror. Some facets are developed in times of “calamity” or times of “fire and vengeance”. Some facets are developed in happy times, some are developed in sad times, times of tragedy involving great pain. Mirror Love

It is possible to survive painful events, but not meaningless ones. Although a full understanding of why these events happen may not be possible in the present moment, why allow that to veil us from the experience of that moment?

Instead, we can take what we don’t understand and place it in the hands of God and concentrate our efforts in seeing every moment of our life as a priceless, irreplaceable opportunity to discover the boundless love and compassion that live in our heart.

Untitled1The last part of the Hidden Word above describes our true destiny: an “eternal light and an immortal spirit”.

The incredible irony of learning to develop facets of our inner diamonds during painful events instead of shouting “why me?” is that the choice to develop those gems is the best chance we have of escaping the prison of the painful moment and actually answering the “why me?” question — effectively.

It seems that this process of learning and acquiring the attributes of God, whatever the type of experience it is that offers us the opportunity, has relevance to the next stage of our journey, which entails traversing purely spiritual worlds.

Here is my “why me?” answer, but I emphasize that it’s strictly the answer I received when I personally asked the inner question. What if in this world I could only see one color of the spectrum, such as the color blue? I would not see a complete vision of the world in which I live, and that would have a severe impact on the quality of my life.

IMG_5448In the next world the equivalent of our spiritual senses are the attributes of God. If we only developed the facets of these attributes in happy times, we would be unable to fully discern the world beyond because we would not have fully developed our spiritual senses to be aware of all that our surroundings include. In the next world, the attributes of God become our spiritual senses. Love, justice, mercy become our eyes and ears.

These qualities have facets of both giving and receiving. Thus, a wide variety of experience – including the painful and difficult — that offers the contrast that helps us build our capacities for both giving and receiving is indispensable if we are to fully develop any attribute.

And it is vital if, as souls, we are to acquire a fuller range and spectrum of them.


Co-authors Ron Tomanio, Diane Iverson, and Phyllis Ring explore these and related themes in With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?

Find more about the book at:



The many angels on my way


Photo: David Henderson

It’s a landmark birthday for me, this year. Reflecting, as I do at this time each year on four seasons of gratitude, I’m supremely aware of all that relates to the connections my heart has with others. I want to honor and bless every single soul I have encountered on the path, who, as Gangaji so aptly states, is “my own self”.

The publication of my newest work, The Munich Girl, brought the opportunity for that most delightful of gratitude exercises, writing the Acknowledgements, with all that they reflect about how accompanied I am on my path. I had forgotten what a very satisfying way this is to reach the completion of a written work.

I’m also grateful for the work that others entrusted to me this year, quite a wondrous collection of projects that, magically, arrived at the just-right time in my own creative life and process.

Each brought with it a powerful lesson about mutual cooperation and reciprocity. I have known that creative process embodies this spiritual principle, and hope to one day create a book about how creativity and spirit work together in our lives as forces that shape each other, and us.

The first of these gifts arrived in February, when musicians Randy Armstrong and Volker Nahrmann of Unu Mondo asked whether I’d serve as a sort of word custodian for the liner notes of their newest work, Beyond Borders. I have loved their music for so long. It has, most truly, been a soundtrack of my life and work. The ice-cream experience in this for my spirit is that all through the concluding stages of my own work-in-progress, I had this out-of-this-world music to accompany me. It literally transported me to the very last pages of my book. Some days, I know it was the push, or pull, that got me there, helped me remember to let my mind go quiet so that something could be born through my heart.

Then a longtime writer friend, V L Towler, extended the opportunity to be a sort of doula as she brought her novel, Severed,  to completion. I knew the minute that she asked that this was a part of my own blueprint’s grace. Stage by stage, I have been humbled as I watched the level of dedication, consecration, and resilience she has shown as her work comes whole. I’ll thank divine bounty forever that she is the particular company that my fiction-writing self has received on the last leg of my book’s journey.

And, when a season of dark nights rose up like storms, another writer arrived with perfect timing to bring remedy, and offer me yet another chance to serve. Phyllis Peterson’s words reached right into my heart, as they had when I first heard her speak nearly 20 years ago, telling the truth without fear — or beyond it, at least. The arrival of her Authority of Self manuscript at this juncture in my life, and that of my own book, reminded me that when life can look the darkest, God sends the brightest messages of hope and mercy.

And last, but impossible to be anything but most, dear Larry Gray, those little intervals you invited me to spend with your text may just have saved me from my biggest problem and challenge: my insistent self.

Each day, as your beautiful beads pass through my fingers now, my prayerful heart soars in gratitude.


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