Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details

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Leaps ahead of thinking


I am often, in my writing, great leaps ahead of where I am in my thinking …

~ Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet

This insight is one of the things I love most about creative process.The author shares it in a book that’s a longtime favorite of mine, the first of her Crosswicks Journal works.

I experienced a serendipitous example of what she describes while researching my current novel during a visit to Munich. A portrait of Eva Braun is a key element in the book’s story — a real portrait with a 1936 framer’s label on the back that says “Promenade Platz 7, Muenchen (Munich)”, together with an August date. I’d tried for some time to locate this address without success and figured that whatever building had been there on that day was long gone since the bombing damage from the war.

Spontaneously one afternoon, my ever-patient husband asked whether I’d like to go see the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, one of Munich’s historic hotels. It just so happened that a scene set there had “arrived” on the page that very week, not that I’d told him anything about that.

It was still a bit of a surprise to me, as these often are. It had also somehow “connected itself” with a scene in that framer’s shop whose address I couldn’t find.

When we reached the Bayerischer Hof, I looked up and saw a street sign that said: “Promenade Platz” And there, on a stone building directly across from the hotel, was a blue address sign with the number 7 — !

munichgirl_card_frontBut more, the setting outside it – a long, slender park between it and hotel – was exactly what I had “visualized” as I’d imagined the framer’s shop. So were the two sets of tram tracks on either side of it. Although I hadn’t yet known where Promenade Platz was, the scene that includes it had already taken shape on the page – and here it was right before me, just as my inner eye had seen it. Yet it wasn’t until that scene had been captured down that – without trying – I was led to discover exactly where that address is.

I also learned that day during a tour of the hotel that its dining salon/lounge, where my writing’s process had just sketched a new scene – a huge, elegant space with a beautiful stained-glass dome overhead — is the only part of that massive hotel to survive bombing damage in the war.

These sorts of impromptu research discoveries leave me speechless. Indeed, in creative process, as L’Engle describes, mind lags far behind, like the slowest hiker on the climb.

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The inner shapes the outer

4246fbb0b47db3620a87f203817e338c We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved.

Man is organic with the world. His inner life molds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it.

The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.


Courtesy: The Heirloom Gardener, John Forti / http://www.jforti.com/

~ Shoghi Effendi 

If an active, actual peace is brought about, the human world will attain to the utmost serenity and composure; wolves will be transformed into lambs … and terrors into divine splendors in less than the twinkling of an eye. 


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

~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha

If you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots.

If you want to change the visible, you must first change the invisible.

~ T. Harv Eker


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Lighting the way


Love is a light that never dwelleth in a heart possessed by fear.

 ~ Bahá’u’lláh

Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come.

In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree.

Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms and its leaves and its fruits.

 ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Do everything with a mind that lets go.

Don’t accept praise or gain or anything else.

If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.

~ Ajahn Chah

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A planet-sized re-balancing act


Photo: Karen Olin Darling

In honor of the Equinox, a day of stillness when the Grand Design brings all life back into balance, let’s celebrate the very great reset unfolding in our time:

” … the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy.

Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced.”

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, (from remarks made aboard the S.S. Cedric upon arrival New York Harbor 1912) 10356027_10204329205492350_5976384773377992338_n

John Gerzema and Amy S. Choi, authors of / contributors to a study that led to publication of The Athena Doctrine have observed:

John: ” … ‘feminine’ values don’t belong to one gender – they are a form of innovation and competitive advantage inside us all. In our surveys, 81% of peo­ple said that man or woman, you need both masculine and feminine traits to thrive in today’s world.”

Amy: ” … we’re not saying that women are ‘born this way’ or that they are ‘naturally’ more empathetic or open. Rather, these are skills that have been traditionally segregated or labeled as part of women’s domain, and thus have been historically undervalued. When in truth, being ‘feminine’ actually make all people more human, and helps them become the best version of themselves.” goddessFeature-image-185x250

Highly recommended reading about that shifting balance – find the rest of this interview about:

The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future:



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The same winds blow on us all

There’s a game I used to share in my conference-planning days because it could quickly unite a diverse group of people who didn’t yet know each other.

Called “The West Wind Blows,” it has players sit in chairs arranged in a circle while one person in the middle calls out different sorts of descriptors such as “The West Wind blows on everybody wearing socks” or “The West Wind blows on everyone who’s ever gone skiing.” If the description applies to you, you stand up and scurry to another place in the circle.

In order to be a good sport and keep things lively, you have to move out of the “safe” comfort zone of simply swapping places with someone next to you and strike out into the circle itself. If the chairs are all filled before you find a new one, you get the privilege of being the one in the middle trying to think up the next description until you’re able to rush to an empty seat again.

11014906_824910567597565_94928212601865149_nAt its best, this game keeps everyone moving around, often for quite some time, and just about all ages can play it together. Within minutes, this resource can weld a motley group of 50 adults and children into a bustling, giggling mass of happy humanity all focused on the same thing. It’s one of those opportunities that gives everyone permission to let down barriers to knowing each other when we’re sometimes not even sure why those barriers exist in the first place.

As many games do, it also offers chances to model or reinforce positive kinds of behaviors. You have to cooperate and pay attention. You have to move skillfully and quickly while being considerate and careful of others’ movements.

And in order for the game to really be enjoyable, it absolutely has to avoid becoming competitive. In groups that can include grandparents, teens, schoolkids, parents, and toddlers, it doesn’t usually take long before big people start helping the very small ones and kids suddenly start giving up their seat to an elder or peer who’s having trouble getting out of the middle. (Not that being in the middle is such a bad thing.)

The variation and balance of similarities and differences is what seems key in this game, what keeps everyone attentive, and ensures that all will be included. Curiously, your best chance at getting out of the middle is to be as inclusive as possible. The greater the number of people you get up and moving, the greater your chances of finding a chair — and the more fun everyone has. You might say that inclusiveness is the game’s objective, and the way you reach it is by focusing on how much more similar we are than different.

A coming together of the world’s peoples in a relationship as harmonious, open, and welcoming as a good game of The West Wind Blows is clearly a need of our times, if a far more complex prospect. There seems little doubt that creating such a universal culture of collaboration and conciliation will require great, persevering effort on our part, as well as creativity, and compassion.

The job is big, the tasks complex, and many of the elements quite daunting. But the promise is big, and the reward unprecedented, if we can find the wisdom and will to truly embrace the diversity with which the Creator has gifted us and let it be the path to unity it’s intended to be.

Bahá’u’lláh reminds: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. … Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship.”

And, lest we forget, feel frustrated, or think this all may not be achievable, it helps to remember the darkness it will dispel: “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” LAFS6377506

No matter what kinds of winds may blow on us, or how hard, it does appear that we’ll benefit far more by facing them together.

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

Find more about the book at:


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Beyond all walls and worry



Photo: Karen Olin Darling

Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought. Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence. Flow down and down in always widening rings of being.

~ Rumi

What is drawing? How does one get there? It’s working one’s way through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do.

How can one get through that wall? — since hammering on it doesn’t help at all. In my view, one must undermine the wall and grind through it slowly and patiently.


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

And behold, how can one remain dedicated to such a task without allowing oneself to be lured from it or distracted, unless one reflects and organizes one’s life according to principles?

And it’s the same with other things as it is with artistic matters. And the great isn’t something accidental; it must be willed. Whether originally deeds lead to principles in a person or principles lead to deeds is something that seems to me as unanswerable and as little worth answering as the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

But I believe it’s a positive thing and of great importance that one should try to develop one’s powers of thought and will.

~ Vincent van Gogh

When you hold on tightly to a part of your life that’s not working, it has no room to heal. Whether you’re unhappy with your love life, finances, career, home, or health, let go …If you hang on to these aspects of your life because of fears such as “What if I can’t find someone or something better?” then the situation will only worsen.

However, if you’re willing to open your hands and allow the situation to be freed, one of two situations will occur: Either it will be washed away from you and replaced by a better situation, or the situation will heal in a miraculous way. Try not to control the outcome of your troubling situation. Let go, and let God help you!

~ Doreen Virtue

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Eternal life begins as we acquire what lasts forever


Image: Judy Wright

When the span between the trustworthy and the treacherous seems chasm-wide in the world of human doing, we can remember:

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

 ~ Kind forces are drawing us away from preoccupation with “fighting evil” toward creative, collaborative, and limitless building of the good.

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


Image: Judy Wright

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

 ~ An eternal life begins when we begin to acquire what lasts forever.

 ~ The gift of this age, bestowed on all humanity, is the right each one of us has to investigate reality independently.

 ~ The natural outcome of that expresses itself in willing, joyful acts of service — the personal and collective pathway for building the good.

How am I honoring and expressing that potential on my path?

How will it free my heart from the weight of a world’s unreal illusions this week?

WTOEimage.phpAuthors Ron Tomanio, Diane Iverson and Phyllis Ring explore these themes in With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?.

Find more about the book at:


Print version at: http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html


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