Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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For whom the bell did not toll

Oneycover

A wonderful resource about Ona Judge.

Though she spent the greater part of her life in my home state of New Hampshire, Ona Judge lived literally in the shadow the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia – without one morsel of the freedom it has come to represent.

Now the Liberty Bell itself has a history full of irony. When it first arrived from where it had been cast in London and was hung outside the Pennsylvania State House to test its sound, it cracked at the stroke of its own clapper, a rather inauspicious sign. Tradition maintains that it was tolled in 1774 to declare the inauguration of the First Continental Congress.   Abolitionist newspaperman William Lloyd Garrison coined the name “Liberty Bell” to describe it when it was used as a symbol in an 1839 pamphlet produced by the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Although the bell had been recast after it cracked, a second crack occurred that required it to be repaired yet again in 1846. Perhaps days later, the bell was rung for several hours in honor of George Washington’s birthday. It was during that time that a crack advanced from the top of the repaired crack to the crown, and the bell was rendered unusable. LibertyBellVisitPhillySite

A venerable part of the nation’s history all the same, the bell was removed from its tower in 1852 and displayed to the public in a variety of locations, the most recent, and presumably final, the Liberty Bell Center pavilion in Philadelphia, just south of where George Washington had lived in the 1790s. At that time, this home was the equivalent of the White House, which had yet to be built in what was then the wilderness of the future District of Columbia.

During the design and construction of the bell’s display pavilion, planners discovered that the site was adjacent to the living quarters of black people who’d been enslaved – ones owned by the “Father of Our Country.” And, it turned out, visitors to the Liberty Bell were accessing the bell by walking directly over the quarters where the home’s slaves had been housed.

Among those enslaved servants was Ona Judge, hopefully a figure who will one day have name-recognition for every American school child, well beyond the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Hers is a tale of how a black woman challenged and bested her “master,” who also happened to be the leader of the nation.

Oney_Judge_Runaway_Ad“Born into” the slave-holdings of Martha Washington, Ona had become a famous face herself, one often seen at the many grand events Martha hosted, and which Ona’s arduous workdays made possible. At the age of 15, Ona had already had one wrenching parting from all of those she knew and loved when she was one of seven slaves to leave Mount Vernon and accompany the First Family to its new Philadelphia executive residence.

Small surprise that, when Martha announced her intention a few years later to bestow Ona as a wedding gift upon her granddaughter, Ona, whose trustworthiness and good service facilitated her coming and going freely in Philadelphia, simply walked out the front door while the family was eating dinner. Uneventful as it was, this escape would have brought severe penalties had she been caught.

Heaven knows what pluck and resourcefulness helped her get all the way to Portsmouth, NH, where she was promptly recognized on the street by the daughter of Senator John Langdon, as the Langdons knew the Washingtons very well. Ironically, although in covert ways, it would be Langdon who would help Ona keep her freedom by ensuring she had sufficient warning whenever Washington’s appointed agents came to find her.

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Excellent info. about Ona Judge and history of her times: http://civilwarquilts.blogspot.com/2014/01/threads-of-memory-1-portsmouth-star-for.html

Ona made a life for herself as a free black, even as she knew that slave-hunters could appear at any time to seize her, along with any children she might have, and she’d have no recourse at all. “Mistress of her needle,” as Washington himself had called her, she found a work as a seamstress and married a Black sailor, Jack Staines, and the couple had three children.

Some years later, after his retirement from the Presidency, Washington – no doubt at the chiding insistence of an outraged Martha, said to be the stronger personality of the two – dispatched yet another hunter, his nephew, Burwell Bassett, Jr., to try and fetch Ona back. One again, John Langdon’s intervention helped warn her in advance.

Although Ona died a ward of the state in her own home in 1848, having outlived her children, the citizens in her small community of Greenland, NH, cared about her enough to help keep her stocked with essentials. Her life as a free woman was unquestionably more difficult, in terms of material comforts than it would have been had she stayed with the Washingtons.

More than once, she was asked how she could relinquish the “silks and satins” of that “fine way of life” she had known for inevitable poverty. Her reply: “I am free, and have, I trust, been made a child of God by the means.”

It seems it was richness in spirit she was after, and the real freedom the Liberty Bell had come to symbolize: the ability to read and learn, to worship as she chose; and to spend the hours of her time as she, herself, determined to.

LAFS6377506I wonder how history will come to view and redefine the kind of liberty that’s been symbolized by a bell that lost its voice, and a woman who found hers, and sounded the bell of her own freedom?

Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details: http://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details-ebook/dp/B00B5MR9B0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

 


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In the soul’s secret symmetry

Gleanings found here and there:

Love gives life to the lifeless. Love lights a flame in the heart that is cold. Love brings hope to the hopeless and gladdens the hearts of the sorrowful. In the world of existence there is indeed no greater power than the power of love.

   ~ ’Abdu’l-Bahá

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.

~ Rumi

O God! Prepare for us all those things which are the cause of unity and accord! O God! Descend upon us Heavenly Fragrance and change this gathering into a gathering of Heaven! Grant to us every benefit and every food. Prepare for us the Food of Love! Give us the Food of Knowledge! Bestow on us the Food of Heavenly Illumination!

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul. May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

~ John O’Donohue


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How love is trying to find us

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 and perceiving that flows 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 the mind’s preoccupation with mortality and physical survival? That crippling fear has kept humanity, human thinking, and our greatest possibilities entrapped for eons.

I’m not going to survive physically forever, nor is anyone else. I wonder why that aspect of life receives so very much attention? Might it be that some believe that’s all there is? All that we are here for?

Very possibly, however, we may have the chance to begin living in an eternal kind of way as we invite and employ what lasts forever – those gifts and qualities within us that await discovery, like gems in a mine.

“Only 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’m reminded. It’s this core part of my self that has the capacity to “perceive honor and nobility in every human being”, including this one who looks back from the mirror each day.

For the first time, the realization of human oneness, in reality, 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 as a part of what is one reality, whatever kinds of separations we  may dream up or imagine.

“Happy are those who spend their days in gaining knowledge, in discovering the secrets of nature, and in penetrating the subtleties of pure truth,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has reminded in a book called Some Answered Questions.

Happy indeed. WTOEimage.php

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

More information: http://www.amazon.com/With-Thine-Own-Eyes-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=pd_sim_kstore_11?ie=UTF8&refRID=0TQC490J7FVBRTJWM70H

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

 

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Snow for summer reading

So grateful to Annie Ludovici for such a very kind tweet about Snow Fence Road. Nothing boosts awareness of a book like personal appreciation and word of mouth.

So often, when a book is part of a giveaway at Goodreads, shipping the books off to winners is the last an author ever hears about it — until someone like winner Virgina Madrid does something mighty nice like this:

“A lovely romance novel that warms the heart!
Nice and classy with the touch of adventure that life offers.
I highly enjoyed this book.”
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    Adding a book to the world these days can feel like adding a leaf to a forest.
    When folks make the time to journey into a book’s world, it is a supreme gift to its author.
    I’m thankful for every reader willing to visit Knowle, Maine, and its ramshackle old Spinnaker Inn, then make time to let others know about it.

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Join Night Owl Reviews’ Find Your Next Great Read Scavenger Hunt in June to discover great new books and authors, and maybe win an Amazon Gift Card: https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Blog/Articles/Find-Your-Next-Great-Read-Scavenger-Hunt-June-2015

    Find more about Snow Fence Road at:


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Wringing out the light

Such love does the sky now pour, that whenever I stand in a field, I have to wring out the light when I get home.

~ St. Francis of Assisi

… Obstruct not the luminous spring of thy soul with the thorns and brambles of vain and inordinate affections, and impede not the flow of the living waters that stream from the fountain of thine heart.

 ~ Bahá’u’lláh

It is not a question of whether you “have what it takes,” but of whether you take what you have—and then use it. Take the gifts you have—they are plenteous—and share them with all the world. Apply them to the challenge at hand. Use them and give them in your life as if there’s no tomorrow. Cultivate the desire to do this. If you have the desire, you will have what it takes—precisely because desire is what it takes.”

~ Neale Donald Walsch

jun2015hunt220

Join Night Owl Reviews’ Find Your Next Great Read Scavenger Hunt in June to discover great new books and authors, and maybe win an Amazon Gift Card: https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Blog/Articles/Find-Your-Next-Great-Read-Scavenger-Hunt-June-2015


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Author of wild, unpredictable circumstance: my dad

2005 China Slide Show 001Eight years after my father’s death, a memory of him blooms as faithfully each June as the flowers erupting all around.

Days after his death, I was lamenting the achingly empty rooms of his house when something pulled my attention to his back garden.

The brilliance waiting there nearly bowled me over — I remember literally gasping to get my breath back. Every bush, shrub, and bulb he’d ever planted seemed to be in bloom at once, ecstatic testimony to the indomitable nature of life itself.

That indefatigable blooming brought to mind the last bit of gardening we’d done together the year before. Dad had a little strip of land on which he planted impatiens each year. That June, I’d spied two trays of them on his patio and realized that, since he could barely walk any longer, there was no way he could plant them. September 2007 225

We were quite a team that day, “helped” by his ever-eager miniature schnauzer, Patsy, namesake of the saint on whose day she was born. Dad churned up the soil with a long-handled trowel while I followed, nestling the little plants into place. It had just rained so the job was messy, the mosquitoes thick, and Patsy a determined quality-control inspector (i.e. right in my face) as I hunkered over those beds.

I knew the task was one of the very last things we’d do together.

Year by year, I discover the many intangibles my father helped bring to bloom. The day of my UMass graduation, he pulled the car to the side of the road on a rise that overlooks Amherst (he was inclined to try and execute things with a flourish), turned around to where I sat in back, and announced: “You graduated. And you did well. But most important is that you kept going. You didn’t give up. In time, you’ll value that more than anything else.” 11010530_988410544523863_8454246950852480917_n

This June’s new bloom is the next book that will take wing soon, the one on which I’ve been working since right after I met his eyes and watched him take his last breath that June day in 2007. As steeped as The Munich Girl is in Germany and World War II, he unquestionably had something to do with the wild combination of unpredictable circumstances that steered me headlong into it. (Wild combinations of unpredictable circumstances were one of his hallmarks, too.)

And yes, yet again, he was absolutely right about the value of perseverance, whose importance always becomes more visible in the light of time.

IMG_7118Thinking about plants and growth, I’m reminded of an instance in which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá counseled someone who’d experienced the loss of a loved one that while the pain of physical separation remains for those left behind, for the one who dies, it’s as though a wise and kind gardener has transplanted a struggling plant to a wider, more welcoming place where it can reach a whole new level of growth.

Many things in life, as well as death, bring that home to us each day.

jun2015hunt220

Join Night Owl Reviews’ Find Your Next Great Read Scavenger Hunt in June to discover great new books and authors, and maybe win an Amazon Gift Card: https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Blog/Articles/Find-Your-Next-Great-Read-Scavenger-Hunt-June-2015

Bloom on, Dad. And thanks for that reminder, much more useful than my degree ever was.

coverthumbFrom Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details.

More about the book at:

http://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details/dp/1931847673/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1FYGVM9S5BGBZH2TJHR4

   


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Wonder wakes the hidden mystery

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“Colorado Moonlight” by Judy Wright

Nature is the kind surface, the intimate face of a great unknown.

It is uncanny to behold how boldly we walk upon the earth as if we are its owners. We strut along, deaf to the silence in the vast night of the unknown that lives below the ground.

Above the slim band of air which forms the sky around our planet is the other endless night.

Wonder makes the unknown interesting, attractive, and miraculous.

A sense of wonder helps awaken the hidden affinity and kinship which the unknown has with us.

 ~ John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes

Rivulet

“Rivulet” by Judy Wright

 

If the people of the world were wise enough
to plant the root of their lives
deep within the Subtle Origin
Then the worldly affairs of life
would coherently follow their natural course
and harmony would abound of its own nature …

Then the peaceful order of the universe prevails
and unity manifests again of its own accord.

jun2015hunt220

Join Night Owl Reviews’ Find Your Next Great Read Scavenger Hunt in June to discover great new books and authors, and maybe win an Amazon Gift Card: https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Blog/Articles/Find-Your-Next-Great-Read-Scavenger-Hunt-June-2015

~ Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

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