Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details

Leave a comment

The Munich Girl in the Philly Inquirer


Review published January 10, 2015 in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

My very deepest thanks to Blogger Leslie Handler of Leslie Goes Boom. You found The Munich Girl a fine Philly home, in a big Sunday paper, right as the novel’s  Kindle version went live. You’re like a fairy godmother, and I’m a lucky, lucky writerella.

Readers, follow Leslie’s blog for fun posts.

Find it, and her review of The Munich Girl here: Review: The Munich Girl


Pearls of great price

“Were ye to discover the hidden, the shoreless oceans of My incorruptible wealth, ye would, of a certainty, esteem as nothing the world, nay, the entire creation.

“… My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of surpassing luster.

“ … This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.

“Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves—a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being.


Image: Cary Enoch Reinstein / enochsvision.com

Ye would find yourselves independent of all else but Me, and would perceive, with your inner and outer eye, and as manifest as the revelation of My effulgent Name, the seas of My loving-kindness and bounty moving within you.

“ … 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



Love’s lonely offices


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.


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


Receiving the gifts that await within


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?



Going with the flow

hw-2011-01-11-0010As I return to the German town of my childhood, I’m reminded about the enduring values of resilience, acceptance, and pragmatism.

Wertheim is nestled between two rivers, the mighty Main with its bustling shipping traffic, and the quieter Tauber, which can still kick up a good flood given the right circumstances, such as rapid snow-melt or excessive rainfall. Iceland and Mexico and Spring 06 Germany 287

As a child here, I was fascinated by the spectacle of “Hochwasser”, that inundation of Wertheim’s streets by the waters of one or both rivers.

As with many towns in Europe (and elsewhere), flooding is a part of historical experience here. There are markings on many of its buildings, showing the years when water had its way, and the only thing there was to do, beyond what pumps can accomplish, was wait for it to recede.Wertheimhochwasser1619349_10152215498052641_837893055_n Thankfully, after major flooding five years ago, the town has mostly had a reprieve from this annual assault.

Yes, it’s terribly cliché to say that folks here go with the flow, yet after hundreds of years of doing just that, I can see how it has shaped the character of this place.

Perhaps it’s part of the reason that those who flowed in from other places — people like my American military family, and thousands of US servicemen, and those who’ve sought refuge from places that had been turned upside-down, or rendered unsafe by war and other calamity — have always found an easy welcome here.

Or perhaps it’s the experience of what the water washes away that has made this a generous and forgiving sort of place. hwsw1-2011-01-11-0059

And the pragmatism?

Well, when the flood waters do rise, and one major thoroughfare becomes a sort of tributary, these canny locals erect raised metal platforms that act as a network of pedestrian paths that thread through the streets “above it all”.

I think this may reflect something of an inner attitude, too.hochwasser