Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Rising to that for which we’re created

 

earth

Artwork: Judy Wright

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

 

O Friends!
Abandon not the everlasting beauty for a beauty that must die, and set not your affections on this mortal world of dust.

~ Baha’u’llah

Shed the light of a boundless love on every human being whom you meet, whether of your country, your race, your political party, or of any other nation, or shade of political opinion.

Heaven will support you while you work in this in-gathering of the scattered peoples of the world beneath the shadow of the almighty tent of unity.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

figure

Artwork: Judy Wright

 

Be thou not unhappy; the tempest of sorrow shall pass; regret will not last; disappointment will vanish; the fire of the love of God will become enkindled, and the thorns and briars of sadness and despondency will be consumed!

Be thou happy; rest thou assured upon the favors of Bahá so that uncertainty and hesitation may become non-existent and the invisible outpourings descend upon the arena of being!”

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


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What is Spirit calling for?

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As I’m preparing for some upcoming author visits, I’ve been reflecting on themes that are surfacing in these wildly turbulent times.

The planet, and the unfailing presence of Spirit in the world are speaking.

What are they calling for? How are we listening, or not? How are our hearts — Spirit’s intended home, by Divine design — responding, or not?

“All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory;” Bahá’u’lláh wrote nearly a century and a half ago, “yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding I have concealed thy secret and desired not thy shame.”

14671193_10155473760553902_8364308015943477763_nThe indigenous, Native peoples in every part of the planet know, and honor, the truth carried in these words. They know, too, that in so many cultures, as in their own, water represents spirit, the very source of all life.

And today, they are speaking from the “heartland” of my country.

“The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time,” author Terry Tempest Williams has written. “To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. … Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.” 14720601_10155473760403902_8711454713838355839_n

Over the next two days, Baha’is around the world will focus our hearts on love, unity, and the oneness in which the Creator has fashioned humanity as we gather to celebrate Twin Holy Days, the Births of the Báb, and of Bahá’u’lláh.

“The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.”
Bahá’u’lláh
My thanks to Patricia Hupahu Locke (Patty), age 5, named for her brave-hearted Grandmother,
for the beautiful artwork here. Her family’s hearts are standing with those who, at Standing Rock, are standing for the truth of Spirit for all humanity. And my heart stands with them.


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Welcoming the wit to win

original.

Fifty-six years ago, in a little German village, my older sister, then a high-school sophomore, taught these words of Edwin Markham to me:

He drew a circle that shut me out —

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle and took him in!

 ~ Edwin Markham,  Outwitted

Phyllis-Nan-2-350x350At that time, I looked much the way I do in this photo that shows me outside the house where we lived. I’m accompanied by my British grandmother and my teddy bear.

Many evenings, my parents and I would climb the hillsides above that village to reach the table-like land at the top, where there were fruit trees like the ones in the photo above. It was a LONG climb, especially on short legs. The reward was the sweet fruit waiting at the end of the climb, and the sunsets visible from that vantage point. That’s a metaphor that has stayed with me for life.

Until my sister reminded me of this poem recently, I doubt I’d given it concrete thought for years. Yet when I “heard” it again, something began to play inside me like a song. All through the time and distance I’ve traversed since that German summer, this has traveled with me, setting the roots of the tree of my life into the soil that grew my view of myself, always, as a citizen of the world.

das-goldene-fass-postcardI’ve been fortunate enough to return to this village several times with my husband, and even once with our grown children. Although my family lived there a bare eight months, I realize now that the war-weary Germans there who showed me such kindness insured that it’s at the heart of all I’ve loved about their country ever since.

I also know today that because my WWII-veteran father could appreciate Germans, my British mother, injured in the Blitz, could forgive them, and my sister could be so determined to teach me the principle of oneness, my pathway of becoming a Baha’i no doubt began growing from the seed of my life that very summer.

11241717Because so many different people were willing to care about me, and about showing an open heart, I would come to recognize instantly, as though it were a song already inside me, the truth of these words:

Bahá’u’lláh has drawn the circle of unity, He has made a design for the uniting of all the peoples, and for the gathering of them all under the shelter of the tent of universal unity. This is the work of the Divine Bounty, and we must all strive with heart and soul until we have the reality of unity in our midst, and as we work, so will strength be given unto us.                 ~’Abdu’l-Bahá  (Paris Talks)


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Love is the true nourishment

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

 

Bahá’u’lláh taught that hearts must receive the Bounty of the Holy Spirit, so that Spiritual civilization may be established.

For material civilization is not adequate for the needs of mankind and cannot be the cause of its happiness.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Most human violence is neither necessary nor is it inherent, genetic, “animal” survival skill. We have the ability, and I believe an evolutionary mandate, to stop violence.

The best way to stop it is to realize, as I emphasized in the last chapter of Biology of Belief, that we are spiritual beings who need love as much as we need food. 

~ Bruce Lipton

 

 


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The building of the good lasts forever

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

It’s a special day for Bahá’ís around the world today as we remember The Báb.

His life and the spiritual revolution in its story was my first encounter with the Revelation of the Bahá’í Faith.

From those earliest days, these words of The Báb’s have traveled with my grateful heart:

     “O peoples of the world! Whatsoever ye have offered up in the way of the One True God, ye shall indeed find preserved by God, the Preserver, intact at God’s Holy Gate.”

Every sparrow, every hair of our head, every feather and seed and blade of grass is accounted for.

Imagine the real spiritual presence of each one of our willing efforts and actions.

It can be easy, in these hours and days, to feel dismayed by the world as we see it around us.

But the building of the good is what is preserved — the increase and advance of love in the coming forth of what is of God.


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In a season of restraint

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Photo: Wertheim.de

The word “relinquish” has a special attraction for me whenever it appears in prayers and passages of inspiration. In a time of fasting that has become a reprieve, as well as a “season of restraint,” I begin to notice how interrelated the experiences of restraint and relinquishment can be.

A description for restraint that really appeals to me is “self-possession.” Might that be true possession, of one’s truest self?

While restraint seems like a condition that arises from my taking responsibility for my self and actions, “relinquish” means to surrender or hand over. This almost makes these two sound like some sort of opposites—or maybe complementary partners

11014906_824910567597565_94928212601865149_nSurrender and handing over can be very tall orders. But there are two other synonyms that offer accessible first steps in that process: “let go by” and “let pass.”

Relinquishment offers an invitation to freedom—from the erroneous notions and occasional tyranny of my own thoughts. Not the thoughts I experience when engaged in focused, constructive intent, but the ones that spin round and round, either in the past or in the presumed future. They usually suggest unhelpful things and never, ever, take me anywhere new. “Noise,” some might call them.

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Photo: Kathy Gilman

Something well worth restraining or moderating.

How? By choosing what meditators know is an always-available option: letting thoughts go by as they arise, like the clouds, the weather. Not identifying with them, or defining myself by them. Remembering that Reality is so very much greater than anything those thoughts are trying to reinforce; those opinions of which they’re so certain.

Choosing instead to spend my time, and attention, in what inspires and uplifts me—claiming back the resources that scattered, frenzied, fired-up thoughts often consume and using them for something better.

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Cover illustration: Corinne Randall

In a book called The Seven Valleys, Bahá’u’lláh wrote, “A servant is drawn unto Me in prayer until I answer him; and when I have answered him, I become the ear wherewith he heareth … ”

When I relinquish something lesser for something greater, I seem to catch the sweet notes of that greater kind of hearing. As insistent as my thoughts can be, when I’m willing to relinquish them, what appears in place of them feels positively eternal. And always life-giving.

 


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Protection from our own ignorance

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“Stranded Lighthouse” image: Kathy Gilman

“…when thou traversest the regions of the world, thou wilt conclude that all progress is the result of association and cooperation, while ruin is the outcome of animosity and hatred. Notwithstanding this, the world of humanity doth not take warning, doth not wake from the slumber of heedlessness. Man is still causing differences, quarrels and strife in order to marshal the cohorts of war and, with his legions, rush into the field of bloodshed and slaughter.”

~’Abdu’l-Bahá

“Consider the pettiness of men’s minds.

They ask for that which injureth
them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them.

1509698_850882424962881_3108057775060869577_nThey are, indeed, of
those that are far astray.

We find some men desiring liberty, and priding themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of ignorance.

Liberty must, in the end, lead to sedition, whose flames none can quench.
Thus warneth you He Who is the Reckoner, the All-Knowing.

Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal.

That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief-maker.

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“Little Lamb Laying Low” image: Kathy Gilman

Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.

Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection. This, verily, is the truth, the certain truth. We approve of liberty in certain circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the All-Knowing.”

~ Bahá’u’lláh