Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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The beginnings in the endings

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Up the hill to the castle we went to celebrate the “birth.”

What we call the beginning is often the end.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.

 ~ T.S. Eliot

A little over a month after the publication of the novel that has absorbed my focus for the past eight years, I find that the days feel like an incongruous blend of the unreal, yet also fully realized.

Back in September, I was swamped in galley files of the book to proof, corrections to track, publishing details to tend – to remember at all. Thank heaven for my publishing “doula” Marina Kirsch. Those fast-moving weeks of September and October felt the way seasonal work in retail stores often does – compressed, nonstop, persevering action reminiscent of those performers who keep a dozen plates spinning on skinny sticks.

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Hotel Schwan in Wertheim fills the two white buildings to the left, with the tower between, and a gate into town at the bottom. The little light halfway up is “my” window.

Then, early one morning in November, as I sat in a tower that holds a gateway into the walled old town where I lived in Germany as a child, the book suddenly “published” before my eyes. The only experience that has ever felt remotely similar was the sudden-seeming delivery and arrival of each of our children after long hours of labor.

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A few of the local swans.

When the book “birthed,” I was sitting beside a tiny window that has likely been in that stone wall for many hundreds of years. The table beside it was the first place I found an internet connection that morning.

Hotel Schwan, where we were staying, is the first place my family came to back in January of 1960, the first home I knew in Germany. In a world where nothing stays the same, it’s an immense comfort to revisit the Schwan and still feel so at home. I can easily overlook a little spotty internet access.

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I’m a fool for “signs” of all kinds. When I spotted the names of my book’s two main characters on my first day in Germany, it was a fun surprise.

Now, decades after that first stay, in the week of my 60th birthday, the book, much like a child, “chose” to be born into publication. It was as wonder-filled as it was shocking.

And as the novel and I have gone forward together into the world in the weeks since, I’m reminded of just what births really are: the beginning in the ending. For a mother, the end of a pregnancy is a landmark event, much as a destination feels like the end of a journey.

And then, like that gateway over which I was sitting beside that historic little window in the tower, it reveals itself as a whole new beginning. I’m still soaking in the enormous spiritual metaphors (for me, at least) in the physical setting of where I actually received this publishing experience.

When I began writing what became The Munich Girl, one very wise voice advised me to reach for a style in the unfolding of its story that would be “holographic, would know the end in the beginning, and use the words to prove it.”. Whether or not that goal was reached will remain to be seen, but as one cycle of life closes and another opens, I know that the vision of that accompanied me to the very last page.

Sometimes, rather like mothers and infants, endings and beginnings seem to have a conjoined world of their very own. 12342460_10208150312625888_7743673090992892225_n

 “And suddenly you know … It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”  ~ Meister Eckhart

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

http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/


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From the smallest seeds

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

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PHOTO: Lara Kearns

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

~ Bahá’u’lláh

See the LIGHT in others, and treat them as if that is ALL you SEE.

~ Wayne Dyer

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PHOTO: Nelson Ashberger

You may consider yourself an individual, but as a cell biologist, I can tell you that you are in truth a cooperative community of approximately fifty trillion single-celled citizens.

~ Bruce Lipton

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


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The eternal circle of the beauty we love

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Photo: Kevin Lane

Young friends described the rapid, often overnight changes appearing in the garden they have tended so carefully. Not long ago, there was limitless, burgeoning life in summer’s relentless sun and heat and rainfall.

Then, like a puff of breath on a dandelion gone to seed, it is spent and gone; fading away, or into decay.

In New England especially, these changes arrive as abruptly as the night chill that turns the leaves from green to scarlet and gold.

“Stay at the center of the circle, and let all things take their course,” urges the Tao Te Ching.

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

Out at the sharp edges of the periphery, our very human selves can feel small and overcome, overwhelmed, in the inevitable enormity of change. The mind, confounded, struggles for purchase it can’t find.

It’s then that a way is opened through which feelings, those unexpected guests left waiting so long in a side room, can emerge. Autumn, in particular, with its cycles of death and harvest, seems well-suited for inviting forth the grief and pain that so much effort has tried so long to avoid, or contain.Those seeds of unclaimed treasure found only in a heart broken open.

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Photo: Kevin Lane

The center of the circle, that trustworthy core, can hold these, and us, as it holds all, and remind of what Rumi saw with such kind wisdom:

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.

What is the beauty we love? What are those hundreds of ways?


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Harvests of the heart

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

Autumn is that time when so many endings seem to arrive at once, as the summer skies in which our dreams have soared in days of endless light grow overcast, like the darker mornings that are pointing us toward winter.

The intensity of contrast can be shocking when it appears. It reminds us of all that we do not yet know, and of the freedom in embracing that.

greens1374978_233813396773683_648730168_nEvery autumn, a part of me feels sad, as well as reminded, and also — like those spiked hulls from which such bright shiny chestnuts emerge — freshly broken open, once again.

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable,” urges poet Mary Oliver.

Theologian Paul Tillich reminds,“The first duty of love is to listen.”

colortip1383238_233814043440285_366268116_n“ … if you are willing to let your heart break completely open, with no internal narrative controlling the opening, you will discover the pure, innocent love that is alive in the core of every emotion, every feeling, everybody,” writes Gangaji. “It remains pure and spacious regardless of change or loss.”

Once this happens, then perhaps we are equipped at last for what these words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s invite:

rotetry1379621_233814693440220_853513411_n“Make ready thy soul that thou mayest be like the light which shineth forth from the loftiest heights on the coast, by means of which guidance may be given to the timid ships amid the darkness of fog …”

Including those often-timid ships of our own small selves.

Leaf photos courtesy of photographer Nelson Ashberger.