Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


BoomerCafé asks, “Why Eva Braun?”

I’m very grateful to author Eric Mondschein and BoomerCafé for featuring an author interview and post about my novel, The Munich Girl, this week.

Here are a few of their thoughtful questions, plus a link to the rest of the article:


BC: What motivated you to write such a book?

PR: When I reconnected with Germany as an adult after living there in the early 1960s, I wanted to understand more about its experience during WWII. I returned home and was given a biography of Eva Braun written by British-German writer Angela Lambert.

In order to understand Germany and the war, I needed to read more about Hitler and the Third Reich and Eva Braun seemed a likely point of entry. What I never expected was the deeper topics and themes that would arise when I got that close to Hitler’s living room.

BC: What message are you trying to convey to readers?

PR: At least two.

One is that there is a reality that transcends appearances, and we miss a lot of the truth because we don’t investigate it more completely.

This is also a story about outlasting that chaos and confusion of war and destruction by valuing, and believing in, the ultimate triumph of all of the good that we are willing to contribute to building together. Many Germans did this, though until recently, their stories have remained unknown.

The novel is also about the eventual homecoming we must all make to our truest self, and the role that others often mysteriously play in that process.

12342460_10208150312625888_7743673090992892225_nRead the BoomerCafé article here:


More about The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War:



Leave a comment

Eternity is a part of every true gift


Artwork: Judy Wright

My friend, Carol, gave me a wonderful surprise at about the last place I’d have expected it — her funeral.

She received the devastating news about her cancer the same day her employer told her that she would soon be out of a job.

Things happened even faster for Carol, after that – fast especially for someone who, like most of us at this stage of life, was never looking to include life-threatening illness in her life experience. By early September, she’d been given three months to live. Her goal was to make it through all three of them, which, God willing, would be just enough time to see her first grandchild.

I made a trip to see Carol that week and brought a small CD player I’d picked up. She’d been feeling so terrible that even reading and watching TV were impossible, but she could still enjoy listening to music. However, her own CD player had broken.

CD playerThere was so much I couldn’t do for her. This, at least, seemed like one small thing I could offer. Knowing how weak she was, I searched for a little machine that was lightweight and, hopefully, something she’d be able to move herself.

The day I saw her, despite the fact that she was essentially drifting between worlds, she, as always, received my gift graciously.

But my heart was saddened by two things that were clear from the moment I watched the home-health nurse call for an ambulance to take her to the hospital: Carol was never going to use that CD player, and she wasn’t going to live to see her grandchild born.

A week later, I sat in a small Victorian church whose beautiful stained-glass windows flooded its pews with rosy light. Waiting for Carol’s funeral service to begin, I was thinking about her life, and all of the things that would never be, when I noticed that among the vases of cut flowers and the pretty candles that had been set out on a small table up front, there was something familiar.

Read the rest at BoomerCafe:



Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details:



The remedy still resides in us


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

My thanks to BoomerCafe for including a piece of mine this week:

Thirteen years ago, my father and I were reminiscing about his years in Civil Defense after a 22-year Army career, my mother’s experience during the London Blitz in World War II, and the incredible good that terrible times can uncover in people.

Then, as we were passing through Atlanta on I-75, we spied an electronic highway message board that read: “National Emergency — All Airports Closed.” As the car radio revealed a cascade of events too large to grasp, I experienced a feeling of smallness and vulnerability unlike any I remember as all my illusions of safety came down at once, like those two destroyed skyscrapers.

Four days later, after a Category 3 hurricane had made landfall near my dad’s Florida home and I’d truly begun to wonder whether the world was coming to an end, I took my place in a blocks-long line at Tampa’s International Airport. I was praying this might be the day I’d finally be able to get home to New Hampshire, on one of the very first flights in the country after eerily quiet days of empty skies.


Photo courtesy Jen Verhelle

Every single child I saw that day looked scared. Most of the younger ones clutched their backpacks like stuffed animals, if they didn’t happen to be holding those, too. Their parents looked grim, if not equally frightened.

One boy of about 9, who, with his parents and younger brother was waiting to board the same plane I was, seemed unable to contain his terror. His plaintive sounds were agonizing, perhaps because so many of us also had them muffled way down deep. His parents, exhausted after days of canceled flights — a trip to Disney World that had become a nightmare from which they couldn’t seem to awaken — were doing their best to calm him, with no effect.

Gradually, others stepped forward to try, including airline employees. Obviously a polite child, he would hear them out, but then his sobs and agitation returned. He was convinced that if he got on that airplane, on any airplane, he was going to die.

Read the rest at: http://www.boomercafe.com/2014/09/11/remembering-9-11-importance-family



Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details: 



1 Comment

The kind gift of right-timing

DSCF3564Happy to have a piece up at BoomerCafé this week, as I strike out on the trail of a new novel, while reflecting on what my first one has revealed for me.

I had lots of expectations for my first novel when I began writing it in my 30s. Never did I imagine that when it was finally published, my strongest feeling would be, “Thank heaven this didn’t happen sooner.”

This stage of life reinforces that anything of value is not only worth waiting for, but subject to a right-timing factor we can never predict. Snow Fence Road Cover

Snow Fence Road looked ready to fly more than 20 years ago when a respected literary agency agreed to represent it. Things seemed on-track for success until life brought changes in the outer world that decided otherwise.

Today, it’s my inner world that appreciates this the most.

Today it’s a different book, in a different world, and I’m a writer with a far different perspective. Two decades ago, this book most likely had a narrow (i.e. months-long) window of time and opportunity to reach readers. Now its possibilities seem as wide as my willingness to follow an ever-unfolding learning curve. Social media and a digital world extend a global reach that astonishes me almost as much as the role readers themselves now play in advancing awareness of and appreciation for the book.

Yes, there are wildly shifting sands in the publishing experience now, but there are horizons I couldn’t have imagined 25 years ago.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE: http://www.boomercafe.com/2014/04/02/boomer-authors-reflections-finishing-book-later-life/#comment-95173

Find more about Snow Fence Road, from Black Lyon Publishing, at: http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Fence-Road-Phyllis-Edgerly/dp/1934912549/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1372083362&sr=8-2&keywords=Snow+Fence+Road+Phyllis+Ring

Leave a comment

Cured of any expectations

Delighted to share a story at BoomerCafé in this holiday week:


The Thanksgiving ham from hell

by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Expectations embed deeply in us, through the decades of holiday meals.

After several rather horrific ones, my friend Nadine hatched a plan to host the perfect holiday feast, a chance to record new memories over tapes of earlier nightmares.

She planned a menu with enough side dishes, vegetables, baked goods, appetizers and desserts to make any table groan.To top it all off, she decided to surprise her New England guests with the very last thing they’d ever expect — a genuine Southern ham.

Her mouth watered as she recalled the delicious thin slices that had accompanied carbohydrate-dense breakfasts she’d been served down South. Wouldn’t her guests be surprised and delighted when she served this special treat? ham_plate

She’d invited about a dozen of them and knew she’d have to invest a little to accommodate such a crowd.  Turned out to be a considerable investment indeed — $65 alone for the 25-pound beauty that would be the table’s centerpiece.

Imagine her surprise when the ham arrived, packed in a burlap sack inside its shipping box, and was the most remarkable (and repugnant) shade of … green.  Read the rest here:  http://www.boomercafe.com/2013/11/28/18330/

Excerpted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details (link below).

Subscribe to BoomerCafé updates at: http://www.boomercafe.com/

Leave a comment

Not what we were expecting

Happy to share some thoughts and memories at BoomerCafé this week:


On my family’s first visit to the Hotel Schwan in the small German town of Wertheim, we found the entire staff assembled out front in two lines on either side of the door. Even at age four, I could recognize this as the red-carpet treatment.

The telegram that had advised the hotel manager of our military family’s pending arrival had carried the words “General Alexander Patch” at the top, the name of the humble Liberty ship that brought us from New York to Europe in January of 1960.  Hotel Schwan-2

This general’s troops had liberated most of this region and neighboring France at the end of the war. Our welcoming committee was eager to meet this celebrated visitor who’d help put an end to the miseries of the Third Reich, and treated Germans fairly in that process. They were no doubt anticipating a line of dark vehicles with noisy accompanying entourage. When our travel-weary family of four with whining child (played by yours truly) rode up in a battered taxi, they must have been very disappointed indeed. DSCF3564

The weight of those next few moments was palpable even to a distracted kindergartner like me. I can imagine how much more my parents felt it, and my (10 years) older sister. There are things silence conveys so much louder than words. Phyllis & Nan

Read the rest here at BoomerCafé:


Leave a comment

Life in a generous universe


My thanks once again to BoomerCafé for sharing a piece of mine this week:

The Hand That Gives Us Roses

by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

A proverb advises: “A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives us roses.” Mother Teresa described similar truth when she said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Israel 113

I suspect kind actions reverberate even more powerfully.

The older I get, the more moved I am by inspiring actions from those who are still very young. A nephew of mine helped me understand that the practice of kindness, beyond being a beneficial thing in the world, actually requires us to believe that life itself is generous.


Read the rest at



This essay is excerpted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details, by Phyllis Edgerly Ring, from Bahá’í Publishing. 


Leave a comment

The freedom in forgiveness

Happy to have some thoughts up at BoomerCafé this week.

Subscribe to BoomerCafé and receive updates each week about the variety of resources it offers.


This stage of life brings a continual sorting through others’ belongings – and an invitation to forgiveness I never expected.

I put off this task after my parents’ death, as many of us do, simply stashed the boxes out of sight. Then I woke one day with the urge to unpack one.

I was plunged into stirred-up memories and stored-up feelings, not all of them easy or pleasant. As if whispered into my thoughts, an idea I’d encountered years ago in the work of psychologist Erik Blumenthal echoed: The person who comes to understand his parents can forgive the world.

Read the rest: