Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Compassion and courage go hand-in-hand

Reader Chele Hauschildt may hold the distinction of ordering the very first copy.

My big thanks to each and every reader who is helping Jamila find her way into the world — and adding to the book’s page at Goodreads.

I recently had the joy of spending time with the story’s illustrator, Leona Hosack, at the wonderful Spirit of Children conference at Green Acre Baha’i School in Maine.

I came home to find a growing collection of reader reviews for the book:

The story provides the opportunity for the young reader to explore how to solve problems by working together, facing fear, having courage, trust, and of course faith,” notes Eric Mondschein, author of Life at 12 College Road.

“This charming book instantly captivated my young daughters, who reenacted the story after just one reading,” writes reader Stephanie Robinson.

The story importantly reminds us, parents included, that we all react differently to the unexpected, and because of this, we all have a role to play in problem-solving,” Stephanie adds. “With cooperation, resoluteness and prayer, Jamila learns that compassion and courage go hand in hand.”

“Of course the bat is the antagonist, but not a malevolent one, just another (probably) frightened being trapped in the wrong place,” says reader N. Augusta Vincent. “I love how the author makes all her characters sympathetic, even the bat.”

Melanie Kyer wrote: “This is such a great story! It calls on fears we all can have and validates them for the reader. Jamila is anxious about the bat but ultimately learns the bat is also afraid and the resolution happens as a result of teamwork.

“I also love how small elements of the Baha’i Faith are incorporated without alienating those who might not know about the faith. The illustrations show the emotions of those involved and include lots of little details which bring the story to life. ”

Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House is available for purchase from the publisher at: http://www.bahaibookstore.com/Jamila-….

Or ask for it at your favorite bookstore.

If you’d like to order a signed copy, contact info[at]phyllisring[dot]com. 

 



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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

 

 


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The same winds blow on us all

There’s a game I used to share in my conference-planning days because it could quickly unite a diverse group of people who didn’t yet know each other.

Called “The West Wind Blows,” it has players sit in chairs arranged in a circle while one person in the middle calls out different sorts of descriptors such as “The West Wind blows on everybody wearing socks” or “The West Wind blows on everyone who’s ever gone skiing.” If the description applies to you, you stand up and scurry to another place in the circle.

In order to be a good sport and keep things lively, you have to move out of the “safe” comfort zone of simply swapping places with someone next to you and strike out into the circle itself. If the chairs are all filled before you find a new one, you get the privilege of being the one in the middle trying to think up the next description until you’re able to rush to an empty seat again.

11014906_824910567597565_94928212601865149_nAt its best, this game keeps everyone moving around, often for quite some time, and just about all ages can play it together. Within minutes, this resource can weld a motley group of 50 adults and children into a bustling, giggling mass of happy humanity all focused on the same thing. It’s one of those opportunities that gives everyone permission to let down barriers to knowing each other when we’re sometimes not even sure why those barriers exist in the first place.

As many games do, it also offers chances to model or reinforce positive kinds of behaviors. You have to cooperate and pay attention. You have to move skillfully and quickly while being considerate and careful of others’ movements.

And in order for the game to really be enjoyable, it absolutely has to avoid becoming competitive. In groups that can include grandparents, teens, schoolkids, parents, and toddlers, it doesn’t usually take long before big people start helping the very small ones and kids suddenly start giving up their seat to an elder or peer who’s having trouble getting out of the middle. (Not that being in the middle is such a bad thing.)

The variation and balance of similarities and differences is what seems key in this game, what keeps everyone attentive, and ensures that all will be included. Curiously, your best chance at getting out of the middle is to be as inclusive as possible. The greater the number of people you get up and moving, the greater your chances of finding a chair — and the more fun everyone has. You might say that inclusiveness is the game’s objective, and the way you reach it is by focusing on how much more similar we are than different.

A coming together of the world’s peoples in a relationship as harmonious, open, and welcoming as a good game of The West Wind Blows is clearly a need of our times, if a far more complex prospect. There seems little doubt that creating such a universal culture of collaboration and conciliation will require great, persevering effort on our part, as well as creativity, and compassion.

The job is big, the tasks complex, and many of the elements quite daunting. But the promise is big, and the reward unprecedented, if we can find the wisdom and will to truly embrace the diversity with which the Creator has gifted us and let it be the path to unity it’s intended to be.

Bahá’u’lláh reminds: “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. … Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship.”

And, lest we forget, feel frustrated, or think this all may not be achievable, it helps to remember the darkness it will dispel: “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” LAFS6377506

No matter what kinds of winds may blow on us, or how hard, it does appear that we’ll benefit far more by facing them together.

From Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details

Find more about the book at:

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


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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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Allowing room for solutions

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Kloster Bronnbach – Photo: http://Wertheimer-Portal.de

 

I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.    ~ Henry David Thoreau

Reflected Trees - Lake Meadows Park, Billericay

Photo: Kathy Gilman

 

Your life situation may be full of problems — most life situations are — but find out if you have any problem at this moment. Not tomorrow or in ten minutes, but now.

Do you have a problem now?  When you are full of problems, there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution. So whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath your life situation.    ~ Eckhart Tolle

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

 

No matter how it seems out there, humanity IS evolving from war-like competitiveness to peaceful and loving connectedness and CO-existence.

… the chaos we are experiencing in the outer world is nothing more than our own resistance to freedom and peace.

And notice that the deeper ‘resistance to change’ digs in its heels, the more irrational it becomes.

~ Christine DeLorey


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A girl, a bat, and how caring becomes courage

Jamilafinalcolorsketch

Illustration: Leona Herzig Hosack

Life delivered a very sweet gift recently from artist Leona Herzig Hosack, when she told me that her illustrations for my forthcoming children’s book from Bellwood Press are nearing completion. Better, yet, she’s letting folks have a peek.

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Illustration: Leona Herzig Hosack

Jamila Does Not Want A Bat in her House is the story of a little girl frightened by the bat swooping around inside her house, especially when her parents can’t get it outside. It flies out of their reach, over their heads, and disappears where they can’t see it. Jamila does not like this game of hide-and-seek at all.

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Illustration: Leona Herzig Hosack

When she finally sees the bat up close, she discovers that it’s very small, and that it might be as scared as she is. That’s when she finds the compassion, and the courage, to help the bat, her family, and herself. Along the way, she learns about perseverance, cooperation, and the real power of prayer to help us meet the challenges that can arrive in our lives like unwelcome visitors.

Bats have visited my family’s Victorian house regularly through the years. Over time, as our family solved the challenge of freeing them, we learned a lot, as Jamila does, about the value of empathy, and of working together for the benefit of all (including the bat).

Find more illustrations and learn about Leona’s artistic process at her blog: http://leonaartsandmusic.blogspot.com/2015/02/finally-here-are-final-sketches-for.html


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We’re all crew on this ship

481783_10151382929251802_706189485_nIn these times of tumult, for mind and heart, words of Buckminster Fuller’s are a kind of psychospiritual re-alignment that opens a horizon of hope:

“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am.

I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing – a noun.

I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe.”

Bucky Fuller was deeply knowledgeable – and concerned – about sustainability, and also optimistic about humanity’s future.

He defined wealth as real and applicable knowledge that would also protect, nurture, support, respect and include the needs of all life here on what he called “Spaceship Earth”.

uss_united_statesHe suggested that humans had attained an “unprecedented state” at which accumulation of relevant knowledge, combined with quantities of major recyclable resources that had already been extracted from the earth had reached the level at which competition for necessities was no longer a necessary or a wise strategy.

Rather, he said, cooperation had become the optimum foundation for survival.

“Selfishness,” Bucky declared, “is unnecessary and hence-forth unrationalizable … War is obsolete.”

He also emphasized that truly viable views of humanity’s future need to include not only everyone’s needs, but their contributions as collaborators. On Spaceship Earth, we are all crew.