Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Making room for the new, and the good

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

“Taz,” courtesy of Jon Ring.

 

When you suffer because of discrimination, there’s always an urge to speak out. But even if you spend a thousand years speaking out, your suffering won’t be relieved.

Only through deep understanding and liberation from ignorance can you be liberated from your suffering.

When you break through to the truth, compassion springs up like a stream of water. With that compassion, you can embrace even the people who have persecuted you.

When you’re motivated by desire to help those who are victims of ignorance, only then are you free from your suffering and feelings of violation. 

Don’t wait for things to change around you. You have to practice liberating yourself. Then you will be equipped with the power of compassion and understanding, the only kind of power that can help transform an environment full of injustice and discrimination.

You have to become such a person — one who can embody tolerance, understanding, and compassion. You transform yourself into an instrument for social change and change in the collective consciousness of mankind.

 ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses To Life’s Burning Questions

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

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

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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Eternal life begins with what lasts forever

Some thoughts in darkening hours, and a dawning Season of Light:

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Photo: Oliver Schratz

Nothing that exists remains in a state of repose.

Everything is either growing or declining.

Benevolent Forces are in evidence, as we are invited away from “fighting evil” toward our human family’s next exciting stage: creative, collaborative, and limitless building of the good.

We are here to mirror to each other the attributes of our Creator.

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

Every attribute and faculty we possess, known and unknown, comes into balance as we strive to align the acts of giving and receiving.

Eternal life begins when we honor what lasts forever.

The gift of this age, bestowed on all humanity, is the right each one of us has to investigate reality independently, and to learn to see with the eye of oneness.

The natural outcome of that is to express —  willingly — joyful acts of service, our personal and collective pathway for building the good.

These should be more than enough points of focus to free our hearts from the weight of a world’s unreal illusions this week.

Here’s hoping.

Learn more about these possibilities in With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?

Find more about the book at:

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I


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Creativity’s invitation to discovery, and wholeness

IMG_2709Very grateful this week for the opportunity to share a guest post at reviewer Rachel Poli’s blog:

“The experience of writing The Munich Girl showed me that, rather than being something I ‘do,’ writing is a process that acts upon me, strengthening my sense of connection with my own wholeness. My responsibility is to listen and watch, rather than impose ideas or plans of my own on what comes forth as a story.

“Creative process invites me to find a balance between my intuitive mind, which encounters the unlimited and unknown, and rational mind, whose structuring perception helps a story be both cohesive and accessible.

424 “People often hurl themselves at creative process ‘head first’ with the rational mind, trying to force or control things. My experience is that in creative process, intuitive mind is waiting for me to meet it, so that it can help me know and understand in new and wider ways.

“Gertrude Stein expressed this beautifully: ‘You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery.’ She gets straight to the heart of what allows writing process to be a revelatory power, and a bestower, rather than a distraction or plaything.”

Read the rest at: https://rachelpoli.com/2016/05/17/creativitys-invitation-to-discovery-and-wholeness/

Find more about The Munich Girl at:

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

goodreads_icon_100x100-4a7d81b31d932cfc0be621ee15a14e70And for those so inclined, a Goodreads Giveaway for the book is offered beginning at midnight Wednesday, May 18, through May 27.

Find entry info. at: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/187198-the-munich-girl-a-novel-of-the-legacies-that-outlast-war?utm_medium=email&utm_source=giveaway_approved


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Art and the elixir of life

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Landscape 2 by artist Honnie Goode

 

It’s an honor to have an excerpt from my novel, The Munich Girl, included as the fiction offering of the latest issue of the arts journal,  e*lix*ir.

The publication is designed to “showcase the work of artists who find inspiration in the Bahá’í revelation and to foster an aesthetic whose key ingredient is the conviction that the mission of art is to inspire, transform, and uplift individuals and communities.”

Editor Sandra Hutchison offers soul-stirring reflection in the issue’s editorial, “Art at the Intersection of the Worlds.”

The words from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that she includes from The Promulgation of Universal Peace embody this theme, and the intent behind the creative efforts that many of us attempt:

“For material civilization is like unto a beautiful body, and spiritual civilization is like unto the spirit of life. If that wondrous spirit of life enters this beautiful body, the body will become a channel for the distribution and development of the perfections of humanity.”

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Photo: Wertheim.de

Sandra writes, “Through the experience of creating art, the artist becomes acquainted with that invisible plane of existence that is just as real and necessary to our survival as the earth on which we plant our feet.”

It’s this sort of inner vision that I attempt to describe in the artist’s statement I was invited to provide:

I seek to uncover the noblest possibilities in the human heart and to discover how history, culture, spirituality, and the natural world shape the journey of the human family.

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Image: Diane Kirkup

The vision of the future that the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh evoke, is one of prosperity and hope, so as a writer of stories, I am alert to every evidence of these I can find, even, perhaps especially, when circumstances may appear dark or chaotic.

More than any other kind of writing I’ve done, book-length fiction requires an absorption that leads me to what must be realized in a story. For me, this is an utterly spiritual experience–to weave together mysterious unseen threads into a reality that the emotions and spirit can recognize as true.

To encounter truth in this way is an experience that transcends this earthly life.”

Find the latest issue of e*lix*ir here: http://www.elixir-journal.org/issue2/


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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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Feeding the Holy, crafting a spirit

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Photo: Thad Ring

So many thoughtful souls keep us company when we’re on a path of creating.

“Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem,” said Rollo May.

Kurt Vonnegut said, “The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.”

“People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore,” Anna Quindlen has noted. “It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit.”

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Photo: Lara Kearns

“Weaving, writing and painting our stories into the things we create is a way of feeding the Holy in Nature, which has kept us fed and alive,” says Toko-pa. “And as we put all of our lostness and longing into the beauty we make, we do so knowing that we may never hope for more than to pass on these heirlooms to the young ones so they may find their way home across the songlines, as we have been found by those who made beautiful things before us. If even one generation is denied their inheritance, the story and the way home may be lost.”

As it is said in West Africa, ‘When an elder dies, a library burns to the ground’.”

And finally, this beautiful encouragement from Craig Paterson: “Whatever difficulty you may be working through today, find a point of solace in art. Let it be both comfort and crucible, to rest your weary heart and to transform the dense dark matter of your troubles into something new and clear. Make beauty and vulnerability your allies in your brave journey of becoming.”


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Creativity’s invitation to reunion

My deepest thanks to Ruthz SB, creator of delightful literature for the souls of children, and the child in all of us. Your review of Snow Fence Road captures the essence of why my writing heart kept it company until it came full circle as the book’s story:

a very pure intuitive love is beautiful and emotional.” SFR4ab79a8a-8a51-4e54-b19c-bc0bbaeca160_zpsc2bd263b

“Our heart knows what our mind has forgotten,”  Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee has written of the beauty of this subtle and powerful mystery. “It knows the sacred that is within all that exists, and through a depth of feeling we can once again experience this connection, this belonging.”

I suppose that every work of writing I accompany to its ending, whether nonfiction or novel, will have this theme at its heart.

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Photo: D. Kirkup Designs / https://www.etsy.com/shop/DKirkupDesigns

As spring’s atmosphere of renewal finally reaches New England, I’m returning to Maine, where the book’s settings will surround me.

The days will also lead inward, as all creating hours need to do. The mere act of withdrawing in order to be present for creative process will draw me nearer to discoveries I can’t possibly predict (or try to control) but that I know from repeated experience will arrive. They’ll not only help bring a growing story into being, but reunite me, mysteriously, with my own depths.

“It is a strange and wonderful fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you,” John O’Donohue observes. “It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here. Rilke said, ‘Being here is so much,’ and it is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free.” IMG_6021

Ponderings that will travel with me:

How does creativity require faith in the way that spiritual life does?

How does creativity hone my abilities as a participant on the path of life?

How does creativity help me adjust as information or circumstances change?

How does creativity act as a remedy for mental tests?

How does engaging with creative process help me learn more about my truest self?

Find more about Snow Fence Road 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