Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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The heart’s own gift

Painted Desert

Painting: Judy Hughey Wright

I once heard someone describe how, while traveling on a bus in Africa, where many roads look like something Americans would reserve for all-terrain vehicles, he’d had an unexpected encounter with the power of encouragement.

As the driver navigated the deeply rutted road, the passengers would repeatedly, and with great enthusiasm, cry out a phrase that sounded like “ay-kushay.” As the American man watched more carefully, he realized that this was a kind of cheer they made each time the driver successfully avoided a pothole.

His story brought to mind the friends I made when I lived in China. Seldom have I seen people work as hard, or live with so little. In addition to showing a generally uncomplaining and positive attitude, they demonstrated something whose effectiveness finally makes sense to me. As they’d wave me on my way, they’d unfailingly call out, “Do your best,” “Take your time” or “Enjoy yourself!” China3.2009 197

It wasn’t until I got back to the United States and no longer heard these things that I realized how much I’d appreciated such sources of encouragement. They had a lovely sound to my ears — and they were empowering.

To “encourage” each other, literally meaning “to give heart,” is one of the most spiritually beautiful gifts we can share. Perhaps the very scarcity of encouragement in daily life is what has so many feeling weary, fearful, and uninspired.

And an especially good reason to cultivate encouragement is that its opposite, discouragement, tends to breed complaint and criticism like weeds. Falling prey to these, which do nothing to draw us near to God, or goodness, is all too easy, leads nowhere new, and feels bad.

But surprisingly, practicing encouragement instead doesn’t require much more effort, other than willingly letting go. IMG_6181

Then there’s the surprise bonus in choosing encouragement, both for others and our own selves. Live long enough and you get to see how offering sincere encouragement to others turns out to be like giving it to yourself at the same time.

I just love when divine wisdom maximizes things in that very generous way.

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

http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=leaofthetre-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=1931847673″


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The ways encouragement “gives heart”

Happy to share some thoughts this week

in a Guest Post at

Women of Spirit and Faith’s The Divine Feminine:

To “encourage” each other, meaning literally “to give heart”, is one of the most timelessly beautiful gifts we can share.

Perhaps the very scarcity of encouragement in daily life is what has so many feeling weary, fearful, and uninspired. 

 

Read the post at:

Sharing the heart-swelling gift of encouragement.


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The remedy still resides in us

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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.

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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

 

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

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

 


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The gift we’re glad to see returned

Palm Canyon Trail

Painting: “Palm Canyon Trail” by Judy Hughey Wright.

I once heard someone describe how, while traveling on a bus in Africa, where many roads look like something Americans would reserve for all-terrain vehicles, he’d had an unexpected encounter with the power of encouragement.

As the driver navigated the deeply rutted road, the passengers would repeatedly, and with great enthusiasm, cry out a phrase that sounded like “ay-kushay.” As the American man watched more carefully, he realized that this was a kind of cheer they made each time the driver successfully avoided a pothole.

His story brought to mind the friends I made when I lived in China. Seldom have I seen people work as hard, or live with so little. In addition to showing a generally uncomplaining and positive attitude, they demonstrated something whose effectiveness finally makes sense to me. As they’d wave me on my way, they’d unfailingly call out, “Do your best,” “Take your time” or “Enjoy yourself!”

It wasn’t until I got back to the United States and no longer heard these things that I realized how much I’d appreciated such sources of encouragement. They had a lovely sound to my ears — and my heart. And they were empowering.

Parched2

Painting: “Parched,” by Judy Hughey Wright.

To “encourage” each other, meaning literally “to give heart”, is one of the most timelessly beautiful gifts we can share. Perhaps the very scarcity of encouragement in daily life is what has so many feeling weary, fearful, and uninspired. Parched, even.

Another good reason to cultivate encouragement is that its opposite, discouragement, tends to breed complaint and criticism like weeds. Falling prey to these leads nowhere new, and feels bad.

But surprisingly, practicing encouragement instead doesn’t require much more effort, other than willingly letting go.

Then there’s that surprise bonus of choosing encouragement and offering it freely: it mysteriously begins to feel like receiving it yourself, at the same time.

I love just when divine wisdom maximizes things in that very generous way.

312q7DGYsbL._SL110_

 

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

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