Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


Through the heart’s doorway


Photo: Lara Kearns


The door to my heart opens inward. I move through forgiveness to love.

~Louise Hay

We suffer because our interactions with others do not meet the expectations we did not know we had.

~ James Patrick McDonald

Self Care is … letting yourself sit on the couch an extra hour because you know that will be more productive than stressing out.

~ Soul Pancake

Both fear and faith demand you believe in something you cannot see. Have faith in the best outcome, instead of fear of the worst.

~ Law of Attraction

Within the seed of mindfulness is the seed of concentration. With these two energies, we can liberate ourselves from afflictions.

~Thich Nhat Hanh


Balance sheets of light and dark

Photo: Saffron Moser

Spring flowers remind us to be happy.

It’s as though God treasured this invitation in each one,

then spread them abundantly about the landscape

to ensure we wouldn’t miss it.

Spring and flowers and happiness all dwell together in a snapshot scene from a long-ago Equinox.

As I packed up our Toyota for the Naw-Rúz (New Year, for Baha’is) party that night, I opened the car door to find our small son sitting in the backseat so surrounded by a mass of daffodils that I could barely see him. To ensure that the flowers traveled safely, my husband gave him the task of holding them and it was the first time he’d seen these harbingers of spring.

It’s hard to remember which was bigger, or brighter — that explosion of golden blooms, or his huge grin as he clutched his precious cargo. That smile was about the only part of him I could see.

This scene had prophecy in it. Today, our son grows hundreds of thousands of plants and sends them out into the wide world.

As I remember that day on this spring morning nearly 30 years later, with the sounds of wild geese flying over the house, I feel a soft sadness brush against me, rather the way a dog or cat might.

Image: Cary Enoch

Such feelings seem the inevitable outcome of simply living through the decades, a necessary component of the blessing of life, the contrast between happy memories and wistful ones, wintry days and brilliant spring sunshine, dark and light.

When we pause to reflect, it’s so often the contrast we come to see and recall. As one character in my novel, The Munich Girl, observes when confronted with the passage — and wages — of  time:

Didn’t it all turn out differently than we expected?

Didn’t it once seem there would be the whole sky to fly in?”

It did, no doubt for all of us.

It’s not what we thought, or perhaps planned or expected.

Photo: Saffron Moser

And yet, like the flowers and other plants that bloom and reappear so faithfully around us each year, there is fresh beauty and possibility in each new day.


No, it’s never what we thought, because it’s so very much bigger. When we look. And see. It really is the whole sky, and it will come to meet us when we stop hurling ourselves against it.

In their essence, daffodils, like so many spring flowers, remind us to be happy. It’s as though God treasured this special invitation in each one and then spread them abundantly about the landscape to make sure we wouldn’t miss it.

May each new springtime remind us we are truly unlimited  beings, however earthly our journey often seems.


Patience: a kinder rhythm for the journey

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A Blue Sky Comes Out from Hiding. Photo / Kathy Gilman

Since I can count on one hand the teachers who didn’t have to ask me to stop talking in class, it follows that I’m someone who fills multiple journals, year after year, until they take over some pretty serious real estate in our house.

In the past week of reading my gangly, often indecipherable handwriting in some of those pages, I’ve identified the attribute I long to welcome into the coming year like a much-loved and eagerly anticipated guest: Patience.

I want to hear myself say, “That’s all right, I can wait,” more often, and really mean it. Because I know that if I can manage to do this, consciously, and willingly, I’ll also be making a lot more room for trust. And faith.

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A Carpeted Fell. Photo / Kathy Gilman

I want to help myself remember that when I welcome patience, allow for it, I tend to react to fewer stressors and potential irritants. Eventually, many of them stop hitting my inner radar screen at all.

Reading years’ worth of journal pages brings home the truth of something writer Zora Neale Hurston said:

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

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A Well-Ordered Land. Photo / Kathy Gilman

Patience also seems to require a quiet, steady belief that things will turn out as they need to. This is a powerful contradiction to the less-helpful directions in which most expectations, spun from my mind’s baser qualities, tend to take me.

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Castle Rigg with view of Hellvelyn Fell and stone circle, Keswick. Photo / Kathy Gilman

Reading those journal entries, which traveled through so many different sorts of peaks and valleys, also highlighted for me the truth of words of John O’Donohue:

“The soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

A blessed New Year to each and every fellow journeyer on the path.

And a special thank you to Kathy Gilman for these photographs from the fells of northern England where my mother grew up. It was on long walks in settings just like these where Kathy is hiking now that I first learned about the beauty of patience, trust, and faith. 

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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).

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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: