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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How do we make room – for Life?

MDB105028-zuganzeige_4zu1_704x176Five years ago this week, as I followed the chapters of my novel — and the trail of Eva Braun’s life — to their conclusion, I faced a long day of train travel. It would take me from the southern edge of Germany’s border with Austria nearly to the top of Germany.

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Photo: David Campbell

The night before – the entire day before – I’d been riddled with anxiety. I had four train connections to make, and my mind was unhelpfully cataloging every single thing that could possibly go wrong.

This kind of turmoil eventually arises every time I travel alone for extended periods of time, and always for the same reason. After the dreamy honeymoon of my first few days, just the fact that I’m on my own in a place that’s out of my element triggers an inner myth that’s as unkind as it is false: I need to find some way to be in control, in order to be safe.

Since, deep down at the heart of truth, I recognize that I’m never going to be able to do that, this leads inevitably to a separated sense of aloneness that feels eternity-sized. I also know it’s an experience that’s universal, not one of us escapes it. Surely, this is what any addictive tendency seeks to squelch and suppress – anything but have to face it.Tollebooks

Reading a wonderful manuscript from a writer friend reminded me of the power question I’ll have ready next time this happens: “Is control something I ultimately even WANT?”

The night before that trip, I finally stumbled on some steadying words from Eckhart Tolle:

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.”Lenggriesexterior-view

In that cozy Bavarian hotel room, I hadn’t a problem worth noting, other than my monkey mind. It was the eve of a holiday in Germany called St. Niklaus Tag, Dec. 6, and every aspect of the setting in which I found myself was idyllic, supportive, friendly and inviting. Yet I was depriving myself of the experience with every anxious moment.

So, relaxing into Tolle’s invitation, I remembered the spirit of this holiday, one of the first I experienced in my childhood, filled with warm, lovely memories.

Suddenly the thought popped up, as brightly and boldly as a child’s would: “I wonder whether, if I put my boots outside the door, they’ll be filled for St. Niklaus Tag?” It seemed silly, and it made me happy, and for the rest of the night, I enjoyed my hours and had a restful sleep.Weihnsort4013900850022-gdcom

The next morning, when I opened the door of my hotel room to wheel my luggage out and head for that first train, there in the middle of the floor outside was a red gift bag festooned with stars. Inside were a variety of seasonal treats, including a tall chocolate “Christmas Man”, an orange, apple, tiny ginger star cookies with icing, and 2 each in the shell of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.

Exactly the contents that might fill a child’s shoes on St. Niklaus Tag.

I was so stunned, I wondered whether I’d only dreamed waking up and bundling myself out that door.

Surely they did this for all the guests? (There was a conference-worth of them staying.) But the bag outside my door was the only one I saw waiting in that hallway.

zimtsterneWhen I asked the woman at the desk about it as she checked me out, Bavarian-friendly but completely non-committal, she told me, “Oh, aren’t there always all kinds of nice surprises that can happen in a day? Have a good trip.”

As I munched my treats from south-to-north, I had so much fun watching the scenery, visiting with fellow travelers, and enjoying the journey, I forgot to worry about anything at all.

“ …make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath your life situation.” So that you can LIVE it.

Find more about The Munich Girl here:

The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

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


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The gifts of fear

541_1099255106753633_2986521664856853477_nFear can be instructive when I experience it, though I’m not meant to dwell on it, or in it.

If I understand the inner signals of fear, whose purpose is to educate and inform me, I can choose to make the necessary adjustments in belief and behavior that will prevent for me the unhealthy and painful mental state of being consumed by that fear.

Most often, that state seems one of attempting to avoid the fear, rather than meeting it and receiving what it has to reveal.

12540955_1083557441675049_3476144824824426026_nIn the physical world, a fear signal is often a potentially life-saving reaction that prompts me to move quickly out the way of harm to my physical self. In spiritual terms, I can also experience triggers of fear that point to what could pose danger to my own true and most enduring reality. This signal often arises when I cross the line of moderation and form an attachment to some aspect of the material world.

For every worldly attachment I make, I can gain an unhealthy fear, then easily become overwhelmed by such fears. The remedy, detachment, is in refraining from allowing my physical possessions, the things I do, the things I think, feel, believe, to possess me. For these are what perish.

WTOEimage.phpThe heart, it seems, is never at rest and never finds real joy and happiness until it attaches itself to the eternal, to what does not perish.

 

Adapted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past, When We Can Investigate Reality?:

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/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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Each day holds glimpses of heaven

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Photo: Cary Enoch

Many aspects of life these days bring a sharp edge that slices into our vulnerable hearts the way paper cuts snag us as if they’ve been lying in wait. Yet, as one friend points out, they happen because we make contact with something.

“Can’t we just try to be kind, to ease up? Can’t we just let love in?” another friend fairly gasped in despair one day recently when the onslaught of news about utterly savage things seemed too much to bear.

The simplest answer is, absolutely we can. Things can all feel so overwhelming, our small, human selves quite powerless, or overpowered — yet the real power we have has been deposited securely in a place that’s always safe from any sort of harm. And its use is designed to be easy and uncomplicated.

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Photo: Aletta Reimer Weiss

One experience that my friend Ronnie received in his work with brain-injured folks continues to bring this home to me, to really penetrate my heart with the truth of it, as the years go by.

In the day program for the clients with whom he works, activities are held in a large community building shared by several service organizations.

One day, an adult client who had been hit by a car as a child was being fed his lunch by his caregiver in the building’s cafeteria. Food was dripping down his chin onto his bib, and he was in no position to clean his own face, or even ask for it to be cleaned. Other than one arm that seems to have a life of its own, he has little control over his own body.

But he has total control over his own heart, Ronnie says.

He’d become the friend of a group of 3-year-olds who attend a pre-school in the same building. Each day, after they finished their lunch, they’d crowd around their friend’s wheelchair and tell him all about their day. They weren’t the least bit bothered by the fact that he is unable to answer them, or that bits of food fall off his bib onto the floor. After all, they often have the same problem.

11014906_824910567597565_94928212601865149_nOn this particular day, as Ronnie watched this little group, he suddenly spotted one of those glimpses of heaven we get to see, if we’re paying attention. The small, enthusiastic voices were regaling the young man in the wheelchair, and he was sitting quietly, as he has no choice but to do.

And then, in the next unexpected moment, he raised that sometimes wayward arm. There was, no doubt, some concern among the adult onlookers, as he waved it around. Then, it settled softly on a little girl’s shoulder, like a broken-winged bird.

She smiled up at him, and he smiled down at her.

Life is made up of moments, and some of those moments are pure heaven, Ronnie says. But you need to look carefully for them because sometimes they happen in a crowded lunchroom and if you are always looking up, or down, or somewhere else distractedly, you just might miss them.

Fortunately, he adds, life is very generous with the portions of these it dishes out — a veritable feast, no matter what harsh winds blow or dark clouds roll over our heads. These are the gifts waiting for us to exchange, and not a single day will withhold them from us.

coverthumbAdapted 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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Fear’s remedy does not perish

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

Fear can be instructive when I experience it, though I’m not meant to dwell on it, or in it.

If I understand the inner signals of fear, whose purpose is to educate and inform me, I can choose to make the necessary adjustments in belief and behavior that will prevent for me the unhealthy and painful mental state of being consumed by that fear.

Most often, that state seems one of attempting to avoid the fear, rather than meeting it and receiving what it has to reveal.

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

In the physical world, a fear signal is often a potentially life-saving reaction that prompts me to move quickly out the way of harm to my physical self.

In spiritual terms, I can also experience triggers of fear that point to what could pose danger to my own true and most enduring reality. This signal often arises when I cross the line of moderation and form an attachment to some aspect of the material world.

For every worldly attachment I make, I can gain an unhealthy fear, then easily become overwhelmed by such fears. The remedy, detachment, is in refraining from allowing my physical possessions, the things I do, the things I think, feel, believe, to possess me. For these are what perish.WTOEimage.php

The heart, it seems, is never at rest and never finds real joy and happiness until it attaches itself to the eternal, to what does not perish.

Adapted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past, When We Can Investigate Reality?: 

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410352058&sr=8-1&keywords=with+thine+own+eyes