Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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How the desert will bloom

Image: Judy Wright

 

With the return of each day’s light comes an invitation to investigate reality, rather than imitate the past. It arrives in a world of imperfection that can easily draw negative reactions from my lower nature.

Yet I’ve often been given the chance to learn that dwelling on imperfections, berating myself or others for them, serves only to increase how many of them I see.

I then begin to draw a circle of suffering for myself. It saps my time, energy, and attention (things over which I have choice), when I could instead offer these for something that is always calling to me: the possibility, in any moment, of contributing to building life’s goodness.

As I respond to that call, I discover how much preoccupation with negativity can surround my life, fill my thoughts, and absorb my precious resources. This is the debilitating presence of blind imitation of the past, which arises from the kind of thinking that was born in earlier, fearful experiences and has led to behaviors, assumptions, and beliefs that have no basis in reality.

My encounter with imperfection extends an invitation to recognize and accept how much I don’t know, or can’t change, yet I can always discover the limitless possibilities of love in every choice available to me. Rather than reacting out of a survival-driven instinct to fight imperfection, or try to escape it, I can turn toward an indwelling response, and presence, that is better-aligned with the purpose for which I’ve been created.

As it invites me into the freedom of not fighting any thing or any one (including myself), this possibility also reminds me that every human interaction (including with myself) is either an act of giving or an act of receiving. By asking questions that encompass both giving and receiving, my sensitivity to my own needs and those of others is increased daily.

Each part of this questioning is equally important, because giving depends on someone willing and capable of receiving, and receiving depends on someone willing and capable of giving. The following two service questions are a tool that can clarify my perceptions in the course of the many choices I encounter each day:

 – At this moment in time, what is the act of service I am capable of giving that the other person is capable of receiving?

 – At this moment in time, what is the act of service I am capable of receiving that the other person is capable of giving?

 

Excerpted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?  http://www.amazon.com/With-Thine-Own-Eyes-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I 


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A reboot of spirit

Delighted to share this Guest Post from Tracey E. Meloni:

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

 

After a lifetime of moving as an Army Brat, Navy wife, and Federal drifter, I settled into my present home at the end of 2000. Looking for Christmas tree ornaments that first year, I came across a box labeled, “Somebody Stole My Boots.” It turned out to be the box of the best Christmas Past.

The winter I was 19, I was a newly married scholarship student in Boston University, making ends meet on $75 a week. My in-laws sent much-anticipated plane tickets so we could go home for a Connecticut country holiday, but Mother Nature intervened.

On Christmas Eve, monster snow not even Boston could overcome brought our plans to a halt. Christmas became an impromptu event, with an empty larder and equally empty wallets.

Down the hall lived friends Joe and Noni, another married student couple also stranded by weather and not much better supplied. We decided to pool our meager resources and make the best of things.

We took the then-MTA of Kingston Trio fame to the old farmers Haymarket (now a much trendier spot) and bought as many fresh, cheap veggies as we could carry just before the vendors went home.

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

We also bargained for a scruffy tree and dragged it onto the subway, laughing and waving at the conductor’s halfhearted warnings that no trees were allowed.

The engineering-student guys built a terrific tree stand. We trimmed the tree with popcorn, cranberries, and paper chains and installed it in the outside hallway for all to enjoy. Then we split up the cooking duties.

My mother had sent goodies from the venerable (now defunct) S.S. Pierce. Our Haymarket bounty was transformed into hearty vegetable soup, Delmonico potatoes, and what my husband called “painless beans,” the green bean-mushroom soup casserole. Joe and Noni defrosted their famous Bolognese sauce for Christmas Eve “SpagBog,” as the Brits call spaghetti Bolognese. We heard from two more stranded couples: one had a turkey, the other had cheese – and wine! Our Christmas feast seemed assured. We all arranged to meet for midnight services at a nearby church. churchnight

At church, our little band collected two more couples (fruit and rolls, guitar and flute) and we all trudged home to my building through deepening snow, feeling quite a contented glow.

A sad and ragged man armed with a sketchpad trailed behind us. We ignored him. Back at the apartment, my husband left his $10 boots in the outside hallway by the tree to dry out.

Reg4013900705643On Christmas morning, when we went to look at the tree, the boots were gone. We found a scrawled note following the cadence of The Little Drummer Boy: “Somebody Stole Your Boots, ta rup a tum tum.” Next to the note was propped a charcoal sketch, perfectly capturing us all, laughing as we walked home from Christmas Eve services – and oblivious to our portraitist.

Finding that note and the sketch brought memories flooding back. My coat was emerald green, even though it is shown in black and white. The images of my husband’s young and carefree face, and mine, make me smile – we did not know, when our unknown artist captured us, what horrors half a world away would derail our lives just a few months down the road. The charcoal, so hastily done, preserved our young innocence for all time.

Beyond that, the Christmas “Somebody Stole My Boots” taught me a most important lesson. Sometimes having no money is not a curse – it means you can’t blur spirit with commercialism. Still, even that year, I blindly overlooked someone much more needy than I, and will never forget the shame I felt that Christmas morning. Not only did Boot Man forgive our indifference – he rewarded it, and so perfectly.tracey_edgerly_meloni

Rediscovering the boot memory helped renew an old tradition in a new house. Once again, I’m putting out a modest pair of boots for needy Santas.

 

Tracey Edgerly Meloni won first prize in Ingenue Magazine’s short-story contest when she was 14 and just kept on writing. Her most recent award is a first place in feature writing from the Virginia Press Association. Formerly press secretary to three California Congressmen and Virginia’s senior Senator, she contributes regularly to several magazines, writing about food, health, the arts, and travel.

 


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When giving is receiving

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Painting: “Wings of Freedom”
from Diane Kirkup / D. Kirkup Designs.

One year as the December holiday season approached, life gave me a precious experience in giving. One of the very last things I’d bought for my father the previous year was a Christmas tree. He’d been struggling to make peace with entering assisted-living care as he also entered the final months of his life. I was feverishly trying to create Christmas around him – in fast-forward — while my heart seemed to be simultaneously breaking in half.

My daughter helped me find an artificial tree, the very last one the store had, with twinkling tiny lights already attached. After my father died the following June, that tree and the box it came in got stockpiled, along with many other things I wasn’t ready to face quite yet. Finally, as the next Christmas neared, I knew it was time to pack it up, along with other things I needed to bring to the thrift shop. But it was very, very hard to think about taking it there.

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Find this design at https://www.etsy.com/shop/DKirkupDesigns?page=2 – or enter below for a chance to win.

The following day, I drove a car packed to the gunwales to the local secondhand thrift store, feeling the weight of the grief and sadness that had been stirred by sorting through so many of my father’s things.

Then as I was unpacking the tree from my car, they magically appeared — a kind-faced young man with his little girl clutching his hand. They came up to me tentatively and asked very politely whether, if I planned to leave the tree there anyway, it might be OK for them to take it.

I hugged them both spontaneously then said that, of COURSE, I knew that it would delight my father if they were to have it, and I hoped that they were going to have an absolutely wonderful Christmas. The best they’d ever had.

Then I noticed the woman who was with them, standing off to the side. I was thinking that they all must think me crazy when she gave me a warm smile and thanked me, and then the other two, still a bit stunned by my response, began thanking me, as well. Her smile reminded me of my mother’s, I have to say.

In a little book called “The Hidden Words,” Baha’u’llah says of divine design, “To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine.”

What a gift it is to us when life allows our giving to be the precise answer to someone’s need.

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

Through Dec. 18, 2015 – Enter to win the trees pictured above and a signed copy of the book by sending an email to info@phyllisring.com with “Trees” in the subject line.

See more of Diane Kirkup’s work at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/dkirkupdesigns


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Possibility arrives anew in each moment

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

With the return of each day’s light comes an invitation to investigate, throughout the span of that day, rather than imitate the past.

Do I accept it, and apply myself to what it invites?

It arrives in a world of imperfection, one that can easily draw negative reactions from my lower nature, which must find its way in that world.

Yet I’ve surely had opportunity to learn that dwelling on imperfections, berating myself or others for them, serves only to increase my perception of them. It’s a circle of suffering I draw for myself. It saps my time, energy, and attention (those aspects of life over which I have choice) when I could instead offer them for something that is always calling, if softly, at times: the building of the good that I’m invited into each day.

In responding to that call, I discover how very much there is to become aware of and relinquish—how much preoccupation with negativity can surround my life and fill my thoughts and absorb my personal resources.

This, in many lives, is the debilitating presence of blind imitation of the past, including the kind of thinking that was born in earlier, fearful experiences and has led to attitudes, behaviors, assumptions, and beliefs that have no basis in reality—nor, indeed, anywhere near it.

My encounter with imperfection extends an invitation, too—one urging me to recognize and accept how much I don’t know, or can’t change, yet I can always discover the limitless possibilities of love in the most essential kind of response I’ve been designed and equipped to make. Rather than exercising my survival-driven instinctual reaction to fight imperfection, or try to escape it, I can turn toward an innate, indwelling response—the possibility of it—that is better-aligned with the purpose for which I’ve been created.

As it invites me into the freedom of not fighting any one or any thing (including myself), it also reminds that every human interaction (including with myself) is either an act of giving or an act of receiving. By asking questions that encompass both giving and receiving, my sensitivity to my own true needs and those of others is increased daily.

Each part of this questioning is equally important, because giving depends on someone willing and capable of receiving from me, and receiving depends on someone willing and capable of giving to me.

The following two service questions have been conceived as a way to help us focus on and clarify reality for ourselves in the course of the countless decisions we are called upon to make each day.

These junctures of possibility arrive moment by moment, and as I seek to draw away from blind imitation of the past toward the true investigation of my own and others’ deepest reality, I return to these questions again and again:

WTOEimage.php

  1. At this moment in time, what is the act of service I am capable of giving that the other person is capable of receiving?
  2. At this moment in time, what is the act of service I am capable of receiving that the other person is capable of giving?

Adapted from 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/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


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Toward the territories of spirit

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

The pain of yesterday is the strength of today.

~  Paulo Coelho

In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.

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

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

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Artwork: Judy Wright

~ John O’Donohue

When you resist the flow of life, what you are actually resisting is your own inner nature, for everything that happens to us is a reflection of who we are.

This isn’t a mystical statement; it is part of the apparatus of perception. To perceive is to grasp the meaning of something.

~ Deepak Chopra


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The freedom in not fighting

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Photo: Lara Kearns

With the return of each day’s light comes an invitation to investigate, throughout the span of that day, rather than imitate the past. Do I accept it, and apply myself to what it invites?

It arrives in a world of imperfection, one that can easily draw negative reactions from my lower nature, which must find its way in that world. Yet I’ve surely had opportunity to learn that dwelling on imperfections, berating myself or others for them, serves only to increase my perception of them. It’s a circle of suffering I draw for myself. It saps my time, energy, and attention (those aspects of life over which I have choice) when I could instead offer them for something that is always calling, if softly, at times: the building of the good that I’m invited into each day.

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Photo: Lara Kearns

In responding to that call, I discover how very much there is to become aware of and relinquish—how much preoccupation with negativity surrounds my life and can fill my thoughts and absorb my personal resources. This, in many lives, is the debilitating presence of blind imitation of the past, including the kind of thinking that was born in earlier, fearful experiences and has led to attitudes, behaviors, assumptions, and beliefs that have no basis in reality—nor, indeed, anywhere near it.

11122548_10155778229175181_1725221388_n

Photo: Lara Kearns

My encounter with imperfection extends an invitation, too—one urging me to recognize and accept how much I don’t know, or can’t change, yet I can always discover the limitless possibilities of love in the most essential kind of response I’ve been designed and equipped to make. Rather than exercising my survival-driven instinctual reaction to fight imperfection, or try to escape it, I can turn toward an innate, indwelling response—the possibility of it—that is better-aligned with the purpose for which I’ve been created.

As it invites me into the freedom of not fighting any one or any thing (including myself), it also reminds that every human interaction (including with myself) is either an act of giving or an act of receiving. By asking questions that encompass both giving and receiving, my sensitivity to my own true needs and those of others is increased daily. Each part of this questioning is equally important, because giving depends on someone willing and capable of receiving from me, and receiving depends on someone willing and capable of giving to me.

WTOEimage.phpThe following two service questions have been conceived as a way to help us focus on and clarify reality for ourselves in the course of the countless decisions we are called upon to make each day. Those junctures of possibility arrive moment by moment, and as I seek to draw away from blind imitation of the past toward the true investigation of my own and others’ deepest reality, I return to these questions again and again:

  1. At this moment in time, what is the act of service I am capable of giving that the other person is capable of receiving?
  2. At this moment in time, what is the act of service I am capable of receiving that the other person is capable of giving?

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

More information: http://www.amazon.com/With-Thine-Own-Eyes-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=pd_sim_kstore_11?ie=UTF8&refRID=0TQC490J7FVBRTJWM70H

Print version at: http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html


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Facets of the infinite jewel

How each of us chooses to show love, receive forgiveness, and express other attributes is our own spiritual fingerprint, and just like our physical fingerprint, it is unique to us. 

Nobody in the past, present, or future will love exactly the same way that each of us does. 

Each time that we give or receive, an attribute of God – a facet of the infinite jewel – is revealed.

In this way, we make an invaluable contribution because we have added to what can be perceived of divinity.

And because we are all capable of making such a contribution, this means that each individual is absolutely indispensable.

Excerpted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality? from George Ronald Publisher.

Find Kindle version at: http://www.amazon.com/With-Thine-Own-Eyes-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=pd_sim_kstore_16?ie=UTF8&refRID=1SHQANAAFWRM932HC41M

Print version: http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html