Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Rising to that for which we’re created

 

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Artwork: Judy Wright

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

 

O Friends!
Abandon not the everlasting beauty for a beauty that must die, and set not your affections on this mortal world of dust.

~ Baha’u’llah

Shed the light of a boundless love on every human being whom you meet, whether of your country, your race, your political party, or of any other nation, or shade of political opinion.

Heaven will support you while you work in this in-gathering of the scattered peoples of the world beneath the shadow of the almighty tent of unity.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

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Artwork: Judy Wright

 

Be thou not unhappy; the tempest of sorrow shall pass; regret will not last; disappointment will vanish; the fire of the love of God will become enkindled, and the thorns and briars of sadness and despondency will be consumed!

Be thou happy; rest thou assured upon the favors of Bahá so that uncertainty and hesitation may become non-existent and the invisible outpourings descend upon the arena of being!”

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

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In a full heart there is room

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Wertheim flowerbox photo: Jon Ring

Just like one of the characters in my novel, my mother had a Leap-Year birthday on February 29. As my sister and I remember her this year, I’m grateful to share a guest post from my sister that carries my mother’s voice — unmistakable to my inner ear, across years and the incomprehensible distance between this life and the next — in ways that leave my heart astonished.

It was captured at a time of unbearable loss, and unfathomable mystery, just the sort of atmospheres in which our mother knew how to accompany us.

 

Guest Post

By Tracey Edgerly Meloni

I need my mother.

I’m twelve years too late, but never have I needed her more than at this moment. Her last words to me were, “I’ll always be with you,” though I doubt either of us believed that she was being literal.

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Photo: Karen Olin Darling

This is not what I expected, this waiting for Bob, the last time I will see him in this hospital, the last time I will touch his hand, brush his lips with mine. Sometime between when a tinny voice called me in the middle of the night and when I arrived here, he was spirited away from his sterile ICU cubicle (now stripped and eerily empty) to this unknown room I am waiting to enter. The Visitation Room, they call it. Doctors, nurses, orderlies and general helpers bustle past; no one looks at me.

I am sitting in the Dead Zone, an awkward limbo to hospital personnel: the patient is no longer here, but has not yet left the building.

Don’t worry — you know they are getting him ready. And I will be with you.

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Painting, “Movement” by Diane Kirkup

Mum is here – that deliciously throaty voice, Helen Mirren meets Lauren Bacall, her Arden scent wrapping around me like her slender arms.

Yes, I do know, after years as a doctor’s wife,

I know about  “getting him ready.” Removing the tubes and wires, masking the bruises, the torn skin, the paddle burns; erasing that final image, the moment of knowing alarm, from his features. I’ve been there hundreds of times, but not with my Bob being the one readied. Definitely I am looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

Let’s go away somewhere for now – pick your happiest memory.

There were so many … let’s go with Turks and Caicos, 1987, before the Glitterati discovered it, when only one gas pump, a Club Med and the most glorious scuba diving in the hemisphere defined it. When torrid and wine-drenched afternoons were spent lying naked under the lazy ceiling fan …

thOK, enough … I am your Mum, after all, and you were a long way from married then … pick another memory.

In Venice, on the Grand Canal, in the bridal suite of the Regina-Europa, toasting Mum’s leap-year birthday at a time when no sane person goes to Venice.

Or in Cairo, having dinner at sunset on the Nile …

Or in Djibouti, where “Bombay Bob” gained fame on our 100-passenger explorer vessel for my dubious lyrics, to the tune of the old “Pretty Baby:”

“If you miss the final shuttle

Say GOODBYE, your cruise is scuttled,

In Djibouti today!”

Naked stuff there, too, yes?

483660_10151501579297641_2073824323_nThere, and everywhere.  Soul mates and best friends and … yes.

“Mrs. Meloni? You may come in now – and my condolences.”

Mum says nothing – For this, I must step forward on my own.

The room is ridiculous, chintz and lavender wallpaper and a rocking chair, as if I am welcoming him to the world, not saying goodbye.

He is clean, pink, scrubbed – no sign of the odious central line that became so infected, all evidence of his cracked chest,  ventilator, bedsores and other bodily harm hidden by an Amish quilt. Terrible music – Mantovani Mediocrity, elevator music – plays softly in the background. Tears, the unbidden, unattractive snotty-nosed kind, threaten.

No, no, no! We don’t cry for bad taste and worse music. Get everyone out of here and be alone with him – capture what you need.

I ask everyone to leave. I kiss his forehead, his earlobe, his neck. I slide off his wedding ring, knowing I will wear it on a chain around my neck, maybe forever. I marvel at his peaceful expression, so different from yesterday’s angst. I long to stroke all of him, but know that those days are over.

Never again will we lie naked together, under a lazy ceiling fan.

Some not-quite-a-nurse person hands me a plastic bag: the dead man’s stuff, no longer needed. Glasses and underwear and a book he never read about Cole Porter.

I think of his spider-quote from EB White: “and I … as spiders do, attach one single thread to you, for my returning …”

Mum

Peggy Wilson Edgerly, 29 Feb. 1920 – 4 Nov. 2000.

You’ve forgotten Antonio, she reminds me;  we both love Antonio Porchia, especially  in a full heart there is room for everything and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.”

I cock my head to one side, holding Bob’s hand gently, wondering what she will say, and if she will come back again.

She blows me away:

Man, when he does not grieve, hardly exists.

 

 A heart full of thanks to writer Tracey Edgerly Meloni

 


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Roots of hunger, role of justice

munichgirl_card_frontI have read a lot about about hunger — and destruction — on the road to my novel The Munich Girl.

There was a lot of hunger, in a lot of places, before, during, and after the second World War. I have an abundance of first-person accounts from people in my own family who have never forgotten what it feels like.

Many of them paid a big price for it with their health, or lived in fear afterward with cupboards they can never empty before the contents spoil. From my earliest days, I listened to stories of what it feels like — what you feel like — when you don’t have enough to eat.

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Photo: David Campbell

I wonder what those who sought to remake the world with justice after the war would think of where we find ourselves as a world today? There is still hunger. There is unbearable savagery.

There is a collective consciousness that remains unconscious of the reality, precious value, and imperative of soulhood.

In fairness, it’s hard to remake a world in “justice” in the midst of unimaginable destruction. If you only operate out of what you think you know about justice, what you think history and experience have shown it to be, the possibilities in such imitation are, inevitably, quite limiting.

If you don’t know what the very purpose of justice is, it’s like traveling without a map, or even a polar star.

The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men.

~ Bahá’u’lláh

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Photo: David Campbell

Unambiguous, this declaration is. And doubtless, very difficult to conceptualize — and apply — if you act only from what you believe you know about human beings, and potential, based on what you believe you know about human history and experience.

As I continue to study the war that launched our world into entirely unimagined directions, many of which have congealed in blighted possibility, like plants insufficiently watered, I think I’m discovering what the root of all hunger really is. There is much we have not yet mined, nor learned, from “history.” History itself often remains a narrow category deliberately designed to keep certain things in, and certain things out — essentially what has always led to violence of every kind.

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Photo: Diane Kirkup

But there is also a legacy that always outlasts that — a brilliant jewel of indestructible power whose facets reflect those qualities of justice and unity that Bahá’u’lláh has pointed to. I believe that it is the only reason there is any possibility of either survival or advancement, just as I believe that humanity continues, if blindly, to let itself be convinced to treasure trash, while overlooking the one true treasure it has.

John O’Donohue has recognized what it is, and why it triumphs, and why we suffer so deeply — every kind of hunger we know — when we betray ourselves by depriving ourselves of it:

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Photo: Timothy Jette

Our time is hungry in spirit. In some unnoticed way we have managed to inflict severe surgery on ourselves. We have separated soul from experience, become utterly taken up with the outside world and allowed the interior life to shrink.

Like a stream disappears underground, there remains on the surface only the slightest trickle. When we devote no time to the inner life, we lose the habit of soul. We become accustomed to keeping things at surface level.

The deeper questions about who we are and what we are here for visit us less and less. If we allow time for soul, we will come to sense its dark and luminous depth.

If we fail to acquaint ourselves with soul, we will remain strangers in our own lives.  

~ John O’Donohue


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Beyond all walls and worry

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

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Photo: Karen Olin Darling

Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought. Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence. Flow down and down in always widening rings of being.

~ Rumi

What is drawing? How does one get there? It’s working one’s way through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do.

How can one get through that wall? — since hammering on it doesn’t help at all. In my view, one must undermine the wall and grind through it slowly and patiently.

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

And behold, how can one remain dedicated to such a task without allowing oneself to be lured from it or distracted, unless one reflects and organizes one’s life according to principles?

And it’s the same with other things as it is with artistic matters. And the great isn’t something accidental; it must be willed. Whether originally deeds lead to principles in a person or principles lead to deeds is something that seems to me as unanswerable and as little worth answering as the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

But I believe it’s a positive thing and of great importance that one should try to develop one’s powers of thought and will.

~ Vincent van Gogh

When you hold on tightly to a part of your life that’s not working, it has no room to heal. Whether you’re unhappy with your love life, finances, career, home, or health, let go …If you hang on to these aspects of your life because of fears such as “What if I can’t find someone or something better?” then the situation will only worsen.

However, if you’re willing to open your hands and allow the situation to be freed, one of two situations will occur: Either it will be washed away from you and replaced by a better situation, or the situation will heal in a miraculous way. Try not to control the outcome of your troubling situation. Let go, and let God help you!

~ Doreen Virtue


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Snow for summer reading

So grateful to Annie Ludovici for such a very kind tweet about Snow Fence Road. Nothing boosts awareness of a book like personal appreciation and word of mouth.

So often, when a book is part of a giveaway at Goodreads, shipping the books off to winners is the last an author ever hears about it — until someone like winner Virgina Madrid does something mighty nice like this:

“A lovely romance novel that warms the heart!
Nice and classy with the touch of adventure that life offers.
I highly enjoyed this book.”
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    Adding a book to the world these days can feel like adding a leaf to a forest.
    When folks make the time to journey into a book’s world, it is a supreme gift to its author.
    I’m thankful for every reader willing to visit Knowle, Maine, and its ramshackle old Spinnaker Inn, then make time to let others know about it.

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Join Night Owl Reviews’ Find Your Next Great Read Scavenger Hunt in June to discover great new books and authors, and maybe win an Amazon Gift Card: https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Blog/Articles/Find-Your-Next-Great-Read-Scavenger-Hunt-June-2015

    Find more about Snow Fence Road at:


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Quenching our deepest thirst

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

Imagine we are desert-bound souls desperately seeking water. If we are offered anything but water we will turn away. We might be offered a change of clothes, food, shelter — all good things. But the desperate nature of life-threatening thirst will cause the thirsty one to reject what is offered as if the offering were poison.

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

When we experience intense suffering, our world seems to narrow dramatically and become very small. Imagine the intense pain we feel when we sustain a deep burn–or a deep loss.

Do we really care, at that moment, about any other needs in our life, no matter how legitimate they are? The need that seems most desperate can crowd out of our consciousness all other needs until that need is met, whether it is removing our hand from a heat source, healing from grief, or quenching our thirst with life-giving water. WTOEimage.php

If it is our desperate need to discover our authentic self and purpose, then once we become aware of that true identity and purpose, we’ll understand the most beneficial choices for us to make. As with any thirst, it is a matter of first things first. The tricky challenge is that often, rather like seeking water in sand, our mind seeks purpose and fulfillment in the material realm that, much like sand, offers neither resources to meet our deepest need, nor a viable foundation upon which to build.

Without the awareness and involvement of our spiritual nature — who we truly are — our life is rather like a gift we can never unwrap nor fully receive.

Excerpted 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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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.”