Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Following the spiritual breadcrumbs

As I revisit themes from my novel, The Munich Girl, during my travels in Europe over these next weeks, I am mining, inwardly, for facets of my experience in writing that book that have been calling –and loudly — for quite some time now.

Doesn’t matter whether I’m awake or asleep, they mean business, and they’re not going away. What they want even appeared like a sign on a wall in a dream: memoir.

This is always the point at which I hear a voice in my head, with a mild British accent, asking, “Whatever bloody for?” It chimed in frequently over the nearly nine years that The Munich Girl came into being. The process of that book showed me that if I didn’t flinch or back away from that question but met it head-on, that voice frequently shifted to something like, “Oh, right, then,” and actually became a helpful ally.

As a writer, I have actively avoided the prospect of memoir for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is public embarrassment. (“Who cares?” is an effective deterrent, too.) Some might argue that I’ve already gotten the embarrassment part out of the way, perhaps more than once, and I wouldn’t disagree.

When I finally understood enough about the purpose of memoir as focusing in and reflecting about a specific stage or aspect of personal experience, I had a humbling recognition. The fact is, in much the way creative process, in all its mystery, delivered every part of the novel’s story when I was willing to let it lead, it offered up, at the same time, a cache of memoir material. It was like those dual-action machines gaining popularity in Europe that both wash and dry your clothes — it had practically outlined the next book for me.

If I had the heart, and will, to follow the trail again. “Spiritual breadcrumbs,” one friend calls this, adding boldly, “Are you going to be so ungrateful as to let them go to waste?”

I hadn’t planned to write a memoir any more than I had a novel that includes Hitler’s wife . But just as the environs of that story did, something is acting on me in a way I’ve given up trying to explain, but absolutely cannot deny.  As I have more conversations with readers of The Munich Girl, encounter the deep questions they ask and the observations they make after living in the book for a time, the following passage, which played a big part in the emotional themes of the novel, is right back in front of me for re-examination.

Without a doubt, I’ll let it lead again, whatever the outcome, because my heart knows it’s too big a piece of our current dilemmas in this world — too universal a one — not to heed, and honor.

We are all of us searching for love, for the intimacy, closeness, tenderness we may remember from when we were in our mother’s arms or may have glimpsed in a lover’s embrace.

Or we may know it just as a sense of something we always wanted, something missing from our life.

This love is at the core of our being, and yet we search for it everywhere, so often causing our self pain in the process, losing our way, becoming entangled in our desires and all our images of love.

Then, one day, something makes us turn away from the outer world to seek this truth within us.

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

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The grace of wild mercy

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Quilt: Joan Haskell

As I share themes from my new novel The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War during my travels in Europe this month, the following two passages of inspiring thought seem especially relevant:

We are all of us searching for love, for the intimacy, closeness, tenderness we may remember from when we were in our mother’s arms or may have glimpsed in a lover’s embrace.

Or we may know it just as a sense of something we always wanted, something missing from our life.

This love is at the core of our being, and yet we search for it everywhere, so often causing our self pain in the process, losing our way, becoming entangled in our desires and all our images of love.

Then, one day, something makes us turn away from the outer world to seek this truth within us.

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

photo 1

Quilt: Joan Haskell

The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. …

To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle.

Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace.

Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.

 ~ Terry Tempest Williams

 

Find more about The Munich Girl, available again soon, at:

http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448266057&sr=8-1&keywords=the+munich+girl

 

 


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The inner shapes the outer

4246fbb0b47db3620a87f203817e338c We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved.

Man is organic with the world. His inner life molds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it.

The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.

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Courtesy: The Heirloom Gardener, John Forti / http://www.jforti.com/

~ Shoghi Effendi 

If an active, actual peace is brought about, the human world will attain to the utmost serenity and composure; wolves will be transformed into lambs … and terrors into divine splendors in less than the twinkling of an eye. 

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

~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha

If you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots.

If you want to change the visible, you must first change the invisible.

~ T. Harv Eker

 


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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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Our innermost happenings

Gleanings found here and there:

KaffeeKannephotoThink, dear friend, reflect on the world that you carry within yourself. And name this thinking what you wish … Just be sure that you observe carefully what wells up within you and place that above everything that you notice around you. Your innermost happening is worth all your love. You must somehow work on that.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is life itself, it is an insane way to live.

~ Eckhart Tolle EB pix Germany and more 017

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines.

Get a life in which you pay attention to the baby as she scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger.

~ Anna Quindlen