Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Presence as prayer

Image courtesy of Tarot by Cecelia

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

Man is My mystery, and I am his mystery.

~ Bahá’u’lláh

We can trust that there is a knowing that is out of the realm of thoughts or emotions or circumstances. When we deeply trust, our minds open to discover what is true, regardless of what we are feeling.  

~ Gangaji

The single most important thing we can do is stop and get off the train of our own obsessive convictions and move into awareness of some sort of presence or the present time … and breathe again. That’s about as prayerful as life gets. That is about as faithful and spiritual as I mean. And everyone can relate to that.              ~ Anne Lamott

Let go of what you are not and be who you truly are. When you let go, you create space to receive more.

~ John Whiteman

Words from Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul are also helpful:

Photo: Nelson Ashberger

“ … identify as the observer, not the experience; don’t let painful experience influence the present; you are not the thoughts you observe; a life of joy and love follows from a commitment made to a life of joy and love. Learn to live from your heart, not your ego. Take refuge in the Divine, not the temporary. Learn to control your mind rather than letting it control you. It’s just a mass of thoughts. It is possible never to ‘have’ a problem again.”

The journey that matters most to me requires that I review the events in my life for the wisdom and purpose they carry. This inventory brings questions like:

~ What are my true needs, and what is my inner “enough”?

~ How do I remember that strength, and every resource I require, arrives increment by increment, as I am ready?

~ How do I remember that inspiration and assistance will arrive, but need me to ask for them, acknowledge that I need them, and be willing to receive and act upon them?

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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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Walking a path that loves us

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Painting: Judy Wright

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

Wisdom is a creative power that enfolds, encircles, and encompasses the cosmos, quickening it from within creation.

Wisdom is only realized in and through creation, through our cooperation with the divine power available to us in our creative work.

~ Christine Valters Painter (from Creative Flourishing in the Heart of the Desert: A Self-Study Online Retreat with Hildegard of Bingen)

 

The more you work with your dreams and your unconscious, and honor it, the more you understand it and it understands you.

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Photo: Kathy Gilman

When you develop a relationship with your psyche this way, you begin to carry that energy into life and your relationships.

~ Marion Woodman

 

I think being motivated is naturally built-in to one’s vocation. When you walk a path you love, there is something deeper calling you forward on it, like a beautiful question that can never be answered. In the hard times you may turn away from it, but a part of you knows you’ll always turn back because you can’t give up on what you love, even if you try.  In the end, I think the real work is not finding inspiration, but attuning to it.

So when I’m not feeling inspired, I know somewhere along the line I’ve been distancing myself from life. This feeling of being separate from “something greater” is usually brought about by numbing habits; so I’ll take myself to the forest and let my senses be reawoken and warmed back to life. I think pleasure is really the gateway to feeling connected and inspired.

~ Dreamwork with Toko-pa

 


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Love’s call to creative living

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Photo: Wertheim.de

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

Some more wonderful company, as I ponder the mysteries of inspiration and creative process while reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear:

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Photo: Wertheim.de

“I think being motivated is naturally built-in to one’s vocation. When you walk a path you love, there is something deeper calling you forward on it, like a beautiful question that can never be answered. In the hard times you may turn away from it, but a part of you knows you’ll always turn back because you can’t give up on what you love, even if you try.

In the end, I think the real work is not finding inspiration, but attuning to it. So when I’m not feeling inspired, I know somewhere along the line I’ve been distancing myself from life.

This feeling of being separate from ‘something greater’ is usually brought about by numbing habits; so I’ll take myself to the forest and let my senses be reawoken and warmed back to life. I think pleasure is really the gateway to feeling connected and inspired.”

 ~ Dreamwork with Toko-pa

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Photo: Wertheim.de

Such love does the sky now pour,
that whenever I stand
in a field,
I have to wring out the light
when I get home.

 ~ St. Francis of Assisi

It is through the power of the soul that the mind comprehendeth, imagineth and exerteth its influence, whilst the soul is a power that is free.

The mind comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul hath limitless manifestations of its own.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


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Dancing with what is “impossible-to-predict”

Hot New Releases in Cultural Heritage Fiction

1.
The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legac...


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Plenty of time and seclusion

DCRothen69673_10151484470081802_1069344063_nI received a writer’s perfect storm this past week.

It wasn’t the one that dumped 6+ inches of snow in our yard, though that contributed, in its way. My jackpot arrived when my husband took some time off as he recovered from surgery, and the weather and the holiday turned it all into an unplanned island of seclusion.

And many good hours of writing time.

DCclouds10491100_10152666649626802_3431092671284712017_nFew have expressed the power of such a windfall better than poet Robert Frost, speaking of the years he spent in my home state of New Hampshire:

“I might say the core of all my writing was probably the five free years I had on the farm down the road a mile or two from Derry Village toward Lawrence. The only thing we had was plenty of time and seclusion. I couldn’t have figured on it in advance. I hadn’t that kind of foresight. But it turned out as right as a doctor’s prescription.” (Robert Frost, Selected Letters)

A right prescription, indeed; a writer’s Thanksgiving-week horn of plenty.

EB pix Germany and more 679This unanticipated largesse mushroomed when a kind photographer friend I met in the course of my novel’s research sent a hefty stash of historic photos from my book’s world, dozens of shots of its best-known character. For good measure, he also enclosed a book, long out of print, that I’d despaired of ever finding.

Turns out that those photos, and that book, carried the “next piece” for where the book wanted to go.

EB pix Germany and more 696Sometimes, I almost feel embarrassed as I recognize that through its nearly 400 pages, this is exactly how the elements of the book have arrived, or, I should say, presented themselves. It may not be the way a lot of people go about this. It’s certainly not the rhythm or style of NaNoWriMo. But it’s how it works for me.

The kind friend who gathered those lovely surprises and sent them to me told me that he needed things to do as he recovers from surgery. What a wavelength of synchronicity life has us both on – and, as Frost said, we “couldn’t have figured on it in advance”.

Maybe that’s the magic of it. When I know that I’ll have the time and space to write, I often swing between unhelpful extremes. I get all “important” about it, shoveling on a mountain of expectations so that I feel buried under before I even start. (And I’m plenty creative about ways not to start.) Or, like those who win lotteries or receive a big inheritance, I start giving my resources away as though it’s somehow unseemly to find myself with so much of them.

Eva_Braun_by_PrinzessinHeinrikeLife tricked me perfectly this time. I didn’t—couldn’t—plan for it. Only walk right into wonderful hours of a surprise immersion I never saw coming.

“I hadn’t that kind of foresight.”

In Phyllis Edgerly Ring’s novel-in-progress, Anna Dahlberg is about to discover that her mother shared a secret friendship with Hitler’s mistress, and its trail leads straight to her own destiny.

Find more images at: http://pinterest.com/phyllisedgerlyr/


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The gold in the hours

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Artwork: Judy Wright

“This is one of the most singular experiences, waking on what feels like a good day, preparing to work but not yet actually embarked. At this moment there are infinite possibilities, whole hours ahead.

Her mind hums. This morning she may penetrate the obfuscation, the clogged pipes, to reach the gold. She can feel it inside her, an all but indescribable second self, or rather a parallel, purer self. If she were religious, she would call it the soul. It is more than the sum of her intellect and her emotions, more than the sum of her experiences, though it runs like veins of brilliant metal through all three. It is an inner faculty that recognizes the animating mysteries of the world because it is made of the same substance, and when she is very fortunate she is able to write directly through that faculty. Meme1959335_758163877584949_5796047359521828465_n

Writing in that state is the most profound satisfaction she knows, but her access to it comes and goes without warning. She may pick up her pen and follow it with her hand as it moves across the paper; she may pick up her pen and find that she’s merely herself, a woman in a housecoat holding a pen, afraid and uncertain, only mildly competent, with no idea about where to begin or what to write.

She picks up her pen.” 

~ excerpted from The Hours, by Michael Cunningham