Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


Leave a comment

Taking a longer, deeper view

I’ve had the blessing this year of accompanying several thoughtful writers as they advance their book-writing process.

Each of their projects is soul-sized, and each is the unique distillation that only that particular writer could bring forth from experience, observation, inspiration, and the facets of creating that help bring a story to life.

My experience of living within the worlds in their pages has me reflecting once again on the power of expression in our world, the double-edged qualities of words and speech, the timeless gifts that good questions and good listening can bring us, and the potential of art to convey the wholeness of our experience.

As I do, I’m inspired by words like the following ones from writers with soul-sized perspectives.

In the company of focused writers in a workshop of the International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG).

“Writing about one’s own or another’s life poses serious challenges. A writer trying to represent his life in a book engages himself in ongoing negotiations about what information to include and what to withhold, what he believes is true and what he wants readers to think is true,” says Helena Hjalmarsson.

“The need for synthesis–coherence, connections between past and present–is a constant struggle … ” Hjalmarsson notes.

“Often, the sense of life as a logical, purposeful unfolding becomes more important to the autobiographer than objective truth.

“Also vital to writers of autobiographies is the drive to make their work relevant and accessible to their readership–as well as a desire for connection, a social and spiritual need to ‘reincarnate,’ to have their hard-won perspective exist outside themselves.”

Courtesy Justice St. Rain

Jhumpa Lahiri writes, “It was not in my nature to be an assertive person. I was used to looking to others for guidance, for influence, sometimes for the most basic cues of life.

“And yet writing stories is one of the most assertive things a person can do. Fiction is an act of willfulness, a deliberate effort to reconceive, to rearrange, to reconstitute nothing short of reality itself.

“Even among the most reluctant and doubtful of writers, this willfulness must emerge. Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, ‘Listen to me.’ ” Lahiri cuts right to the core of the matter, in this.

Author Elizabeth Sims shared timely words about this process in a blog post called “A Real Writer’s Duty”:

“These days when extraordinary, historic events occur, everybody becomes a writer. Social media enables all of us to spew impassioned opinions—joy, outrage, elation, despair—if we want to. And so many do. And free speech is great. 

“But a real writer of either fiction or nonfiction takes a much longer and deeper view of human affairs and human nature than most people.” (How I love this. Indeed, I live for it.)

“A real writer is more curious than defensive,” she continues.

“A real writer explores. A real writer is ready to be surprised. A real writer never panics. A real writer knows the world is in the work.”

 

Find Elizabeth’s Zestful Writing Blog here:

http://esimsauthor.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-real-writers-duty.html

Advertisements


4 Comments

Setting a course for Soul-sized expression

photoAs I celebrate another year in The Munich Girl’s life, and my own, I’m pondering the power of expression in the world, the double-edged qualities of speech, the timeless gifts of questions and listening, and the potential of art to convey the wholeness of our experience.

I’m revisiting the path along which the novel led me, hoping to mine some reflective memoir. As I do, I’m inspired by words like the following ones from writers with soul-sized perspectives.

“Writing about one’s own or another’s life poses serious challenges. A writer trying to represent his life in a book engages himself in ongoing negotiations about what information to include and what to withhold, what he believes is true and what he wants readers to think is true,” says Helena Hjalmarsson. Meme1959335_758163877584949_5796047359521828465_n

“The need for synthesis – coherence, connections between past and present – is a constant struggle … ” Hjalmarsson notes. “Often, the sense of life as a logical, purposeful unfolding becomes more important to the autobiographer than objective truth. Also vital to writers of autobiographies is the drive to make their work relevant and accessible to their readership – as well as a desire for connection, a social and spiritual need to ‘reincarnate,’ to have their hard-won perspective exist outside themselves.”

Jhumpa Lahiri writes, “It was not in my nature to be an assertive person. I was used to looking to others for guidance, for influence, sometimes for the most basic cues of life.

sprgbluphoto 3

Painting: Judy Wright

“And yet writing stories is one of the most assertive things a person can do. Fiction is an act of willfulness, a deliberate effort to reconceive, to rearrange, to reconstitute nothing short of reality itself. Even among the most reluctant and doubtful of writers, this willfulness must emerge. Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, ‘Listen to me.’ ” Lahiri cuts right to the core, in this.

Elizabeth Sims recently shared timely words about this process in a blog post called “A Real Writer’s Duty”:

“These days when extraordinary, historic events occur, everybody becomes a writer. Social media enables all of us to spew impassioned opinions—joy, outrage, elation, despair—if we want to. And so many do. And free speech is great.  the soul ajar_congdon2

“But a real writer of either fiction or nonfiction takes a much longer and deeper view of human affairs and human nature than most people.” (How I love this. Indeed, I live for it.)

“A real writer is more curious than defensive,” she continues. “A real writer explores. A real writer is ready to be surprised. A real writer never panics. A real writer knows the world is in the work.”

Find Elizabeth’s Zestful Writing Blog here:

http://esimsauthor.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-real-writers-duty.html

 

 

 


1 Comment

Eternal light, immortal spirit

Israel 139

Grateful this week for this guest post from author

Ron Tomanio:

             My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.

~ The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh

How can a painful or tragic event be “light and mercy”?

It may help to see the attributes of God more like diamonds with infinite facets as opposed to a one- or two-dimensional mirror. Some facets are developed in times of “calamity” or times of “fire and vengeance”. Some facets are developed in happy times, some are developed in sad times, times of tragedy involving great pain. Mirror Love

It is possible to survive painful events, but not meaningless ones. Although a full understanding of why these events happen may not be possible in the present moment, why allow that to veil us from the experience of that moment?

Instead, we can take what we don’t understand and place it in the hands of God and concentrate our efforts in seeing every moment of our life as a priceless, irreplaceable opportunity to discover the boundless love and compassion that live in our heart.

Untitled1The last part of the Hidden Word above describes our true destiny: an “eternal light and an immortal spirit”.

The incredible irony of learning to develop facets of our inner diamonds during painful events instead of shouting “why me?” is that the choice to develop those gems is the best chance we have of escaping the prison of the painful moment and actually answering the “why me?” question — effectively.

It seems that this process of learning and acquiring the attributes of God, whatever the type of experience it is that offers us the opportunity, has relevance to the next stage of our journey, which entails traversing purely spiritual worlds.

Here is my “why me?” answer, but I emphasize that it’s strictly the answer I received when I personally asked the inner question. What if in this world I could only see one color of the spectrum, such as the color blue? I would not see a complete vision of the world in which I live, and that would have a severe impact on the quality of my life.

IMG_5448In the next world the equivalent of our spiritual senses are the attributes of God. If we only developed the facets of these attributes in happy times, we would be unable to fully discern the world beyond because we would not have fully developed our spiritual senses to be aware of all that our surroundings include. In the next world, the attributes of God become our spiritual senses. Love, justice, mercy become our eyes and ears.

These qualities have facets of both giving and receiving. Thus, a wide variety of experience – including the painful and difficult — that offers the contrast that helps us build our capacities for both giving and receiving is indispensable if we are to fully develop any attribute.

And it is vital if, as souls, we are to acquire a fuller range and spectrum of them.

 WTOEimage.php

Co-authors Ron Tomanio, Diane Iverson, and Phyllis Ring explore these and related themes in 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


Leave a comment

Spiritual intelligence and subtleties of truth

IMG_6980

Image: D. Kirkup Designs /https://www.etsy.com/shop/DKirkupDesigns

“Collective spiritual intelligence (SQ) is low in modern society,” physicist and philosopher Danah Zohar has said. “We live in a spiritually dumb culture characterized by materialism, expediency, narrow self-centredness, lack of meaning and dearth of commitment.”

However discouraging that assessment may sound, she goes on to describe how, as individuals “we can act to raise our personal SQ – indeed, the further evolution of society depends upon enough individuals doing so …”

Among the ways she describes that we can light up that darkness are to use our inner gifts:

–     to look for the connections between things;

–     to bring to the surface the assumptions we have been making about the meaning behind and within things;

–     to become more reflective;

–     to reach beyond ourselves a little;

–      to take responsibility;

–      to become more self-aware; and

–      to be more honest with ourselves and more courageous.”

“Happy are those who spend their days in gaining knowledge, in discovering the secrets of nature, and in penetrating the subtleties of pure truth,” Abdu’l-Bahá has reminded in a book called Some Answered Questions.

SO! The means of raising our SQ — and assuring the further evolution of society — is also – the source of happiness!

Each day presents us with a blank new canvas on which to place our steps toward this.

The world may seem a mess, but divine design remains both wondrous and unlimited, when we turn toward it and receive it with WTOEimage.phpwillingness.

Explore more about the spiritual invitation of our times in With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past, When We Can Investigate Reality? at:

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

Also available in print version at: http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html


1 Comment

Awareness needs both giving and receiving

Little Lamb Laying Low 31

Photo: Kathy Gilman

Can I recognize in my encounters with imperfection an invitation to accept that there is much I don’t know, or can’t change, especially about others?

How might I discover the limitless possibilities of love, of being open to the new possibilities in a situation or a moment? Might willingness to meet the present, rather than automatically imitate or recreate the past, be what it most truly means to “occupy” my self?

EB pix Germany and more 118The two service questions are conceived as a mechanism to help me focus on and clarify reality for myself in the decisions with which I am faced each day. Those junctures of possibility arrive moment by moment, and the goal of this pair of questions is to help me meet each one consciousl:

~ 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?

WTOEimage.phpEvery human interaction is either an act of giving or an act of receiving. By asking questions that encompass both giving and receiving, my sensitivity to and awareness of my own needs and those of others is increased daily. Both questions are equally important because giving depends on someone willing and capable of receiving, and receiving depends on someone willing and capable of giving.

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

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

Also available in print version from: http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html