Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Balance sheets of light and dark

Photo: Saffron Moser

Spring flowers remind us to be happy.

It’s as though God treasured this invitation in each one,

then spread them abundantly about the landscape

to ensure we wouldn’t miss it.

Spring and flowers and happiness all dwell together in a snapshot scene from a long-ago Equinox.

As I packed up our Toyota for the Naw-Rúz (New Year, for Baha’is) party that night, I opened the car door to find our small son sitting in the backseat so surrounded by a mass of daffodils that I could barely see him. To ensure that the flowers traveled safely, my husband gave him the task of holding them and it was the first time he’d seen these harbingers of spring.

It’s hard to remember which was bigger, or brighter — that explosion of golden blooms, or his huge grin as he clutched his precious cargo. That smile was about the only part of him I could see.

This scene had prophecy in it. Today, our son grows hundreds of thousands of plants and sends them out into the wide world.

As I remember that day on this spring morning nearly 30 years later, with the sounds of wild geese flying over the house, I feel a soft sadness brush against me, rather the way a dog or cat might.

Image: Cary Enoch

Such feelings seem the inevitable outcome of simply living through the decades, a necessary component of the blessing of life, the contrast between happy memories and wistful ones, wintry days and brilliant spring sunshine, dark and light.

When we pause to reflect, it’s so often the contrast we come to see and recall. As one character in my novel, The Munich Girl, observes when confronted with the passage — and wages — of  time:

Didn’t it all turn out differently than we expected?

Didn’t it once seem there would be the whole sky to fly in?”

It did, no doubt for all of us.

It’s not what we thought, or perhaps planned or expected.

Photo: Saffron Moser

And yet, like the flowers and other plants that bloom and reappear so faithfully around us each year, there is fresh beauty and possibility in each new day.

 

No, it’s never what we thought, because it’s so very much bigger. When we look. And see. It really is the whole sky, and it will come to meet us when we stop hurling ourselves against it.

In their essence, daffodils, like so many spring flowers, remind us to be happy. It’s as though God treasured this special invitation in each one and then spread them abundantly about the landscape to make sure we wouldn’t miss it.

May each new springtime remind us we are truly unlimited  beings, however earthly our journey often seems.

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In a Light-infused season

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Claude Monet, The Road in front of Saint-Siméon Farm in Winter, 1867.

 

O PEOPLES of the world! The Sun of Truth hath risen to illumine the whole earth, and to spiritualize the community of man. Laudable are the results and the fruits thereof, abundant the holy evidences deriving from this grace.

This is mercy unalloyed and purest bounty; it is light for the world and all its peoples; it is harmony and fellowship, and love and solidarity; indeed it is compassion and unity, and the end of foreignness; it is the being at one, in complete dignity and freedom, with all on earth.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha  944080_1103095966369547_7004980646450369999_n

 

There are two kinds of light.

There is the visible light of the sun, by whose aid we can discern the beauties of the world around us—without this we could see nothing.

Nevertheless, though it is the function of this light to make things visible to us, it cannot give us the power to see them or to understand what their various charms may be, for this light has no intelligence, no consciousness.

It is the light of the intellect which gives us knowledge and understanding, and without this light the physical eyes would be useless. 12241461_10150706218954999_7988366078325665830_n

This light of the intellect is the highest light that exists, for it is born of the Light Divine.

The light of the intellect enables us to understand and realize all that exists, but it is only the Divine Light that can give us sight for the invisible things, and which enables us to see truths that will only be visible to the world thousands of years hence.

 

~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks

 


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What shall we keep room for in our hearts?

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“Evolution is transformation. And transformation is happening all the time. It happens as we learn new things … ” notes author Christine DeLorey.

“Evolution is not an automatic ever-ascending spiritual conveyor-belt,” she adds, “but the result of our ability to face reality, adjust, adapt, and change.”

A key element of our transformative path is contrast, whose intensity and extremes can sometimes seem — and feel — shocking. Even disheartening.

10854827_878021268895335_1204551440909094264_oHow can we maximize its effectiveness, by seeing what it is pointing to, for our heart’s understanding? What is it helping us remember? And how is it reminding us of all that we do not yet know?

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable,” urges poet Mary Oliver, and theologian Paul Tillich reminds, “The first duty of love is to listen.”

“ … if you are willing to let your heart break completely open, with no internal narrative controlling the opening, you will discover the pure, innocent love that is alive in the core of every emotion, every feeling, everybody,” writes Gangaji.

“It remains pure and spacious regardless of change or loss.”

11798178_10155840072870181_1562789834_nOnce this happens, then perhaps we are equipped at last for what these words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s invite:

“Make ready thy soul that thou mayest be like the light which shineth forth from the loftiest heights on the coast, by means of which guidance may be given to the timid ships amid the darkness of fog …”

Including those often-timid ships of our own small selves.

 


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The country they call life

 

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

 

Treasured words from Rainer Maria Rilke:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear: 10854827_878021268895335_1204551440909094264_o

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


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We each hold the key to a kind world

 

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As Winter overtakes my days, I love hearing from readers.

Most are responding to The Munich Girl, a story with its share of wintry scenes. But some have also been visiting the world of my earlier novel, Snow Fence Road.

One reviewer’s words about its story continue to strike a chord:

 “One of the things I also enjoyed was that this took place in a kind world, with supportive and loving folks, despite their past difficulties, even with each other.”

This is the reason that I write –  from the belief that this is the world that all of our hearts want – and that all of our hearts are capable of helping to bring it into being. Our minds can be reinforced in a thousand ways to believe that this is unrealistic and impossible.

But our hearts know so very much better. They always hold the key to that kinder world they can envision, with love. What helps them to act on what they know? 

DCglobes10407448_10152999309066802_4728941717624354898_nOur experience of life in these times can feel harsh and cold and unyieding. Those are the times when our hearts can feel stricken, fearful, confounded.

But like the sun, even in winter, there is always, each day, that waiting possibility of “radiating light throughout the world and illuminating your own darknesses” so that “your virtue becomes a sanctuary for yourself and all beings.”

These words of Lao Tzu’s, shared a long time ago, capture the timeless essence conveyed in what we remember in every new Season of Light: the light does, indeed, shine forth most brightly, unmistakably, in darkness. munichgirl_card_front

 

A Giveaway of a signed copy of The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War is offered this week at The Book’s the Thing:

http://booksthething.com/2015/12/10/guest-post-giveaway-phyllis-edgerly-ring-author-of-the-munich-girl/comment-page-1/#comment-1660

Find more about the novel at:

http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449653605&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Munich+Girl


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Lighting the way

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE

Love is a light that never dwelleth in a heart possessed by fear.

 ~ Bahá’u’lláh

Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come.

In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree.

Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms and its leaves and its fruits.

 ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Do everything with a mind that lets go.

Don’t accept praise or gain or anything else.

If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.

~ Ajahn Chah


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Every plant has its fragrance

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

 

Regard thou faith as a tree. 

Its fruits, leaves, boughs and branches are, and have ever been,

trustworthiness, truthfulness, uprightness and forbearance.

~ Baha’u’lláh

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

 

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?

This is the most important of all voyages of discovery.

~ Thomas Merton

 

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

The herb is not without its fruit, although it seemeth so, for in this garden of God every plant exerteth its own influence and hath its own properties, and every plant can even match the laughing, hundred-petalled rose in rejoicing the sense with fragrance.

Be thou assured of this.

Although the pages of a book know nothing of the words and the meanings traced upon them, even so, because of their connection with these words, friends pass them reverently from hand to hand.

This connection, furthermore, is purest bounty.

 ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá