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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Nourished by the Mystery

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Image: Lauren Chuslo Shur

When the spring equinox arrives, a very special time of year comes to an end, for me.

Over these last 19 days, I’ve been more conscious than usual of the sun’s rising and setting, since between those demarcations of the day, I’m pursuing the fast I make each year at this time.

Fasting from “the appetites of the self” has made me more aware, again, of immortal words of Wordsworth’s: “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers …”

The hours have also reminded, as author Thomas Moore suggests: “We usually try to explain the mysterious. It would be better to cultivate wonder and reflection.”

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

It seems easier to feel the truth of this when the day has the added space in it that fasting can provide.

Sometimes, within that space, things can arise that might otherwise stay masked in our busy lives, things that can confuse and baffle.

After several decades of this particular blessing of the Fast, I know what Rumi says is true: “Don’t worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” IMG_3375

The end of the Fast brings Naw Ruz, literally “New Day”, as spring arrives and along with it, a new year in the Baha’i calendar.

At the threshold of that year, 19 blessed days have also reminded me of what ever-inspirational Flora Whittemore pointed out so wisely:

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”