Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Coming home to oneness

Deep in each of our hearts, we already know oneness, because we are created in it. Every atom of existence embodies and reflects this truth.

Sending love and prayerful blessings to all as celebrations unfold worldwide on this 200th anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah.

“The incomparable Friend saith:

“The path to freedom hath been outstretched; hasten ye thereunto.

“The wellspring of wisdom is overflowing; quaff ye therefrom.

“Say: O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers.

Courtesy of Lara Kearns

“Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.

“Verily I say, whatsoever leadeth to the decline of ignorance and the increase of knowledge hath been, and will ever remain, approved in the sight of the Lord of creation.

“Say: O people! Walk ye neath the shadow of justice and truthfulness and seek ye shelter within the tabernacle of unity.”

~ Baha’u’llah, The Tabernacle of Unity

 

Courtesy of Diane Kirkup

“Through the power of Baha’u’llah all will be united.

“He upraised this standard of the oneness of humanity in prison.
“When subjected to banishment by two kings, while a refugee from enemies of all nations and during the days of His long imprisonment He wrote to the kings and rulers of the world in words of wonderful eloquence, arraigning them severely and summoning them to the divine standard of unity and justice.
“He exhorted them to peace and international agreement, making it incumbent upon them to establish a board of international arbitration — that from all nations and governments of the world there should be delegates selected for a congress of nations which should constitute a universal arbitral court of justice to settle international disputes.
“He wrote to Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, Napoleon III of France and others, inviting them to world unity and peace.
Through a heavenly power He was enabled to promulgate these ideals in the Orient. Kings could not withstand Him. They endeavored to extinguish His light but served only to increase its intensity and illumination.”
 
~ Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace (Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982 Edition) pp. 202-203.
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The building of the good lasts forever

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

It’s a special day for Bahá’ís around the world today as we remember The Báb.

His life and the spiritual revolution in its story was my first encounter with the Revelation of the Bahá’í Faith.

From those earliest days, these words of The Báb’s have traveled with my grateful heart:

     “O peoples of the world! Whatsoever ye have offered up in the way of the One True God, ye shall indeed find preserved by God, the Preserver, intact at God’s Holy Gate.”

Every sparrow, every hair of our head, every feather and seed and blade of grass is accounted for.

Imagine the real spiritual presence of each one of our willing efforts and actions.

It can be easy, in these hours and days, to feel dismayed by the world as we see it around us.

But the building of the good is what is preserved — the increase and advance of love in the coming forth of what is of God.


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There is no such thing as small change

1922492_10153341394052228_6003546863571588601_nAround this time of year, I’m reminded of a story that showed me what a myth it is that people can’t change, that generations of behaving a certain way will only lead to more of the same.

A couple that we know made enormous efforts over the years to help their neighborhood be a better place for kids. Once a thriving, middle-class community to which the husband’s grandparents immigrated, it had fallen into decay with their city’s economic depression. Little by little, the couple’s home — that house his grandparents bought long ago — became a safe haven for the neighborhood’s kids, many of whom had little or nonexistent home life, or parents who just didn’t know how to get up from taking too many hits when they were already down.

11049450_931176180248396_9131258257236031369_nAs our friends and their own three children watched their home evolve into a de facto Boys and Girls Club, they decided to be intentional about it. They bought the house next door (an affordable prospect in a neighborhood where few choose to live) and invested in putting a pool in their backyard. Over the next decade of summers, a lot of kids gathered around that pool. The warm welcome they received there included rules, limits and a chance to develop self-discipline that most would find nowhere else, It was a chance to develop what Dr. King once called “the content of their character” — and to understand that this is the real purpose in life. Dozens of kids who passed through that house, and many of their parents, found possibilities in life they might never have known existed.

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Illustration by Leona Hosack

I thought I knew this couple’s story until, while I was visiting with them, the husband nodded toward a city bus stop as we drove past and said, “That’s where it all began. As they shared the story of their courtship and decision to marry shortly after high school, he described how, as they were standing at that bus stop one day, star-stuck with love and making big plans for their future together, he’d said something offhandedly. A car of men with faces as dark as most of their neighbors today had driven by, and without even thinking, he’d uttered a racial slur. It was something he’d heard fairly frequently among his peers.

“I’ll never forget the look on her face.” His own expression was somber in memory. “That look in her eyes, it was a combination of disbelief and anger, disappointment and sadness.”

That look, he said, had made the biggest impact on him of all, unleashing changes he could never have predicted.

His wife explained that she’d grown up with her family’s foster son, whom she truly loved like a brother, and who was black. The circle of her family’s African-American friends was also wide. Hearing her future husband say something like this seemed unthinkable, and unacceptable. As she turned to him with that look that day, she told him, “I don’t think I can be with you.” bruisenot10628403_896653373691808_2232318852909161472_n

At the time, her husband notes, any remorse on his part was motivated strictly by the desire not to lose her. “But I also didn’t want to lose the love and trust and respect for me that I saw leave her eyes when I’d said that,” he says. “And I knew that I wanted the mother of my children to be someone who had the strength of conviction that she had. It was brave to take a stand like that, because she really loved me, and what I did must have been a big disappointment to her.”

Like the efforts they later made to help their neighborhood’s children, nothing came easily, or overnight. But he did have a kind of epiphany that day, he says. “I realized that I had more choice about what I could do, and think, and believe, than I had understood. A lot of my actions and beliefs came out of the way my family and those who I’d grown up with saw things, and it was my responsibility to recognize where I’d been influenced by that, and to decide for myself.”

Standing at the bus stop that day, he couldn’t have imagined where such a willingness to change would lead him. Not only did that house of his grandparents eventually become an interracial community center, but his own circle of friends and family looks so much different than it might have had he chosen a different path that day at the bus stop.

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The kind of change that moves away from blind imitation of the past is nearly always an act of real moral courage, however small it may appear at first. The smallest action or decision to change based on principle or new understanding can often be overlooked by others, seemingly invisible at the time. But as my friends — and their many friends — can testify, it initiates a quietly powerful momentum that, like the lever of Archimedes, sometimes can move the world.

312q7DGYsbL._SL110_Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details:

http://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details-ebook/dp/B00B5MR9B0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 


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One healing spirit animates us all

Abdu'l-Baha repares to leave US-a-1

An intermediary is needed to bring two extremes into relation with each other.

Riches and poverty, plenty and need:

Without some kind of intermediary power, there could be no relation between such pairs of opposites.”

When he shared these words with his listeners in Paris in 1911, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noted that as citizens of one world, we are “in extreme need” of such an intermediary, a power by which we are able to receive help from the Divine Reality, the Source of all life.

He likened that Reality to the sun, and the Holy Spirit to the rays of the sun. The sun doesn’t descend to the earth, nor the earth ascend to the sun. It is the rays of the sun that bring illumination and life to earth.Wertsunrise10502067_804750136215524_7278893372276770941_n

In the following year, addressing an American audience, he shared more about the vital, life-giving role of the Holy Spirit when he described the means by which true unity will be established within the human race:

“The source of perfect unity and love in the world of existence is the bond and oneness of reality.

When the divine and fundamental reality enters human hearts and lives, it conserves and protects all states and conditions of mankind, establishing that intrinsic oneness of the world of humanity which can only come into being through the efficacy of the Holy Spirit.

For the Holy Spirit is like unto the life in the human body, which blends all differences of parts and members in unity and agreement.”

IMG_1258He then urged his listeners to reflect on how diverse the various parts of the human body are. He described how, in a whole and healthy body, there is a oneness of animating spirit that “establishes such a unity in the bodily organism that if any part is subjected to injury or becomes diseased, all the other parts and functions sympathetically respond and suffer, owing to the perfect oneness that exists.”

Just as the human spirit is the animating element that unites and coordinates the parts of a human body, the Holy Spirit is the controlling cause of the unity and coordination of the body of humankind, he said.

“The bond or oneness of humanity cannot be effectively established save through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the world of humanity is a composite body, and the Holy Spirit is the animating principle of its life.” We had a bunch of different sunflowers pop up in the garden before we planted anything - so I moved them to the edges of the garden and we got a bunch of different ones!  (Some from our garden last year and some I think from the compost we bo

The evidence of the ever-increasing dis-ease in that body of humankind is all around us.

 ~ In the course of our lives each day, what might each of us do to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit to establish unity, and healing?

 ~ What can we each contribute to love and service, and the building of the good?

 ~ What qualities and choices empower us to do that?