Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


Compassion and courage go hand-in-hand

Reader Chele Hauschildt may hold the distinction of ordering the very first copy.

My big thanks to each and every reader who is helping Jamila find her way into the world — and adding to the book’s page at Goodreads.

I recently had the joy of spending time with the story’s illustrator, Leona Hosack, at the wonderful Spirit of Children conference at Green Acre Baha’i School in Maine.

I came home to find a growing collection of reader reviews for the book:

The story provides the opportunity for the young reader to explore how to solve problems by working together, facing fear, having courage, trust, and of course faith,” notes Eric Mondschein, author of Life at 12 College Road.

“This charming book instantly captivated my young daughters, who reenacted the story after just one reading,” writes reader Stephanie Robinson.

The story importantly reminds us, parents included, that we all react differently to the unexpected, and because of this, we all have a role to play in problem-solving,” Stephanie adds. “With cooperation, resoluteness and prayer, Jamila learns that compassion and courage go hand in hand.”

“Of course the bat is the antagonist, but not a malevolent one, just another (probably) frightened being trapped in the wrong place,” says reader N. Augusta Vincent. “I love how the author makes all her characters sympathetic, even the bat.”

Melanie Kyer wrote: “This is such a great story! It calls on fears we all can have and validates them for the reader. Jamila is anxious about the bat but ultimately learns the bat is also afraid and the resolution happens as a result of teamwork.

“I also love how small elements of the Baha’i Faith are incorporated without alienating those who might not know about the faith. The illustrations show the emotions of those involved and include lots of little details which bring the story to life. ”

Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House is available for purchase from the publisher at: http://www.bahaibookstore.com/Jamila-….

Or ask for it at your favorite bookstore.

If you’d like to order a signed copy, contact info[at]phyllisring[dot]com. 



A girl, a bat, and a story about courage and compassion


Life delivered a very sweet gift when my children’s book, illustrated by wonderful Maine artist Leona Hosack, came into the world this week, published by Baha’i Publishing.

Jamila finalsketch1

Illustration: Leona Hosack

Jamila Does Not Want A Bat in her House is the story of a little girl frightened by the bat swooping around inside her house, especially when her parents can’t get it outside.

It flies out of their reach, over their heads, and disappears where they can’t see it. Jamila does not like this game of hide-and-seek at ALL.


Illustration: Leona Hosack

When she finally sees the bat up close, she discovers that it’s very small, and that it might be as scared as she is.

That’s when she finds the compassion, and the courage, to help the bat, her family, and herself. Along the way, she learns about perseverance, cooperation, and the real power of prayer to help us meet the challenges that can arrive in our lives like unwelcome visitors.

Bats have visited my family’s Victorian house regularly through the years. Over time, as our family solved the challenge of freeing them, we learned a lot, as Jamila does, about the value of empathy, and of working together for the benefit of all (including the bat).

Find more about Jamila Does Not Want A Bat in her House here:



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Accepting the pace life wants

Sometimes, as one friend has described, we’re simply “riding the donkey”.

Decades ago, this was how one got from one place to the next and in many places, it still is. It could be tedious. It can be tiresome, taxing of heart and testing of patience — even of confidence and faith, when the going is especially slow.

Eventually, inevitably we all face such biding and abiding (ask any pregnant mother). Ideally, we make peace with it, yield to receiving what it brings – what our own ideas and designs often chafe against.

mjackA heroine of mine, Marion Jack, learned a lot about this. When I need inspiration for staying the course, going the distance, perhaps when I most want to quit, I remember what her life demonstrates about accepting this price of some of life’s most valuable outcomes, even though our urge may be to flee, dodge, or fight.

 Marion stayed the course, consciously, willingly in very trying times, and places. One was Nazi-occupied, and filled with treachery. She could have left – she had opportunity. She chose to stay for others’ sake, and for commitments she’d made.

“As I have the capacity of suffering much, so I also enjoy much,” she once observed. She also noted with real pleasure, “It seems wonderful, what one can do without.”

Other words of hers hit close to home: “Each one has his own little work to fill in the great scheme of things. Mine seems to be to work quietly in new fields or in assisting the real [workers]. So I always think it wisest to try and do one’s own work and not think of attempting the line of other people.”


Photo: David Campbell / GBC Tours

She was well-experienced with riding life’s donkey. I imagine her as thankful for the steps it covered on her behalf, however much the movement may have sometimes seemed backward. Or, at best, like treading in place.

She didn’t forget that, whatever circumstances felt like around her, she was being carried, moved — even led. And no matter what she could or could not see, things were advancing.

Often, the biggest of those was love, just as the real means of their advance was love, too. She knew from experience that the pace that took, even when it resembled a donkey’s, was always exactly right.

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Not for ourselves alone

A little feast of gleanings

about the divine details of beauty and creative spirit:

No synonym for God is so perfect as beauty.

 ~ John Muir

Not for ourselves alone but for the whole world are we born.

 ~ John A. T. Robinson

What we take in by contemplation, we must pour out in love.

 ~ Meister Eckhart


Photo: Jon Ring

Everything important has already been said. But no one was listening, so it must be said again.

 ~ Andre Gide

Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul

 ~ Bruce Lee


In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm … in the real world all rests on perseverance.

 ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.

 ~ Steven Pressfield


Rowing all the way through

2005 China Slide Show 196

Photo: Vanessa Jette


Psychology will soon become a thing of the past because it doesn’t take seriously the beyond-ego aspects of the self. …

Spiritual health requires flexibility, a searching mind and comfort with not having all the answers.

 ~ Thomas Moore

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Photo: Jon Ring

The most difficult endeavor is not to create something. The most difficult endeavor is not even to begin. The most difficult is to keep rowing all the way through to completion.

And this, in spades, is the content of the night-sea journey … making the descent to true self, nourishing the work from that locus of control, and completing the work. Then beginning the next, and the next … and completing them.

 ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes


Image: Lauren Chuslo-Shur

There are things which only happen, which cannot be done. Doing is the way of very ordinary things, mundane things.

You can do something to earn money, you can do something to be powerful, you can do something to have prestige; but you cannot do anything as far as love is concerned, gratitude is concerned, silence is concerned.

It is significant to understand that ‘doing’ means the world, and non-doing means that which is beyond the world.       



Climbing to the sun

Kathy at the Top of England 171


Good friend and writer Kathy Gilman of New Hampshire is climbing into the heavens above the fells in the part of northern England that was my mother’s home, and my sister’s birthplace.

For lovers of the natural world, England — and life — as well as keeping faith, I am delighted to share her words and images:


Guest Post: Standing on top of England

By Kathy Gilman

It is overcast at 8:30 a.m. and I am prepared for wet conditions. Light mackintosh in the pack. Waterproof over trousers. Yet I am encouraged by Wunderground’s prediction of clear skies at 1 p.m.

    Stone steps beneath my feet slanting at different angles, each step a different depth. I wonder if stepping up is more difficult than walking on a flat incline. Little Lamb Laying Low 31
     I reach a stream that must be crossed. I am afraid of getting my boots and socks wet.  I notice others going over in different spots, balancing on the slimy mossy rocks, charging over without stopping. I am timid and unsure. I take off my boots and socks and throw them across the stream.  I roll up my pants. I feel more secure with my feet curling over the tops of the rocks.
     I make it across without getting my feet any more wet than they do from the rocks. Having dried them off with my shirt, I move along up more stone “stairs”, built into the side of the fell. Rain mists and I don my mackintosh. Small pebbles of hail start to fall.
Creeping Clouds 71      A party of three ahead of me turns back, saying they wouldn’t go any further in the hail. I cling to the image of the sun icon that I saw that morning on my computer, and press on.
     The hail does not last long. The misty rain stops. The steps end and turn into a rough stony path with boulders from time to time. A continuous steady climb upward, sometimes zigzagging back and forth, like an uphill slalom on a wintry mountain.
     Nearing the top, I come across mounds of black angular rocks that are piled up on one another, as if dumped out of a huge sack from above. I am not able to walk on any ground at all, but must pick my way over and through these rocks to the top and to a stone shelter to eat some lunch.
Here Comes the Sun on the Summit 211     By noon, I am at the top and in the clouds, save for one direction that will offer views from time to time. Undaunted and confident in the weather prediction, I wait out the hour for the certain clearing, eating at a leisurely pace.
     After one hour, the clouds thicken.  I begin to lose hope, and decide to make my way over to the platform and cairn for pictures before descending.
     At 1:30, the clouds miraculously lift as predicted, the crowds begin to appear up to the top, as if magnetized by the sun, and I get a 360 degree view from Scafell Pike, the top of England.
     The hour and a half wait at the top has been worth it, and my faith in the forecast proved successful.