Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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.

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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:






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To leave the world richer

As the lovely passage from poet Wang Ping above reminds, on the edge of every year, and every moment, the power and great possibility of unrealized potential await.

DCNYE154428_10151437571091802_283903656_nAnd, as Eleanor Roosevelt once described, the manifestation of that potential, the deepest meaning and purpose of it, invites us far, far beyond the limited range of what is merely of this world:

“Mozart, who was buried in a pauper’s grave, was one of the greatest successes we know of, a man who in his early thirties had poured out his inexhaustible gift of music, leaving the world richer because he had passed that way.

To leave the world richer – that is the ultimate success.”

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Beyond limits and doubt


Courtesy Julie Bond Genovese / http://nothingshortofjoy.com

With thanks to Christine DeLorey for these November gems:

At any given moment, life is completely senseless. But viewed over a period, it seems to reveal itself as an organism existing in time, having a purpose, and trending in a certain direction. ~ Aldous Huxley

Nothing we ever imagine is beyond our powers, only beyond our present self knowledge. ~ Theodore Roszak

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life! But there was always some obstacle, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business. Then life would begin. At last, it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

~ Alfred D. Souza

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. ~ Franklin Roosevelt

You must stoop a little in order to jump. ~ Scott Fitzgerald

Learn more about Christine DeLorey’s work at: http://creativenumerology.com


Building the good

Painted Desert

“Painted Desert” by Judy Hughey Wright

Dwelling on imperfections, berating myself or others for them, saps time, energy, and attention (those resources over which I have choice). It offers them to what is counterproductive, even destructive — when I have been invited, instead, toward the building of the good.

“Their whole energy is directed towards the building of the good, a good which has such a positive strength that in the face of it the multitude of evils – which are in essence negative – will fade away and be no more.”  ~ From a letter from the Universal House of Justice, 1974

The same letter noted, “… demolishing one by one the evils in the world is a vain waste of time and effort.” When asked about evil, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá offered this definition: Evil is imperfection.


“Pueblo” by Judy Hughey Wright

When I choose to participate in the building of the good, I become aware of how much preoccupation with negativity can surround our lives, fill our thoughts, and absorb our personal resources. I can also come to see how this is the debilitating presence of blind imitation of the past, including the kind of thinking that was born in earlier, fearful experiences and has led to attitudes, behaviors, assumptions, and beliefs that have no basis in reality — nor, indeed, anywhere near it.

My encounter with the contrast of imperfection can urge me toward accepting that there is much I don’t know, or can’t change, yet I can always discover the limitless possibilities of love in that more-productive kind of response that I’ve been created and equipped to make.

WTOEimage.phpRather than exercising my survival-driven instinctual reaction to fight imperfection, or try to escape it, there’s a response better-aligned with the purpose for which I’ve been created. It will contribute toward building what “has such a positive strength that in the face of it the multitude of evils – which are in essence negative – will fade away and be no more”. 

I open, today, to the possibilities of that response.

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


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The ways encouragement “gives heart”

Happy to share some thoughts this week

in a Guest Post at

Women of Spirit and Faith’s The Divine Feminine:

To “encourage” each other, meaning literally “to give heart”, is one of the most timelessly beautiful gifts we can share.

Perhaps the very scarcity of encouragement in daily life is what has so many feeling weary, fearful, and uninspired. 


Read the post at:

Sharing the heart-swelling gift of encouragement.

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Nature’s pathway to the heart

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Ladyslippers by the pair

During the weeks I spent in Europe this spring, I got reacquainted with the power of the natural world to quiet my mind so that my heart will be able to hear anything at all.

For I have found that the voice that guides and assists it is soft and subtle, and drowned out by the din of life and the world. I have to make an effort to turn away from the chaos if I hope to hear this companion.

Because of the wide-open nature of so many settings in Germany, the sky is a constantly-changing panorama that I found myself stopping to watch like a movie, and there was always something on the horizon I set out on a long walk simply to see up-close.


Turtles, future tense

Ironically, more often than not I never made it there because I was waylaid by something magnificent along the way: the slant of the light on a field; the shape of a lone tree in the midst of hectares of rolling hills; one small, stunning blossom on a branch that brushed me as I walked past, like a woods creature trying to get my attention.

When I sit inside for too long, hunched over a screen of some sort, my view narrows to a piteously small scope that has no room for wonder or miracles, in part because it doesn’t know what they even are.

The mind — the human nature — is here to solve basic problems of practical life. Period. It will always bog down without exercise, both physical and spiritual, and life couldn’t have made this easier to attain. All I have to do is go outside, under the sky.

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Delicate neighbors

“Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator,” Baha’i writings remind, adding that it also offers many signs for souls that wish to discern them.

“Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise.”


My special thanks to Nelson Ashberger for the use of these photos, some of the signs he encountered on one of his own recent sojourns in the natural world.

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Eternal life begins with what lasts forever


Photo: Saffron Moser

 As the span between the trustworthy and the treacherous yawns chasm-wide in the world of human doing, it’s all too easy for my human nature to become preoccupied with and distracted by what, in the end, does not last. Or what merely imitates the past.

The potentiality of what humanity is called to now soars far, far beyond such things, and requires my attention and engagement in entirely new – Non-Ego-Willed – ways.


Photo: Lauren Chuslo-Shur

That’s when I remember:

 ~ Nothing that exists remains in a state of repose. Everything is either growing or declining.

 ~ Kind forces are drawing us away from preoccupation with “fighting evil” toward creative, collaborative, and limitless building of the good.

 ~ We are here to mirror to each other the attributes of the Creator.


Photo: D. Kirkup Designs

 ~ An eternal life begins when we begin to acquire what lasts forever.

 ~ The gift of this age, bestowed on all humanity, is the right each one of us has to investigate reality independently.

 ~ The natural outcome of that expresses itself in willing, joyful acts of service –the personal and collective pathway for building the good.

How am I honoring and expressing that potential on my path?

How will it free my heart from the weight of a world’s unreal illusions this week? WTOEimage.php

Authors Ron Tomanio, Diane Iverson and Phyllis Ring explore these themes in the recently released

With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality? from George Ronald Publisher.

Find more information here: http://grbooks.com/george-ronald-publisher-books/spirituality/with-thine-own-eyes-1380638499

Or find the KINDLE Version at: http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1391286164&sr=1-1&keywords=With+Thine