Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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To forgive the very world

Photo courtesy of N. Augusta Vincent.

 

After both of my parents had died, I put off sorting through the boxes of their belongings that had accumulated like small mountains in our house.

Then I woke one day with the urge to explore them.

I was plunged into stirred-up memories and stored-up feelings.

As if whispered into my thoughts, an idea I’d encountered years ago in the work of psychologist Erik Blumenthal reminded:

“The person who comes to understand his parents can forgive the world.”

Photo courtesy D. Kirkup Designs / https://www.etsy.com/shop/DKirkupDesigns.

The writer, who grew up Jewish in Nazi Germany, knew firsthand how painful experience often makes forgiveness seem impossible.

Yet he emphasized two needs that he believed eventually call to each of us: to become more understanding, beyond our rigid “certainties”, and to accept the freedom that forgiveness bestows.

As I unpacked my parents’ things, I gained a deeper view of what they had faced and the weight of the efforts and decisions they made. When they met, they were two people in their 20s entering a cross-cultural marriage at a time when no one knew what the next day would bring, who would live or die, or even what language everyone would be speaking, depending on the outcome of the biggest war the world had known.

A bird’s-eye view of the German town where I lived with my military family.

I can now see, and appreciate even more fully, that whatever their circumstances, troubles, and significant mistakes or missteps, they made a place for me in this world, and stuck with that commitment.

I’m reminded of words of Rumi’s:

“When you eventually see through the veils to how things really are, you will keep saying again and again, this is certainly not like we thought it was.”

As I uncovered a broader view of my parents’ lives, I could see that most of my own resistance to forgiveness was forged at a stage when the imprint of my parents’ perceived omnipotence led me to believe that they were always in charge, in the know, in control of all situations.

I now share with them the certainty that that was never true, and the humbling realization that, whatever the hurts, it is not, indeed, as I thought it was.

It’s been observed that many people hold back from forgiveness because they believe it might go against the grain of justice, might excuse a wrong or deny its occurrence.

But when we find a willingness to see beyond our own view about any situation, especially the actions and choices of others, it disarms that tendency our perception has to keep us wedded to beliefs that not only make us feel bad, but impede our healing and progress, too.

Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details.


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Kindness, the very effective servant of Love

New Hampshire author and librarian Linda Tiernan Kepner shared words about my novel, The Munich Girl, that strike a grateful chord in me.

She calls it “well-researched and, in its own way, kind.

It brought to mind something another reader once said about my novel, Snow Fence Road:

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

That is the reason that I write, from the stubborn belief that this is the sort of world that all of our hearts want, and that those hearts long, innately, to help bring it into being.

Because that is what they are created for.

15338851_1492828510767849_7853887363639341138_nKindness is a very effective servant of Love. Maybe that’s why the two are paired in the soul-comforting phrase “loving-kindness.”

“All of the particles of the world are in love and looking for lovers,” Rumi wrote.

Mother Teresa captured this kind essence of love quite touchingly: “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”

I read recently that much of what is expressed out into our world aims at a lowest common denominator.

But have we not a highest common one? A kind and willing servant of Love?

What sort of love letter to the world can be written for — and from — this treasure?

How can each and every one of us value, protect, and manifest it, like infinite candles, brighter than any darkness, whether imagined or real?


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Biding at the center of the circle

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

A friend described the rapid, often overnight changes appearing in the garden he and his wife have tended so carefully. Just days ago, there was limitless, burgeoning life in summer’s relentless sun and heat and rainfall.

Then, like a puff of breath on a dandelion gone to seed, it is spent and gone; fading away, or into decay.

In New England especially, these changes arrive as abruptly as the night chill that turns the leaves from green to scarlet.

“Stay at the center of the circle, and let all things take their course,” urges the Tao Te Ching.

Out at the sharp edges of the periphery, our very human selves can feel small and overcome, overwhelmed, in the inevitable enormity of change. The mind, confounded, struggles for purchase it can’t find.

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Photo: Nancy Vincent Zinke

It’s then that a way is opened through which feelings, those unexpected guests left waiting so long in a side room, can emerge.

Autumn, in particular, with its cycles of death and harvest, seems well-suited for inviting forth the grief and pain that so much effort has tried so long to avoid, or contain.

Those seeds of unclaimed treasure found only in a heart broken open.

The center of the circle, that trustworthy core, can hold these, and us, as it holds all, and remind of what Rumi saw with such kind wisdom:

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Photo: Nancy Vincent Zinke

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and scared.

Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. 
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the earth.

What is the beauty we love?

What are those hundreds of ways?


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A song above all other songs

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

… Let us hearken to the melody which will stir the world of humanity, so that the people may be transformed with joy.

Let us listen to a symphony which will confer life on man; then we can obtain universal results; then we shall receive a new spirit; then we shall become illumined.

Let us investigate a song which is above all songs; one which will develop the spirit and produce harmony and exhilaration, unfolding the inner potentialities of life.

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Image courtesy of Ziya Rezvani

~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha

 

Shut your eyes so the heart may become your eye
and with that vision look upon another world.

~ Rumi

Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.

~ Garrison Keillor


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The water seeks the thirsty one

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Photo: D. Kirkup Jewelry Designs

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

Biding in a refuge of Rumi:

 

Don’t be sad! Because God sends hope in the most desperate moments.

Don’t forget, the heaviest rain comes out of the darkest clouds.

 

Our greatest strength lies in the gentleness and tenderness of our heart.

As you live Deeper in the Heart, the Mirror gets clearer and cleaner.

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Photo: Lara Kearns

 

Surrender.

 

Be crumbled, so wild flowers will come up where you are.

You have been stony for too many years.

 

Try something different –

Surrender.

 

Not only the thirsty seek the water,

the water as well seeks the thirsty.

 

I open the window

and ask the moon to come and press its face against mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ~ Rumi


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Beyond all walls and worry

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

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Photo: Karen Olin Darling

Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought. Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence. Flow down and down in always widening rings of being.

~ Rumi

What is drawing? How does one get there? It’s working one’s way through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do.

How can one get through that wall? — since hammering on it doesn’t help at all. In my view, one must undermine the wall and grind through it slowly and patiently.

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

And behold, how can one remain dedicated to such a task without allowing oneself to be lured from it or distracted, unless one reflects and organizes one’s life according to principles?

And it’s the same with other things as it is with artistic matters. And the great isn’t something accidental; it must be willed. Whether originally deeds lead to principles in a person or principles lead to deeds is something that seems to me as unanswerable and as little worth answering as the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

But I believe it’s a positive thing and of great importance that one should try to develop one’s powers of thought and will.

~ Vincent van Gogh

When you hold on tightly to a part of your life that’s not working, it has no room to heal. Whether you’re unhappy with your love life, finances, career, home, or health, let go …If you hang on to these aspects of your life because of fears such as “What if I can’t find someone or something better?” then the situation will only worsen.

However, if you’re willing to open your hands and allow the situation to be freed, one of two situations will occur: Either it will be washed away from you and replaced by a better situation, or the situation will heal in a miraculous way. Try not to control the outcome of your troubling situation. Let go, and let God help you!

~ Doreen Virtue


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The rugged road to blessings

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

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Photo: Lara Kearns

We are all of us searching for love, for the intimacy, closeness, tenderness we may remember from when we were in our mother’s arms or may have glimpsed in a lover’s embrace. Or we may know it just as a sense of something we always wanted, something missing from our life.

This love is at the core of our being, and yet we search for it everywhere, so often causing our self pain in the process, losing our way, becoming entangled in our desires and all our images of love.

Then, one day, something makes us turn away from the outer world to seek this truth within us.

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Photo: Lara Kearns

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter.

It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow.

Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.

~ Rumi

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Photo: Lara Kearns

The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time.

… To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace.

Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.

 ~ Terry Tempest Williams