Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details

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The time we own, the space we inhabit

Image: courtesy Tarot by Cecelia

The young tree of my life was planted in a culture constrained by many limiting beliefs.

It believes:

there is not enough for everyone,

that having is being,

that age is an ending.

It believes that it owns space, and place, and most often feels owned by time.

Photo: Liz Turner

Friends from cultures close to the natural world remind me that, truly, it’s the reverse.

Whatever we may think, we are one with space, “owned by it,” as it were. But in the matter of time, the invention of our minds, we are free to take ownership, and choose.

In reflecting about space, and how to direct one’s time, artist Mark Tobey said:

“The dimension that counts for the creative person is the space he creates within himself. This inner space is closer to the infinite than the other, and it is the privilege of the balanced mind… and the search for an equilibrium is essential—to be as aware of inner space as he is of outer space.”

And where is that balance to be found? In what longs for us to hear it, and to become the ear with which it is heard, as the wise visionary knew:

“Contemplation is also the response to a call: a call from Him Who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being: for we ourselves are words of His. But we are words that are meant to respond to Him, to answer to Him, to echo Him, and even in some way to contain Him and signify Him. Contemplation is this echo. We ourselves become His echo and His answer. It is as if in creating us God asked a question and in awakening us to contemplation He answered the question, so that the contemplative is at the same time, question and answer.”

~ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation


Plenty of time and seclusion

DCRothen69673_10151484470081802_1069344063_nI received a writer’s perfect storm this past week.

It wasn’t the one that dumped 6+ inches of snow in our yard, though that contributed, in its way. My jackpot arrived when my husband took some time off as he recovered from surgery, and the weather and the holiday turned it all into an unplanned island of seclusion.

And many good hours of writing time.

DCclouds10491100_10152666649626802_3431092671284712017_nFew have expressed the power of such a windfall better than poet Robert Frost, speaking of the years he spent in my home state of New Hampshire:

“I might say the core of all my writing was probably the five free years I had on the farm down the road a mile or two from Derry Village toward Lawrence. The only thing we had was plenty of time and seclusion. I couldn’t have figured on it in advance. I hadn’t that kind of foresight. But it turned out as right as a doctor’s prescription.” (Robert Frost, Selected Letters)

A right prescription, indeed; a writer’s Thanksgiving-week horn of plenty.

EB pix Germany and more 679This unanticipated largesse mushroomed when a kind photographer friend I met in the course of my novel’s research sent a hefty stash of historic photos from my book’s world, dozens of shots of its best-known character. For good measure, he also enclosed a book, long out of print, that I’d despaired of ever finding.

Turns out that those photos, and that book, carried the “next piece” for where the book wanted to go.

EB pix Germany and more 696Sometimes, I almost feel embarrassed as I recognize that through its nearly 400 pages, this is exactly how the elements of the book have arrived, or, I should say, presented themselves. It may not be the way a lot of people go about this. It’s certainly not the rhythm or style of NaNoWriMo. But it’s how it works for me.

The kind friend who gathered those lovely surprises and sent them to me told me that he needed things to do as he recovers from surgery. What a wavelength of synchronicity life has us both on – and, as Frost said, we “couldn’t have figured on it in advance”.

Maybe that’s the magic of it. When I know that I’ll have the time and space to write, I often swing between unhelpful extremes. I get all “important” about it, shoveling on a mountain of expectations so that I feel buried under before I even start. (And I’m plenty creative about ways not to start.) Or, like those who win lotteries or receive a big inheritance, I start giving my resources away as though it’s somehow unseemly to find myself with so much of them.

Eva_Braun_by_PrinzessinHeinrikeLife tricked me perfectly this time. I didn’t—couldn’t—plan for it. Only walk right into wonderful hours of a surprise immersion I never saw coming.

“I hadn’t that kind of foresight.”

In Phyllis Edgerly Ring’s novel-in-progress, Anna Dahlberg is about to discover that her mother shared a secret friendship with Hitler’s mistress, and its trail leads straight to her own destiny.

Find more images at: http://pinterest.com/phyllisedgerlyr/

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Limited-time offers for the soul

dockphoto-3It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth, and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.  ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home any who have lost their way.  ~ St. Francis to the first friars

Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way. ~ Swami Vivekananda