Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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The unknown’s hidden kinship

When I was young, I had to choose between the life of being and the life of doing. And I leapt at the latter like a trout to a fly.

But each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again.

Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be.

Or wonder who, after all, you are.

~ Ursula K. Le Guin

Wise insight from experienced writers like Ursula K. LeGuin helps shift my inner compass toward that grace of the space and time between, so I can discover, yet again, what it holds. Without exception, the mystery of this unknown offers me, like the source of a stream, the place from which creative expression flows.

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Photo: David Campbell / GBC Tours

“I have been a storyteller since the beginning of my life, rearranging facts in order to make them more significant,” John Cheever said. My own earliest play involved arranging miniature objects on the floor of my childhood bedroom to create scenes, often like the ones I saw around me in Germany, then adding the characters and conversations I knew somewhere inside me. I’m told that some of these exchanges were occasionally audible when I was 3, 4, or 5. After that, I probably grew too self-conscious to allow that to happen.

For me, Cheever’s “more significant” would, initially, have meant interesting for me. Today, it has grown to mean significant for my heart, with evidence of a soul’s transcendence over the small side of human being. That’s the only way that story — either others’ or my own — can ever attract me, and is the treasure I’m always searching for. It’s what I believe story, in its highest purpose, has always been for.

This makes the bringing forth of story a sacred thing for me, as well as a search that requires the surrender Le Guin points to, one woven with a willing sense of wonder.

“Wonder makes the unknown interesting, attractive, and miraculous. A sense of wonder helps awaken the hidden affinity and kinship which the unknown has with us,” John O’Donohue describes in Eternal Echoes.

““What we write today slipped into our soul some other day when we were alone and doing nothing,” writer Brenda Ueland has reminded.

Ah, the sweetness of this truth, whose admission price is that space and time between — beyond the insistent, nonstop doing that life — and we — so often try to impose. The experience of writing requires that I seek refuge from that clamor and feel my inner life slow down to presence once more.

In an interview with Karen Bouris of Original Story, novelist Elizabeth Gilbert said:

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Image: EnochVision.com

“I think creativity is entirely a spiritual practice. It has defined my entire life to think of it that way. When I hear the way some people speak about their work, people who are in creative fields who either attack themselves, or attack their work, or treat it as a burden rather than a blessing, or treat it as something that needs to be fought and defeated and beaten. . . . There is a war that people go to with their creative path that is very unfamiliar to me. To me, it feels like a holy calling and one that I am grateful for.

… I was given a contract, and the contract is: ‘We are not going to tell you why, but we gave you this capacity. Your side of the contract is that you must devote yourself to this in the highest possible manner, you must approach it with the greatest respect, and you must give your whole self to this. And then we will work with you on making progress.’ That’s sort of what it feels like for me.”

What good companionship I find here, as she speaks for my own heart.

The entire interview can be seen at http://www.dailygood.org/view.php?sid=413

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Uncovering our inner diamonds

My thanks to Ron Tomanio for this Guest Post, from his Walking the Mystical Path with Practical Feet series:

Surviving Difficult and Painful Events – Unearthing the Diamonds Within

The Great Being saith: Regard man as mine rich in gems of inestimable value. ~  Baha’u’llah

Untitled1We see sparkling diamonds that have been cut and polished without giving a lot of thought to the difficult mining process that produced such beauty. Unearthing spiritual diamonds can also be a difficult process, but results in fully rounded wondrous qualities that have existed in a state of potentiality within us since the moment of our creation

            If we are fortunate, we have some friends who live lives of beauty every day. Sometimes we are privy to know the difficult and painful events that have shaped them, but more often we see, like the diamonds in a jewelry store, only the finished product.

             One such friend was Larry Akeley. Larry’s father was an engineer who had great expectations that his son would follow in his footsteps by pursuing an engineering degree. Larry tried, he really tried, but God did not endow him with that sort of mind. He dropped out of college and his father was furious. He told Larry, “You’re no son of mine!”

 Mirror Love             This comment crushed Larry and he spiraled downhill falling every way an individual can fall—drugs, nervous breakdown. and finally, homelessness that led him to live in the New-Hampshire woods in an abandoned cabin. The day came when he decided to choose quick suicide over slow suicide. His plan was to walk out of the woods to the main road turn right and meet up with other drug-users living in the woods and take an overdose. He stood at the crossroads and for reasons he didn’t understand, chose to turn left and away from taking his life, at least for the moment. He had no plan beyond putting one foot in front of the other.

An elderly woman stopped and offered him a ride. He was stunned, but he accepted. She offered to take him to her home where she gave him some of her son’s clothes and allowed him to use her shower. She gave him a hot meal and hope and they became lifelong friends.

             Decades went by and Larry’s father developed dementia. His mother became the primary caregiver until she passed away. Then Larry helped take care of his father like the elderly lady took care of him years earlier. Toward the end of his father’s life the nursing home insisted on strapping his father to the bed at night because he would roll out of bed and hurt himself. Seeing his father restrained in this way bothered the soft-hearted Larry. His solution was to sleep at night on the floor next to his father’s bed and let his father fall on his soft, cushy belly. WTOEimage.php

Because he was willing to let his experience help mine his inner diamonds, Larry accessed the educational aspects of his difficult experience while avoiding its potentially destructive aspects. He let it break open his heart, developing facets of the qualities of love and forgiveness that he might not otherwise have acquired.

Larry’s own life came to its end just a few years later. The brilliance of his spiritual transcendence still shines brightly for those of us who knew him here, and love him still.

Ronald Tomanio is a co-author of With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past, When We Can Investigate Reality? Find more information about the book at:

http://www.amazon.com/With-Thine-Own-Eyes-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=pd_sim_kstore_11?ie=UTF8&refRID=0TQC490J7FVBRTJWM70H

Print version at: http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html


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Rowing all the way through

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Photo: Vanessa Jette

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

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

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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.       

~Osho


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The privilege of the balanced mind

Gleanings found here and there:IMG_5655

Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world, and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved. 

~ Bahá’u’lláh

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. 

~ Mark Tobey

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

Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new. ~ Ursula K. Le Guin


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The diamonds of spiritual treasure

I am grateful for a Guest Post from author Ron Tomanio, adapted from his

Walking the Mystical Path with Practical Feet series:

  DCforelle482472_10152259722231802_1312604230_n   

Surviving Difficult and Painful Events – Unearthing the Diamonds Within

“The Great Being saith: Regard man as mine rich in gems of inestimable value.” Baha’u’llah

We see sparkling diamonds that have been cut and polished without giving a lot of thought to the difficult mining process that produced such beauty. Unearthing spiritual diamonds can also be a difficult process, but results in fully rounded wondrous qualities that have existed in a state of potentiality within us since the moment of our creation.

If we are fortunate, we have some friends who live lives of beauty every day. Sometimes we are able to know the difficult and painful events that have shaped them, but more often we see, like the diamonds in a jewelry store, only the finished product.Untitled1

One such friend was Larry Akeley. Larry’s father was an engineer who had great expectations that his son would follow in his footsteps by pursuing an engineering degree. Larry tried, he really tried, but God did not endow him with that sort of mind. He dropped out of college and his father was furious. He told Larry, “You’re no son of mine!”

This comment crushed Larry and he spiraled downhill, falling every way an individual can fall—drugs, nervous breakdown. and finally, homelessness that led him to live in the New-Hampshire woods in an abandoned cabin. The day came when he decided to choose quick suicide over slow suicide. His plan was to walk out of the woods to the main road turn right and meet up with other drug-users living in the woods and take an overdose. He stood at the crossroads and for reasons he didn’t understand, chose to turn left and away from taking his life, at least for the moment. He had no plan beyond putting one foot in front of the other.

An elderly woman stopped and offered him a ride. He was stunned, but he accepted. She offered to take him to her home where she gave him some of her son’s clothes and allowed him to use her shower. She gave him a hot meal, and hope, and they became lifelong friends.

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Photos: David Campbell / GBCTours.com

Decades went by and Larry’s father developed dementia. His mother became the primary caregiver until she passed away. Then Larry helped take care of his father like the elderly lady took care of him years earlier. Toward the end of his father’s life the nursing home insisted on strapping his father to the bed at night because he would roll out of bed and hurt himself. Seeing his father restrained in this way bothered the soft-hearted Larry. His solution was to sleep at night on the floor next to his father’s bed and let his father fall on his soft, cushy belly.

Because he was willing to let his experience help mine his inner diamonds, Larry accessed the educational aspects of his difficult experience while avoiding its potentially destructive aspects. He let it break open his heart, developing facets of the qualities of love and forgiveness that he might not otherwise have acquired.

Larry’s own life came to its end just a few years later. The brilliance of his spiritual transcendence still shines brightly for those of us who knew him here, and love him still.