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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The atmosphere in which peace emerges

Words from Richard Bach came up this week as a deep reminder:

“You don’t want a million answers as much as you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colors from the same jewel. The same questions, asked again, bring you just the answers you need just the minute you need them.”                                                                                                                

This prompted a few forever questions as one month draws to its close and another begins:

 

How does my willingness to let go serve my highest purpose?

What freedom does it offer me from the erroneous notions and tyranny of my own thoughts?

What appears when I relinquish something lesser for something greater?

In what ways does its atmosphere and perspective always feel better?

Might it be the atmosphere in which peace emerges? LAFS6377506

 

Floral images courtesy of D. Kirkup Jewelry Designs:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DKirkupDesigns

 

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

Find more about the book here:

https://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details-ebook/dp/B00B5MR9B0


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In the same garden

Gleanings found here and there:

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

If we open our hearts, we will also find open hearts – it is always mutual.

~ Abbot Leo von Rudloff

… 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…..

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done — then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.

~ Frances Hodgson Burnett

That’s what causes all the pain on this earth, including the fact that the ecosystem is turned upside down. All of that comes from people not making friends with themselves and never being willing to communicate with the one they consider to be the troublemaker. That’s how we stay caught in this battleground, this war zone.

 ~ Pema Chödrön

We are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another.

~ Ram Dass

 


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Learning to fly, again

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All Photos: David Campbell

I was discussing the ebb and flow of life with a friend recently. Naturally, a topic like that led to thoughts about the weight of the world’s pain, and the often contrasting lightness of the things a soul feels called, attracted, toward.

The conversation turned up the possibility that sometimes our doing what we do is a kind of imitation of our own past, a habitual need or effort to control what goes on around us to eliminate surprises or feelings of powerlessness. But that doesn’t relieve pain.

At times like these, I’m reminded of a phrase from a prayer I’ve been saying daily. It’s a kind of acknowledgement that I — and others — can feel like a bird struggling to fly again:

” … grant that this broken-winged bird attain a refuge and shelter in Thy divine nest that abideth upon the celestial tree“.

DCdove427315_10150775762841802_1281660509_nMy friend wondered whether our part, in relation to what this passage points to, is a matter of following our heart, and keeping that heart connected to what is its Source. A bird, we recognized, flies in accord with the forces that make its flight possible, in spite of what may pose obstacles or threaten to impede that.

When in such a heart-open, flight-focused mode, my companion noted, “I understand that what we do is like a river. It flows and moves, it changes its course according to conditions … I have to flow with it — and I never arrive.

She cited a passage she especially loves:

I am the royal Falcon, on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird, and start it on its flight.”

“I realize,” she said, “that the unfolding of the wings of this broken bird is from moment to moment. There is not some moment in the past when I was broken, and my wings were unfolded, and that was it. No, moment by moment by moment, my wings are unfolded and I am started on my flight.”

DCGanse996728_10151804325191802_146979027_nThat unfolding, she suggested, brings with it a changing of our perception, an inner knowing that helps us remember that we are never stuck, earthbound, if we don’t choose to be.

A willingness to have our wings “unfolded”, to listen and hear with our heart, seems to awaken and increase our capacity to respond, and to respond differently.

To fly free, again.

 

Cited passages from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.