Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


The very spirit of this age

Artwork: Kathy Gilman

At the year’s final full moon, as winter solstice draws near, I’m reminded of words of Pearl Buck’s:

“It is good to know our universe.

What is new is only new to us.”

The newness of the season arriving now can be a quiet kind, and an invitation to quiet, and stillness.

To waiting, and listening, in order to hear.

Here in the northern hemisphere, the Solstice brings with it such a distinct meeting place of light and dark.

Photo: N. Augusta Vincent

And yet, as with the sun’s gradually returning light, we can be warmed by the understanding that the forces at work in human life are drawing us away from a dark, centuries-old preoccupation with survival and “fighting evil” toward our highest destiny: a creative, collaborative and potentially limitless building of the good.

This is a prospect in which every one has a part to play and every culture has unique contributions to make.

Frederick Buechner expressed this reality beautifully:

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

“Renewal is the order of the day,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá declared when he visited North America in 1912.

Photo: Hertha Götz

“And all this newness hath its source in the fresh outpourings of wondrous grace and favor from the Lord of the Kingdom, which have renewed the world.

“The people, therefore, must be set completely free from their old patterns of thought, that all their attention may be focused upon these new principles, for these are the light of this time and the very spirit of this age.”

Completely free. All of our attention.

My reminder, as the season changes, and 2020 arrives.


Winter in a kinder world – Giveaway Week 4



Winner’s choice of winter beauty in this week’s giveaway –

from these designs by New Hampshire artist Diane Kirkup.

To enter, simply comment on any post here

at the blog, or send an email to info@phyllisring.com


headerAs the Winter Solstice approaches, I love hearing from readers of Snow Fence Road, a tale with its share of wintry weather and scenes. A year ago today, after what can only be described as a forceful, invisible nudge, I tried my luck with the kind publisher I’m forever grateful has published this story. Black Lyon Publishing has a whole lot of offerings for this and every season — and a fun video taste of holiday spirit at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OCtOUespkY&feature=youtu.be


Photo: Saffron Moser

One reviewer’s words about the book and its story struck a chord for me, this week:

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


Photo: Saffron Moser

That’s the reason I write at all, from the stubborn belief that this is the kind of world that all of our hearts want, and can all help bring into being.

And from one of my heroes, naturalist and writer John Burroughs, comes a taste of “Winter Sunshine”, which encapsulates so perfectly this quieting season when every one and every thing prepares for rest and restoration:

“It is a spur that one feels at this season more than at any other. How nimbly you step forth! The woods roar, the waters shine, and the hills look invitingly near. You do not miss the flowers and the songsters, or wish the trees or fields any different, or heavens any nearer. Every object pleases…. the straight light-gray trunks of the trees… how curious they look, and as if surprised in undress.”