Shine the Divine:

Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice

When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It's up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new. Join me as we wake up to the sacred-ordinary blessings waiting to greet us each and every day.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Annual War-or Simply Transition?

Lonely Leaf
-Photo by Rosewillow Hegfield

Annual War
by Belin Hegfield

I saw a leaf of red and purple
Twisting gently on its stem

It clung to the branch

As the wind whipped by

A gale designed for

The destruction of those

Silent beings

I saw that leaf hang limp

When the breez
e had ceased
I saw it as a war banner

When the battle is won

But the
cost is too great
To feel a victory

I saw that vibrant leaf

Hold fast to life
Then at a slight breath of air

Surrender to the inevitable fate
Of trees

From the window I watched

It fall, borne by nothingness


And hit the ground in
Joining the others who had
Come and gone before

That night I walked
Beneath the tree
Then s
tood still
Gazing down at

The tomb of fallen leaves

This lovely, sorrowful poem written by my nearly 16-year-old daughter Belin this past week, spoke directly to my heart. Her title,
Annual War gave me pause, however. For me
, these transitions from one state of being to another are not a war at all, unless that is our mindset.

There is a difference between loving life until that "slight breath of air surrender(s) us to the inevitable fate of trees" (all living things)...
and fighting, kicking and bitterly screaming, becoming warlike at the end. Because the end (as John O'Donohue so eloquently taught us a few blog entries back) is not an end at all, as "our very life here depends directly on continuous acts of beginning". This is exactly what the gentle acquiescence of the leaf Belin observed, tumbling inaudibly in the poem above, is. (IMHO!) It is a continuation of beginnings. Immersed "beneath the tree" within that silent "tomb of fallen leaves", is an even quieter womb where an infant seed will be protected from the frost and snow, nourished with the decaying corpses of her (the leaf's) ancestors, waiting for the warmth of spring to send her tender roots deep into the earth as her slender shoots reach up toward the sun...continuing the process of life bearing life over and over again.

Fighting, in my way of thinking would have been a waste o
f precious if preserved, that could fortify the next generation of trees. Surrender, is not an act of giving up. It is the art of allowing life to flow as it is meant to. Struggling, fighting is a temporary measure that may postpone the inevitable, but will not prevent its ultimate unfolding. And why would we want it to really?

Perhaps what my maturing daughter perceived as a "war banner" was simply a gift, a portent for her to witness. This red and purple leaf twisting, could it be this leaf's mode of dance? Was this nature’s choreographed reminder to pay attention to just how exquisite and precious life is? Not a "sorrowful farewell", bu
t a "sweet hello", an invitation to jump in the pile of leaves, playfully listening not to the silence but to the delightful crunchiness gathered beneath Belin's feet. Each foot fall breaking down the drying leaves, enabling them to become food for next spring's crop of baby trees; a celebration, a simcha.

Our perceptions have tremendous potential. As Anne Marie Bennett taught us about our thoughts in my last blog entry when she said:
"I think the main thing is that it is a choice... I could choose to be grateful. I could choose to see the glass half full. It’s always a choice."

I love the
somber tone my daughter chose in writing her poem. I adore her ability to be empathic toward a single leaf. This too is a gift that will allow her to connect genuinely throughout her many relationships with fellow humans, animals, all of Creation as she blossoms into adulthood. Often our children are our greatest teachers, and I am grateful for this lesson of compassion from my eldest daughter. And yet, I hope that after reading what I have written, she will take a moment of pause, as I did upon absorbing the wistful words of her poem to contemplate the full range of possibilities that the falling leaf she beheld represents, beyond it being a casualty of an "annual war".

My heart's prayer is that perhaps she will consider that it was a banner signifying an opportunity to celebrate the transitions of turning 16, stepping nearer the threshold between childhood and adulthood...learning that it is indeed a dance and she can return to childlike frolicking, prancing, bouncing, playing no matter what her chronological age. Joy is always an option. Though the dance steps may vary from those of her younger years, (as bodies are wont to change, transform and transition through the ongoing procession of time or illness- mine a perfect example) need not be lost. Perhaps the "dance" will not include twisting or bouncing, stomping or strutting as she ages, but instead a smile that engages her eyes "tripping the light fantastic" in a flash of merriment and unabashed delight!

Rosie's Funky Boots
-Photo by Belin Hegfield

As any blogger knows, one of the many benefits of this self publishing art-form is that we can include the work of our own creative children (with their permission, of course) on our pages. What a wonderful showcase in which to feature the talent of burgeoning youth! The snapshot to the right is of my beautiful daughter Belin, author of the poem above and photographer of Rosie's Funky Boots at the bottom of the post; clearly not solemn in all moments. The Lonely Leaf image at the top of the page was taken by my impish, equally lovely daughter, Rosewillow, on the left. (she's almost 13)

Although I had planned for several days the this entry would focus on the poem by Belin and some images that felt relevant, as well as my response to my daughters' words, I freely admit, I was inspired to include photographs of my girls when I viewed my new friend Deb's blog entry that incorporated her Four Angels (as she lovingly refers to her daughters). Thanks Deb for a great idea! Be sure to click on the purple link above to see Deb's gorgeous girls and read her insights about life.


  1. I love this post laura.... both for your words, which i totally feel & for the combination with your daughters... lovely, talented, caring blossoming women.

  2. Thanks Suzi,
    Witnessing this blossoming of my daughters is well worth all the worries and petty growing pains of loving, teaching, learning and letting go!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing the poem, pictures and thoughts! I enjoyed the post... The first time I read the poem I felt myself withdraw because I have been thinking about fall in other ways. Then when I read that it came from the mind of a teenager, I went back and read closely. My heart is melting. Thank you for your perspective: both daughter and mother. Beautiful.

    Here are some of the ways that fall has inspired me over the last couple years:
    Celebration Confetti
    Falling for Renewal

  4. Loved your links Brooks, thanks.
    Yes the perspective of a teenager testing the depths and expanse of mood can certainly take us by surprise. It's pretty much a daily occurrence in our house these days! I'm with you, the sweet release of leaves from the fingers of trees can certainly be something to celebrate...that is my preferred outlook. I must admit though, that like my daughter, there is a tinge of melancholy as the tall skeletons in our woods become more stark with each sun rise. I think I hold both feelings at the same time...letting them find a balance within me.

  5. Hi Laura,

    Please let your daughter know that she wrote a very lovely poem.

    It is interesting that she chose to call it "Annual War". That gave me something to thing about since in my eyes, the falling of leaves is a great example of rebirth. We grow, we blossom, we suffer and then the whole process repeats itself many times throughout our lives.

    That said, when I was 16, my view was quite different. And from that perspective, I totally see what your daughter is feeling and saying.

    It is interesting to see different perspectives and I loved your commentary.

    Your daughters are blessed to have you as a mother.

    With love and hugs,
    Nadia - Happy Lotus

  6. Makes sense to me... That's what your post revealed to me: just how involved I've been in my own aging! I love hearing the perspectives of the young ones! Thanks again!

  7. What a lovely poem, so full of sensitivity spoken from the heart of innocence; connecting with feeling and nature. How touching Belin's innocence and perspective. I remember starting to write poetry at age 11, connecting with all these same sensitivities and feelings. Interesting how we are sometimes put off if the words of others don't say what we want to hear...:) It's all "The Mystery" expressing Itself...

    Her line: "surrender to the inevitable" reminded me of a line by Anthony de Mello: "What is the secret to serenity," asked the student. Said the master, "wholehearted cooperation with the inevitable." And as you say - "it's not an end at all" - "surrender it not an act of giving up. It is an act of allowing life to flow as it is meant to..." - cooperating with the inevitability of change... with impermanence...
    Beautiful post...

  8. I am loving all of these lovely comments! Belin was so nervous about me posting her poem...I knew, of course it would touch others deeply and provoke thoughtful responses as it did for me. It took a lot of courage for her (a fairly introverted young lady) to allow me to post her words...I'm looking forward to having her read what all of you have written...I hope it will encourage her to be bold and to continue expressing her thoughts and feelings, not just to her journal, or to me but to the world...she has a lot to say.

    Thank you all!

  9. Laura this is lovely and poignant. Please congratulate your daughter on this powerful transmission. I am so heartened to see how she connects with nature as Sacred. That, alone, will take her far in life. And how lovely that you support her journey, her unfolding, as you do, with grace and ease.

    Oh, how many parents do not, cannot, because of their own insecurities and agendas. Love prevails in your household and I am blessed to witness that. Hope you are peaceful and at ease today. xo

  10. By the way - I meant to tell you to tell Rosie that I like her photo of the "Lonely Leaf." There's a budding photographer there! AND love her funky boots! :) Christine

  11. Jan and Christine, thanks for your compliments (that I know come from wells of compassion, wisdom and joy!) Believe me, it is an honor for me to be the Mother guiding and witnessing the growth of these two awe inspiring souls (Rosie and Belin)...that's not to say it is always easy...their strong souls came into the world with definite opinions about how they think/feel/believe life is supposed to be, and that of course is challenging for all of us...and an opportunity for each of us to learn and practice listening with patience and love over and over again.

    blessings to you my new friends,

  12. How fortunate for me that I stumbled upon your blog by chance when I saw your heartwarming response to Jay's Bear blog on "Yoga for Cynics".

    This poem of your daughter's is a wonder to behold. I got all the way through it assuming it was by some famous poet. It was a shocking pleasure to find it was you daughters.

    There are so many parallels between your philosophy and Yoga philosophy. That's not really a surprise to me, because universal truth is universal truth. The methods, rituals, texts and traditions are all very different, but the universal truths are the same. The ancient Yoga sages and Heschel both "asked for wonder".

    I look forward to following your blog and getting to know you.

    Bob Weisenberg

  13. Wow Bob,
    wait until I tell Belin what you said!

    You are of course right on target with what you said about universal truths. You don't know me yet, but part of the connection you see between my writing and yoga philosophy may be due to the fact that I've been a practicing yogini for about 18 years, so even though I've never done any in depth study of Pantanjali or the Gita, some of the philosophies are learned through asana, personal observation, and the bits and pieces I've learned from my teachers over the years. I'm actually certified in teaching Yoga & Jewish Spirituality, so there's that Yoga/Heschel connection you are seeing! Cool. I'm so glad you stopped by too!


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