Monday, December 21, 2009

A Thought of the Next World

It is through our explanations to children that we really begin to understand things ourselves.

The other day Shoghi, my 4 year-old son, asked me about death. You see, we've recently been reading a lot of books that have people dying in them.  And then we just learned that my step-father will be going off life-support very soon.  The subject of death sure seems to be coming up a lot lately.

In one story, we read about 'Abdu'l-Baha and a woman named Na'um. She was very old and extremely poor. She would come see 'Abdu'l-Baha most every day, and He would give her a bit of money, even though He did not have a lot of money Himself. One day she didn't show up, and someone came running to Him and said, "Master, Master, Na'um is sick. She has the measles and nobody will go near her." 'Abdu'l-Baha hired someone to watch over her. He rented a room for her, paid for her medicine and even sent her His own bedding. When she passed away, He paid for her funeral.

When Shoghi asked me about this, I explained the following without even realizing what I was saying, or where I was going with it:

When a friend is getting ready to move, we can help them in many ways. We can help them sort through their belongings and throw away what is not necesary. Then we can help them pack up what they want in boxes. We could help them load the truck, or even drive the truck to their new home for them. At their new home, we can help unload, or even unpack, the boxes.

This is what 'Abdu'l-Baha was doing for her. She was getting ready to move to heaven and He was helping her sort through her stuff.  He was assisting her in her move. He was helping her recognize the virtues that were truly important in life, and pack them away in her heart for the next world.

He did this by showing so much love and compassion to her that she learned from His example. He made sure that she was comfortable and happy. He did all that he could for her, so that her last days would be good.

And this is how we must be. We must help others, and make sure that they comfortable and happy, ready to move on to the next world.

It was through this story, and talking about it with Marielle, that we have come to realize that the accumulation of virtues, as good and wonderful as they are, is not all. They are given to us to develop so that we can better know our Creator.  The best way to do this is to help serve others and aid them in developing their virtues and spiritual qualities.

And what are these virtues?  These spiritual qualities?  They are the attributes of God, such as generosity, knowledge, compassion and joy.   By developing them within ourselves, by recognizing them in others and helping them develop them within themselves, we are, truly, getting closer to our Creator.

And isn't this our purpose in life?  Isn't this our goal?

Then, when we move to the next world, our aim is the same: to know and worship God.

These virtues and qualities help us do this.

They also aid us in recognizing the deep truth of that wonderful phrase:

I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?

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