Monday, March 1, 2010


I woke up this morning and did something I have never done before in my life.

Oh sure, I did all the usual morning things that start most of my mornings. I woke up slowly, meditating upon the dreams that visited me throughout the night, rolled over and grabbed my prayer book. After saying a few prayers, I picked up the current book I am reading and read for a few minutes (I like taking my time to get into the day, even if it means waking up an hour earlier than I need). Then I slowly made my way over to the bathroom for all the morning bathroom stuff. I had just finished splashing the water on my face and dragging the towel across it to dry when it happened: I looked at myself in the mirror.

There I was, staring back, watching intently. A stranger looking at me, trying to figure out who I was and what I was going to do with my day.

Now I know what you're thinking: Haven't you ever looked in the mirror before?

Well, yes, I have. But the fact of the matter is that I have never seen myself as I am today. In fact, every morning when I look in the mirror I see someone I have never seen before.

While Baha'u'llah has told us to bring ourselves "to account each day", He also tells us that "man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty". This seems to me to be a call to really ponder yourself, contemplate your life and your place in the world. And my morning ritual is to look in the mirror and do just that.

It is a time, whether a few moments or a few minutes, in which I can take a common event (washing my face) and elevate to a sacred activity (the contemplation of the self).

Where have I come from? What did I do yesterday that was worth the air I breathed and the food I ate? Where am I going? What do I want to accomplish today that will make my life worth living this day?

I do not wish to be seen as a mere channel for changing food into fertilizer. Every day needs to accomplish more than that, and this morning ritual helps guide me.

There is a wonderful quote in which we are told to make our every breath a prayer. But how do we do that? I believe it is by making every moment a moment of conciousness. If a prayer is a conversation with God, then by thinking about how everything we do can be seen as sacred might be a step in the right direction.
Baha'u'llah also tells us to "Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created." We know that we were created through and because of God's love, and that we were also in created in His image. Of course, this image does not mean that God hs two feet, two arms, and so forth, but is a comment about our spiritual reality. If God is the All-Powerful, then we have some power. If God is the All-Knowing, then we have some knowledge. In fact, when we look at the Short Obligatory Prayer, it says that we were "created to know" God and "to worship" Him.

I believe this last to be a statement of fact, not a statement of intention. Every action we take is an attempt to know our Creator through one of His attributes. My job, in making each moment sacred, is to try and recognize that. Reflecting on where I have been, and where I am going, is another step in that process.

Many of us only do this sort of reflection when a near and dear one has passed away, or when we receive a notice that really indicates how fast time is passing, such as an invitation to a school reunion, or somesuch.

But I prefer to reflect each day.

Oh sure, it sometimes makes life more difficult. After all, what can we really say each and every day that we have accomplished that has made the day worth it? For me, it is sometimes just writing an article, but usually it is the time I have spent with my son, or helping a neighbour.

Sometimes I look back on the day and compare it to other days, or look forward to the day and make note of another step in a long project I hope to accomplish. For example, I look back at how much Shoghi can read today as opposed to six months ago, and I am astonished. Or I look at my goal of publishing a couple of books and work on adding a few more pages each day.

No matter which way I look, that reflection is most important.

And then there are the times that I look out the window, like right now, and see the moon, just past being full, and realize that another month has passed. Am I a better person today than I was last month? Have I made any forward movement on the path of life, especially in the development of my virtues? That question is not so easy.

Another aside, just because it fits in well here: A friend and I went to my brother's house for dinner one night. My friend had just become a Baha'i, and asked my brother if she could ask him a question. "Sure" was the obvious reply. She glanced over at me and then asked, "Has Mead become a better person since he became a Baha'i?" My brother and I were both a bit embarrassed at the question, but he said, "Yes he has." "So why haven't you investigated the Faith", was her immediate response. That was a threshold moment for me. It was when I realized that the Faith was obivously good for me. I mean not obvious to just myself, but to others, and it took that simple question to show me.

Now I ask myself that question each morning. Am I a better person than yesterday?

Quite often the answer is "No", but I'm working on it.

And two other quotes that help me are as follows:

  • If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own self better than he knoweth others.
  • Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday.

So tomorrow morning, when you look at yourself in the mirror, take a moment to reflect. After all, that's what it's there for.
I'm always surprised at what I see.

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