Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Breakfast at Shoghi's

One of my deep joys in life is to have breakfast with my son, Shoghi. At that time of day, we both seem to be in our best mood and more able to appreciate the joy of each other. It may just be me, but that is how I perceive it.

As you know from many previous articles, there are some remarkable conversations that we have over breakfast. Unfortunately we won't be able to have them over Stella's cinnamon buns anymore, but I'm sure, with a bit of hunting, I'll be able to find another place to satisfy that crass physical craving.

This morning, over my peanut butter and coconut spread sandwich, and his cereal and yogurt, Shoghi said something that surprised me. My response, said without conscious thought, also surprised me and I have to thank God for placing that response in my mouth. I'm sure if I had a moment to think about it, I would never have been able to come up with it.

The conversation went something like this:
Shoghi: I told God I love Him, but He doesn't speak back.

Me: Did you know that God does speak to you?

Shoghi: Yes. He speaks to me in heaven.

Me: Oh, that's true, and He also speaks to you here.

Shoghi: He does? But I don't hear Him.

Me: Oh yes, Shoghi. He speaks to you right here, right now, but He does not speak to your ears, like I do.

Shoghi: Then how does He speak?

Me: He speaks to you when a butterfly lands on a flower. He speaks to you every time a deer nibbles on the grass across the street. He speaks to you when the sunbeams shine through the clouds. Every time you see something that makes your heart happy, that is when God is speaking to you. God speaks to make your heart happy, not your ears.
There was a sense of wonder in Shoghi's eyes as he turned to look outside in order to better hear God, and his awe made me feel awe as I heard God through him. Then, unbidden, a quote came to mind: "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."

I had long presumed that this quote, from the Words of Jesus, meant that if you have ears, you should try and listen with them. Now I wonder. It seems that I could also read that statement as, "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear (with his heart)." In other words, if you have been gifted with ears with which to hear something as insubstantial as mere vibrations in the air, then do not doubt that God has given you the heart by which you can listen to the far more important vibrations of the spirit.

Baha'u'llah, in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, writes, "Thereupon, will the doors of the Kingdom be flung wide before thy face, and thou wilt behold what eyes have never beheld, and hear what ears have never heard." This statement now takes on a deeper meaning to me. It helps me understand how it relates to other statements like, "Is there any man of hearing who will hear Thee with Thine ears..." and "Were ye to incline your inner ears unto Him, ye would hear from every limb and member and vein and even from every single hair of this Wronged One that which would stir and enrapture the Concourse on high and the world of creation." These were statements that sounded good to me, but I must admit I never really could make too much sense out of them.

Of course, this is not to overlook the numerous times that both Baha'u'llah and 'Abdul-Baha talk about paying attention and listening with attentive ears, or seeing with your own eyes, but rather this is to add to those statements. It is, to me, to realize that we need to "transcend the murmur of syllables and sounds" and pay a deeper attention to the world around, and within, us.

Maybe tomorrow morning I can do that with Shoghi over a cinnamon bun.


  1. Wow...great post Mead! Reinforces one to stop, see, listen, feel and breathe through our senses and appreciate what truly surrounds us! Thanks for sharing.

  2. So what does God say when you go to lands where things are not so nice, where love struggles to survive under the hardships of a life not like ours in the West? Does God speak through every action that takes place in the natural world?

    If so, then God speaks through war? War is a natural, primal force, just like deer nibbling on grass and butterflies seeking out flowers to derive nectar from.

    If God speaks through all of creation, then he speaks through the most horrid things as well? What does God speak amongst the staccato of gunfire, and the screams of victims? Does God say that these people are in need of love? Do they serve as examples for those who happen to be in places where they may observe this and think about it? I have a hard time believing that the death of innocent children is God trying to send a message of some sort.

    What rectifies this suffering on Earth? Suffering that we ourselves have caused through negligence? I have no doubt that this has nothing to do with the will of God. Children die not to teach me a lesson to be more righteous and serve mankind, for their lives are just as equal as mine. They are not "lessons", they are lives who deserve love and everything else we have. To put off their suffering and their deaths as something that is part of the will of God is selfish and ignorant. Somehow, that makes it easier on the hearts of mankind. Sure, it pushes us to help, but not to help in the right reasons, or to respect in the correct way for a child's death. No child deserves to suffer, but it happens anyway. To think a loving God would permit such a thing is an atrocity. To think a loving God would allow such things to occur as part of the natural order of things is illogical. To think a loving God would answer the prayers of something frivilous over the cries of abused children who hope for a better tomorrow is illogical. To blame this all on us not knowing or understanding God is foolish.

    We understand life quite well and why things happen.

  3. Hello Anonymous. Thank you for your thought-provoking comment.

    Yes, I do believe that God speaks to us through the most horrid of things, as well as the most beautiful. When a child dies through the horror of war (which I do not think of as "natural", but as a sad result of failing to live up to the standards God has asked us to live by), I believe that the heartbreak of it is God's voice. To me, it is as if God is saying "See what sad things happen when you do not live according to the Commandments?" I do not believe He wishes this for us, but will not stop us from doing as we will.

    As I have said in many other posts, I, as a loving parent, will not stop my child from growing and learning, except in as much as what he does may kill him. I did not stop him from banging his head on the table as he was learning to stand and he grew to know his body's limits. I did stop him from playing with knives when he was a young toddler, though.

    I believe that God has given us free-will, and that He sometimes laments at our use of it. But as He seems to be more concerned with the growth of our soul, as opposed to the survival of our body, it sometimes seems to cruel to us, who are more concerned with the latter.

    And no, I'm sorry, but I do not believe that we understand life quite well. If we did, I don't think the world would be in the state it is. But that's just my own opinion.

    Thanks again.

  4. Dear Anonymous. What is your reaction to children to unjustly dying in war or anywhere else? Do you,(Anonymous), join in the killing or do you try to prevent other senseless deaths of children?

    If you choose to do the latter, to help build a machine that would stop senseless killing of children and mankind everywhere makes sense to me. The Bahai Faith is about stopping all needless killings everywhere by knitting the hearts to the love of God. By abiding by the laws and covenant Baha'u'llah has made with mankind.

    Heart by heart, in time, that is building a machine that will stop the flood of killings and suecidees. Do you want to help build a solution, with Bahai's?