Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Meditation

"I know not, O my God, whether I should speak forth the wonders of Thy praise among Thy servants, and lay bare before them the secrets of Thy mercy and the mysteries of Thy Cause, or keep them wrapped up within the receptacle of my heart."

For some reason, I turned to this quote today as I began to flip through the Writings, looking for something to study. Prayers and Meditations, number 110, by Baha'u'llah. Take a look at it, if you don't already have it memorized. I'll wait.

<"whistle while you wait, doo doo doo doo doo dah doo">

Got it? Ok. As I re-read it earlier, I began to think to myself, "Doesn't He just capture the question?" For those of us who have ever had the question about whether or not we should teach the Faith, Baha'u'llah is asking the same question, in essence, here. Although later on the Guardian tells us that we shouldn't keep the Faith to ourselves, but should share it freely, the love behind that thought is spelled out so clearly here, as is explained further on.

Over the years, there have been many questions people have asked me about my own personal beliefs that have nothing to do with anything else, and I am reminded of this whenever I read the next phrase in this quote: "Though the lover be loth to share with any one the intimate conversation of his beloved..."

What does it matter my belief in the Virgin Birth, or any other numerous miracles attributed to Manifestations? These views have no impact upon my actions in the world, nor my love for my Creator and fellow creatures. I would be as unlikely to share these personal opinions as I would describe my intimate moments with my wife. They are of no concern to anyone else.

But if you were to ask me about the Faith, and what I have learned in the Writings, "at whatever time Thine inescapable commandment to declare Thy Cause reacheth me, I will unhesitatingly obey it. I would proclaim Thee, undeterred by the darts of affliction that may rain down upon me from the clouds of Thy decree."
At least, that is the ideal.

How often have I begun to tell someone about the Faith, or the Faith's perspective on an issue, when someone else came along and flung darts, so to speak? There was one memorable time when I was in San Diego, looking through the religion section of a used bookstore. There was a Baha'i book there, probably the Seven Valleys, and I was paging through it. The lady next to me asked me if I knew anything about it, to which I responded that I was a Baha'i. She asked some question or another, I responded, and she headed off, satisfied. Another guy came up and began to tell me that I was going to hell because I wasn't his brand of Christian. I found his fanaticism fairly amusing, and offered a comment from the Bible about not judging others. That just made him mad. He began to yell at me about how I should be Christian, to which I offered another verse from the Bible, asking him if he could explain it. All the while, he was yelling louder and louder, and I was getting calmer and calmer. Finally the store owner came over and kicked him out, apologizing to me for this guy's rude behaviour.

I went back to looking through the section, wondering why that had just happened, when another customer came over. She said that she couldn't help but overhear what had happened, and was impressed with my calmness in the face of this attack. She wanted to know more about this Faith that gave me such "strength". Without any hesitation, I began to try and answer her questions to the best of my meager ability.

Now, when I read paragraph 3 of this meditation, I begin to think a bit more clearly about why I am writing this. He says, "What I desire... is that Thou shouldst bid me unveil the things which lie hid in Thy knowledge, so that they who are wholly devoted to Thee may, in their longing for Thee, soar up into the atmosphere of Thy oneness..."
Now I surely won't profess to be able to "unveil" those things, but the reasoning is still the same. I offer up what little I can in the hopes that others may benefit. This is why I often say that I write it for Baha'is, and that I won't shy away from the Baha'i terminology or perspective. I understand that many of you are not Baha'i, but I haven't heard any complaints yet.
Today, however, I am really moved by the fourth paragraph, in which He says, "Thou dost consider, O my Lord, how Thy dear ones are sore pressed by Thine enemies, and hearest from all sides their sighing by reason of what hath befallen them in Thy path. Thou knowest, O my Lord, that their one desire was to seek Thy face, and that the sole Object of their adoration was Thee. They who wronged them had no other purpose except to turn them away from Thee, and to extinguish the fire which Thou hadst kindled with the hands of Thine almighty power."
This is a time when the 7 Baha'is in Iran, formerly called the Yaran, have been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. The injustice of it is so manifest. And really, no one can deny that they were doing anything except what Baha'u'llah mentions in this paragraph. They wished to serve their Lord, and have been prevented from having even the most basic of human rights.

Here in Canada, however, I am free to write and teach as I will. I need only to look at the two maps at the bottom of my blog to see how many people around the world have read this. And I'll tell you, quite often I sit here, late at night, usually in a dark room while my family is asleep, typing because those dear souls over in the Cradle of the Faith are unable to do so. When I write, I often lament my inability to share the Faith as well as others. I am saddened by my lack of insight, and my paucity of understanding. Sure, I can string a few words together and make them sound reasonably intelligent, but I have no illusions about my true ability. There are many other far more capable than myself.

Time and again while writing, even amidst all the humour, I find myself crying out, "Forgive me, O my God, for what I have spoken, for Thou art the One that knoweth all things..."

But then again, the work of the Faith is often done by those who feel themselves incapable of doing it. And we ourselves often do not know our own capacities. God alone knows what we can do, or who we can affect.

I am certain that the poor blacksmith had no clue how he was going to impact the growth of the Faith when he seized the opportunity and asked that scholar, whose horse's shoe he was fixing, if he could ask a question of him. Yes, he knew Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, and knew of his interest in the Faith, but I'm sure he had no idea that his two questions would so shake the great scholar, and lead him to the conclusion of his search.
We never know who we are reaching. We never know the impct our simple words will have.
One last story. I was sitting in a coffee shop drinking a cup while making a bracelet. I was thinking about how work in the spirit of service to humanity has been elevated to that of worship, and decided that the next person who asked me what I was doing would be told that I was worshipping God. No sooner had I decided on this response than someone came up and asked what I was doing. "I'm worshipping God", I said.
"Cool," was his reply. "And what are you making?"
I told him I was making a bracelet, and then we began to talk about my original response. We talked for half an hour about the many ways to worship God before I got around to asking him what he did for a living. "Oh, I'm a minister."
He happened to be the minister of one of the largest congregations in Winnipeg, and I was told that he spoke about work as a form of worship at his next service.
Thank God that I spoke forth the wonders of His praise.

1 comment:

  1. The fruits of your endeavors are evident, revealing themselves day by day, Mead! Thank you for your consideration in sharing your insights and experiences.