Saturday, August 21, 2010

Prayers and Meditations, Number 10, part 3

O Thou Whose face is the object of the adoration of all that yearn after Thee, Whose presence is the hope of such as are wholly devoted to Thy will, Whose nearness is the desire of all that have drawn nigh unto Thy court, Whose countenance is the companion of those who have recognized Thy truth, Whose name is the mover of the souls that long to behold Thy face, Whose voice is the true life of Thy lovers, the words of Whose mouth are as the waters of life unto all who are in heaven and on earth!

The third part of that first sentence that I wish to look at are the final elements in each clause: those that yearn after Thee, those who are wholly devoted to Thy will, those who have drawn nigh unto Thy court, those who have recognized Thy truth, the souls that long to behold Thy face, Thy lovers, and all who are in heaven and on earth.

To give you an idea of what I am doing, I have copied these simple phrases below and am just reading each one, one at a time, typing what comes to mind as I think about it. There is no particular plan as I am doing this, but rather it is like allowing the waves of this ocean just carry me along to see where I end up. At the very end I will look at all the phrases again and make a general summary. This is, of course, not the only way to go through this, but just the method that I have chosen for now.

To start, like the rest of the parts of this first clause, we are all yearning after God, for if we were not, we would not even be here. We all have this strong desire to be closer to our Creator and so are walking this path of prayer in our attempt to be closer to Him.

As we progress closer and closer to Him, we begin to see how much greater God is than any of us. As we study His Words, our understanding of His vision grows, and we slowly give up those things that we think are important for the things He sees as important. Over time we become more and more devoted to His will, trying with all our efforts to help erect His vision in the world, to create the reality of the prayer offered to us by Jesus, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".

As we strive to put into action His words and vision, we find ourselves drawn closer and closer to His court. But what does that mean "drawn nigh unto Thy court"? Obviously it is a reference to the idea of God as the King, and the court being that which is near to Him. It is also a reminder that it is the court that carries out His commands. Without the court, the King would have little power to accomplish anything in His realm. In other words, "Without his support, at once whole-hearted, continuous and generous, every measure adopted, and every plan formulated, by the body which acts as the national representative of the community to which he belongs, is foredoomed to failure. The World Center of the Faith itself is paralyzed if such a support on the part of the rank and file of the community is denied it. The Author of the Divine Plan Himself is impeded in His purpose if the proper instruments for the execution of His design are lacking."
You see, being part of a court is not all fun and games. There is work involved. The purpose of the court is to execute the will of the King, and we, as part of the court of Baha'u'llah, have a job to do, too.
To be effective in this, we have to recognize the truth of His Cause, for if we don't, we will either have an ulterior motive or only do our work half-heartedly. Part of this recognition means recognizing the importance of studying His Word, so that we can better understand and implement it, as well as trusting the institutions with whom we work. It means following the principles of consultation, as opposed to those other forms of decision-making that plague most other courts, including the obedience to a decision, even if we disagree with it.

It also means taking the initiative when necessary. In a well-run court, there are the general edicts that go out, but there are also many instances when swift action is required. This is the difference between, for example, the core activities, which are a general framework for all of our actions, and the individual initiative that is suitable to the needs of the particular individuals with whom we are in contact. We know, of course, that study circles are one of the core activities, but for many people, firesides are what they require at a given moment to help them on their path. There are also those people who really need to deepen on a particular subject which is not covered in the Ruhi curriculum. They should be enrolled in a deepening class with an eye, of course, towards moving into a study circle when the time is right.

As we do all this, we will all move closer to that state of longing to behold His face. What does that mean? To me, it means that I want to see the "face of God" within everything, sort of like 'Abdu'l-Baha, when He "saw the Face of His Heavenly Father in every face". This is what I aspire to do. By moving towards this state, and revering the sacred essence within everything, we will find ourselves propelled further along this path.

It is in this state that we will naturally become His lovers. How could we fail to be, when we recognize His beauty everywhere?

And really, it is this state of awareness of the sacred that is needed for the world to transform. It is when we begin to move into this exalted realm of awareness that we truly understand that "the words of (His) mouth are as the waters of life unto all who are in heaven and on earth".

We begin with a simple yearning, which turns into a heart-felt devotion. From there, we are drawn closer, until we recognize our Lord. We then long to do His bidding, and become the true lover of His essence.

Wow. Re-reading this makes me realize just how far I have to go.

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