Monday, December 6, 2010

Ridvan Message, Take 11

All of the wonderful things that the Universal House of Justice mentions in the first part of the Ridvan Message "are all reinforced, in no small measure," by the awareness of the importance of accompanying each other in our works. Interesting, isn't it? To me, and please remember, this is all about how I perceive the Faith (in other words, I may be wrong), this observation has really helped me focus my own activities in the past seven months.

I mean, I was aware of the importance of walking with others on their path of service, but I wasn't really aware of the importance (highlighted and bolded here, please) of it. Now, when I am tutoring Book 7, it is the main focus (well, not quite, but I think you know what I mean). In fact, whenever I'm consulting with any of the friends about how to further advance the Cause, it is this sense of accompanying that is foremost in my mind. Are we all able to carry out the tasks that need to be done? If not, is there at least one of us who can? If so, perhaps they can be encouraged to show the rest of us how to do it.

It is this awareness of looking at the strengths of all the friends in a group that, to my eyes (which need glasses, so that should be saying something) "signals the significant strengthening of a culture in which learning is the mode of operation".

Oh, and yes, it is quite different from "an old social order that so often seeks to harness human energy through domination, through greed, through guilt or through manipulation."

But when I look at the rest of this section of the Ridvan Message, my mind wanders all over the place. I think about the Spiritual Assemblies in my cluster, as well as the cluster agencies, not to mention the individuals. They are all doing so much, and I'm sure it is frustrating to some of them that they feel they are being asked to do more.

Well, you know, this has been an on-going theme with me since I began writing this blog. I don't believe we are actually being asked to do more (ok, we are, but not to the point of burning ourselves out). No, I think we are really being asked to be far more effective in those things that we are doing.

Imagine if all you had was a hammer. You know the old saying: If all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. Well, I think we have the hammer in our toolbox, and we just call it the Training Institute. (Or perhaps we call it the Devotional Gathering.) If that is our singular tool, the one we feel most comfortable pulling out and using, then perhaps we are not using it to the best of its ability. After all, if you had to unscrew something from the wall, well, yes, you could use a hammer. You would use the claw part of it, and it would take you a long time, a frustrate you to no end. But you could do it. However, a screwdriver would do it much better, and faster, with less frustration.

One of my favorite activities right now is to go through the old messages from the World Centre and see how they refer to the various activities within the Faith. How do they describe the Training Institute? Oh, and please note that they do not refer to study circles, except as a component of the Training Institute. (Have you ever noticed how different the implications of training and studying are?) What phrases do they use to describe the home visits? How about children's classes or junior youth groups? Devotional gatherings? When we go through the recent messages and pull out those descriptions, we will probably find that we are not using these tools to the best of their ability.

How many of us really think of the junior youth groups as helping those dear souls "develop their inherent potentialities and to contribute to the transformation of society"? Do we really approach our study circles (which are a part of the training institute) with the awareness that they are primarily for "the development of human resources in a region" and that we will "explore the application of the teachings"? When we design our devotional gatherings, and think about who we wish to consciously invite, is it with a eye towards the idea that it will "strengthen the devotional character of the community"?

You see, I believe that when we re-visit these descriptions, the way in which we organize these activities, and even whom we will invite to which, will most likely change.

I often think about the needs of individuals and the needs of communities. If someone is fairly aggressive, you would encourage them to calm down. If they are lethargic, you would try to prod them into action. Both cases require action, but not the same kind.

Similarly, if a friend showed great interest in improving their devotional life, but showed little interest in service, I would encourage them to come to a devotional gathering. If I invited them to come to a study circle, they would probably drop out soon after beginning. At least, experience has shown this to be the case.

I have one friend who just loves to sit around and say prayers all day. But they rarely get out and do anything. They seem to be of the belief that a large group of people sitting around and only saying prayers will greatly help the world. Well, I won't say that this is a bad thing, but I don't believe it will have as much effect as if they embark on some activity after saying those prayers. This is a friend I am encouraging to get into a study circle. She wants to do good. She wants to have a profound effect upon the world. But she doesn't know how. If I invite her to a devotional gathering, I feel that I'll just be playing into this idea of praying without action. Instead, I hope to see her begin a study circle, and then start her own devotional gathering. Her tutor can play a great part in helping her move into the realm of action. And I truly believe that her understanding of the importance of prayer will help others partake of this great bounty.

Each person has a strength, and this strength can be used in service. But all of us also need help and guidance.

Anyways, I've probably rambled enough for now.

Like I said, my mind is scattered today. Sorry about that. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

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