Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ruhi - Another Thought

Someone sent me a note the other day saying that they really got a lot out of the previous post. That was nice, and all, but then they went on to say how "brilliant" I was for putting it all in that order.


Let me just lovingly point out that I did not put the Ruhi books together. All I did was look at them and try to figure out why they worked so well. Even then, there is so much more there than I could ever figure out. In fact, I didn't even talk about the importance of how they get us trained to focus on the holy writings in the first few sections. I completely left out how they are teaching us about the importance of service and a life dedicated to prayer. There is so much more there. My only desire by writing all this is to try and motivate other people to explore these books a bit more and share what gems they have discovered. Maybe then my little pebbles of wisdom can transform into those pearls of great value. (See? I still think there's hope for me yet.)

After reading that last article to my wife, she sort of nodded that sagacious nod of hers (which usually tells me that I'm not too far off base) and then pointed something out.

She said that Book 2, Arising to Serve, still confused her a bit. She didn't understand how those presentations in Unit 2, nor the practice of presenting them to someone, was a demonstration of service. Service, after all, is not usually seen as a mere conversation. It is usually implying some sort of tangible action. (Without giving examples, that's pretty much the best way I can phrase it.) Oh yes, they were wonderful talks and all, and helped people tremendously, but she wasn't quite sure how it helped in that one area. "Me neither," was my own sagacious reply. "Let's see if we can figure it out."

And so we sat down in our rocking chairs (we're practicing for when we become grandparents, because you can never get enough practice in) (oh, and our son is only 6, because you can never begin practicing to be a grandparent early enough) and looked through Book 2 together.

One thing that guided our discussion was an observation I had made at our intensive campaign the week before. Someone was looking through a booklet of "Anna's Presentation", excerpted from Book 6, and was wondering how to introduce it to someone else. At that meeting I asked him what the first four words were, and he said, "The Baha'i Faith is".

"Interesting," I replied, "because in the book the first four words are, 'From our previous conversations...' That implies that Anna already knows Emilia quite well."

Some of the friends in the group were quite surprised to discover that, and it really changed how they thought of that presentation. Oh, and this isn't to imply that you can't use it as an introduction, for you can, and I have, but just that a friendship usually comes first. (It's also worth noting how often the two of them go off on tangents to answer Emilia's questions, and how Anna always comes back to her outline afterwards. Nice lesson there.)

Marielle and I began to wonder if there were other "clues" like that in Book 2. Needless to say, there were.

As I'm sure you know, dear Reader, Unit 2 of Arising to Serve is the story of those talks with the Sanchez family. The first thing we noticed was who it was that was giving those talks. Many people talk of Anna giving them, but it isn't. It is you. "You choose a few families you more or less know and decide to visit them regularly." "The brief explanation below... is probably like the one you have written..." It is you, dear Reader, who is visiting them.

But what is it that you are doing?

Well, when you look at the story within the Sanchez story, you will see that there is another pattern in action there.

First, you go and make a presentation. Of course, you don't really know what they need, so you pick a safe and likely topic: The Eternal Covenant of God. But the point I wish you look at is that it is you presenting.

While you are there at their home, you meet Beatrice, and immediately recognize her capacity. What do you do? You ask her to do the next presentation, with your assistance, of course. This is very reminiscent of those many passages in the Ridvan 2010 message in which the Universal House of Justice talks about the importance of those willing to assist in shouldering the work of the Faith, whether or not they are Baha'i.

You help. She presents. Life is good.

The third topic finds you presenting again, but this time in response to a perceived need. You now know the family, and you know a bit about the situation. And so you choose a topic that addresses a specific concern: unity. Naturally it doesn't go quite perfectly, but they already know you, know your heart, and are aware of your sincerity. In other words, they love you and trust you.

For the fourth talk, you actually engage them in a discussion in order to figure out the next topic to present. You are now directly engaging them. They are no longer just a passive audience.

The fifth talk finds Beatrice presenting again, with your help, of course, for you do not just leave her to fumble through it unaided. (You fumble through it together!)

The last talk in the series is geared towards helping them arise to serve on their own. They have had a good example, done some work with your help, and are now ready to go at it on their own.

This is great, but how does all this address Marielle's question above?

Pretty simple, actually, as I'm sure you know, dear Reader.

A friend of mine recently asked me if I could bake cookies for her to bring to a friend. (I make a pretty mean cookie.) Naturally, I went over to her place to bake them, but when I was doing so, showed her how to make them herself. (Actually, I just realized that this has happened a few times in the past couple of weeks. How odd is that?)

I made the first batch, while they watched. Of course, I didn't make nearly enough, so I helped them make the second batch. This still wasn't quite enough, so they made the third batch on their own, while I merely watched over their shoulder.

This has also led to me helping teach a friend of theirs how to bake cookies (different friend  than the one who got the cookies to begin with).

And so I offered a bit of serrvice, and helped someone else arise to serve. They invited another person into the group, and thus the community expands. A simple model in action.

There are many ways in which this model can work, but they all draw heavily on the idea of accompanying someone else in their service until they can do it on their own.

And many of these services last a lot longer than a plate of cookies.

No comments:

Post a Comment