Wednesday, November 30, 2011


"Even the sword", 'Abdu'l-Baha is reported to have said, while in the West, "is no test to the Persian believers. They are given a chance to recant; they cry out instead: 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha!' Then the sword is raised," - He shot up His arm as though brandishing a sword - "they cry out all the more 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha!' But some of the people here are tested if I don't say 'How do you do?'"

There is something profound about this amusing story, as one would only expect.

I mean, look at it: He is describing the profound tests that the believers in Iran had to face, and still face. And yet, when He was in the West, there are many stories of stalwart believers, heroes of our Faith, who suffered from what I can only call panic attacks if He didn't look at them in the morning and say, "How are you?" He was busy, far busier than I can ever imagine being, and He gave so much of both His time and His Self. Surely we could forgive Him for paying attention to those who seemed to be far more in need of His attention.

But I don't think that He was criticizing anyone in particular. I think He was, instead, teaching us a lesson. Or, at least, trying to.

You see, it may just be me, but I think that religion here in the West is kind of strange. It seems that we struggle to believe that God loves us.

In Persia, they not only accept that God loves them, they were able to see firsthand that love in the Person of Baha'u'llah. They were so fully and completely committed to the Faith that they were ready to die for it. That is where they were at. Their test was that others couldn't accept their belief, but they knew that there was nothing that they could do about that, except pray.

But here, in the West, we still haven't quite believed that God could possibly love us.

This, in a sense, seems natural, for in the West we are so far from the point of origin, the cradle of the Faith. We haven't seen a Messenger here. But there, they could not deny it, for He was right in their midst. They could feel His love, see it. It was very real to them.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the Master's visit here is considered so important. When He was a prisoner, there were only a few people who were able to make the journey over there to actually be in His presence. They brought back such wonderful stories, but they couldn't convey what it actually felt like to be in His presence. They tried, and it is wonderful to read what they described, but it still fails to convey the reality. It is, in a way, like that fourth Valley that I've been having trouble writing about. Words just fail to convey. "The pen groaneth and the ink sheddeth tears..."

When He was here, all the friends were able to see, and feel, what it was like to be with One Who was that spiritual. We began to get a taste of what it was like to be in the presence of a Manifestation of God, even though the Master was not a Manifestation. But it was far more than we had ever seen. "For wide as is the gulf that separates 'Abdu'l-Bahá from Him Who is the Source of an independent Revelation," says Shoghi Effendi of this experience, "it can never be regarded as commensurate with the greater distance that stands between Him Who is the Center of the Covenant and His ministers who are to carry on His work, whatever be their name, their rank, their functions or their future achievements."

All this just to say how much awe I feel for the friends in Iran, how important I think the Master's visit to the West was, and how pathetic I am when I think about complaining of something in my life.

I guess I better go and do the vacuuming.

1 comment:

  1. Due to some wonkiness with the dating, this got published about a month ago, according to the dating system here. And so, I discovered that after someone posted a comment. Here is the comment reposted, as the switch to the propoer date didn't carry the comment:

    Kevin J Rice said:

    Prophets, or Saviors, or people inspired and guided by God, are perhaps here in the West, but we don't see them. As the movie 'Canadian Bacon' described, they are as Canadians: "They Walk Among Us, Undetected!" It is for us to see the signs of peace, the ways of the Creator, the compassion of these people and become Inspired by them. We must be willing to see, to be open to the thought, we must be humble, and this is not typically our way, our mode of living. It is a challenge easily forgotten and regretfully remembered and forgotten again and remembered again, as we the fallible beings we are, stumble through life.