Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ridvan 2012, part 6

I love looking at these Ridvan messages. They are like a breath of fresh air at the beginning of each year. It is a moment when we have reflected back to us just what it is that we have been doing for the past 19 months (or 12, if you want to use the Gregorian calendar). It is also a moment when we get a glimpse of just where it is that we are going for the next 19.

Aside - There is an old parable of how what we are doing, helping build this new civilization, is like walking through the woods at night, in the dark, with only a lantern shining down at our feet. We can see the next few steps clearly, but we have to take those steps to see what comes after that. These Ridvan messages are like that lantern,

These messages also give us clear reminders of, or pointers to, passages in the Writings we may wish to look at again.

For example, in paragraph 2 of this year's message, we see a line that asks us if "anyone can claim to have glimpsed anything but an intimation, distant and indistinct, of the future society" that is coming. It's a beautiful line that I'm sure we all loved to read.

It is also a clear reminder of that other memorable line from the Guardian, "All we can reasonably venture to attempt is to strive to obtain a glimpse of the first streaks of the promised Dawn that must, in the fullness of time, chase away the gloom that has encircled humanity."

When we go back to that passage from Shoghi Effendi, which is found in the World Order of Baha'u'llah, page 35, we see that it is the beginning of a section about the guiding principles of world order, and follows hot on the heels of a section discussing the impotence of statesmanship. It was also written late in November 1931, and is placed in the socio-historical context of the time, coming between two world wars and in the midst of the Great Depression, which began 2 years earlier.

When we take the time to re-read these passages, in fact this entire letter, we can see just how relevant this letter of his still is, a fact the Universal House of Justice makes abundantly clear by referring, or alluding, to it here.

In the third paragraph they do something similar to this again, when they say, "The purpose of every Manifestation of God is to effect a transformation in both the inner life and external conditions of humanity." This is a near direct quote from the Kitab-i-Iqan: "And yet, is not the object of every Revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions?"

This is in the midst of a passage in which Baha'u'llah is talking about how people deny the Messengers, claiming eternal primacy of their preferred Messenger, even though their own Sacred Books testify to the coming of a new Message. This is another passage that it would do us well to re-read, especially given the religious temperature of our day.

Well, it's late, and that is really all I wanted to share, this idea of using these paraphrased passages from this Ridvan Message as a guide to go back to particular passages in the Writings. It's quite amazing, that, how the Universal House of Justice can bring to mind a whole passage, and load an entire section of their messages with the context of the original quote. I truly love it. It gives even more depth to an already fathomless ocean.

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