Friday, July 20, 2012

History in the Making

There are so many things I want to write, and so many ideas I want to share. As usual, though, time is against me. I've been working on collecting stories of individual's encounters with the Hands of the Cause, as well as making my jewelry and artwork to try and earn a living. During the summer months, this latter task takes a lot more time. In addition to all this, my son is off school right now, so I want to spend more time with him, too.

Something had to fall by the wayside, and it was this blog.

Sorry about that, dear Reader.

While there were lots of ideas that have been percolating in my brain, I felt I had to toss this one out, as it is most fresh.

I have just finished reading a most incredible series of books, and the problem with finishing a great series is "What now?" Well, I decided to put down fiction for a bit and grabbed a copy of God Passes By that just happened to be sitting in a pile next to my computer. Why that one? No idea. It was just there, and seemed like a good one to pick up again.

Then I read the first paragraph. Not the forward or the introduction. For some reason I skipped those this time around. The first paragraph.

And something struck me: the superlatives. (I think that would make a great name for a Motown band.)

Shoghi Effendi uses superlatives in a most... superlative sort of way. It reminded me of David Hofman's talks about how the Guardian used superlatives. (I sure wish I could find one of those and listen to it again, but, alas, YouTube has let me down.)

Now, before I go into that paragraph, let me just say that there are two ways that I figure people can read it. First, they can think that he is way over the top and making ridiculously exaggerated claims. Most, I would guess, would see it that way.

The second way would be to ask, "What if he's right?" What if he's not speaking in hyperbole? What if it really is an accurate assessment?

I will not presume to tell you, dear Reader, which way you should read it, but let me just say that, after much study and heartfelt prayer, I find the latter to be more accurate. And that is the perspective from which I am writing.

In this singular paragraph, Shoghi Effendi makes some astounding claims, which he proceeds to back up in the rest of that book, the only book he ever felt he needed to take the time to write. (All of his other "books" were actually letters that were compiled into books.)

If you want, you can skip all the way to the bottom and read the paragraph in full, but I want to pull out just a few of the phrases that caught my eye, those that express those superlatives, and how it influences my life (or at least my perspective).

He talks about the "most turbulent period" that opened " the most glorious epoch in the greatest cycle" in the spiritual history of humanity. He describes these 9 short years of the Bab's ministry as the "most spectacular", the "most tragic", and the "most eventful". Even given all of this, he says that it culminated with the hint of a Revelation "more potent".

Throughout the entire book he uses superlatives such as this to emphasize, and re-emphasize, his point. And what is his point? That this is not just another history book, nor are we reading about just another point in the on-going story of humanity. This is one of those rare moments in the entire span of time that humanity has been here on this planet that God has touched us with a single point of His wisdom and love. But more importantly, the Guardian shows us by the end of this epic tale that we, too, are an integral part of this story. These great heroic deeds which he has set down for all time are still going on today. Although his book finishes in the 1940's, for that is when he had the opportunity to sit down and write it (remember, he was effectively cut off from most of the Baha'i world at that time due to the Second World War) (which was, coincidentally enough just in time for the centenary of the Declaration of the Bab), the real story is still being written in our deeds today. It wasn't until well after that book came out that we saw the naming of those priceless souls as Knights of Baha'u'llah, those stalwart individuals who arose to be the first to pioneer in certain places around the globe. And it wasn't until after that book came out that we saw the first contingent of Hands of the Cause named.

Make no mistake, dear Reader, we are still living in the time of historical deeds. And Shoghi Effendi is giving us just a little peek at how future generations will see us.

When I was a child, even up until my late teens, I so longed to have lived at the time of Moses or Jesus, and been witness to all those things I read about in the Bible. Can you imagine what it must have been like to have seen Moses part the waters? Or to have been one of those who ate of the loaves of bread or the fish that Jesus multiplied? Can we even begin to imagine what it must have been like to have heard His sermon on the Mount?

Shoghi Effendi is telling us that we can. Right now. Today.

Those stories that he recounts in this book, God Passes By, are so near to us. While the time of the Bab may be a bit beyond our personal reach, I myself have met people who met people who saw Baha'u'llah. I knew a man who, as a child, sat on the Master's lap. I know a few individuals who had the bounty of meeting of the Guardian. And I myself actually met some of the Hands of the Cause. I even gave a ride to a Knight of Baha'u'llah from her home to a conference many hours away. These are the things that those Baha'i children of the future will only dream about.

By accepting the Guardian's superlatives as accurate, and not as hyperbole, I find that I see myself as living in  the very next chapter of the story that he is writing. I see those great deeds that were performed such a short time ago, and find myself longing to perform similar deeds that will be worthy of being written down just a few pages later.

When I pass away, (many years from now, I hope), I want my son to be able to look at his children and say, "Yeah, that was my Dad. He was the first Baha'i in our family, and worked for the Baha'i World Congress in 1992. He was one of those who studied the entire Ruhi sequence during that first intensive campaign in Canada. And we were there when our cluster moved from being a few Baha'is scattered in their activities to the blossoming, vibrant community you see today." I hope to be able to do some deeds that may be worth his telling his children and grandchildren about, and that he, too, will perform deeds that his descendants will talk about. For we are the first Baha'is in our family: my wife and I, and our little son, Shoghi. We are living history, creating history, right now.

It may not be as bloody, nor as turbulent, as that which the Guardian describes in those opening pages, but it is still significant and worthy of note. And we need to perform such deeds as may be worthy of these pages.

* * * * *

May 23, 1844, signalizes the commencement of the most turbulent period of the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Era, an age which marks the opening of the most glorious epoch in the greatest cycle which the spiritual history of mankind has yet witnessed. No more than a span of nine short years marks the duration of this most spectacular, this most tragic, this most eventful period of the first Bahá'í century. It was ushered in by the birth of a Revelation whose Bearer posterity will acclaim as the "Point round Whom the realities of the Prophets and Messengers revolve," and terminated with the first stirrings of a still more potent Revelation, "whose day," Bahá'u'lláh Himself affirms, "every Prophet hath announced," for which "the soul of every Divine Messenger hath thirsted," and through which "God hath proved the hearts of the entire company of His Messengers and Prophets." Little wonder that the immortal chronicler of the events associated with the birth and rise of the Bahá'í Revelation has seen fit to devote no less than half of his moving narrative to the description of those happenings that have during such a brief space of time so greatly enriched, through their tragedy and heroism, the religious annals of mankind. In sheer dramatic power, in the rapidity with which events of momentous importance succeeded each other, in the holocaust which baptized its birth, in the miraculous circumstances attending the martyrdom of the One Who had ushered it in, in the potentialities with which it had been from the outset so thoroughly impregnated, in the forces to which it eventually gave birth, this nine-year period may well rank as unique in the whole range of man's religious experience. We behold, as we survey the episodes of this first act of a sublime drama, the figure of its Master Hero, the Báb, arise meteor-like above the horizon of Shiraz, traverse the sombre sky of Persia from south to north, decline with tragic swiftness, and perish in a blaze of glory. We see His satellites, a galaxy of God-intoxicated heroes, mount above that same horizon, irradiate that same incandescent light, burn themselves out with that self-same swiftness, and impart in their turn an added impetus to the steadily gathering momentum of God's nascent Faith.

Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 1

No comments:

Post a Comment