Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Son, the Friend

My son and I were reading a quote this morning, as we are wont to do, and ran across the following passage:
"O friends! Be not careless of the virtues with which ye have been endowed, neither be neglectful of your high destiny. Suffer not your labors to be wasted through the vain imaginations which certain hearts have devised. Ye are the stars of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of day, the soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men, the letters inscribed upon His sacred scroll."
And again, as we are wont to do, we talked about it as we walked together to his bus stop.

"O friends!" Isn't it wonderful that Baha'u'llah refers to us as His friends? That made us feel pretty good this morning.

"Be not careless of the virtues with which ye have been endowed..." Well, that led us to ask with which virtues we have been endowed. Obviously, all of them. But then, just because we are given something doesn't mean that we can't lose it. You can be endowed with great strength, but if you don't use it, that strength can fade and fail. It can go away. Similarly, if we don't use our virtues, if we are careless with them, then they, too, can diminish in power and intensity.

"...(N)either be neglectful of your high destiny." Wait. What? We have a "high destiny"? How cool is that. But what exactly does that mean? What is this destiny to which He is referring? Great question. And, as usual, I'm not really sure, but I have to wonder if it is referred to in the last few lines of this quote, which are not quoted above, so I'll just quote them here. He asks God that we "may be graciously assisted to appreciate the rank conferred upon such of His loved ones as have arisen to serve Him and magnify His name. Upon them be the glory of God, the glory of all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and the glory of the inmates of the most exalted Paradise, the heaven of heavens." Could that be it? I often have thought of that last line as a bit of a "the end" to His Writings, but maybe it is actually more than that. Perhaps He is reminding us that if we do arise to serve His Cause, then the glory of God will shine from our faces, as well as all those other glories He mentions. I mean, this is pretty awesome, if you think about it in that context.

"Suffer not your labors to be wasted through the vain imaginations which certain hearts have devised." Hmmm. Well, to us that spoke of how we spend our time. I mean, this rank is conferred upon us only if we "have arisen to serve Him and magnify His name." So, presumably, if we don't do that, then this glory doesn't rest upon us. And if all we do is spend our time trying to get money, or a higher score in that video game, then aren't we, in the long run, wasting our time?

But this last bit, wow. That was what got us to talk about it all the way to the bus stop:
Ye are the stars of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of day, the soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men, the letters inscribed upon His sacred scroll.
I want to put this in flashing gold letters, sparkling and shimmering, guaranteed to catch your attention so that it is permanently emblazoned in your memory.

We, all of us, His friends, each and every one of us are one of those stars, that breeze, that water, one of those letters. Isn't this a far cry from seeing ourselves as having been created in sin, fundamentally flawed, somehow unworthy of life itself?

No. Noble He created us, and this is how we should see each other. This is how we need to see ourselves. This is how we all need to treat each other.

As we were talking about it, we asked ourselves some basic questions, like what is the purpose of the stars. Shoghi's first thought was that they give light, but then we realized that they don't give that much light, at least not when compared to the sun. And you can't read by starlight, even on a clear night. No. The stars, in history, have always been the source of guidance. It was by the light of the stars and their positions that we were able to take advantage of the sea and understand where we were going. It was through the stars that we were able to better explore the world around us and discover what lay hidden just over the horizon. And when we who are familiar with the Writings and Teachings of Baha'u'llah share His wisdom, are we not helping others explore the vast horizon of the world of the spirit as shown to us by His bounty?

Then, after we talked about that for a moment or two, or three or four, we realized that the order in which He gave us those last attributes reminded us of camping.

We camp under the stars, enjoying the vast beauty of the universe above our heads. Then, after a beautiful night's sleep, we awake to the soft cool breeze gently blowing over us in our tent. This, in our opinion, is probably the finest way in which we can wake. After being gently roused, nothing is better than heading down to the river and splashing the cool refreshing water over our face. Finally, to round out the morning, we read a bit of the Writings.

Just like we did this morning.

Hmmm. If only we had slept in a tent last night.

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