Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Beautiful Morning

It's a beautiful morning and the household is just beginning to stir. The wind has been blowing hard all morning, the rain has just finished pouring down, and the sun is glowing bright on the horizon. As I looked up to watch the beautiful colours radiating in the clouds a large flock of birds just darted past my window.

It really is a beautiful morning.

It is now 26 November, and I have just a few more days of writing to meet this month-long challenge of writing an article a day. Well, actually, if the challenge was writing an article a day, I failed. Fortunately it was really publishing an article a day. Most of them were finished well ahead of time, but not this one.

And so I am stuck with trying to figure out what to write on this splendid morning.

A few different things come to mind.

First of all, this evening will commemorate the 96th anniversary of the passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha. I only mention this to put the beauty of the day into a context. Despite all the beauty, there is still a tinge of sadness. It is the same as the fact that despite all the sorrow in the world, there is still  beauty.

Secondly, we just celebrated the 200th anniversary of Baha'u'llah's birth a few short weeks ago. I mention this because it i only the beginning of various celebrations. As members of the Baha'i community, we were asked to prepare our friends to receive an invitation to a celebration for such a momentous occasion. This led me, last year, to write an article about inviting. In it I talked about how going up to a friend and saying, "Hey Joe, do you want to come to the Birth of Baha'u'llah celebration?" likely would not receive a favorable reply. It would more likely lead to, "Well, let's go bowling sometime soon."

No. To really be prepared to receive an invitation, they would need to know more about Baha'u'llah and His life, as well as His teachings. As they begin to get a better understanding of His work, then they may be more interested in learning a little bit more. A celebration might be a nice occasion to learn.

Here in British Columbia, Canada, we were asked to make sure we followed up on our invitations to this celebration, and specifically keep track of all those friends who came to follow up activities during the subsequent month. Why? Because teaching is an on-going effort. It doesn't stop with an invitation.

Anyways, why am I mentioning this? Because we have another celebration coming up soon: the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab. And this is what I am beginning to prepare for now, almost two years ahead of time. How, you may ask? I'm glad you did, dear Reader. I'm studying the stories of His life. I am reading what I can find of His writings. I am researching all I can about His teachings.

And I am getting more and more blown away.

I noticed, during the Baha'u'llah's bi-centennary celebration, that there was a lot of focus on His teachings. Makes sense to me. That wonderful movie from the World Centre, while talking about His life, really focused on the social aspect of the Faith. It was great. We could see the impact He had on so many cultures around the globe.

But what about the Bab? What can we focus on there? His prophecies about Baha'u''llah? That seems a bit off, to me.

No. I want to really learn His stories.

As much as I am being blown away by the concepts I am reading regarding the Writings of the Bab, and His teachings on unity and God, Baha'u'llah is so much more clear. I find His teachings far more illuminating.

But the stories, ah, there's what captures me even more.

I remember a Counsellor, a number of years ago, commenting that Christians all knew the stories of Easter and Christmas and everything in between; Baha'is knew the social teachings. And it seems to me that it is the stories that are so useful in attracting attention. The social teachings keep the interest, but it is the stories that attract. And while some are attracted first by the teachings, most are not.

So my study, starting a few weeks ago, has been the stories of the Bab. In preparation for this great celebration coming up in a couple years.

Finally, I am also thinking, this morning, about a gathering I went to a few nights ago. This group wants to do a study circle, but didn't know which book. I suggested going back and just reviewing the first few books before deciding. I said we were not going to do them, but just look at their outlines and remind ourselves where we came from in the sequence of these courses.

Now you've probably read my quick review from a few weeks ago of Book 1. You know that I can summarize it in under 5 minutes. "Action, because if the teachings don't lead to action, what good are they? Truth, because if your actions aren't grounded in truth, then they are not good actions. Kindliness, because you might be acting, and you could be truthful, but you might be mean. And then, ending unit 1, no backbiting. You might be acting, be truthful, think you're being kind, but accidentally be backbiting." And then on units 2 and 3.

But a couple nights ago, I added something new for me. I asked them what the first topic in unit 2 was. "Prayer", they responded.

And you know what? I'm going to save this for tomorrow, because my wife just came downstairs. Time to spend a bit of time with her.

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