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I have a Bahá’í friend who has suffered with a normally terminal illness for over 20 years, which has left her unable to use her arms.  Yet despite such incredible disabilities, she’s still living on her own, in her own apartment and writing books on the Faith by using the trunk of her body to force her fingers onto the keyboard, one keystroke at a time.  She requires home care aides to come in and do everything for her, from getting her up and dressing her; cooking and feeding her; taking care of her personal hygiene and putting her to bed at night.  In spite of such obvious hardships, she always seems positive and upbeat, saying only that we must really need patience more than anything else in the next world, since we are tested with it so often in this world!

That comment stayed with me, and I wanted to see what the Bahá’í Writings had to say about patience.  Have a look with me!

What is Patience?

It’s a sign of our love for God:

The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Arabic Hidden Words 48)

It’s one of the most important virtues which God has bestowed on man:

Bahá’u’lláh throws light upon patience, one of the most important virtues which God has bestowed on man.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

It is the course that is praiseworthy:

Bahá’u’lláh defines “the course that is praiseworthy” as “the exercise of patience”.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 210)

Who Are We Patient With?

There are 3 people we need to have patience with:

God

When we recite the prayer for the departed, at the end, we remind ourselves, 19 times:

We all, verily, are patient in God.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 40)

Others

We must show patience to those who demonstrate immaturity:

Understanding . . . that the believers are encouraged to be loving and patient with one another, it will be clear that you too are called upon to exercise patience with the friends who demonstrate immaturity, and to have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

We must endure people even when they are unendurable:

Stanwood Cobb wrote that on one occasion He spoke of the need for loving patience in the face of aggravating behavior on the part of others: ‘One might say, “Well, I will endure such and such a person so long as he is endurable.” But Bahá’ís must endure people even when they are unendurable!’ Stanwood Cobb pointed out that ‘He did not look at us solemnly as if appointing us to an arduous and difficult task. Rather, He beamed upon us delightfully, as if to suggest what a joy to us it would be to act in this way!’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

Ourselves

We must be patient with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair:

We must not only be patient with others, infinitely patient!, but also with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair!  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community, p. 456)

We also need the patience of other people!

All of us suffer from imperfections which we must struggle to overcome, and we all need one another’s understanding and patience.  (Universal House of Justice, NSA USA – The Bahá’í Faith and Homosexuality)

What Are We Patient About?

We’re patient in our work for the Faith:

The work of the friends therefore, interesting and useful as it may be, is hard and most exacting to one’s patience and energy.  (Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui – Letters to New Zealand, p. 11)

We’re patient with the consciousness of self:

You have asked as to what point in man’s evolution he becomes conscious of self. This consciousness of self in man is a gradual process, and does not start at a definite point. It grows in him in this world and continues to do so in the future spiritual world.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)

We’re patient with the transition to full equality between women and men:

The transition to full equality between women and men is an evolutionary process requiring education and patience with oneself and others, as well as an unswerving determination.  (Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Mar 15, Women Peace Process)

We’re patient with different degrees of motion:

There are different degrees of motion. There is a motion of transit, that is from place to place. For example, the revolution of the earth around the sun; a bird flies from branch to branch. Another kind is the motion of inherent growth, like that of man from the condition of childhood to the estate of manhood, or the development of a tree from the seedling to its full fruition. The third is the motion of condition – the sick man passes from the stage of sickness to the state of health. The fourth motion is that of the spirit. For instance, the child while in the mother’s womb has all the potential qualities of the spirit, but those qualities begin to unfold little by little as the child is born and grows and develops, finally manifesting all the attributes and qualities of the spirit. The fifth is the motion of the intellect whereby the ignorant become wise; the indifferent, alert; the dark, illuminated and the carnally-minded, spiritual.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 124-125)

We’re patient with our Assemblies in setting a date for a year of patience; and then patient during that year, in our efforts to reconcile and overcome our aversion, before we can divorce:

The setting of the date of the beginning of the year of patience is not automatic. The Assembly must first determine whether grounds for a Bahá’í divorce exist and should make every effort to reconcile the parties. If the aversion existing between the parties is found to be irreconcilable then the Assembly may set the date for the beginning of the year of waiting.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 395)

What Robs Us of Patience?

Our DNA!  When we inherit the weakness and debility of our parents:

For example, you see that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted, and will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 319)

Atmospheric vibrations, where the movement of the air becomes the cause of transporting us from one state to another, and entirely overpowering us:

Therefore, see the connection which exists between the spirit of man and the atmospheric vibration, so that the movement of the air becomes the cause of transporting him from one state to another, and of entirely overpowering him; it will deprive him of patience and tranquillity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 246)

That certainly explains a lot for me!  How about you?  🙂

When is Patience Needed the Most?

During every hardship:

Manifest magnificent patience during every calamity and hardship.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 374)

During the calamities which cause our eyes to flow with tears and greatly afflicted us:

Thou oughtest to bear it with becoming patience. Again, thou oughtest to patiently bear this calamity which hath flowed thine eyes with tears and hath greatly afflicted thee.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 139)

In the moment of catastrophe:

In the moment of catastrophe, find ye patience, resignation and submission.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 45)

When are we NOT to be patient?

In teaching:

The doors of the Kingdom of God are open, the Call of the Lord of the Kingdom is raised, the Bestowals of the Almighty are endless and the effulgence of the Sun of Reality has illumined the East and the West. In such a time patience and tranquility are not allowable. Thou must engage with infinite joy and happiness in the mention of the Forgiving Lord.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Japan Will Turn Ablaze, p. 12)

What Are the Benefits of Being Patient?

Victory from the unseen Kingdom will be vouchsafed to us:

The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Bahá shall be vouchsafed to them.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 87)

Why Do We Need Patience?

Without patience, we will reach nowhere and attain no goal:

The steed of this Valley [Search] is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 3)

It’s impossible for a seed to grow, blossom and bear fruit in a short time:

Know, verily, that the seed, however virile it may be, however strong the hand of the sower, however pure the water that watereth it, it is impossible for it to grow, blossom and bear fruit in a short time; nay, a long period is needed for its development. So it is the Kingdom of God. Consider the seed which was sown by Christ; verily, it did not blossom until after a long period. Thus it is incumbent upon thee to be patient in all affairs. Verily thy Lord is powerful, forgiving, precious and persevering! Depend upon the favor of thy Lord. He shall bless thee and protect thee under the shadow of His generosity and mercy.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 312-313)

As with everything in the Bahá’í Faith, there seems to be a need to learn through contrasts, and this is no exception.  Here it seems that we need calamity in order to develop patience:

Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds? Lament not because of the wicked. Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Fire Tablet, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 217)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá asks us to “be patient, be as I am”:

Florence Khanum relates two sayings she heard from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. On one occasion He said to her ‘”Sabr kun; mithl-i-Man bash” – be patient, be as I am. The other was when some one expressed discouragement to Him, saying they could not possibly aquire all the qualities and virtues that Bahá’ís are directed to possess, and the Master replied, “Kam Kam. Ruz bih ruz” – little by little; day by day.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

With patience, we will succeed, for God is with us:

Only have faith, patience and courage—this is but the beginning, but surely you will succeed, for God is with you!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 101)

With patience, we will have progress:

The greatest requirement for this progress is patience. Patience is the thing which is described in the Qur‘án as having rewards unlimited…please have patience, God will work through you, even if it is not in your lifetime—the lifetime of generations after you. All services will be rewarded. Be sure!  (Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the closing session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 108)

With patience, trials and ordeals won’t deflect us from the path of God:

We beseech Him to graciously enable them to show forth patience and fortitude that haply trials and ordeals might not deflect them from the path of God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing.  (Shoghi Effendi, Fire and Light, p. 33)

With patience, we’ll achieve victories which are rarely accomplished at a single stroke:

Victories are won usually through a great deal of patience, planning and perseverance, and rarely accomplished at a single stroke.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 598)

With patience, understanding and forbearance for other people’s shortcomings, we will assure the progress of the whole Bahá’í community at large:

The greater the patience, the loving understanding and the forbearance the believers show towards each other and their shortcomings, the greater will be the progress of the whole Bahá’í community at large.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 9)

With patience towards each other, we will attract large numbers to our ranks:

Too great emphasis cannot be laid on the importance of the unity of the friends, for only by manifesting the greatness of their love for and patience with each other can they hope to attract large numbers to their ranks.  (Shoghi Effendi, Promoting Entry by Troops, p. 3)

With patience, we will create a spiritual atmosphere conducive to learning:

They [tutors] need to combine the qualities of love, humility, and patience, with the dedication, perseverance, and commitment required to create a spiritual atmosphere conducive to learning.  (International Teaching Centre, 2000 Feb, Training Institutes and Systematic Growth, p. 9)

With patience we will attain our desire:

O my dear …, endure and be patient, and by patience thou wilt attain thy desire.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 456)

With patience, we will attain spiritual states which will last forever and ever:

I beg of God to pour on thee becoming patience, so that thy heart may be consoled with the fragrance of His mercy and that thy breast may be dilated with His favors, that thou mayest attain to the spiritual states which are lasting forever and ever. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 139)

With flexibility and patience, we are able to learn:

Flexibility and patience are encouraged, as essential prerequisites of the learning process.  (ITC, 2003 Apr 23, Building Momentum, p. 17)

With patience, we become the exponents of justice:

Such hath been the patience, the calm, the resignation and contentment of this people that they have become the exponents of justice, and so great hath been their forbearance, that they have suffered themselves to be killed rather than kill, and this notwithstanding that these whom the world hath wronged have endured tribulations the like of which the history of the world hath never recorded, nor the eyes of any nation witnessed. What is it that could have induced them to reconcile themselves to these grievous trials, and to refuse to put forth a hand to repel them? What could have caused such resignation and serenity? The true cause is to be found in the ban which the Pen of Glory hath, day and night, chosen to impose, and in Our assumption of the reins of authority, through the power and might of Him Who is the Lord of all mankind.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 74-75)

What are the rewards of patience in the next world?

First of all, it’s important to know that God is aware of our frailties and our impatience in our sufferings:

I recognize that Thou hast afflicted them for no other purpose except to proclaim Thy Cause, and to enable them to ascend into the heaven of Thine eternity and the precincts of Thy court, yet Thou knowest full well the frailty of some of them, and art aware of their impatience in their sufferings.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 157)

Therefore, He loves those who show forth patience:

God, verily, loveth those women and men who show forth patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 43)

His recompense is limitless for those who show forth patience and long-suffering:

And He reminds them that, whereas God rewards every good deed in accordance with its merit, in the case of patience and long-suffering, as attested in the Qur‘án, the recompense is limitless.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

He rewards beyond measure those who endure with patience:

He, verily, rewardeth beyond measure them that endure with patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 71)

He increases the reward of those who endure tribulations with patience:

Rejoice not in what ye have done, or will do in the future … for ye are unable by such means as these to exalt your stations, were ye to examine your works with acute discernment … Nay, God will add unto the recompense with which He shall reward Us, for having sustained with persevering patience the tribulations We have suffered. He, verily, shall increase the reward of them that endure with patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 128)

His choicest gifts are the reward for those who endure with patience:

Say, this earthly life shall come to an end, and everyone shall expire and return unto my Lord God Who will reward with the choicest gifts the deeds of those who endure with patience.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 161)

He extols the station of those who endure their hardships and calamities with patience and resignation:

He extols the station of those believers who endured hardships and calamities with patience and resignation. Through their fortitude and constancy, their forbearance and long-suffering, these souls attained to such a lofty position that the Concourse on high seek their companionship and long for their blessings.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

We will become everlasting in the Kingdom of God:

Be thou a mountain of quiescence, a sign of meekness, a sea of patience, a light of love, a standard of utter separation (from all else save God), so that thou mayest become everlasting in the Kingdom of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 291)

Are some people rewarded more than others for patience?

A poor man who is patient and forbearing is better than a rich man who is thankful:

In the course of one of His talks to His companions ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that a poor man who is patient and forbearing is better than a rich man who is thankful. However, a poor man who is thankful is more praiseworthy than the one who is patient, while more meritorious than all is the rich man who expends his wealth for others.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 2, p. 281)

Great is the blessedness awaiting the poor that endure patiently and conceal their suffering:

Great is the honor destined by God for those poor who are steadfast in patience. By My life! There is no honor, except what God may please to bestow, that can compare to this honor. Great is the blessedness awaiting the poor that endure patiently and conceal their sufferings. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 202)

How Do We Get Patience?

By putting our reliance in God:

It behooveth whosoever hath set his face towards the Most Sublime Horizon to cleave tenaciously unto the cord of patience, and to put his reliance in God, the Help in Peril, the Unconstrained.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 98)

Through the love of God:

It was the Love of God that led Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that strengthened Joseph in Egypt and gave to Moses courage and patience.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 82)

By seeking patience only in God and no one or nowhere else:

Verily I seek patience only in God, and Him do I regard as the goal of My desire. This signifieth that I have the undoubted Truth on My side.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 20)

Through prayers and supplications:

Prayers and supplications should be offered at the sacred Threshold, so that thou mayest remain firm in tests, and patient in ordeals.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Art of Living, p. 85)

With perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God:

When calamity striketh, be ye patient and composed. However afflictive your sufferings may be, stay ye undisturbed, and with perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God, brave ye the tempest of tribulations and fiery ordeals.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 73)

Through knowledge:

Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator. The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Iqan, p. 69)

Little by little; day by day

One would well remember the story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who when approached by a believer in the depths of discouragement despairing of ever acquiring the qualities and virtues that Bahá’ís are required to possess, replied with the greatest compassion and encouragement, “little by little; day by day” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World 12: 704)

How do we Show Patience?

In the following quote, Bahá’u’lláh gives us a lot of ideas, which include:

  • put his trust in God
  • renounce the peoples of the earth
  • detach ourselves from the world of dust
  • cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords
  • never seek to exalt himself above any one
  • wash away every trace of pride and vain-glory from our hearts
  • cling to resignation
  • observe silence
  • refrain from idle talk

That seeker must, at all times, put his trust in God, must renounce the peoples of the earth, must detach himself from the world of dust, and cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords. He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 264-265)

Seek patience only in God:

I seek patience only in God. Verily He is the best protector and the best helper. No refuge do I seek save God.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 20)

Have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole:

Understanding . . . that the believers are encouraged to be loving and patient with one another, it will be clear that you too are called upon to exercise patience with the friends who demonstrate immaturity, and to have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

Adorn ourselves with resignation and steadfastness, never being dismayed or disheartened by adversity:

Bahá’u’lláh urges the people of the Bayan to do likewise, counselling them to adorn their beings with the mantle of resignation, to be steadfast in the Cause of God, and never to be dismayed or disheartened by adversity. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

Understand that change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one’s self and others, loving education and the passage of time:

Change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one’s self and others, loving education and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradually discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying teachings of the Cause.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 620)

Conduct ourselves with the utmost submission, resignation and calmness; so much that if another person did not know anything about our troubles, he would think that we were in the perfect ease of soul, happy and tranquil:

However, relying upon God, we conducted ourselves with the utmost patience and submission, resignation and calmness; so much that if one did not know anything about these matters, he would have thought that we were in perfect ease of soul, enjoying the tranquility of heart mind, and were engaged in happiness and felicity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 45)

Follow the patient example of the Master

Concerning the attitude of some Bahá’ís, who seem at times to be insensitive and unsupportive, all we can do is to try to follow the patient example of the Master, bearing in mind that each believer is but one of the servants of the Almighty who must strive to learn and grow. The absence of spiritual qualities, like darkness, has no existence in itself. As the light of spirituality penetrates deep into the hearts, this darkness gradually dissipates and is replaced by virtue. (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

How Long Do We Have to Be Patient?

It’s always according to God’s timetable, knowing there is no past, present or future in His world:

The past, the present, the future, all, in relation to God, are equal. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 116)

We must be patient until God discloses our fate to us:

She should abide in patience until such time as God shall please to disclose to her his fate. By the course that is praiseworthy in this connection is meant the exercise of patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 106)

We’re to be patient until relief is forthcoming from God:

Ours is the duty to remain patient in these circumstances until relief be forthcoming from God, the Forgiving, the Bountiful.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 177)

For twenty-four years ‘Abdu’l-Bahá showered kindness on one of his enemies before he finally asked for forgiveness:

Hear how he treats his enemies. One instance of many I have heard will suffice. When the Master came to ‘Akká there lived there a certain man from Afghanistan [Haji Siddiq], an austere and rigid Mussulman [Muslim]. To him the Master was a heretic. He felt and nourished a great enmity towards the Master, and roused up others against him. When opportunity offered in gatherings of the people, as in the Mosque, he denounced him with bitter words. ‘This man,’ he said to all, ‘is an imposter. Why do you speak to him? Why do you have dealings with him?’ And when he passed the Master on the street he was careful to hold his robe before his face that his sight might not be defiled. Thus did the Afghan. The Master, however, did thus: The Afghan was poor and lived in a mosque; he was frequently in need of food and clothing. The Master sent him both. These he accepted, but without thanks. He fell sick. The Master took him a physician, food, medicine, money. These, also, he accepted; but as he held out one hand that the physician might take his pulse, with the other he held his cloak before his face that he might not look upon the Master. For twenty-four years the Master continued his kindnesses and the Afghan persisted in his enmity. Then at last one day the Afghan came to the Master’s door, and fell down, penitent and weeping, at his feet. ‘Forgive me, sir!’ he cried. ‘For twenty-four years I have done evil to you, for twenty-four years you have done good to me. Now I know that I have been in the wrong.’ The Master bade him rise, and they became friends.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Centre of the Covenant, p. 101)

Results might take eighty or nighty years’ work and suffering:

The results of the sacrifices of all these people are manifested now. Therefore, those who have been for five or ten years in some place should never complain. These results are of eighty years’ work—yes, ninety years, and suffering. Work day and night in such time and the harvest will be ready. Bahá’u’lláh has definitely said clearly to the friends: ‘Your function is to sow the seeds. God will either let them grow or will bury them.’ It is yours to stand at your post and sow the seed. The greatest requirement for this progress is patience. Patience is the thing which is described in the Qur‘án as having rewards unlimited…please have patience.  (Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the closing session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 108)

It might take a thousand three hundred and five and thirty days:

Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 43)

We might not even see the results in our lifetime or even the lifetimes of generations after us:

God will work through you, even if it is not in your lifetime—the lifetime of generations after you. All services will be rewarded. Be sure!  (Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the closing session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 108)

It might even take as long asa hundred thousand years!

If he strive for a hundred thousand years and yet fail to behold the beauty of the Friend, he should not falter. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 3)

I love this story, told to us by the Counsellor (Dan Scott) at a recent gathering:

The Process of Cluster Growth and the Moral of the Chinese Bamboo Tree

If you plant a seed from the Chinese Bamboo tree, be prepared for a long wait.  The patient gardener will have to water and fertilize the invisible seed for no less than four years before the first shoots begin to appear. In those four years of silent growth, the “lucky Bamboo, ” as the Chinese call it, is sending out taproots, the root system that spreads out horizontally and downward into the soil. Throughout all those four years, nothing significant is visible at ground-level.

But then during the fifth year, something wonderful happens.   The Chinese Bamboo sprouts and grows an incredible 90 feet in six weeks! (Some species will grow 100 cm or 39 inches per day!)

A rich variety of moral and spiritual lessons lie hidden in applying the lessons of the Chinese Bamboo to the institute process and cluster growth.

In his talk, Counsellor Dan Scott referred to Shoghi Effendi’s phrase that the building of [our personal lives] and of the Faith appears to be “slow and unobtrusive”:

It is this building process, slow and unobtrusive, to which the life of the world-wide Bahá’í Community is wholly consecrated, that constitutes the one hope of a stricken society. For this process is actuated by the generating influence of God’s changeless Purpose, and is evolving within the framework of the Administrative Order of His Faith.  (Bahá’u’lláh, World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 194)

As unobtrusive as it may seem to be, things are going on behind the scenes which we have no awareness of, and we have to trust are happening.

Seldom do we live long enough to see the benefits of our efforts to be patient, but here’s a story of a woman who did, which moves me to tears every time I read it!

A young Bahá ‘i lady pioneered to Bolivia in the 1930 s to open it to the Faith. Having no success in teaching anyone, she began to write to the Guardian expressing feelings of failure. With each passing month she wrote and he replied encouraging her to stay, to remain steadfast, to have faith and to pray. So obediently she continued on. Every day she went to the centre of a small town and in one of the regions found a spot by a fountain and tearfully prayed for the progress of the Faith.

After two years the beloved Guardian consented to her wish to return home. The story of this young lady was lost and unknown to the friends in Bolivia. Years later when they experienced entry by troops they organised regional teaching conferences. At the end of one of them they decided to take a group photograph. They found a sunny spot big enough for 1,200 friends to gather. Mr Vojdani took a copy of this photo everywhere to show to the friends on his travels.

Years later, friends from many countries had gathered in Paris for a huge anniversary celebration and Mr Vojdani attended as part of a delegation from the Americas. In the crowd a very old lady using two walking sticks hobbled over to them and asked if there was anyone from Bolivia. He said yes. She asked if there were many Bahá ’s there, again he said yes, then she asked if he had any photographs from Bolivia. He showed her the one of the teaching conference group photo. She took it and looked at it for a few moments and then fainted.

Later in hospital, when she came round, the shocked friends asked her what had happened. In a frail voice she told her story that she had been sent to Bolivia by the Guardian and every day for two years she had sat down in the exact spot where the photograph had been taken to pray and beseech Bahá‘u’llah to open the doors of His Faith to the people of Bolivia. Seeing the photograph she realised then, years later, that her prayers had been answered. Three days later she died.

We’re never alone in our struggle!  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is praying that we will attain the utmost patience, composure and resignation:

I hope that you will attain to the utmost patience, composure and resignation, and I supplicate and entreat at the Threshold of Oneness and beg pardon and forgiveness.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 379)

How has this helped you with your impatience?  Post your comments below: