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Do What You Can

You may be interested to know that, within the limits of their capacity and the uncertain circumstances, Bahá’ís inside and outside Ukraine are responding directly to the crisis. The believers in the country are supporting their compatriots to the extent possible, and the friends in the neighboring countries have arisen to support Bahá’í and other refugees.  (Universal House of Justice, to an individual, 1 April 2022)

I have been looking at the effects that incest and childhood sexual, physical, emotional, and ritual abuse have had on me for awhile now.  I’m starting to experience a lot of feelings I’ve spent a lifetime trying to stuff down.  As a result, I haven’t been as active in my local cluster as I’d like to be, as I think a good Bahá’í “should” be.  I’ve been “shouldding” on my self, and this has caused me deep despair.

Somewhere recently I thought I’d remembered that when war broke out in Ukraine, the House of Justice had asked them to carry on with the Plan.  I know the Plan is the only salvation for the world, but when your world is being bombed and torn apart, and you’re afraid every day for your life, how on earth are you supposed to have energy to work the Plan?  If this wasn’t the advice given to the Ukraine, I’ve seen in given in times of other tragedies (the hurricane that devastated Vanuatu comes to mind).

When I looked at the standard expected of the Ukrainians in this war, I felt deeply ashamed that I wasn’t able to attain that same standard.  Bombs aren’t falling on me physically, but they sure are emotionally.  I know I have a tendency to beat myself up, and I’m working on reducing the times I do it, but I can only do it when I find Bahá’í Writings that tell me I’m OK.  So this letter, which came out last week, really helped.  In it, the House of Justice was responding to someone who asked about the events in Ukraine.  I was very comforted to read:  “within the limits of their capacity” and “to the extent possible”.  I can do that.

Knowing I have permission to recognize my capacity in any given day and that I can do what I can, to the extent possible, I am grateful!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

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War – Heartbreaking and Terrible

The problem:

But war is made for the satisfaction of men’s ambition; for the sake of worldly gain to the few, terrible misery is brought to numberless homes, breaking the hearts of hundreds of men and women!  How many widows mourn their husbands, how many stories of savage cruelty do we hear! How many little orphaned children are crying for their dead fathers, how many women are weeping for their slain sons! There is nothing so heart-breaking and terrible as an outburst of human savagery!

The solution:

Do not despair! Work steadily. Sincerity and love will conquer hate. How many seemingly impossible events are coming to pass in these days! Set your faces steadily towards the Light of the World. Show love to all; “Love is the breath of the Holy Spirit in the heart of Man”. Take courage! God never forsakes His children who strive and work and pray! Let your hearts be filled with the strenuous desire that tranquility and harmony may encircle all this warring world. So will success crown your efforts, and with the universal brotherhood will come the Kingdom of God in peace and goodwill.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)

As the war in Ukraine deepens, threatening to pull in other countries and with the potential for World War 3, people everywhere are holding their collective breath, waiting, praying, suffering and anxious.  As much as I can get caught up in the terror of watching horrendous things unfold, I am so grateful that I have the Bahá’í Writings to remind me that ultimately, good will come out of it.

I like this quote because both the problem and the solution are embedded in it.  It reminds me to stay focused on the current plan and work steadily to build both community and society.  When I set my face to the Light, it’s easier to pray, and the more I pray, the more I find courage and the easier it is to show love to all.

Someone in our local Bahá’í community told me that she’d met with a representative to the United Nations recently.  They talked about Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a Supreme Tribunal, with representatives from every country, so that in times of war, the rest of the nations will rise up against the aggressor.  The very next day, we heard that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to the American Congress about that very thing, calling it U24.   Coincidence?  I think not!

Remembering that the world is definitely moving towards peace, my anxiety lessons and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you when you read this passage?  Please share your thoughts below.

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Fearing the Destroyer of the Worlds

The barking of dogs is loud on every side . . . Where are the swords of Thy vengeance, O Destroyer of the worlds?  (Baha’u’llah, Fire Tablet, Baha’i Prayers, p. 213)

Since the war in Ukraine started, I have been absolutely terrified that World War 3 is about to start, and compulsively checking the news for evidence that the “red phones” have been picked up.  I spend hours a day, lost in phone games, totally dissociated.  Very little is getting done, especially during the Fast.

Of course, most of us are upset by the war, but a quick poll of my friends leads me to believe that no one shares my paranoia, so I have to accept that something from the past is coming up to be healed.  Fortunately, this week’s homework in my survivors of incest group, is to process a trigger, and I decided to use this one.  I realized 3 things:

  1. Because of all the abuse I was going through, I wasn’t safe in my family.
  2. Because there were 3 bomb threats at school one winter, I wasn’t safe at school.
  3. Because of the Cuban missile crisis when I was 5 years old, when the USSR put medium to intermediate nuclear missiles in Cuba and the standoff between the USA and USSR came closest the world has ever come to nuclear conflict, and because there was a bomb shelter in the basement of my middle-class suburban western Canadian home, fully stocked with food and water for 2 years so we could survive a “nuclear winter”, the world wasn’t safe either.

All of this is in my face as I relive the terror of those years.  It doesn’t help to be a Bahá’í, knowing that the world has to be brought to its knees before it will turn to Bahá’u’lláh, and much though I long for the Most Great Peace, I don’t long for the calamities that will bring us through.  It also doesn’t help to know that one of the names of God is the Destroyer of the Worlds.  So what does help?  This quote gives some clues:

I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.  Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)

It takes discipline to change my thoughts of war to stronger thoughts of peace, but knowing that it will bring me happiness, I am grateful!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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War Makes Me Sad

The problem:

I hope you are all happy and well. I am not happy, but very sad. The news of the Battle of Benghazi grieves my heart. I wonder at the human savagery that still exists in the world! How is it possible for men to fight from morning until evening, killing each other, shedding the blood of their fellow-men: And for what object? To gain possession of a part of the earth!  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)

The solution:

When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain!  Nothing is impossible to the Divine Benevolence of God.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)

This morning, I was reflecting on the state of the world with a friend whose parents and in-laws were holocaust survivors.  She shares my terror and powerlessness around the current state of the world.  We’re both in full-blown PTSD responses.  We’re both trying to help each other rise above them and learn to trust in God.  This is really hard when I’m in the grips of terror.

Yesterday I found myself feeling like Chicken Little, running around saying “the sky is falling.  The sky is falling” and finding no one as seemingly concerned as I was (which was my clue that this terror was more from a frightened child inside of me, afraid of the monster under the bed than from any immediate threat to me in Canada).

I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy trying to bring those terrorized child parts into the present, saying things like:  “This is 2022.  We’re 65 years old.  Our parents died a long time ago.  Nothing is going to hurt us.  There’s a lock on the door.  No one can come in.  You’re safe.  I can’t say this anymore.

A friend of mine sent me this quote, exactly in the moment I needed it – with the solution embedded with the problem:  “When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands!”  That’s what the House of Justice is telling us in the current series of letters.  Our focus is on building a society where mothers will no longer allow their sons to go to war.  We aren’t there yet, but we know that day is coming, and we have the tools to get there.

Remembering that the solutions to the world’s current problems give me concrete steps I can take, I can relax, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you when you read this passage?  Please share your thoughts below.

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

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Why We Don’t Want War

As you know from your study of the Bahá’í writings, the principle that is to infuse all facets of organized life on the planet is the oneness of humankind, the hallmark of the age of maturity. That humanity constitutes a single people is a truth that, once viewed with scepticism, claims widespread acceptance today. The rejection of deeply ingrained prejudices and a growing sense of world citizenship are among the signs of this heightened awareness. Yet, however promising the rise in collective consciousness may be, it should be seen as only the first step of a process that will take decades–nay, centuries–to unfold. (Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013)

This morning Russia invaded the Ukraine.  We’ve been anticipating it for weeks.  I was appalled by a headline in the local news media:  “Why the West cares about the situation in Russia-Ukraine”.

Why do we care??!!!???

Because they are our brothers and sisters.  Isn’t that enough?

I didn’t read the article and I’m not going to comment on the substance here, because my intention is not to get into politics, but into compassion and empathy.

My heart is hurting for the Ukrainian people.  The terror they must be feeling is bringing up the terror I lived through as a child.  I’m not there, so I don’t know and yet I grieve.  Maybe that makes me a codependent, or maybe it makes me a Bahá’í.  I don’t know.

What I do know, and believe deeply, is that we are all one, and it seems so self-evident.  I don’t know why the world hasn’t understood it yet. This quote gives me a clue.  Recognition of the oneness of humanity requires the age of maturity before we see widespread acceptance, and humanity is still in the age of adolescence.

More troubling, though, is understanding that it requires a process that will take decades–nay, centuries–to unfold.  I have to let go of my impatience, and keep teaching, and keep doing the things we’re being asked to do by the House of Justice, trusting that we’re laying the groundwork that will lead to the Most Great Peace, and let go of my disappointment that I won’t see it in my lifetime.

Understanding that recognition of the oneness of humanity will take centuries to unfold, I can let go of my impatience and trust God with the process, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you when you read this passage?  Please share your thoughts below.

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

Buy my books

Support this website