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Soaring on the Wings of Joy

Soar upon the wings of joy in the atmosphere of the love of God.  (Baha’u’llah, Tabernacle of Unity, p.74)

My first thought when I read that was “how do I do that?”, and then I thought of all the ways I prevent myself from doing it.  I get busy in the things of this world, things I think I “should” do, things I think the world expects me to do.  When I imagine the times I have soared in the atmosphere of the love of God, it’s when I’ve slooooowwwwweeeedddd wwwwwaaaaayyyy down.  I can’t hear God’s will when I reach for the outside things that comfort me in times of distress (work, busyness, food, escape fiction) or I look for my joy in connection with other people at the expense of my relationship with God.  A balanced life needs all of these things, in moderation, but never at the expense of my relationship with God, which always needs to come first.  When it doesn’t, the bucket of my being becomes filled with holes that leak out my energy and I can easily get overwhelmed and burned out.

So the best thing I can do is to slow down, take time for prayer and meditation, remember to consult in all things and be grateful for all of God’s bounties and blessings, so I can be aware of all the ways I’m being buoyed up as I sour in the atmosphere of His love.  Please God!  Help me to remember this, every day, and change my habits so I can put my relationship with you before all else.

Knowing I can choose my priorities differently, so I can soar in the atmosphere of God’s love, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Be Happy

 

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Dreams

I beseech Thee, by the potency of Thy will and the compelling power of Thy purpose, to make of what Thou didst reveal unto me in my sleep the surest foundation for the mansions of Thy love that are within the hearts of Thy loved ones, and the best instrument for the revelation of the tokens of Thy grace and Thy loving-kindness.  Do Thou ordain for me through Thy most exalted Pen, O my Lord, the good of this world and of the next. I testify that within Thy grasp are held the reins of all things. Thou changest them as Thou pleasest. No God is there save Thee, the Strong, the Faithful. Thou art He Who changeth through His bidding abasement into glory, and weakness into strength, and powerlessness into might, and fear into calm, and doubt into certainty. No God is there but Thee, the Mighty, the Beneficent.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 249)

I used to take my dreams very seriously.  I had a pad and pen of paper at the side of my bed so I could write them down before I forgot them.  I had a set of dream cards which guided me through questions about the content of the dream and how it might relate to present day issues and I had a dream dictionary app on my phone, to help me in my understanding of what the dreams were trying to tell me.  As I’ve come to recognize how much of my life is driven by fear and how much I try to figure out and control, instead of just giving it to God to sort out for me, I’ve been somewhat unsettled about continuing this practice.  So I was very happy to find this prayer, which does two things for me:

  1. “to make of what Thou didst reveal unto me in my sleep the surest foundation for the mansions of Thy love . . . and the best instrument for the revelation of the tokens of Thy grace and Thy loving-kindness”: Here I can clearly ask God to use my dreams as a foundation for His grace and loving kindness, Since I’m trying to open my heart for His love more and more, repeating this prayer is a wonderful way to turn over my dream and remember His love.
  1. If this wasn’t enough, the rest of the prayer reminds me of God’s Power and Majesty. It’s a reminder that it’s His job to change my abasement into glory, His job to change my weakness into strength, His job to change my powerlessness into might His job to change my fear into calm and His job to change my doubt into certainty.  It’s not my job!

Remembering whose job it is to change me, I can let go and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

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Beyond Forgiveness

We ought to show something more than forgiveness in meeting with the cruelties and strictures of our own lives. To be hurt and to forgive is saintly, but far beyond that is the power to comprehend and not be hurt. This power we may have ‑ acceptance without complaint, and it should become associated with our name ‑ we ought never be known to complain or lament. It is not that we would “make the best of things” but that we may find in everything, even in calamity itself, the germ of enduring wisdom.  (Bahiyyih Khánum, Bahá’í World, vol. 5, p.185)

While this quote is not authoritative, it comes from a source I admire and respect, as Bahiyyih Khánum exemplified every standard she asks us to reach.   For many years I couldn’t even forgive.  The best I could do is to ask God to forgive those who hurt me.  Later, I was able to forgive and let go of all the resentment and hurt I was carrying.  I made a practice of becoming conscious of every resentment and deal with it as it came up and I thought that was good, but in this quote we see that there are several additional things she wants us to consider:

  • to comprehend and not be hurt
  • to be known as someone who accepts without complaint
  • to never be known to complain or lament
  • to find in everything, even in calamity itself, the germ of enduring wisdom

The first and the last have to do with inward adjustments that have to be made.  When I remember that we all have a lower nature and are all sinners, struggling to rise above whatever life has given us, then it’s easier to remember that we are all one.  When I am spiritually strong and remember these things, I can achieve the first and fourth.  The middle two are how we behave in the world.  It seems that it might be possible to complain and lament privately, admitting it to ourselves and taking our complaints to God, asking for Him to transform them so that we can find the germ of enduring wisdom and not be hurt, so that we can face the world with the same radiant acquiescence she was known to have.

Knowing I can strive for something that goes beyond forgiveness, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Forgive

 

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Laughter at The Expense of Others

…[L]aughter should not . . . be indulged in at the expense of the feelings of others.  What one says or does in a humorous vein should not give rise to prejudice of any kind. You may recall ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s caution ‘Beware les ye offend the feelings of anyone, or sadden the heart of any person . . .  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, v1, p.45, quoted on behalf of the Universal House of Justice in a memorandum “The Humorist” 12 July 1997)

When I was a teenager, I remember reading a book by Robert Heinlein, in which he made the point that all laughter is put-downs at someone else’s expense and I decided in that moment, that I would never tell a joke or put down anyone, ever.  I also stopped laughing and started taking life very seriously.  It was one of those defining moments in my life.

When I came into the Faith, one of the first books I read was “God Loves Laughter” by William Sears, and found many stories of how much ‘Abdu’l-Baha loved laughter and when he was in prison, asked everyone to think of the funniest thing that happened during the day, and He’d laugh until the tears rolled down His face.  I often wonder about the content of those jokes.  I wish I could have been a fly on the wall, to see what some of the jokes were.  But maybe I don’t need to worry so much about being perfect.  Maybe I can just ask God to help me take life less seriously and lighten up, trusting that my sensitive heart would still recoil at offending or saddening anyone.

Knowing that I have permission to find the humor in things, and laugh about them, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

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

 

 

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A New (to me) Definition of Service

At the same time we must be sensitive to the fact that Bahá’í artists may sometimes feel outside the mainstream of community life because they are unsure as to what form their service might take. They may feel their contributions are not valued if service to the Faith tends to be equated only with serving on committees or Assemblies.   (letter from the International Teaching Centre addressed to the Continental Counsellors, date unknown)

Most of my service to the Faith is done online, through this blog and my books, and through interactions with my readers and not at the level of my (inactive, pre-milestone one cluster).  It’s easy for me to beat myself up for not serving in the “right” way, especially when the statistics officer calls and wants to know which core activities are happening.  This quote really brought comfort to my heart, hearing this from an Institution of the Faith, even if it’s not “authoritative”, I can’t find the date and I can’t find it online.

Then I came across this “new” definition of service, which I’d never seen before, and which takes all the pressure off my concerns about not serving at the cluster level.  Here’s the quote:

…every aspect of a person’s life is an element of his or her service to Baha’u’llah: the love and respect one has for one’s parents; the pursuit of one’s education; the nurturing of good health; the acquiring of a trade or profession; one’s behavior towards others and the upholding of a high moral standard; one’s marriage and the bringing up of one’s children; one’s activities in teaching the Faith and the building up the strength of the Baha’i community, whether this be in such simple matters as attending the Nineteen Day Feast or the observance of Baha’i Holy Days, or in more demanding tasks required by service in the administration of the Faith; and, not least, to take time each day to read the Writings and say the Obligatory Prayer, which are the source of growing spiritual strength, understanding, and attachment to God.  (The Universal House of Justice, December 7, 1992, European Baha’i Youth Council)

Here are the 12 elements of service embedded in this quote:

Service to Bahá’u’lláh includes:

  1. the love and respect one has for one’s parents
  2. the pursuit of one’s education
  3. the nurturing of good health
  4. the acquiring of a trade or profession
  5. one’s behavior towards others
  6. the upholding of a high moral standard
  7. one’s marriage
  8. the bringing up of one’s children
  9. one’s activities in teaching the Faith
  10. building up the strength of the Baha’i community (attending the Nineteen Day Feasts or Holy Days, or in more demanding tasks required by service in the administration of the Faith)
  11. to take time each day to read the Writings
  12. to take time each day to say the Obligatory Prayer

Knowing I can relax and stop feeling guilty for not more actively participating in the community building process, particularly at the cluster level, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

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

 

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