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Waiting on God’s Direction

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)

It’s hard for me to rely on God when I’m impatient for something to happen or a quick decision to be made and I’m learning that it’s at these times I need to hold tight to His cord even more.  Test number one!

It’s even harder to do it with patience, let alone “utmost patience”.  Test number two!

It’s harder still to submit to God’s will, especially if I have to be “utmost patient” for years, as I’ve had to do with several important issues that apparently, it’s not within my power to rush.  And even harder when God’s given me a disappointing NO!  Test number three!

It’s also hard to be resigned (or worse yet, radiantly acquiescent) in the face of so many tests.  Test number four!

And calm?  Really, God?  On top of everything else, you want me to be calm, when so many emotions are churning around inside me? Test number five!

And finally, to not let anyone know I’m struggling, to wear that “Feast face”, so that everyone around me would think that I’m “in perfect ease of soul, enjoying the tranquility of heart mind, and were engaged in happiness and felicity”.  Test number six!

So many tests embedded in that one quote.

Knowing that reliance on God comes with other things I have to consider, and that all He wants is for me to strive, 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 Strengthening Your Relationship with God

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Our Sacred Duties

In addition to teaching every believer can pray. Every believer can strive to make his “own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendour of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh. Every believer can contribute to the Fund. Not all believers can give public talks, not all are called upon to serve on administrative institutions. But all can pray, fight their own spiritual battles, and contribute to the Fund. If every believer will carry out these sacred duties, we shall be astonished at the accession of power which will result to the whole body, and which in its turn will give rise to further growth and the showering of greater blessings on all of us.  (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 43)

As I get older and less able to take on all the responsibilities, I was able to carry out when I was younger, I frequently feel inadequate in my teaching and service as a homefront pioneer in an inactive cluster, especially when the needs of the Faith are so urgent.  I judge myself harshly and mercilessly because of it, and then beat myself up for that too.  When I came across this reading, I found it both timely and very comforting.  Thank you, God, for giving me exactly what I need, when I need it most!

I’m grateful the House of Justice acknowledges that not all of us can give public talks or serve on administrative institutions. But I can pray.  I can fight my own spiritual battles, and I can contribute to the Fund, especially to deputize those who are on the forefront of the community building process.

Knowing that doing these simple things will give rise to further growth and shower greater blessings on all of us, 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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Difficulties, Obstacles, Hardships and Adversities

O Divine Providence! Perplexing difficulties have arisen and formidable obstacles have appeared. O Lord! Remove these difficulties and show forth the evidences of Thy might and power. Ease these hardships and smooth our way along this arduous path. O Divine Providence! The obstacles are unyielding, and our toil and hardship are conjoined with a myriad adversities. There is no helper save Thee, and no succourer except Thyself. We set all our hopes on Thee, and commit all our affairs unto Thy care. Thou art the Guide and the Remover of every difficulty, and Thou art the Wise, the Seeing, and the Hearing.  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Twenty-six Prayers Revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of His passing, number 6)

We went for a long time with the prayers we grew up with in the Faith and have recently been gifted with a steady stream of newly translated prayers, both by Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá.  If you haven’t seen them, you can find them here.

Several years ago, I was told that what had been translated so far was the mystic teachings, proofs, laws and administrative order, and that what was left was mostly encouragement.  I was really in need of encouragement at that time, and impatient to find prayers that related to my life and spoke directly to my mind and heart.  This prayer does just that.

Yes, we’re told to “remember my days” in reference to all of the tests Bahá’u’lláh went through; and yes, we’re told to read the Dawnbreakers as a way to “alleviate stress”, but these Manifestations and martyrs are so far above me that I couldn’t relate to their struggles and tests.  But when `Abdu’l-Bahá talks about perplexing difficulties, unyielding obstacles, hardships and myriad adversities, He’s talking my language, and gets my attention.

Embedded in this prayer is the solution:

  • Remember that God is my Guide and the Remover of every difficulty
  • Believe that there is no helper and succourer save God
  • Believe that God has the might and power to remove all my difficulties
  • Ask God to remove them
  • Trust that He can ease these hardships
  • Trust that He can smooth the way as I walk along this arduous path He’s set before me
  • Commit all my affairs unto His care
  • Trust that He is Wise and that He hears and sees everything I’m going through

It’s one thing to remember and believe; it’s another to ask for help and trust it will be there and yet another to commit all of my affairs to His care, not just my hardships and trouble.

Remembering and believing that God’s got my back and can help me through my tests, 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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For Every Crisis, there’s Always a Victory

Remember My days during thy days, and My distress and banishment in this remote prison.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 210)

When I was in the deepest despair, remembering traumatic events of my childhood, I came across this quote, which helped to lift me out of my “self”.  I was feeling a lot of “poor me” and “why did this have to happen to me”, and then I had to stop and remember Bahá’u’lláh’s days.

Bahá’u’lláh was born into a wealthy family and was expected to follow his father into an important position in the government of Persia (Iran).  He didn’t want the position or the power.  As a result, His life included a series of imprisonments, and banishments.  At one point He was imprisoned for four months in an underground reservoir for a public bath, with its only outlet a single passage down three steep flights of stone steps. When He was freed from prison, He and His family were banished four times, sometimes on foot over the mountains in the middle of winter without enough food or proper clothing.  He was discredited by His uncle, poisoned by his jealous half-brother and witnessed the death of His son.  He was betrayed by people He trusted, stoned, and isolated from the Believers.  He was the victim of ignorance, injustice, cruelty and fanaticism.  To protect the Faith from the efforts of His half-brother, He even lived as a hermit for 2 years.  But every crisis was followed by victory, and this, I believe, is what is important to remember.

Although my repressed memories included all the positive and neutral memories too, once they came back, I was able to see that, like Bahá’u’lláh, there were times in my life that were peaceful, and activities that weren’t abusive.  From anger I learned to find my voice and take action.  From poverty I was protected from materialism and learned to rely on God.  From estrangement I gained knowledge of myself, and through it, knowledge of God. From being silenced, I was protected from backbiting and gossip.

Knowing I can focus on the victories instead of the negative things that happened to me, 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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How We Meditate  

It is incumbent upon you to ponder in your hearts and meditate upon His words, and humbly to call upon Him, and to put away self in His heavenly Cause. These are the things that will make of you signs of guidance unto all mankind, and brilliant stars shining down from the all-highest horizon, and towering trees in the Abhá Paradise.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 241)

Recently someone on a 12-step meeting challenged me about how I meditate, claiming that the only legitimate form of meditation is to focus on the breath.  I’ve certainly tried that kind of sitting meditation in the past, but it only caused agitation and even panic attacks.  I always thought there was something wrong with me, until recently several articles serendipitously crossed my path indicating that this is a frequent problem for those who’ve experienced trauma, particularly at a young age.  Mindfulness meditation can reopen these old wounds, and without appropriate support, those who’ve experienced trauma can easily find themselves flooded by flashbacks of deeply painful experiences.  Learning this helped me to accept that the ways I meditate are legitimate.

So what is legitimate meditation for Baha’is?  For years, I considered anything I do to improve the ways I know and worship God to be my meditation.  Sometimes it might be through listening to my YouTube playlist of Bahá’í Prayers and Writings set to music; or doing yoga or mindfully walking in the forest and hugging a tree or journaling my heart out (or even napping, where I pour my heart out to God).  All of these help me to slow down long enough to listen to the quiet, gentle and loving voice of God, guiding my movement and my stillness.

On the heels of this awareness, I came across a discussion in a Bahá’í group on Facebook, about how Bahá’ís meditate and lots of ideas were generated but not one person put forward the above quote and I wondered why.  It seems to answer the question once and for all.  Anything else we do can only be secondary to pondering and meditating on the words of God AND humbly to call upon Him, and to put away self in His heavenly Cause.

Knowing the meaning of Bahá’í meditation, I can relax into it, 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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The Power of God’s Healing 

Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 261)

During this pandemic, my energy level has gone way down.  Instead of welcoming all the Zoom meetings I’m being invited to, I dread another invitation.  As an extreme introvert, I can’t cope with the volume of emails, phone calls, text messages and invitations being sent to me.  I want to respond to them all, and I can’t.  Not only that, but my bandwidth for participating in my usual meetings has gone way down.  Now instead of 5-6 events in a day, I can only handle 1 or 2.  I’m having to make difficult choices about which ones I will attend, which ones I will limit my time on, and which ones I will have to say no.  This week I found myself having to say no to a devotional gathering over the phone, which has been going on every week with a dear friend, for almost 20 years. I didn’t want to cancel but I knew I couldn’t handle it.  I was trying to talk myself out of it, saying:  “nothing is better than saying prayers and immersing yourself in the Words of the Writings.  It will be good for you.”  Everything inside of me said NO!  I couldn’t do it.

I decided to say the short healing prayer by myself instead.  It’s a prayer I’ve memorized and said many times over the 35 years I’ve been a Bahá’í, and yet several phrases really stood out for me:

  • Thy name is my healing . . . remembrance of Thee is my remedy: Sure, immersing myself in the Writings is healing.  Participation in the core activities is healing.  But so is remembering Him and repeating His Holy Name.  I don’t have to do more than that.
  • Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor: I don’t have to do anything to please God.  If I don’t attend the devotional gathering (or Feast or a Holy Day), I’m not going to lose out on His love.  There’s nothing I have to do to earn His love.  His mercy to me is my healing; not what I think I have to do to deserve it.

Knowing I can relax into God’s mercy and stop judging myself, 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 God – Strengthening Your Relationship with God

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