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True Service 

Let each one of you become the servant of the other; let each sacrifice himself for the sake of the other. (From a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—translated from the Persian, from Give me Thy Grace to Serve Thy Loved Ones, Compilation for the 2018 Counsellors’ Conference, [15])

I’m absolutely amazed at how creative people around the world have been since the start of the pandemic.  People self-isolating are finding ways to use technology to stay in touch, have children’s classes, and junior youth programs, study circles and devotional gatherings.  Because they are online, they can embrace larger numbers of people.  Parents at home are more receptive to encouraging their children and youth to participate or even to get involved with the community building process themselves.  People are reaching out to friends, neighbors and acquaintances more often, especially those in places where the numbers of people infected with the COVID-19 virus are high.

This week, my landlord (who owns many apartment buildings across a large geographic area, called to see if I was OK and to determine if there was anything I needed.  One of my neighbors dropped off some home-made muffins and this morning, my 80-year old neighbor called to say she was going grocery shopping and asked if I needed anything.  People all over the world are becoming servants to one another, and sacrificing themselves for their neighbors.  Never before in the history of mankind, has everyone in the whole world agreed to take a certain course of action, for the betterment of the world.  This will have long term implications and bring us a lot closer to the longed-for Most Great Peace.

Knowing the world has taken a giant step forward, 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 Be Happy

 

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Witnessing the Tokens of Divine Assistance

The more they strive for harmony, the greater their progress; the more they exert effort to achieve unity, the more they will witness the tokens of divine assistance.… (From a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—translated from the Persian, from Give me Thy Grace to Serve Thy Loved Ones, Compilation for the 2018 Counsellors’ Conference, [15])

I’ve long thought that it doesn’t matter what we accomplish for the Faith in terms of activity or results but what does matter is the efforts we make towards love and unity.  This newly translated quote seems to back this up.  According to `Abdu’l-Bahá, we only make great progress when we strive for harmony and we only get divine assistance when we’re exerting effort to achieve unity.  I wonder what would happen in our Bahá’í communities if this was the focus?

Recently I heard tales of wonderful things happening in Sydney Australia, so much so, that the Canadian NSA sent representatives from the learning sites to Sydney to find out how they did achieved so much.  They came back with glowing reports of a community where everyone’s efforts are encouraged, where everyone has a place in the Plan, where encouragement and love are highly valued and gossip and negativity aren’t heard.  That’s the kind of Bahá’í community I want to be involved in.

Knowing there are places in the world where love and unity are encouraged, 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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The Reason We Have Tests

The more difficulties one sees in the world the more perfect one becomes. The more you plough and dig the ground the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire the purer it becomes. The more you sharpen the steel by grinding the better it cuts. Therefore, the more sorrows one sees the more perfect one be­comes. That is why, in all times, the Prophets of God have had tribula­tions and difficulties to withstand. The more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing the greater his knowledge be­comes. Therefore I am happy that you have had great tribulations and difficulties… Strange it is that I love you and still I am happy that you have sorrows. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. XIV, No. 2, p. 41).

I’ve always loved this quote, because it uses practical examples that are easy to understand, but the thing I love best is when `Abdu’l-Bahá tells us “Strange it is that I love you and still I am happy that you have sorrows”.  It seems such an odd way to end this quote.  The clue is in the middle though:  “the more sorrows one sees the more perfect one be­comes.”

Why is it important for us to become more perfect than we were?  I think it’s so we can increase our capacity and be better fit for service; better soldiers in the Army of God.  We know we’re never going to be perfect.  That’s a station reserved for `Abdu’l-Bahá, but we can become more perfect as we accept the tests instead of railing against them, feeling punished by God or sorry for ourselves.  When I’m being tested (as I am today!), I need to remember to let go, trust God and enjoy the ride, remembering it all serves a purpose.

Knowing the purpose of my tests, I can relax into them, and 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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The Path to Real Happiness

They have not properly understood that man’s supreme honor and real happiness lie in self-respect, in high resolves and noble purposes, in integrity and moral quality, in immaculacy of mind. They have, rather, imagined that their greatness consists in the accumulation, by whatever means may offer, of worldly goods.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 18)

It’s so hard to be raised in a culture steeped in materialism and consumerism, where comparing myself to my neighbors is the norm.  I’ve grown up learning that I will be happy when. When I have the next greatest thing.  When I have the best of things.  When I have more.  When I have better than those around me.  When, when, when!

So I love that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reminds me that my supreme honor and real happiness is a choice not the result of circumstances.  I can make a decision in any moment to be happy and if I don’t know how to do it, this quote is a great place to start because it gives me concrete steps I can take.  What can I do in this moment that will give me:

  • self-respect?
  • high resolves?
  • noble purposes?
  • integrity?
  • moral quality?
  • immaculacy of mind?

Now, don’t you feel happier already?  I know I do!

Knowing there is a secret to happiness and I’ve got it, 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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Moving with the Rhythm of Life

We ought not to resist the shocks and upheavals of life, nor run counter to obstacles, we ought never to be impatient, we ought to be as incapable of impatience as we would revolt, this not being so much long‑suffering as a quiet awareness of the forces that operate in the hours, days, or years of waiting and inactivity. Always we ought to move with the larger rhythm, the wider sweep towards our ultimate goal, in the complete acquiescence, that perfect accord which underlies the spirit of the Faith itself.  (Bahiyyih Khánum, Bahá’í World, vol. 5, p.185)

I’m feeling a lot of impatience these days.  I’m registered for a conference I want to attend, I’ve got a partial scholarship and a potential person to carpool with, and yet, I’m still several hundred dollars short to fill in the missing pieces.  I’ve been in this place before, and God has come through and I want to trust that this time will be the same.  I have 5 days before confirming my attendance or I’ll lose my scholarship.  I’m not attached, either way.  There are equal pros and cons for going or staying home, and yet, I want God to make His will known and the only way I think I’ll know for sure is whether the money comes through or not.

So today’s reading is a reminder to continue to be aware of forces that operate while I wait, and instead of fretting, move with the day, finding ways to be of service to myself and others, and trust that in this moment, there is no fear, only love and acceptance.

Remembering to keep moving with the rhythm of life, I can relax and be 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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A New Way of Looking at Service

Every aspect of a person’s life is an element of his or her service to Bahá’u’lláh:  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 behaviour 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 . . . 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.  (Universal House of Justice, to the European Baha’i youth Council, 7 December 1992)

Where has this quote been all my Baha’i life?  I realized when reading it, how narrow was my understanding of service.  I used to think that service was just participating in the core activities and raising up the community building process within our clusters.  I can see how I would get that impression because study of the Ruhi curriculum teaches us that this is what means to walk a path of service, and when the Statistics Officer contacts me to see what I’ve been doing, these are the only things they want to track.  Living in an inactive cluster and being an introvert, happier teaching and serving in an online environment, I have beaten myself up mercilessly for not being a good Baha’i, because I’m not currently serving in my cluster the way I think I “should”.  So I was very grateful to find this quote today!

I relate better to bullet points, which I can use as a checklist, so let’s take these one at a time:

  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 behaviour 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
  11. reading the Writings
  12. saying the Obligatory Prayer

Were any of these a surprise to you?  I was certainly surprised that they are all aspects of service.  I was happy to see that nurturing good health is also part of service, because of course, we can’t serve when we aren’t healthy.  I love belonging to such a compassionate religion and am grateful for the House of Justice elaborating on this issue!

Knowing that service is much broader than just “walking a path”, I can relax and 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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