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Consultation Needs Several Voices

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The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 176, #580)

Being both single and self-employed, I’m used to making decisions alone.  Even when I could consult with others, I’ve always thought it was easier and faster to do it myself.  When I became a Bahá’í and saw the importance of consultation I had to change my views.  I’ve come to appreciate that when a diverse group of people who understand and respect each other’s differences and contributions consult together, more can be accomplished much more efficiently.  It’s not always easy to recognize the important contribution towards the performance of the team that different members bring to the table and it’s not even easy to see the contribution I bring, when I’m used to doing everything myself.

The nine kinds of people who work best together on a team are people who:

  1. come up with ideas I might not have thought of
  2. assess the risks
  3. focus on details and logistics
  4. come up with all the reasons something won’t work
  5. are skilled in listening between the lines and hearing what isn’t being said
  6. provide motivation and encouragement
  7. are willing to do the work
  8. support and step into any gaps that might arise
  9. won’t give up when the going gets tough

When I look at this list, it’s easy to see my strengths and weaknesses, and relax into the idea that I don’t have to do everything myself, 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 newly published book Learning How to Consult Effectively

 

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Drawing on Each Other’s Love

Indeed the believers have not yet fully learned to draw on each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need. The Cause of God is endowed with tremendous powers, and the reason the believers do not gain more from it is because they have not learned to fully draw on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith. (From a letter dated 8 May 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, p. 19)

I love this quote and was happy to read it today because it reminds me of the importance of developing deep friendships with other Bahá’ís, that goes well beyond our joint service to the Cause.  Growing up I learned how to silence myself and distance myself from others so I wouldn’t “tell the family secret” by mistake.  I know how to be a really great listener and how to help people hear their own truth.  I’m an expert at deflecting attention away from myself to keep other people talking about their own lives.  I didn’t even know how hurtful this was both to myself and others until recently.  It’s hurtful to myself because when I was finally wanting to open up and get some support from others, they could’t hear me because I’d broken the unwritten contract that says all communication was about them.  It was hurtful to others, because they made me their god and didn’t allow them to develop their virtues of compassion, love, strength and consolation.

When I first became a Baha’i, I was hungry for this kind of friendship described in the quote, but there didn’t seem to be a time or place.  Feasts and Holy Days had their prescribed agendas and then we went home.  I had to go outside to find love and strength and harmony, often from paid therapists.  I loved when the House of Justice started encouraging us to study prayers together and make home visits, because these activities opened up a space for real heart-to-heart conversations.  I’m so happy that the community building process is all about building relationships and creating the kinds of communities where we will be able to turn to each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need, more and more often, and where children and junior youth will learn how to do this and feel the benefits of it, from a very early age.

Learning how to give and receive love in concrete ways, 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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Re-Engaging Youth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This week I had an email from a reader in Pakistan, asking me to reflect on these four subjects:

1)  What have we learned from the COVID-19 ??

2)  Our youths are sleeping until noon/afternoon and are active on social media (cell phone) during the whole night. Any specific topic or mini-compilation will be a great help as our Baha’i activities are suffering much due to this bad pattern of sleeping.

3)  Any article or mini compilations on meaningful ways of using social media.

4)  A compilation on media is a need of the hour.

Our children and few other Baha’i youths are doing active online courses (such as Transformative Leadership for Youth, The Baha’i Faith and the Arts, etc) with the Wilmette Institute in the USA.

I replied:

You ask some very important questions, and my heart goes out to you and to the youth of Pakistan.

Unfortunately I haven’t had any experience working with youth so I’m not the best person to ask.  Also, after reading their reality, each community needs to have a tailor-made program which will work for their population.  There are vast differences around the world, and within a country, from cluster to cluster.  So anything I could contribute would be from my perspective as someone living in an inactive cluster in rural Canada and not necessarily relevant to your corner of Pakistan.

Some thoughts did come to my mind after praying about how to help.

  1. I strongly believe that this is an issue of vital importance to the NSA, Baha’i Council, Auxiliary Board and Institute Board. Have you consulted with these institutions?
  1. These are topics which could be discussed with the animators, who could then introduce them into the junior youth empowerment program.
  1. If your Bahá’í youth are sleeping until noon/afternoon and are active on social media the whole night, their peers are probably doing the same. The problem may not be their sleeping pattern, but capitalizing on it to reach out to engage their cohorts in:
    • Meaningful conversations
    • Animator Training
    • Youth Conferences
    • Service to their Communities
    • Teaching Children’s Classes
    • Holding Devotional Gatherings
    • Completing the Sequence of Ruhi Classes
  1. Many ideas and suggestions can be found in the current guidance of the House of Justice, particularly the following letters.

Since then, there have been messages to Canada and the USA on the topic of healing racism.  There may have also been similar letters to your part of the world.

Perhaps a youth gathering could be organized on a platform such as Zoom, where youth and/or youth animators can gather together to study these messages and make plans.

  1. Perhaps youth could be encouraged to attend Bahá’í Summer Schools. If none have been organized in Pakistan, this is a good year to participate anywhere in the world they may want to go.   Perhaps a team of youth could research the dates, topics and registration details for summer schools around the world and encourage the youth to participate.
  1. Here are some articles discussing what Bahá’ís around the world are learning from the pandemic:

· Pilgrimage Travel Advisory Coronavirus (COVID-19):  https://pilgrimage.bwc.org/traveladvisory/

· Baha’i Education Efforts Move Online in a Hurry:  https://www.bahai.us/bahai-education-efforts-move-online-in-a-hurry/

· Spiritual Conversation: Spiritual Resilience in the Time of COVID-19:  https://www.bahaiblog.net/2020/06/spiritual-conversation-resilience-in-the-time-of-covid-19-video/

· From Baha’i to Zoroastrians, Jews to Jains: Keeping the Faith Amid COVID-19:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/covid19-singapore-religious-faith-ramadan-12764482

·  Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – COVID-19 Special with Dr. Robert Kim-Farley:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBqHbFTb0Vo

· Hope and Support in Italy During a Global Health Crisis:  https://news.bahai.org/story/1401/

· Reflections on the Coronavirus and the Oneness of Humanity:  https://bahaiteachings.org/reflections-on-coronavirus-and-oneness-humanity/

· Rising to the Occasion in a Global Crisis:  https://news.bahai.org/story/1404/

·  Covid-19 and the Digital Era – Esther Kaufman:  http://blog.umd.edu/bahaichair/2020/06/15/covid-19-and-the-digital-era-esther-kaufman/

· Why are Blacks Dying at Higher Rates from COVID-19?  https://blog.umd.edu/bahaichair/2020/07/20/why-are-blacks-dying-at-higher-rates-from-covid-19-professor-rashawn-ray/

· Keeping Baha’i Prisoners, Iran Threatens the Entire Country’s Health:  https://religionnews.com/2020/04/16/keeping-bahai-prisoners-iran-threatens-the-entire-countrys-health/

· Heroes of the COVID-19 Era:  https://blogs.adobe.com/adobelife/2020/06/23/heroes-of-the-covid-19-era/

  1. Perhaps the following articles would spark some ideas of activities the youth could do. (I apologize for the Western focus but it was what I could find in my Google search.   You might do better from your part of the world.  The search terms I used were “Bahá’í Youth Covid”):
    • Elevate(a platform of resources that support a growing movement to develop spiritual consciousness and the capacity to serve society):  https://www.elevateworld.org/
  1. Perhaps youth animators could use some of these articles to find ideas to stimulate discussions in their junior youth programs:

· 10 Ways Young People are Leading the Way Against COVID-19:  https://womendeliver.org/2020/10-ways-young-people-are-leading-the-way-against-covid-19/

· Is COVID-19 Social Media’s Levelling Up Moment?  https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanholmes/2020/04/24/is-covid-19-social-medias-levelling-up-moment/#29d55ba6c606

· Is the Media Creating Division on COVID-19 Health Practices?  https://news.gallup.com/poll/312749/media-creating-division-covid-health-practices.aspx

· Using More Social Media During COVID-19? You’re Not Alone. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/using-more-social-media-during-covid-19-youre-alone-ryan-holmes/

My most fervent hope for humanity during this pandemic, is that all mankind recognize the oneness of humanity; that this pandemic shows us our oneness and that we finally treat one another at home and around the world, as one.  This picture, taken during the early days, gave me great hope:

What jumped out for you as you read today’s article?

If you liked this article, you might also like my books, now available on Amazon.

What other ideas would you suggest to this reader?  Post your comments below.

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Caroline Lehmann – First Baha’i in Our Cluster from 1916-1940

By Heidi Lakshman

Presentation on the 25th Anniversary of the Gravenhurst Bahá’í Community, 25 March  2000

There are different milestones in the evolution of a Bahá’í community, and today we remember the arrival 25 years ago of the first Bahá’í pioneer, Francis Cowan, in Gravenhurst, and the development of the local Bahá’í community since then.

When our Assembly was in the middle of planning this event last summer, someone discovered in the back cover of the 1934-36 Bahá’í World Volume a map of the United States and Canada, showing localities where Bahá’ís resided as of May 1st, 1935.  There were 229 localities in all, only 8 of which were situated in Canada, scattered right across the land:  there was an Assembly in Montreal and one in Vancouver (with at least 9 Bahá’ís in each), and centers with only 1 isolated believer (meaning very lonely Bahá’í) living there, — one in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan, one in New Brunswick, one in Prince Edward Island, and two in Ontario: one in Toronto, and the other — lo and behold — in WEST GRAVENHURST!  We got out a magnifying glass to make sure we were seeing right, and sure enough, there it was …

This meant that the history of the Gravenhurst Bahá’í community had obviously started much earlier than we realized, and that there was another milestone to be uncovered here.  The search for this early believer began immediately, and what followed had all the characteristics of a true detective story.

Our first move was to put an ad in BAHA’I CANADA (September 1999 issue), inviting anyone with information about this believer to contact us, but — not surprisingly — no one did.  Next, we contacted the Records Department and Archives Office at the National Bahá’í Center in Toronto, but they could not help us either since their records go back only to 1948, when the Canadian National Spiritual Assembly came into existence.  All prior records were still being kept at the National Bahá’í Center of the United States in Wilmette, Illinois.

Next, we searched in Dr. van den Hoonard’s book, The Origins of the Bahá’í Community of Canada, for any clues about a believer in Gravenhurst, but found nothing there either.

In the meantime, we had started making inquiries with some of the senior citizens in town as to whether anyone remembered meeting a Bahá’í in the 1930’ies.  But without knowing the name of the person we were looking for, nor even whether it was a man or a woman, this effort was going nowhere.

Eventually, we succeeded in obtaining the email address of Dr. van den Hoonard at the University of New Brunswick and asked for his assistance in identifying the believer who resided in West Gravenhurst as of May 1935.  On the very next day (August 30) he responded as follows:

“…. you will be happy to know that the history of West Gravenhurst goes even further back!  Between March 1916 and May 1940, Mrs. Caroline Lehmann lived in West Gravenhurst.  She was taught the Faith by Isabelle Brittingham.  Her previous religion was Lutheran and she was of German background.  You can find a reference for her in Bahá’í World (vol. 8: 699 [actually 703] and the [American] Bahá’í News (July 1940: 10).”

This was the news we were hoping for, and now that we had a name, a gender, and a 24-year time frame, our search could begin in earnest.

There were a few Lehmanns listed in the local telephone book with which we could start.  But then, on the same day as the above message arrived, one of my Red Cross Homemakers (Claudia) mentioned that her colleague’s (Sherry Rheaume’s) grandfather, who had passed away a few months earlier, was a Mr. Carl Lehman. As she was going to meet Sherry that night at the Leisure World Nursing Home, Claudia offered to ask her, whether Caroline Lehmann was any relation of hers.

Sherry had never heard of this name before, but was going to ask her grandmother (Carl Lehman’s widow) about it.  A couple of days later, Sherry gave Claudia the amazing news that Mrs. Caroline Lehmann was her very own great-great-grandmother!!

It is interesting to note that Sherry was one of the Red Cross Homemakers assigned to me, when I first visited the Cowans in August 1997 in order to prepare my move to Gravenhurst.  She lived just a block away from the Cowans and was known to Fran since her childhood. Sherry continued to provide homecare services to me for more than a year following my move to Lofty Pines Drive, and we had a good many conversations about her Bible studies as well as the Bahá’í Faith.  She took some literature, as well as a Bahá’í colouring book and some balloons and prayer cards for her children. When her grandfather was ill, she borrowed the “Health and Healing” booklet, and when he passed away, she read the “Death — Messenger of Joy” booklet and found it very comforting, particularly as she had also lost her father not long before that.  After her grandfather’s funeral, Sherry and I took a walk over to the Mickle Cemetery, just down the road from my place, and had some prayers at the Lehmann family grave. Little did we know then, that we were praying for the descendants (two sons and a grandson) of the first Bahá’í of Gravenhurst!

On 12 September 1999 I called Sherry’s grandmother, Mrs. Lila Lehman, and she confirmed that Caroline was her great-grandmother-in-law, and that she had lived “in a pink house on the first farm on the right going towards Bala”.  She also said that Caroline and her husband had operated the General Store in Kilworthy (a suburb of Gravenhurst), and that they are both buried at the Kilworthy Lutheran Cemetery.

It was a beautiful Sunday, and Shapour Ostadi (a local Bahá’í friend) and I went looking for the pink farm house on the road to Bala.   But nothing we saw there fitted that description.  We then drove to Kilworthy, where we easily found the Kilworthy General Store.  The present owners confirmed that it had indeed belonged to the Lehmanns, who had operated it until the late 1920s.  Judging from its aged looks, it probably hasn’t changed much since the times the Lehmanns had been there.

For more (heartbreaking) pictures of this once lovely building

We received directions to the Lutheran Cemetery, which is located on top of a hill, in a bend near the end of Muskoka Road 19 (of all numbers!).  It is a well-kept, peaceful place, surrounded by forest on three sides.

We found the Lehmann grave near a low lilac bush, almost in the center of the cemetery.  We were extremely moved to read on the gravestone that Caroline Lehmann (nee Yaekel) was born in 1845 — just one year after the inception of the Bahá’í Faith — and that she was 95 years old in 1940, when she passed away.

Susan Gammage visiting her grave site

As such, her life spanned almost the entire first century of the Bahá’í Era and made her a contemporary of both the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, `Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi!  She was 71 years of age in 1916, when she accepted the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, — only 4 years after `Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to Canada — and was among the very first resident Canadians to do so.  (According to Dr. van den Hoonard’s book, there were only 31 Bahá’ís in the whole of Canada as of 1916, some of whom would no doubt have been pioneers from other countries.)

Through her acceptance of Bahá’u’lláh, the light of God’s new Revelation has dawned upon this small community of Gravenhurst only 72 years after the Faith began in Persia!  This is all the more remarkable when one recalls how long it took all the other major world religions to reach Canadian shores.

Having come empty-handed, we gathered some wild flowers to put on her grave, and Shapour chanted some beautiful Persian prayers there, — likely the first one to ever do so at that site.

Having solved the mystery of who this early West Gravenhurst believer was, our focus no shifted to learning more about her life and finding someone — anyone — who might still have a living memory of Caroline.  Regrettably, her last living son, Carl, had passed away just a few months before we even knew about her existence. According to Sherry Rheaume’s own research, no one among the members of her family has any personal memory of her, nor do they have any photographs or other documentation of her life and activities.  They did mention, however, that she was not the only Bahá’í here, but that another Bahá’í lady who had taught her the Faith was with her for some time, and they believe it may have been her sister.

The only person who still vaguely remembered the old Lehmanns was a Mrs. Hazel Schell, longtime resident of Kilworthy, and grandmother of Joan Allen, another one of my Homecare workers.  I talked to her by telephone in late Fall 1999, and she confirmed to have met the old Lehmanns in her youth, but better recalled their daughter, Emily Beatty, who took over the Kilworthy Store from her parents.  Hazel Schell, herself in her ninetieth, passed away just a few weeks after we had this conversation.

Her grand-daughter, Joan Allan, had referred me to a book about Kilworthy, A Legacy almost lost, published by the Kilworthy Historical Committee, which contained several references to the Lehmanns. It also provided a fairly good picture of what life was like for the early pioneer settlers in the 19th century, when they were there.

For More Information

The book contains a census of the Townships in Muskoka of the year 1871, in which Gustav and Caroline Lehman, and 2 of their children, are listed as having come from Prussia (East-Germany), and that they were then 39 and 23 years of age.  It also shows that the Lehmanns had a farm “on the north shore of Sparrow Lake”, and that Gustav Lehmann bought the Kilworthy Store in 1875 and started the first Post Office there in November 1876.  Gustav Lehmann was Postmaster until 1914 and, in 1927, turned the Post Office and the Store over to his daughter, Emily Beatty.

Apparently, he and Caroline then moved to the farm in West Gravenhurst, where Gustav passed away in 1929 and Caroline in 1940.

The case lay dormant over the winter but,  during the Fast earlier this month (March 2000), Shapour and I ventured out once again in search of the “pink house” in West Gravenhurst. We rang some doorbells in the general area and were directed to 270 North Street, which turned out to be Carl Lehman’s place.  We took some pictures of their old house and also had an opportunity to briefly talk to his widow, Mrs. Lila Lehman, who said that Caroline visited that home on occasion and stayed there for one week, when her youngest son (Sherry’s father) was born.  She then gave us direction to the Lehmann farm, which is located about 2 miles further toward Bala, beyond the small convenience store and just around the bend on the right hand side.  There is an old barn and a (green) house standing close to the road, and the old building on the back of that property was the Lehmann homestead.  We found it to be a larger building with several added sections, yellowish in colour, empty, and in dilapidated condition.  Only on the back did we see reddish siding that some people might consider “pink”. No wonder we couldn’t find it before! We photographed the building from all sides and had prayers there as well. (The address is lot #1272 on Highway 169, and the current tenants’ name is Waggs).

We were determined to also find the first Lehmann farm on Sparrow Lake and, on the following day, called the Franklins who, according to the book about Kilworthy, had bought the farm from the Lehmanns.

We spoke to a Mrs. Harvey Franklin who said that the Lehmann farm had been purchased by her uncle and is the property where the Silver Pines Cottage Resort is now located, about 3 miles West from the Kilworthy store.  Shapour and I went there and spoke with the proprietor, Andy Fisher, who confirmed that this was the old Lehmann farm, but that Lehmanns did not build the house on his property.  He had acquired the place only 15 years ago and did not know where their homestead would have been.

We drove down to the lake and along the shoreline just to look around a bit, and there, about 2 lots away from the Silver Pines property,  discovered a whole complex of very old abandoned farm-type buildings along a creek!  The first one, though much smaller, looked strikingly similar in style, age, and colour to the Lehmann house we had seen in West Gravenhurst!  We photographed it, of course, and went back to Andy Fisher to ask him about these buildings. He didn’t seem to be aware of them nor who the present owners were, but he confirmed that the original farm was much larger than his current lot and had gone all the way over to the Delmonte Resort. This meant that the old buildings we had found were located well within the boundaries of the old farm.

We went back to the Kilworthy Store to ask the owners about the farm, and they directed us to Mr. Bruce Schulz, whose grandfather had bought the Kilworthy Store from Emily Beatty, Lehmann’s daughter.  Mr. Schulz is a member of the Kilworthy Historical Society who had published the book, and he was very interested in our research and in receiving a copy of our findings for the Kilworthy Archives.  Although he had no information about the Lehmann farm on Sparrow Lake, he said that he would try to find out about it at their next meeting.

Last not least, a letter was received from the National Bahá’í Archives in the United States in response to my inquiry, forwarding copies of the references about Caroline in Bahá’í World Volume 8 and the July 1940 edition of the American Bahá’í News.  The first is a Bahá’í Directory of 1938-40, and the second an “In Memoriam” notice of her passing in 1940.  The Archives could not provide any additional information about her at this time, nor verify when and where Isabelle Brittingham and Caroline Lehmann have met, and whether she might, in fact, have been the “other Bahá’í lady”, who had stayed with Caroline, as remembered by her family.

Their letter (dated 16 March 2000) states that Caroline Lehmann

does not appear on the 1916, 1920 and 1922 membership lists maintained by the Bahá’í Temple Unity [precursor of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada]. However, the lists were sent in by local communities, so not all isolated believers were listed, unless they were near an active community.”  It also said that “the National Spiritual Assembly files are still not open so we cannot check if she corresponded with the National Spiritual Assembly.”

Consequently, it is possible that some information about Caroline Lehmann would eventually be found.

As for Caroline’s resting place, we asked Mr. Bruce Schulz about the future of the old pioneer cemetery where the Lehmanns are buried, and what would happen to it.  He assured us that it is there to stay and is presently being looked after by some individuals including himself, and that it would eventually be turned over to the Municipality for maintenance.  No doubt, the historical significance of this gravesite will be publicly recognized in due course.  (It should be noted in this context that Mrs. Lehmann would have retained her church membership until the time of her death as was common among early Bahá’ís living in Christian communities.)

*~*~*~*~*

Had forwarded a shortened version of the above presentation to the Bahá’í Archives in Wilmette and, shortly thereafter, the following additional information was received:

QUOTE

Subject: RE: An early Gravenhurst believer

Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 16:17:36 -0600

Dear Ms. Lakshman,

Thank you for the information on Caroline Lehmann. I have come across some more information about Caroline Lehmann. She had filled out an historical record card in the mid-1930s.  I am mailing a photocopy of the historical record card to you. In the card Mrs. Lehmann wrote that she became a Baha’i in March 1916 in New York City. She had been making  visits to her daughter, Helen Lehmann, and had learned of the Baha’i Faith. Isabella Brittingham*, Mother Beecher** and Ali Kuli Khan*** had been her teachers. She also gives her birth date as November 17, 1846.

There is a Mrs. Helen Lehmann in the 1916 and 1920 New York City membership lists but not in the 1922 New York City membership list.

With warm greetings,

Roger M. Dahl, Archivist [The National Baha’i Archives of the United States]

UNQUOTE

*         One of the first believers in the United States, called the  “Bahá’í-Maker” by `Abdu’l-Bahá

**       Grandmother of Hand of the Cause, Dorothy Baker

***     Secretary of `Abdu’l-Bahá, and Persian Consul to the United States

The copy of the handwritten historical record card was received and is the first personal document we have of this early believer. — In 2003, a b&w negative of Caroline Lehmann’s photograph, which she had attached to the history card, was also provided by the U.S. Bahá’í Archives.   The negative was digitally cleaned-up and several prints were made.

Both photograph and copy of the historical record card were included with a shortened story and other documents and pictures in the Lehmann binders forwarded in 2003/2004 to the following institutions:

The National Bahá’í Archives of Canada;

The National Bahá’í Archives of the United States;

The Local Spiritual Assembly of Gravenhurst;

The Archives of the Town of Gravenhurst;

The Sparrow Lake Historical Society

and Kilworthy Historical Committee

This Century 

In the ages to come, though the Cause of God may rise and grow hundredfold and the shade of the Sadratu’l-Muntahá (Tree of Life) shelter all mankind, yet this present (20th) century shall stand unrivalled, for it hath witnessed the breaking of that Morn and the rising of that Sun.  This century is, verily, the source of His Light and the dayspring of His Revelation.  Future ages and generations shall behold the diffusion of its radiance and the manifestations of its signs.  (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of  `Abdu’l-Bahá,  p. 67)

Service May Look Different if You’re an Introvert

A unity in diversity of actions is called for, a condition in which different individuals will concentrate on different activities, appreciating the salutary effect of the aggregate on the growth and development of the Faith, because each person cannot do everything and all persons cannot do the same thing.  (The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 80)

Recently I’ve come to accept myself as I am, not as I thought I wanted to be.  For example, for most of my Bahá’í life, I’ve immersed myself in the Writings and in the letters of the House of Justice and tried valiantly to align myself with what I understood the guidance to mean.  I drove myself to the point of exhaustion and burn out, trying to put every injunction into effect, truly believing that if I didn’t do everything being asked of all of us, I would personally be responsible to God for delaying the advent of the Most Great Peace.  Truly.  I believed this!

Then someone reminded me that humanity (including me) has been invited to the banquet table of the Lord.  All the Writings put together can be seen as a giant potluck meal and all I have to do is take what I can eat.  If I put more than that on my plate, it will be wasted and do me no good.  As an extreme introvert, I’m more comfortable writing than speaking; I prefer the solitude of a small circle of people, preferably one-on-one because social engagements leave me feeling exhausted and drained.  Much though I want to participate in the core activities, I feel best when doing activities that can be performed alone, and that’s OK.  There’s room in this Faith for all of us, doing the best we can, serving in ways that are aligned with the will of God and not done to please others.

Knowing that God loves me and appreciates every effort I make in service, I can stop judging myself so harshly, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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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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