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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!

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The Spiritual Forces at Our Disposal

Above all, the friends need to remain ever conscious of the magnitude of the spiritual forces that are at their disposition. They are members of a community “whose world-embracing, continually consolidating activities constitute the one integrating process in a world whose institutions, secular as well as religious, are for the most part dissolving”. Of all the peoples of the world, “they alone can recognize, amidst the welter of a tempestuous age, the Hand of the Divine Redeemer that traces its course and controls its destinies. They alone are aware of the silent growth of that orderly world polity whose fabric they themselves are weaving.  (27 December 2005, Universal house of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Counsellors)

As I watch so many terrible things unfold as the world continues its relentless descent into darkness as the Old World Order is being rolled up, my prayers and the prayers of people all over the world intensify.  I’ve been encouraged time after time, at the soft landing of many events which could have unfolded much more disastrously than they have, and I’m reminded of this quote.  We do trust that we have spiritual forces at our disposal, which is why we pray, both individually and collectively in our devotional gatherings.

What I often forget, though, is that we Bahá’ís are members of a community “whose world-embracing, continually consolidating activities constitute the one integrating process in a world whose institutions . . . are . . . dissolving”; and that we alone “can recognize . . . the Hand of the Divine Redeemer that traces its course and controls its destinies; and that we alone are aware of the silent growth of that orderly world . . . whose fabric we ourselves are weaving.

I so often take for granted that my puny efforts are weaving the fabric of the new world order.  I forget that my little efforts at prayers and the core activities and other undertakings of our Bahá’í community are being supported by spiritual forces I can call on, at all times.  Remembering that is what keeps me going.

Knowing that the Hand of the Divine Redeemer is tracing the course of world events and controls its destinies, I can relax 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!

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Withstanding Physical, Mental and Emotional Storms

O ye beloved of God! When the winds blow severely, rains fall fiercely, the lightening flashes, the thunder roars, the bolt descends and storms of trial become severe, grieve not; for after this storm, verily, the divine spring will arrive, the hills and fields will become verdant, the expanses of grain will joyfully wave, the earth will become covered with blossoms, the trees will be clothed with green garments and adorned with blossoms and fruits. Thus blessings become manifest in all countries. These favors are results of those storms and hurricanes.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v1, p. 12-13)

In the most recent letter of the House of Justice (25 November 2020), they made reference to the “furious storms lashing humanity.”   I could certainly relate!  This phrase resonated very deeply as I feel like my tests have accelerated mightily since COVID hit, and just when I think I’ve got a handle on one test, six more challenging ones pop up.  So today’s quote really helps remind me that not only are severe trials an inevitable part of life, the divine spring that follows is God’s favor for riding the wave of the storms and hurricanes.

In the same letter, they also noted “Your resilience and your unwavering commitment to the well-being of those around you, persistent through all difficulties, have filled us with tremendous hope. But it is no wonder that, in some other quarters, hope has become a depleted resource.”  I think the reason hope has become a depleted resource is that people expect that a good life is one continuous summer, without tests, but nature proves otherwise.  In the depths of winter, when everything is cold and seemingly dead, it’s hard to remember that spring will come again.  I need these reminders over and over because I forget, and when I forget, it’s hard to elevate conversations with those who’ve lost hope, and impossible to ensure the well-being of those around us.

Knowing there’s hope for better days ahead following life’s 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!

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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!

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Teaching Needs Detachment 

Whoso ariseth to teach Our Cause must needs detach himself from all earthly things, and regard, at all times, the triumph of Our Faith as his supreme objective. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 334)

I have a lot of emotional pain from childhood wounds and can easily spiral into self-pity because I don’t have the things that many people take for granted – family, spouse, career, home and more.  I heard this verse sung on YouTube this morning, and it made me sit up and take notice.

I have chosen to dedicate my life to peace – that’s why I became a Bahá’í.  Implicit in that decision is the fact that I have also chosen to “arise to teach His cause”.  By breaking my heart and not letting me have the things of this world that I think I have a right to, God has “detached me from all earthly things”, so that He can use me (and all of us) to accomplish “His supreme objective”.  So if it’s my choice to be a Bahá’í, with all that this implies, what right do I have to complain when He’s giving me exactly what I need in order to accomplish His higher aims?

There’s no way on earth I would have detached myself from my kindred; or my financial security, but as I see the wisdom in it, I can forgive God for what I used to think was His punishment, and now see as His mercy.

Understanding God’s wisdom as He gives me exactly what I need, 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!

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Things are Getting Better

Behold the disturbances which, for many a long year, have afflicted the earth, and the perturbation that hath seized its peoples. It hath either been ravaged by war, or tormented by sudden and unforeseen calamities. (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p.163)

Whenever another calamity happens anywhere in the world, my anxiety level goes way up.  It helps to be reminded that many of the atrocities we see in the world could be part of God’s plan, moving us towards the Lesser Peace.  As we know, the Major Plan of God is leading humanity toward maturity through the simultaneous processes of integration and disintegration.  Sometimes it’s easy to only see evidence of the disintegration.

I recently read studies which tell us that despite all the atrocities we hear on the news each day; our world is becoming less violent.  In fact, statistics show that violence is in a steady decline!  I was shocked when I first read that, but you can read about it yourself at sites such as:

As I read study after study, I realized that I had to let go of my belief that things were getting worse.  It’s hard to be able to elevate the level of discourse in the people around me, when I too am focused on only the negative.

Being reminded that Baha’u’llah’s influence is changing the world for the better, I am grateful!

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/22/world-less-violent-stats_n_1026723.html

[2] http://www.hsrgroup.org/human-security-reports/human-security-report.aspx

[3] http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/

[4] http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

[5] http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/pc/

[6] http://www.systemicpeace.org/

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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