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A Problem That Can’t be Easily or Immediately Resolved

It is difficult for the friends always to remember that in matter[s] where race enters, a hundred times more consideration and wisdom in handling situations is necessary than when an issue is not complicated by this factor.  (Shoghi Effendi, Pupil of the Eye, p. 87)

A lot of my friends have been participating in protests or changing their Facebook pages to honor the death of George Floyd and other black and indigenous people killed unjustly.  A lot of people are posting articles and videos, libraries are posting books to read.  Some are suggesting that if you don’t take action and speak up, you’re part of the problem.  I haven’t felt inspired to do any of these things and the more guilt-inducing messages I read, the less I want to.  Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook – I don’t know who to attribute it to – which said exactly what is in my heart:

Some of us are quiet because we don’t know what to say.  Some of us are quiet because we recognize our lack of understanding.  Some of us are mourning, as you mourn.  Some of us are listening with our hearts, and intentionally keeping our mouths closed.  Some of us are sincerely pondering what we’re hearing and seeing.  Some of us value your actual experience more than our own priviledged perspective.  Some of us are searching our own hearts.  Please don’t mistake our quietness for apathy.

This is a complex problem which effects all of us on the path to oneness.  Bahá’ís have the spiritual solution, and we’re learning how to implement it.  I’m grateful to learn more about my white priviledge, steeped as I am in it and unable to see it on my own.  I like knowing that a hundred times more consideration and wisdom in handling situations is necessary, because with God’s help, and little by little, day by day, I’ll do my part in tearing these walls down in my own life.

Knowing there are many ways to make a difference, and that I can find my own, 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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White Privilege in the Face of Injustice

Let the white make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem, to abandon once for all their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority, to correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race, to persuade them through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions, and to master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds. (Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 40)

As I watch in horror as a week of protests, in the wake of yet another black man senselessly killed by a white police officer, led to rioting and looting across America, I hear a lot of my white brothers and sisters wonder what we can do.  I’m glad Shoghi Effendi has made it easy for those of us with white privilege to find a place to start.  If we look at this quote as a series of steps we can take, we can examine our actions.

  1. make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem
  1. abandon their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority

How can I do these things?  There are many sites online giving lots of ideas.  I can start there, to educate myself and find ways to change my behaviour.

  1. correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race

This can include deeply hurtful statements like:

  • I don’t see colour.
  • My best friend is black.
  • All lives matter.
  • There’s only one race – the human race.
  1. persuade them through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions

I can find ways to form genuine friendships and include them in activities.

  1. master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds

I can let go of any expectation that they can simply just “get over it”

Knowing there are concrete steps I can take to change my behavior, instead of protesting, 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 Anger and Bitterness

 

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Perfecting Our Life and Character

Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being “perfect as our heavenly father is perfect” and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy. (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, pp. 5–7)

The current pandemic has activated my “compare and despair” as I look around to see what I’m doing to self-isolate and judging those individuals and businesses who are not.  This morning I realized that my lifestyle lends itself easily to isolation but for others, the situation is a lot more complex.  Not everyone is able to work from home; not everyone has the luxury of a guaranteed income; not everyone is used to doing grocery shopping once a month or every 6 weeks; not everyone is used to spending large amounts of time alone; not everyone has a spiritual core to draw on.  In so many ways, I’m luckier than many of my family and friends.  I want to focus on being grateful for what I have and compassionate and forgiving of those with less.

COVID-19 is calling on all of us to let go of the need to be perfect; to let go of expectations of ourselves and others; to see the good in others and reflect it back.  As the House of Justice says in the Naw Ruz letter, it’s our job to:

  • Rise above the horizon of firmness and steadfastness with illumined faces and radiant brows
  • Obliterate the gloom of fear and consternation
  • Let the light of assurance dawn above the horizon and shine resplendently
  • Bring hope and strength of spirit
  • Nurture the attributes of unity and fellow feeling
  • Nurture knowledge and understanding
  • Nurture a spirit of collective worship and common endeavor
  • Strengthen bonds of friendship
  • Foster tranquility, confidence and reliance on God
  • Provide elevated conversations to bring a source of comfort and inspiration to many
  • Focus our prayers on the health and well-being of all the Friends of God and for the relief of suffering

Knowing what’s expected of me during this pandemic, 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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Becoming More Steadfast

I supplicate God that day by day thou mayest become more steadfast, so that like unto an impregnable stronghold thou mayest withstand the surging of the ocean of tests and trials. The people of the world are like unto trees. Those that are rootless are toppled by the slightest breeze, while those that grow deep roots and become strong and firm are not shaken by violent winds, and in time bring forth leaves and blossoms and fruit. (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, [22])

What does it mean to be steadfast and how do we know we’re becoming more steadfast?  These are two questions I ask myself when I read this quote.  The dictionary uses the following words to describe steadfastness, which gives me some clues:

  • adherence to something to which one is bound by a pledge or duty
  • attachment, commitment, dedication, devotion, faith, loyalty
  • fondness and affection for
  • determination, resolution, firmness
  • reliability, trustworthiness

So I can use these as benchmarks to assess how steadfast I’m becoming.  When I became a Bahá’í, I agreed to follow the Covenant.  The more committed I became, the more attached I became to “doing the right thing”.  This increased my dedication and devotion and I became more and more loyal as I increased my teaching and service.  As I met more and more Bahá’ís, I developed a real fondness for being around “my people”, but sooner or later my faith was tested.  That was the moment I really needed to lean on my determination, resolution and firmness.  People needed to know I would be reliable and trustworthy, even in moments of severe tests.

The imagery in this quote reminds me of a song written in the late 1990’s by Nancy Ward, a Canadian Bahá’í singer-songwriter called “The Grass Endures”.  In it she shares why she doesn’t want to be an oak tree, which gets upended in a storm.  Instead she wants to be a blade of grass, which bends in a storm and endures.

It also reminds me of a song written by a friend of mine, called “This Love is a Weed”.     In it, he makes a case why it’s better to be a weed than a rose, because the rose blooms and fades, but the weed is hard to kill.

Recognizing the need for steadfastness, I stand taller, 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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Showing our Aloofness

Increasingly, as time goes by, the characteristics of the Bahá’ís will be that which captures the attention of their fellow-citizens. They must show their aloofness from the hatreds and recriminations which are tearing at the heart of humanity, and demonstrate by deed and word their profound belief in the future peaceful unification of the entire human race. (From a letter dated 26 October 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, p. 17)

In the past few weeks, there has been an explosion of craziness around people hoarding items like toilet paper in fear of the pandemic.  Pictures abound about grocery stores with empty shelves and people fighting over the last item of something.  Has the world gone mad?  Bahá’ís definitely have an opportunity to show the world that we have something to offer in the days ahead.

As we work to elevate the conversations around us, let us remember that God is in charge and everything that happens is bringing us closer to uniting the world.  The governments of the world are learning from the lessons of those countries who have gone through it before us.  China is lending a hand to Italy.  Italy is educating the west about how to prepare and the west is listening and taking action.  People everywhere are going into voluntary seclusion.  Neighbors are reaching out to neighbors.  This is exciting news!  If we can figure out how to make a united effort as individuals and governments to overcome this hurdle, surely we can make a similar effort to stop global warming, end war and achieve world peace at last.  If a world crisis which affects everyone on the planet can give us the impetus to overcome our inertia and move forward to what might be our promised collective destiny, then I say bring it on!

Knowing I can demonstrate my profound belief in the future peaceful unification of the entire human race during this crisis, 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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The Importance of Faith 

When the light of faith is kindled in the lamp of the heart and soul, its spreading rays illumine every limb of the body. When this resplendent light shineth forth through the medium of the tongue, it is made manifest in the powers of speech and utterance. When its beams fall upon the eyes, insight and true vision are revealed, and when it stirreth the ear, it bestoweth attentive hearing. When this light sheddeth its radiance upon the mind, it leadeth to the recognition of the All-Merciful, and when it setteth aglow the limbs, it findeth expression in purity and the worship of God. Otherwise, all physical powers, all limbs and members would remain useless and futile and their actions would fade like a mirage in the desert. (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, [4])

This is a newly translated tablet and on first blush, it seems to be a wonderful reminder of the importance of faith, and the gifts we get when faith is kindled in our hearts and souls.  It begs the question, though, what happens to those who don’t have faith?  `Abdu’l-Bahá says all their “limbs and members would remain useless and futile and their actions would fade like a mirage in the desert.”  I wonder at the analogy seeming to fall short.

Is He saying that with faith, our speech and utterance have power; we are given insight, true vision and attentive hearing; we recognize God and worship Him with purity of heart but without faith, speech and utterance have no power, we don’t get insights or recognize God?

Knowing I have faith and being reminded of the gifts it bestows, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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