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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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Choosing to Accept God’s Blessings

If the heart turns away from the blessings God offers how can it hope for happiness? If it does not put its hope and trust in God’s Mercy, where can it find rest? Oh, trust in God! for His Bounty is everlasting, and in His Blessings, for they are superb. Oh! put your faith in the Almighty, for He faileth not and His goodness endureth for ever! His Sun giveth Light continually, and the Clouds of His Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion with which He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him. His refreshing Breeze ever carries healing in its wings to the parched souls of men! Is it wise to turn away from such a loving Father, Who showers His blessings upon us, and to choose rather to be slaves of matter?  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 102-103)

This is another one of those life-changing quotes for me as I came to understand that if I wasn’t grateful for the blessings constantly streaming down for me from God right now, why would He send me any more?  The more I live in gratitude, the more things I find to be grateful for, and the happier I become.

At a time when I was pretty depressed and couldn’t see any hope for a future in this world, I developed a habit of finding 5 things to be grateful for before getting out of bed in the morning; and 5 more before falling asleep at night.  Some days were harder than others to find the bounties and blessings, but the more I persisted, the more often I found myself thanking God in the moment, during the day, as I caught them.

If you’re having trouble thinking of any, this quote has a few to get you started:

  • God’s bounties are everlasting (meaning they last longer than any material thing we might think we absolutely have to have)
  • His blessings are superb
  • He never fails us
  • His goodness endures forever
  • His Sun gives Light continually
  • The Clouds of God’s Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion
  • He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him
  • His refreshing Breeze carries healing

Just reading that list makes me feel better!  How about you?

Knowing I don’t have to be a slave to my doubt and negativity and can choose to look for God’s bounties and blessings which are everywhere, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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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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Laughter at The Expense of Others

…[L]aughter should not . . . be indulged in at the expense of the feelings of others.  What one says or does in a humorous vein should not give rise to prejudice of any kind. You may recall ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s caution ‘Beware lest ye offend the feelings of anyone, or sadden the heart of any person . . .  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, v1, p.45, quoted on behalf of the Universal House of Justice in a memorandum “The Humorist” 12 July 1997)

When I was a teenager, I remember reading a book by Robert Heinlein, in which he made the point that all laughter is put-downs at someone else’s expense and I decided in that moment, that I would never tell a joke or put down anyone, ever.  I also stopped laughing and started taking life very seriously.  It was one of those defining moments in my life.

When I came into the Faith, one of the first books I read was “God Loves Laughter” by William Sears, and found many stories of how much ‘Abdu’l-Baha loved laughter and when he was in prison, asked everyone to think of the funniest thing that happened during the day, and He’d laugh until the tears rolled down His face.  I often wonder about the content of those jokes.  I wish I could have been a fly on the wall, to see what some of the jokes were.  But maybe I don’t need to worry so much about being perfect.  Maybe I can just ask God to help me take life less seriously and lighten up, trusting that my sensitive heart would still recoil at offending or saddening anyone.

Knowing that I have permission to find the humor in things, and laugh about them, 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 Criticizing Others

 

 

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Finding Serenity

The point is this:  that to gain control over physical bodies is an extremely easy matter, but to bring spirits within the bonds of serenity is a most arduous undertaking.  This is not the work of everybody. It necessitates a divine and holy potency, the potency of inspiration, the power of the Holy Spirit. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 276-277)

When I read this quote I’m struck by the first part:  How do we gain control over our physical bodies and what makes it easy?  Just for today, I need to accept it as truth.

I want God’s serenity.  It helps me accept the things I can’t change.  I’m willing to do the work.  Every day, I get up and look at all the things on my “to do” list.  Many days I am in overwhelm and can easily fall into self-pity.  At those times, it’s hard to remember that happiness is a choice.  I can choose to be a happy and joyful being.  I can choose to not let trouble harass me.  I can choose to no longer be full of anxiety.  I can remember to turn to God, trusting that He’s got my back.  Those things all lead to serenity but this quote suggests I need more than just awareness and choice.  I also need inspiration and the power of the Holy Spirit.  I don’t have to do this alone.

Knowing I can ask God to help me bring my spirit within the bonds of serenity, 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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Newsletter – on Hope

In this issue – Hope

Becoming an Idealist in a Cynical World

Be Ever Hopeful 

Harbingers: Hope,  Unity and Baha’i 

Hope in Darkness – a Personal Reflection

How not to be Disillusioned

“Keep Your Head Up” By Being Hopeful

Reasons to be Happy

Turning Around Hopeless Situations

Featured Story:

Hopes Answered

I think this is the first story I heard from Inez Greeven, at her home in Carmel , California , around 1980. Please feel free to share it in any way you wish to…
Inez’ sister India Haggarty was a pioneer living in a hotel in Paris in 1931. This was 10 years after the passing of the Master, and 20 years after His visit to that city. There was another pioneer in Paris at that time, and I‘ll call her “Mrs. S”.
One night in 1931 India had a vision of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He appeared to her and told her that He wanted her to go, right then, to her Bahá’í sister Mrs. S. “Bring her flowers, and bring her money,” He said.
India got up out of bed and immediately prepared herself to leave her hotel. As she was fixing her hair in the mirror, her face was still radiant from the vision of the Master. She called down to the hotel clerk to summon a taxi for her.
She gathered up all of her money. She set aside the money she needed for her personal expenses, and put all the rest of her cash into a small purse.
She went downstairs and asked the clerk, “Where is the nearest florist shop?” The clerk answered that there was one quite close by, but as it was just 5 o‘clock in the morning, it was of course closed.

India said thank-you, and waited for the taxi. When it arrived she said to please take her to that florist shop. The driver said all right, but it’s closed. She said, knowing that the Master had a way for her to get flowers, that he should take her there anyway. They arrived, and the windows were all dark. “I told you it was closed,” the driver said. India said to take her to the next florist shop, and it, too, was closed.
As they drove through the city, they came upon the farmer’s market area, where all of the local growers brought in their vegetables and flowers to sell to the local stores. There was a wagon filled with flowers, and India got out of the taxi and went over to the driver. She came back with an armful of red tulips, and got into the taxi.
She handed the driver a slip of paper with the address of Mrs. S. on it, and they drove across Paris in the early morning darkness.
[At this point in the story, Inez said to me, “Now imagine. A conservative American woman is going across Paris at 5 in the morning to bring flowers and money to another conservative American woman.”]
The taxi dropped India off at Mrs. S’s front door, and she stood there, with her arms full of red tulips. She knocked at the door. She heard a rustling, and the door opened. Mrs. S. was standing inside, wearing a heavy black coat, and it was obvious that she had been crying. Her face showed great distress. Mrs. S looked at India, and at the red tulips, and cried out, “OH! ABDU‘L-BAHA!” and burst into tears.
She sobbed and sobbed.

She and India went into her home and sat down, and India tried to comfort her friend. After she was composed, Mrs. S asked India , “Why have you come here?”
India answered that the Master had come to her in a vision, and that He had told her to bring flowers, and money. She handed the purse to Mrs. S. Mrs. S. was astounded. When she could speak, she said, “You think I am rich. Everyone does. And I did have money, but I ran out, and I was ashamed to tell anyone. There isn’t one speck of food in this house. As you can tell, the house is cold; I cannot afford to heat it. I have been suffering, and I could no longer bear it. I decided last night, to end my life. I awoke this morning, and I went and put on my coat. I decided to cast myself into the Seine, and drown myself. I went to the front door, and was just putting my hand on the doorknob to go out, when suddenly, you knocked. I opened the door, and you were standing there. I could not believe my eyes.
Twenty years ago, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came to my house, in this city. And when I opened the door to receive Him, He was standing on my front porch — with an armful of red tulips. And to see you standing there with these tulips, and bringing this money, I could not believe it.”

Now THAT’s a true story, because I heard it from Inez Greeven, and she showed me the postcard.

Featured Prayer:

Prayer for Hope in the Bounties of God

O God, my God! Thou art my Hope and my Beloved, my highest Aim and Desire! With great humbleness and entire devotion I pray to Thee to make me a minaret of Thy love in Thy land, a lamp of Thy knowledge among Thy creatures, and a banner of divine bounty in Thy dominion.  Number me with such of Thy servants as have detached themselves from everything but Thee, have sanctified themselves from the transitory things of this world, and have freed themselves from the promptings of the voicers of idle fancies.  Let my heart be dilated with joy through the spirit of confirmation from Thy kingdom, and brighten my eyes by beholding the hosts of divine assistance descending successively upon me from the kingdom of Thine omnipotent glory.  Thou art, in truth, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the All-Powerful.  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Prayers, p. 56)

Featured Video:

 Be Hopeful

This month’s selection is a song called “Be Hopeful”, by a group of collaborators of the Ruhi institute.  It was created for Ruhi Book 3, Grade 1, Lesson 18, to make it easier to for children in children’s classes to learn.  It’s a good song for adults too!

Lyrics and chords for this song

More songs with lyrics and chords for book 3 (grades 1 and 2) in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish 

Featured Books:

Why We Have Hope 

The euphoria of the new millennium has passed, and now the world is desperately seeking a reason to hope for a better future. That’s why Karen and Justice St. Rain have reissued their best-selling Bahá’í Teachings for a New Millennium with a new cover, title and introduction that speaks to our current needs.

This is the booklet for seekers who want to go straight to the source. Here readers will find over one hundred carefully selected quotations that offer an uplifting and hopeful vision of humanity’s potential. The cover is beautiful. The interior text is deep purple. The type is large.  The quotations cover a wide range of topics, organized around the idea of maturity and God’s love. Section headings include

  • Building a New Relationship with God
  • Spiritual Maturity
  • Tools for Social Progress
  • The Role of Religion
  • Envisioning the Future
  • A Selection of Baha’i Prayers.

Hope is what makes it possible to live through difficult times.  While blind hope allows us to hold on for another day, informed hope offers guidance on how to turn our hopes into reality. Members of the Bahá’í Faith are guided by informed hope that is built upon the founding principles of our religion.

In these pages you will be reminded of God’s love for you. You will gain a greater understanding of what it means to be a child of God, and you will be given some visionary guidance as to how humanity will soon learn to live in peace. By the end, I hope that you will not only understand the Bahá’ís’ hope for the future, but that you will share it.

For more information and to buy the book 

 

Featured Coach:

Chocolate for the Soul – Firoozeh Bowden

 

Firoozeh Bowden has a story of hope and transformation.  She was on one of the last planes to leave Iran, before the US Embassy was seized and the US hostages were taken.  She arrived alone in the US to attend college, not knowing a soul, and not speaking much English!  After college, her goal was to get married, have a family, and do her best to bring up children that were spiritual, balanced, strong, and confident in this world. By her early 30’s, she had not found anyone compatible, and not knowing God had other plans for her, she became depressed.

During her pilgrimage in 1999, she had a very long and sincere conversation with God, and asked him to please show her her mate so that she could share the rest of her life with him.  Two nights in a row while there, she dreamt of a specific gentleman.  In one dream he asked to marry her!  Six months later she met him, and they have been together ever since.

Since her 20’s she suffered with headaches with neck and back pain which got progressively worse, until she was bedridden for 10-15 days a month recovering.  She would get tired very quickly after simple tasks, and her hands and body were almost always shaking.  Various doctors, including MDs, naturopaths, nutritionists and allergy specialists, all had different ideas about what was causing the problems, but most agreed that stress was an important factor.  Life did not seem worth living.  Not being able to create her art, enjoy her loved ones and serve her community was killing her.  Once again she had an openhearted conversation with God.

You can read more of her story here  

As a result of her own healing, she decided to become an energy coach, teaching people to open their hearts and improve their own daily lives by strengthening their connection with God.  Through this process, she helps you discover your higher purpose in the universe.

Firoozeh believes that when stress is allowed to build up and store in our bodies, it closes the connection between us and God. Her clients come to her online sessions to rid themselves of daily stress and to reconnect with Divine Energy in order to refresh and rejuvenate the body so it can naturally heal itself. Her 45 minute sessions start with an assessment of your needs, followed by 25 – 30 minutes of relaxation/meditation, and finally a few minutes to get feedback.

To listen to a sample meditation/relaxation portion of one of her sessions

To visit her homepage

To find her on Facebook

To follow her on Google + 

Featured Business:

Firoozeh, Inc

Firoozeh Bowden is also an artist specializing in handcrafted jewelry, accessories, and other works of art.  She has a wonderful selection of prayer beads, as well as meditation necklaces and bracelets.

She has been making jewelry and clothing accessories since she was a small child and as an adult she studied industrial design and metal smithing.  She’s merged these skills to capture and set the latest trends in contemporary fashion. Her vision for each piece comes from the shapes and patterns she sees in nature, and she incorporates semi-precious stones, leather, chainmail and metal to create accessories that convey both beauty and originality.

At her site you can find earrings, bracelets, necklaces, meditation beads, belts, purses, watches, fantasy art shoes and wall art.  All of her pieces are uniquely hand-crafted and one-of-a-kind, but if you’re interested in an item that has sold, she may be able to fashion a similar piece for you.

To visit her site

To see more of her work on Instagram

To find her on Facebook 

 

Thanks to all who write in!  Your encouragement really keeps me going!  

By the way, I accept donations!  If you like the materials in these newsletters and on my website, please consider making a donation. Your help and feedback is GREATLY appreciated, to defray the costs of making these available to you!!!  There’s a PayPal “Donate” Button at the bottom of every page on my website. Thank you!!!

See you next month!  Hope it’s a month filled with might!