Human frailties and peculiarities can be a great test. But the only way, or perhaps I should say the first and best way, to remedy such situations, is to oneself do what is right. One soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent. (From a letter dated 30 September 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, p. 39)
The thing that’s always stood out for me when I read this quote is “one soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent”, and o how I long to be that soul! How I long for my life to matter and to make a real difference in this world. I used to think this required big things (like bringing large numbers of people into the Faith or finding a cure for cancer), but I’ve since come to believe that when I’m given my life review at the pearly gates, the highlight of my life might have been that I smiled at the right person at the right time. None of us know.
I’ve been a homefront pioneer in one place or another, for most of my Baha’i life, and whenever I am overcome by my human frailties it really helps when people remind me that I’m a bright light in a dark place, if nothing else. But what does it mean to “do what is right” and how can this be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent”? My hunch is that just by integrating the Baha’i Writings to the best of our ability, we all have a far greater impact on way more people than we realize, and maybe that’s a good thing because it keeps us humble.
When one person influences a few others, there is a ripple effect that, over time, can actually impact thousands of people over many generations. I’m reminded of the “butterfly effect”, where a simple event can cause a cascade of other events, even on the other side of the globe. Or the the “hundredth monkey effect” where there is a spontaneous transference of knowledge throughout a species once a certain number of individuals has learned a new idea. Both of these have been proven scientifically.
Think of ten people who, just by saying or doing one thing at the right time, have had a profound impact on your life. Some of them may be people you hardly even know. The same thing works in reverse. We have no idea how many people we can influence and help just by sharing our experiences and insights. Simply talking to our neighbors can start a chain reaction.
The House of Justice is continually giving us guidance on what we can do to make a difference – it can be as simple as doing a home visit, or elevating the level of discourse around us, encouraging the people around us to stay focused on the long-term goal and by being the one person they can turn to for hope.
Knowing I can make a difference in spite of my frailties and peculiarities, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation
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