And remind them that they are the illumined souls envisioned by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in His prayer: “Heroes are they, O my Lord, lead them to the field of battle. Guides are they, make them to speak out with arguments and proofs. Ministering servants are they, cause them to pass round the cup that brimmeth with the wine of certitude. O my God, make them to be songsters that carol in fair gardens, make them lions that couch in the thickets, whales that plunge in the vasty deep.” (27 December 2005, Universal house of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Counsellors)
What exactly is a hero? Recently I had a discussion with one of my readers about a role we can perform as a “spiritual midwife” ushering someone into the next world. I’ve had this experience a couple of times, totally unexpected, totally through the grace of God both times.
The first time, one of my neighbors found out that a previous boyfriend, spending time in a maximum-security prison, was dying of cancer. She petitioned to the prison authorities and won the right for his discharge into her care, so she could look after him in the final week of his life. I never knew what his crime was, and it doesn’t matter. Close to the time of his passing, she called and asked if I could confirm what she thought was a “death rattle”. I’d never heard one before and didn’t know what I was listening for, but I grabbed my prayer book and for an hour, I said all the prayers for his steadfastness, imagining him turning towards the light. I said all the prayers for forgiveness, asking God to forgive his sins. I prayed for the ease of his passing, for the healing of those he was leaving behind and every other thing I could think of. After about an hour, my voice was tired, and my friend suggested I take a break and come into the kitchen for a cup of tea. While she was making it, she looked out the window, and saw him going! We both rushed into the bedroom and I took a mirror to confirm that he had passed, and he had. Then the most surprising thing happened, something that an hour before, I never would have imagined myself doing in a million years: I offered to wash his body! She agreed, so I rushed upstairs and grabbed some attar of rose and performed that sacred task for him, a man I didn’t even know, but who I’ve felt deeply spiritually connected to ever since.
The second story is this: recently a friend of mine committed suicide and it troubled me greatly. When I was pouring my heart out to God, I was instructed to say prayers for his steadfastness, to help him turn towards God in the last second of his life, remembering that there is no time or space in the next world. I pray that it worked. I will not know for sure till I get there myself, but it gives me great comfort to believe that I can still perform this act retroactively.
I wonder if being a hero is just being in the right place at the right time, performing small but meaningful acts as directed by God. We are illumined souls by virtue of our access to the Bahá’í Writings. We are guides when we speak out with arguments and proofs based on the words of God we’re able to share with others. We’re ministering servants when we provide the God-inspired Writings that provide people with the wine of certitude. I wonder if that’s God’s idea of being a hero?
Knowing I can be a hero through teaching and service, 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