Regarding the matter of … and the inharmony that seems to exist among certain of the friends … when Bahá’ís permit the dark forces of the world to enter into their own relationships within the Faith they gravely jeopardize its progress;… All should be ready and willing to set aside every personal sense of grievance—justified or unjustified—for the good of the Cause, because the people will never embrace it until they see in its community life mirrored what is so conspicuously lacking in the world: love and unity. (From a letter dated 13 May 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, in Living the Life, p. 27)
In helping to organize the Bicentennial event in our small cluster, a decision was made to not include a certain Bahá’í in the invitation. She’s 90 years old, has some dementia, is strongly opinionated and tends to dominate the conversations. People were worried about what the non-Bahá’í guests would think about the Faith if she went off on one of her rants. I understood people’s concerns and even shared them. I too have had my tests with this person. So I agreed.
I went away feeling very unsettled though. Is this a Faith of oneness, where everyone is welcomed, where diversity is celebrated? Or is it a Faith of people just like me? What if we had encouraged her to come, to show our guests that we can treat all people with respect and courtesy and dignity? Wouldn’t that have been more important than showing the film and having a discussion about the Bab? I couldn’t say that to the organizer, though, and an opportunity was missed.
To make up for this failing, I held a small gathering for elderly and shut-in Baha’is who couldn’t get to the community’s bicentennial celebrations. I knew there would be another opinionated 80-year old in attendance, and there was potential for either or both to alienate everyone they’re talking to, and I didn’t want my resentment and frustration to spill over. Before the gathering, I prayed to be patient, kind and respectful, particularly to the most difficult person. And with God’s help, I was.
It turned out that I prayed for the wrong person, though, because there was someone else in attendance who got into a power struggle with the difficult person, which, for me, destroyed the whole Holy Day. Another opportunity to examine my expectations, forgive, let go of all ill-feelings, pray for our community and remember the importance of unity.
Remembering that people will never embrace our Faith until they see us practice love and unity in action, I can do my part, perfectly imperfect, and 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 Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness