Archive for December, 2008

Prayer & Meditation

Prayer book and beads

 

I pray Thee, O Thou Who causest the dawn to appear, by Thy Name through Which Thou hast subjected the winds, and sent down Thy Tablets, that Thou wilt grant that we may draw near unto what Thou didst destine for us by Thy favor and bounty, and to be far removed from whatsoever may be repugnant unto Thee. Give us, then, to drink from the hands of Thy grace every day and every moment of our lives of the waters that are life indeed, O Thou Who art the Most Merciful! Make us, then, to be of them who helped Thee when fallen into the hands of those Thine enemies who are numbered with the rebellious among Thy creatures and the wicked amidst Thy people. Write down, then, for us the recompense ordained for him that hath attained Thy presence,  and gazed on Thy beauty, and supply us with every good thing ordained in Thy Book for such of Thy creatures as enjoy near access to Thee.

Brighten our hearts, O my Lord, with the splendor of Thy knowledge, and illumine our sight with the light of such eyes as are fixed upon the horizon of Thy grace and the Day-Spring of Thy glory. Preserve us, then, by Thy Most Great Name, Which Thou didst cause to overshadow such nations as lay claim to what Thou hast forbidden in Thy Book. This, verily, is what Thou didst announce unto us in Thy Scriptures and Thy Tablets.

Cause us, then, to be so steadfast in our love towards Thee that we will turn to none except Thee, and will be reckoned amongst them that are brought nigh to Thee, and acknowledge Thee as One Who is exalted above every comparison and is holy beyond all likeness, and will lift up our voices amongst Thy servants and cry aloud that He is the one God, the Incomparable, the Ever-Abiding, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the All-Wise.

 Bahá’u’lláh, from Prayers and Meditations

Snow, serenity, and prayer

A beautiful, snowy day in Tacoma

“Ordain for me, O my Lord, what Thou hast ordained for them that love Thee, and write down for me what Thou hast written down for Thy chosen ones. My gaze hath, at all times, been fixed on the horizon of Thy gracious providence, and mine eyes bent upon the court of Thy tender mercies. Do with  me as beseemeth Thee. No God is there but Thee, the God of power, the God of glory, Whose help is implored by all men.”

 

Serenity and calmness beside a snowy street

 

 

“Enable, then, Thy servants, O my God, to recognize the Day-Star that hath shone forth above the horizon of Thine irrevocable decree and purpose, and suffer them not to be deprived of the Paradise which Thou, by Thy name, the All-Glorious, hast called into  being in the heavens of Thine exalted omnipotence. Cause them, moreover, O my God, to hearken to Thy most sweet voice, that they may all hasten to recognize Thy unity and acknowledge Thy oneness, O Thou Who art the Beloved of the hearts of all that yearn after Thee, and the Object of the adoration of such as have known Thee!”

 

 

 

 

A snow clad latticework of branches serves as winter adornment

“Glorified art Thou, O Lord my God! I implore Thee by the onrushing winds of Thy grace, and by them Who are the Day-Springs of Thy purpose and the Dawning-Places of Thine inspiration, to send down upon me and upon all that have sought Thy face that which beseemeth Thy generosity and bountiful grace, and is worthy of Thy bestowals and favors. Poor and desolate I am, O my Lord! Immerse me in the ocean of Thy wealth; athirst, suffer me to drink from the living waters of Thy loving-kindness.”

 

 

A white winterland softens the landscape

“I beseech Thee, O my Lord, by Thy mercy that hath surpassed the entire creation, and Thy generosity that hath embraced all created things, to cause me to turn my face wholly towards Thee, and to seek Thy shelter, and to be steadfast in my love for Thee. Write down, then, for me what Thou didst ordain for them who love Thee. Powerful art Thou to do what Thou pleasest. No God is there beside Thee, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Bountiful.”

 

 

Selections are from Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh

Photos by the Webmaster

Reflection in snow, reflection in spirit

First day of winter in Tacoma

Reality precedes formality in Tacoma this year. December 21st is the official beginning of winter, but several inches of crunchy snow are already on the ground throughout the Puget Sound area.  A lot of snow is atypical here. Most years there will be a brief snowfall that will be gone after two or three days and that will be “winter”. This year has had prolonged, colder temperatures than usual, and so snow has been here a week and will last for a few more days.

 

Snow in Tacoma on December 21st

“Give ear, O King, unto the Voice that calleth from the Fire which burneth in this verdant Tree, on this Sinai which hath been raised above the hallowed and snow-white Spot, beyond the Everlasting City; ‘Verily, there is none other God but Me, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful!’ We, in truth, have sent Him Whom We aided with the Holy Spirit (Jesus Christ) that He may announce unto you this Light that hath shone forth from the horizon of the will of your Lord, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious, and Whose signs have been revealed in the West. Set your faces towards Him (Bahá’u’lláh), on this Day which God hath exalted above all other days, and whereon the All-Merciful hath shed the splendor of His effulgent glory upon all who are in heaven and all who are on earth. Arise thou to serve God and help His Cause. He, verily, will assist thee with the hosts of the seen and unseen, and will set thee king over all that whereon the sun riseth. Thy Lord, in truth, is the All-Powerful, the Almighty. ” 

Bahá’u’lláh 

 

A snowy Tacoma neighborhood on the first day of winter

 

Verily, the wayfarer who journeyeth unto God, unto the Crimson Pillar in the snow-white path, will never reach unto his heavenly goal unless he abandoneth all that men possess: “And if he feareth not God, God will make him to fear all things; whereas all things fear him who feareth God.”

 Bahá’u’lláh

One Family

Earth lights

Image courtesy of NASA and available at Visible Earth http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/

“Consider the harmful effects of discord and dissension in a family; then reflect upon the favours and blessings which descend upon that family when unity exists among its various members. What incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human family if unity and brotherhood were established! In this century when the  beneficent results of unity and the ill effects of discord are so clearly apparent, the means for the attainment and accomplishment of human fellowship have appeared in the world. His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh has proclaimed and provided the way by which hostility and dissension may be removed from the human world. He has left no ground or possibility for strife and disagreement. First He has proclaimed the oneness of mankind and specialized religious teachings for existing human conditions.”

 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

How can we succeed in accomplishing a better world except by a thoughtful appreciation of our relationship with God?  The following prayer from Bahá’u’lláh helps us to meditate upon the importance for us of our spiritual nature.

“O Thou Whose face is the object of the adoration of all that yearn after Thee, Whose presence is the hope of such as are wholly devoted to Thy will, Whose nearness is the desire of all that have drawn nigh unto Thy court, Whose countenance is the companion of those who have recognized Thy truth, Whose name is the mover of the souls that long to behold Thy face, Whose voice is the true life of Thy lovers, the words of Whose mouth are as the waters of life unto all who are in heaven and on earth!

“I beseech Thee, by the wrong Thou hast suffered and the ills inflicted upon Thee by the hosts of wrongful doers, to send down upon me from the clouds of Thy mercy that which will purify me of all that is not of Thee, that I may be worthy to praise Thee and fit to love Thee.

“Withhold not from me, O my Lord, the things Thou didst ordain for such of Thy handmaidens as circle around Thee, and on whom are poured continually the splendors of the sun of Thy beauty and the beams of the brightness of Thy face. Thou art He Who from everlasting hath succored whosoever hath sought Thee, and bountifully favored him who hath asked Thee.

“No God is there beside Thee, the Mighty, the Ever-Abiding, the All-Bounteous, the Most Generous.”

 Bahá’u’lláh, from Prayers and Meditations

Winter is harbinger to Spring

A dusting of snow in Tacoma and Pierce County

The reflection of the sunlight on the snow adds a brilliance to the day.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá shares with us a comparison of the physical winter and the coming springtime to spiritual winter and the coming of the renewal of God’s Word.

“The Sun of Reality is one Sun but it has different dawning-places, just as the phenomenal sun is one although it appears at various points of the horizon. During the time of spring the luminary of the physical world rises far to the north of the equinoctial; in summer it dawns midway and in winter it appears in the most southerly point of its zodiacal journey. These day springs or dawning-points differ widely but the sun is ever the same sun whether it be the phenomenal or spiritual luminary. Souls who focus their vision upon the Sun of Reality will be the recipients of light no matter from what point it rises, but those who are fettered by adoration of the dawning-point are deprived when it appears in a different station upon the spiritual horizon.

Furthermore, just as the solar cycle has its four seasons the cycle of the Sun of Reality has its distinct and successive periods. Each brings its vernal season or springtime. When the Sun of Reality returns to quicken the world of mankind a divine bounty descends from the heaven of generosity. The realm of thoughts and ideals is set in motion and blessed with new life. Minds are developed, hopes brighten, aspirations become spiritual, the virtues of the human world appear with freshened power of growth and the image and likeness of God become visible in man. It is the springtime of the inner world. After the spring, summer comes with its fullness and fruitage spiritual; autumn follows with its withering winds which chill the soul; the Sun seems to be going away until at last the mantle of winter overspreads and only faint traces of the effulgence of that divine Sun remain. Just as the surface of the material world becomes dark and dreary, the soil dormant, the trees naked and bare and no beauty or freshness remain to cheer the darkness and desolation, so the winter of the spiritual cycle witnesses  the death and disappearance of divine growth and extinction of the light and love of God. But again the cycle begins and a new springtime appears. In it the former springtime has returned, the world is resuscitated, illumined and attains spirituality; religion is renewed and reorganized, hearts are turned to God, the summons of God is heard and life is again bestowed upon man. For a long time the religious world had been weakened and materialism had advanced; the spiritual forces of life were waning, moralities were becoming degraded, composure and peace had vanished from souls and satanic qualities were dominating hearts; strife and hatred overshadowed humanity, bloodshed and violence prevailed. God was neglected; the Sun of Reality seemed to have gone completely; deprivation of the bounties of heaven was a fact; and so the season of winter fell upon mankind. But in the generosity of God a new springtime dawned, the lights of God shone forth, the effulgent Sun of Reality returned and became manifest, the realm of thoughts and kingdom of hearts became exhilarated, a new spirit of life breathed into the body of the world and continuous advancement became apparent.”

 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in  Bahá’í World Faith p. 256

A history of service to Bahá’u’lláh

Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in the Ottoman Empire town of Akká in 1868. The Commander of the Guard was Colonel Ahmad Jarráh, who became a follower of Bahá’u’lláh. Here is that story, courtesy of The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Volume 3, pp. 68-69, by Adib Taherzadeh (also the source of the photograph) :

“Another person, a resident of ‘Akká who independently recognized the station of Bahá’u’lláh was Ahmad-i-Jarráh, an officer in the Turkish Army. He witnessed the majesty of  Bahá’u’lláh in the barracks, but it was some years later that his heart was touched, when Bahá’u’lláh (Who was then residing in the house of ‘Abbúd) was taken to the Governor’s house and kept in custody for about three days. As we shall see later, this humiliating treatment resulted from the murder of three Azalis in ‘Akká. Ahmad-i-Jarráh was one of the officers present in the case and it was then that the majesty and glory of Bahá’u’lláh made a deep impression upon his soul. The mighty and powerful words He uttered on that occasion enabled Jarrah to realize that the Prisoner in his custody was not an ordinary man but One endowed with divine authority. After reading some of the Writings and becoming fully conscious of the station of Bahá’u’lláh, he entered the rank of the believers.”

“Amín Effendi, a brother of Jarráh and the head of the municipality of ‘Akká, also recognized the truth of the Faith and became a believer. An interesting incident happened which confirmed their faith. One day, Amín and Ahmad sought permission to attain the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. Permission was granted and they came. They wanted particularly to complain and seek advice about a certain superior officer by the name of Áqásí who was a bitter enemy of theirs. Before they were able to utter a word, Bahá’u’lláh turned to them and said, ‘Praise be to God who has rescued you from the evil doings of Áqásí!’ The two brothers were surprised to hear this. Only two days later, the officer was dismissed by the order of the Sultán. A third brother of Ahmad was Khálid. He was a physician, attained the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and was attracted to Him and to His Cause. He showed much love to the believers and attended them when they were sick.”

Most members of the Jarráh family remain devout Muslims. A few have become steadfast and loyal followers of Bahá’u’lláh. Shown on the right of this 1984 photograph, wearing a suit, is Saleh Jarráh, a descendant of one of the brothers of Ahmad. He provided valuable services to Shoghi Effendi during the Guardian’s lifetime, and in the years following his passing, he served as the attendant of Shoghi Effendi’s grave in London. Also shown in the photograph are Dr. Peter Khan (left, wearing jacket) and Mr. Hasan Sabri (arms folded, to the right of the photo of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá). This photograph was taken during a tour of Akká by about 25 staff members at the Bahá’í World Center. One of the places visited was the Mosque of al-Jazzár, the principle mosque of the city. As the staff members approached the main entrance to the mosque, they stopped for an elderly man sitting by the entrance. He was the gate keeper. Non-muslims must pay a small admission fee to enter the grounds of the mosque. He and Saleh exchanged greetings in Arabic as two old friends who had not met in some time. Out of respect to Saleh and as a courtesy to him, the gatekeeper allowed the entire group to enter without having to pay the entrance fee.

A Thank You note from Saleh Jarráh to the Webmaster for photographs sent to Mr. Jarráh in London.