March 26, 2009
This morning, before 6am, he came and sat quietly very close to me while i was praying. He waited until there was silence and then asked if he could offer his prayers. He chose the short healing prayer, singing it in a sweet and lovely way. Then he recited one of the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah and quickly asked if he could have the very long-awaited cereal of his choice: chocolate-flavored rice krispies. :-)
His favorite friend this year is Amkele Nyamza, a kind and sincere soul. Being in South Africa for these very precious years of our children's lives makes it that much more special when celebrating one's entry into this world. How grateful we are to have this opportunity to grow as souls in a land which encompasses the beauty of diversity and awesome challenges to overcome racial prejudice. Dyami is a pure-hearted soul who is naturally breaking down all the racial barriers at school - he is a companion to all without regard to race. What a most joyful day it is to honor Dyami's birthday.
March 13, 2009
March 10, 2009
March 08, 2009
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of this undertaking. Most of the children speak Xhosa and Afrikaans as their first language. It isn't until the age of 9 or so that a lesson can be understood well enough in English by the students to convey basic concepts, principles and words such as purity of heart, gems, nobility, character and conduct. We haven't had any Xhosa-speaking Baha'is be able to teach a class, and local help with translation is hard to come by. The logistics of ensuring that the classes are held are often full of unpredictability, unreliability, miscommunication, cancellations, and a lack of commitment. In addition, it is difficult for me to create an atmosphere of praiseworthy conduct in an environment where many students do not yet listen while I speak, wait politely for their turn, show consideration to others, respect the girls, etc. Abdu'l-Baha reminds us what we are facing along this journey:
"Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children, young plants of the Abha Paradise, so that these children, fostered by grace in the way of salvation, growing like pearls of divine bounty in the shell of education, will one day bejewel the crown of abiding glory.
It is, however, very difficult to undertake this service, even harder to succeed in it. I hope that thou wilt acquit thyself well in this most important of tasks, and successfully carry the day, and become an ensign of God's abounding grace; that these children, reared one and all in the holy Teachings, will develop natures like unto the sweet airs that blow across the gardens of the All-Glorious, and will waft their fragrance around the world."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 133)
These past 5 weeks have been quite difficult in terms of seeing the potential for this Baha'i School remain unrealized and possibly damaged as teachers do not arise to serve, as venues and curriculum are not available when the students are ready, and chaos and confusion occur. Throughout all these challenges and sometimes feeling overwhelmed, there is nothing that prevents me from striving with all my heart, mind and time to exert effort in this direction. I continue to put my trust in God while constantly needing to practice patience and understanding, search for solutions, and then witness the divine confirmations which inevitably come as a result of perseverance, determination, long-suffering and steadfastness. I am compelled from the depths of my inner being to serve these children no matter what the tests are along the way. As long as I keep striving to selflessly serve in this capacity as the person who is getting it off the ground, the grace of Baha'u'llah continues to enable this embryonic Baha'i School to grow.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v1, p. 62)
March 03, 2009
"...among the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh is voluntary sharing of one's property with others among mankind. This voluntary sharing is greater than equality, and consists in this, that man should not prefer himself to others, but rather should sacrifice his life and property for others. But this should not be introduced by coercion so that it becomes a law and man is compelled to follow it. Nay, rather, man should voluntarily and of his own choice sacrifice his property and life for others, and spend willingly for the poor..." (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 288)This teaching makes my heart beat fast in an impatient sort of way as I desperately long for the people of the world to begin to wholeheartedly prefer others before themselves in an economic manner. When we reflect on the lives of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian as the truest examples of servitude unto others and thriftiness in all the use of their means, we see a completely different standard of conducting one's affairs and usage of time and substance.
In every country of the world, some to lesser or greater degrees, there exists the extremes of wealth and poverty. This extreme extends deep into every area of life, denying those without opportunities of a good education and fair housing a part in the building of a new and spiritual civilization, while denying those with all the privileges of wealth and opportunities passed down through the generations a part in contributing to the welfare and prosperity for all. As a Baha'i I know that this principle will not be embodied in the world unless the love for Baha'u'llah and the reality that we are all truly one beats within the innermost chambers of the heart...but it will become a reality in its fullest transformative capacity as more people respond to this glorious Cause.
This principle, just one of so many, is so powerful, so revolutionary, and so potent that it makes me profoundly humble to call myself a follower of Baha'u'llah and His Teachings. It is particularly powerful because Baha'u'llah didn't make it a law whereby it must be enforced by coercion. In this Day of God, the pure and generous-hearted soul must offer itself without being forced by law to do so. It is a spiritual principle that transcends the outward guidelines of the necessary laws which govern individuals' lives and society in general. I am still at a loss to describe it adequately enough...
Dash and I noticed during the presentation that the audience was quite interested in this teaching. In a land where the remnants of apartheid linger abundantly in how most people still live their lives, we could see the Word of God for this Day touching those whose hearts were ready to let it take root.