(US, MA, 10 September)

In Ruhi book 1 we read, “Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues.” Which virtues is this believer drawing on in striving to serve the Cause?

When we first venture forth to teach the Faith to others, it can seem like a daunting prospect. And this is precisely why this story from an individual in Boston (A-stage cluster) is particularly touching. The fears expressed with humor and frankness are surely shared by many of us—and yet this is not the end of the story. Instead it is about feeling the fear, and yet acting anyway, of the power of prayer, of reliance on God, on the unity created by collective effort, and the transformation that results from service.

I don’t know how this all happened. And yet, I do. Really, what choice do we have? Once you recognize Bahá’u’lláh you are committed to a path of self destruction, the lower self, of course.

I can’t say I had a passion for teaching or even a desire to have a passion for teaching. Mostly, I have a desire to be obedient to God’s Will. . . .

So when we became an “A” cluster, I was there. When we started our first intensive program of growth, I was there. When my family’s neighborhood was identified as a receptive community, I was there. And when they selected our home as the meeting place for our teaching effort, I was there . . . looking for every and any excuse possible to flee. I was feeling sick. I was feeling exhausted. I’m sure I was needed elsewhere. Anywhere frankly. I settled on the notion that I could cook for everybody. I would keep the home fires burning as others ventured out into the neighborhood. But alas I was given a street to visit and a buddy to go with. I couldn’t jump ship but maybe God would strike me dead. I was hoping.

In the days before I would wake up in the morning thinking of plausible excuses to not be in my own home on Saturday.

With fear in my heart and total reliance on God the dreaded day began. People would be in my house, eating my food for the sole purpose of spreading the Word of God to my neighbors.

Like a mantra I kept thinking, I can’t do this. And I was right. I couldn’t. But it turned out I could do this. I could put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

Soon the happy Bahá’ís arrived. We reviewed our tasks. Acknowledged our assigned buddies. And then we prayed. Oh boy did we pray. These were the most ardent felt, sincere prayers I had ever been a part of. Love, submission, obedience was bending us into conformity with His Will.

My community really loves to pray but these prayers, these sweet sincere prayers spoken, chanted and sung went on and on. I hoped they would never end. After days of fear, I finally felt safe. But the prayers did end. And off we went.

I had a plan, I had a buddy and I had God. My feet kept moving up and down staircases, and onto porches. And at the end of they day we returned to our safe haven with stories of joy. Whether we encountered an empty home, a rejection, a listening ear, a hospitable coffee, or a person who declared their belief, everything was a joy and a success. We owned each others stories and experiences. We were one.

That was two teaching efforts ago. That was a lifetime ago, when I was dead and Bahá’u’lláh raised me up and I was able to share His message.

Much love and still scared but committed,

P

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Walkway in the courtyard of the Mansion of Mazra‘ih

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Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come. In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree. Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms, and its leaves and its fruits. Consider the days of Christ, when none but a small band followed Him; then observe what a mighty tree that seed became, behold ye its fruitage. And now shall come to pass even greater things than these, for this is the summons of the Lord of Hosts, this is the trumpet-call of the living Lord, this is the anthem of world peace, this is the standard of righteousness and trust and understanding raised up among all the variegated peoples of the globe; this is the splendour of the Sun of Truth, this is the holiness of the spirit of God Himself.

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SWAB, p. 82

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(Excerpted and adapted from the teaching blog, http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/09/when-we-first-venture-forth-to-teach.html ) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

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