Celebrating the bonds of love

Last night’s celebration of the Baha’i Shrines becoming UNESCO World Heritage Sites was an outstanding event. It was both inspiring and humbling to watch a beautiful video presentation about the Baha’i Holy Sites and to hear Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing reflect on the significance of the sites and their recognition by UNESCO, and Anita Chapman — who is a such a treasure herself — share stories about the outstanding services her father, Leroy Ioas, rendered for the Baha’i Faith and the world. It amazes me how many people of outstanding capacity live in this community and how their achievements is enhanced by their extreme humility. Among the audience, very unassuming, was Mr. Glenford Mitchell, who until recently served on the Universal House of Justice! Indeed, accomplishments not only in this physical world, but even in the world of spiritual service are relative. Sovaida, after being introduced so eloquently by the MC, made a joke that all her titles would mean nothing one day when she is to meet her Maker; what will matter is the virtues developed, the services rendered, and the true bonds of love with other human beings.

Last night was also a happy occassion to celebrate another bond of love — that of a new believer in the Teachings of Baha’u’llah. Rakesha had seen a TV ad about the Baha’i Faith years ago, when she was still in Louisiana. The message of the oneness of God and His ever unfolding religion, and the promise for unity in diversity had resonated with her and she kept it in her heart for a long time until recently she connected with us through the Arlington Baha’i website. Having exchanged emails with Nancy, she eagerly joined us for one of the Prayer Station devotional gathering. A number of obstacles had prevented her from participating in the Ruhi 1 study circle so far but she kept on reading the books we had given her, and she kept on sharing her inspired insights with us. I had felt very strongly that on November 10th we were going to have another declaration and sure enough that is what happened. I arranged to meet with Rakesha after work; we sat at a cafe and while waiting for our ride we went over the first third of the Visual (Anna’s) Presentation up to this quote by Abdu’l Baha:

Bahá’u’lláh has drawn the circle of unity, He has made a design for the uniting of all the peoples, and for the gathering of them all under the shelter of the tent of universal unity. This is the work of the Divine Bounty, and we must all strive with heart and soul until we have the reality of unity in our midst, and as we work, so will strength be given unto us.
(Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 53)

When I asked Rakesha what she felt about this all, she said “I don’t know what to say, I agree with everything”; when I asked her if she would like to join us in our work for unity, she said yes, and right there and then signed her declaration card. As she was writing her name on the card, Nancy and Trey called to say that they were waiting for us across the street, where we all embraced our new sister in Faith. During the ride to American University, Rakesha and I completed the presentation and by the time we arrived, we all were truly ready to celebrate.

Wert thou to incline thine inner ear unto all created things, thou wouldst hear: “The Ancient of Days is come in His great glory!” Everything celebrateth the praise of its Lord.
(Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 60)

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