Gloria and the Glory of God

Thy hearing is My hearing, hear thou therewith. Thy sight is My sight, do thou see therewith, that in thine inmost soul thou mayest testify unto My exalted sanctity, and I within Myself may bear witness unto an exalted station for thee.

(Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

To silence the self, one needs to hear others. The war that is raging around me these days, I put to sleep by prayer, meditation and my feeble attempt at service. And by observing the world through divine eyes.

As I was waiting for the banana bread to bake, I browsed the TV channels and among many misguided shows I landed on a program by Arlington Independent Media called “Perspective of Interfaith” just in time to hear the host, Zarinah Shakir, explain that her program will be dedicated to uncovering myths of misunderstanding about different religions, from the Abrahamic ones, through the Baha’is Faith, Hinduism, Buddhism and others. This got me intrigued as I was wondering if this lady would consider the Faith of Baha’u’llah an Abrahamic one or not. But I did continue listening to the discussion the host held with two more ladies, one a Jewish rabbi and the other a Christian minister. The talk was about the role of women in religion and I was thinking how some of the capable ladies in the Arlington Baha’i community would be great contributors to such programs.

Then the time for the Prayer Station came but nobody else did. I had received however several prayer requests so I did pray on my own. And then, since the banana bread was ready, I went outside to see if Gloria was there. She was, and on the next two benches were two other homeless people I had befriended a few days ago and prayed for — Harry from DC and Bill from Michigan. I shared a slice of banana bread with all three of them but when I asked each one of them if I could share a prayer again, both gentlemen declined. But Gloria did not.

So I sat next to her — she readily moved one of her bags so I could sit comfortably — and then proceeded to read a prayer for protection. Gloria liked the prayer but admitted that some of the words were difficult to understand. So we started talking about the language of the prayers and who revealed the prayer. As I mentioned Baha’u’llah, I explained that His title means the Glory of God. She asked me to repeat it, so I did. She then said that any time she hears the word Glory of God she thinks of her own name, Gloria.

I asked her if she knew of the Baha’i Faith and if I could share with her some of its teachings. She said that she had heard of it and she would not mind hearing more if I had nothing else to do. I did tell her that I came to visit with her and bring her banana bread so I had nothing more important at this time. So, I proceeded with the visual presentation about the Baha’i Faith asking her, all along, to read for me the quotations:

That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith.
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 255)

I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.
(Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

We went through a third of the presentation and Gloria, who was raised as a Catholic, admitted that it was a wonderful vision although she seemed skeptical about seeing this vision brought to fruition. But we both agreed that we all have a role to play if we want that vision to become a reality.

So, that was my chance to talk with Gloria who never knows where she will go next. She travels to Florence, South Carolina during the winter, to rent a cheap motel room, but also to the streets of Alexandria, VA during cooler summer days. She has a kind heart, has traveled along the East Coast on Grayhound buses, was amazed how big cities like Raleigh, NC and Atlanta, GA are, lives off the social security payments of her former husband, and likes my banana bread.

After I asked her if I may continue with the presentation, she asked me how is this different from what she read in the Bible. So I shared some more about the equality of women and men, and that there are no priests in the Baha’i Faith. To this she responded that we must have some committees to get organized, so I explained to her how the election of a Local Spiritual Assembly works. She was quite engaged in the conversation so I went on to tell her that to me the biggest difference is that unlike the Bible where there are only few statements by Jesus Christ Himself, we have many volumes of Writings by Baha’u’llah revealed in His own hand. To show her an example, I picked a copy of the Hidden Words and started reading:

Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.

(Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

As we both reflected on our nobility and that of the whole humanity, I gave Gloria a copy of the Hidden Words and Prayers for Women as a gift from me. Who knows, they might comfort her in her next travel. Or we might meet again and talk more about the Changeless Faith of God.

One Response to “Gloria and the Glory of God

  • janesaun
    11 years ago

    What a caring and thoughtful tone you express in your writing–a sensitive soul, I’m sure. I have a sister, Gloria, not the Gloria you describe, but I only wish that my sister, Gloria, would respond as positively and as openly as this one has. It’s great to hear you describe what you have covered in Anna’s presentation like this. I have a follow up visit today with a lady that I have been talking to since April; maybe today we’ll finish Anna’s presentation. There’s always lots of discussion and questions so it’s not that I’ve been able to make my way through the whole presentation.
    Thanks for your post.

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