Sunday, April 01, 2007

BMG Wrap Up and Beyond

Ok, I finally have a moment to wrap up my blogging about the Black Men's Gathering New England that concluded with a soul transporting celebration at the Boston Baha'i Center. This morning after even more intense prayer that literally had us dancing as we raised our voices in joy and reverence to the Almighty, we heard a love letter from the Northeast Regional Baha'i Council and one of the brothers who recently went on the Baha'i pilgrimage to the Holy Land shared his experiences. We then consulted about our plans for the coming year. A few highlights were commitments to expanding the number of devotional meetings in the spirit and style of the BMG throughout the New England states and mentoring African American children and youth and providing them with spiritual education and moral development. We did not have enough time to go as deeply as we wished into these issues, especially as the epidemic of violence in the Boston area was weighing on our hearts even in the midst of our own joy and transformation. There was a real sense of urgency in responding to a social order that is spinning further and further out of control and taking far too many of our young people with it. We then offered some heartfelt reflections about the weekend and what it meant for us as men of African Descent. Next we headed over to the Baha'i Center to embrace the wider community in collective worship of God. We had some wild adventures getting to the Center, but with a lot of prayer and some divine assistance we finally made it and we were welcomed by some of the local Baha'is who had prepared a delicious lunch for us. We broke bread with folk of all colors, men, women and children and basked in the warm glow of true love and hot food. We then all made our way upstairs and enjoyed 30 minutes of drumming that got our blood flowing. Next we heard some expressions of love from the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Boston, the Regional Baha'i Council and a member of the Auxiliary Board. The next hour was a journey of the heart as we prayed hard in multiple languages, sang songs that broke the heart with their sincerity,and absorbed the power of the spirit. Finally the devotional erupted into an unrestrained shouting, singing, dancing and drumming frenzy. Not a single soul could keep quiet or still and the sheer ecstacy of it all had the whole building vibrating with spiritual vitality. The only thing that finally stopped it was complete exhaustion by all present. Even once the prayers stopped the room buzzed with greetings, hugs and laughter. We then shared some great sweets (the sweet potato pie was especially impressive) and people said their fairwells. Of course my favorite part was that my mother and in-laws were present and shared in the festivities. Some of the brothers in New Jersey and New York are planning to have a Gathering in northern New Jersey in a couple of weeks and if I blessed enough I hope to be there and keep the momentum going. God willing, right? It's time for me to go to bed but I'll close with a little portion of the Tablet of Ahmad, which is a favorite prayer that is often recited at the Gathering. I think in a way it sums up the attitude that these men have adopted in their efforts to change the world:

O Ahmad! Forget not My bounties while I am absent. Remember My days during thy days, and My distress and banishment in this remote prison. And be thou so steadfast in My love that thy heart shall not waver, even if the swords of the enemies rain blows upon thee and all the heavens and the earth arise against thee.

Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones, and be not of those who doubt.

And if thou art overtaken by affliction in My path, or degradation for My sake, be not thou troubled thereby.

Rely upon God, thy God and the Lord of thy fathers. For the people are wandering in the paths of delusion, bereft of discernment to see God with their own eyes, or hear His Melody with their own ears. Thus have We found them, as thou also dost witness.
(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 210)