Saturday, July 21, 2007

Champions of God

"Were it not for the cold, how would the heat of Thy words prevail, O Expounder of the worlds?

Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds?

Lament not because of the wicked. Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.

How sweet was Thy dawning on the horizon of the Covenant among the stirrers of sedition, and Thy yearning after God, O Love of the worlds.

By Thee the banner of independence was planted on the highest peaks, and the sea of bounty surged, O Rapture of the worlds.

By Thine aloneness the Sun of Oneness shone, and by Thy banishment the land of Unity was adorned. Be patient, O Thou Exile of the worlds.

We have made abasement the garment of glory, and affliction the adornment of Thy temple, O Pride of the worlds.

Thou seest the hearts are filled with hate, and to overlook is Thine, O Thou Concealer of the sins of the worlds.

When the swords flash, go forward! When the shafts fly, press onward! O Thou Sacrifice of the worlds.

Dost Thou wail, or shall I wail? Rather shall I weep at the fewness of Thy champions, O Thou Who hast caused the wailing of the worlds."
(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 217)

Today ended a week of spiritual transformation for a small group of God's champions on earth. Whoever I was at the beginning of this week, I am no longer that man.

Yesterday we closed the session as we always do with reflections on our experience. Baha'u'llah once said that "An hours reflection is worth more than 70 years of pious worship", so it is fitting that a Gathering distinguished for prayers that go on for 2-3 hours should also have the same amount of time for reflection. The dominating theme that emerged was the importance of service and teaching as the results of the week and stepping up to the high standard that has been set for those whom Baha'u'llah has described as the "pupil of the eye". I thought that I had a clear sense of mission before I came to the Gathering, but the path to everlasting glory now burns more brightly than before.

Last night, after some odd adventures, my family including my wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousin we welcomed by the brothers with characteristic love, hugs and roses. It was a particularly sweet moment as none of my own family members are Baha'is. We were able to enjoy hip-hop, jazz, a cappela harmonies, gospel, folk and R&B music and lots of laughter as we celebrated the Green Acre staff who served us so well all week long. Green Acre responded with a special gift of a poem that had been written by Hand of the Cause of Louis Gregory himself about those hallowed grounds that had been blessed by the footsteps of Abdu'l-Baha.

We of course had one last fearsome game of Monopoly that included the ancient rivalry between New York and Los Angeles as well as much drama and betrayal. It was a fine old time but I eventually met my doom and was sent to bed!

This morning we held huge devotional meeting opened to the public that included people from all over the Northeast region. The entire building vibrated with spiritual energy and the power of souls united in worship of God that transcended the color line. After the devotional we processed to the resting place of Hand of the Cause of God, Louis Gregory and his beloved wife Louisa Gregory who was a long time teacher of the Baha'i Faith in Europe. Afterwards there was a BBQ and lots of love, fellowship and sticky fingers.

Now I'm back in Boston. The Black Men's Gathering Leadership Forum 2007 is over, but the work of this would-be champion of God is just getting started.