Sunday, October 31, 2010

something I wrote a long time ago

Lord, i will give You this year of my life.

i will get up at 5:00am 5 days a week and drag my tired body and rebellious heart, kicking and screaming and whining, up Your mountain, through the dirt and the cats and the cold and the rain and the heat and the hamseen

the hamseen... i will breathe this dusty, polluted, foul-smelling air for a year, when i'm used to the fresh smell of the South Carolina morning by the pond with a tint of cow manure... i will drink more and more of this nasty water...

You will give me the glorious rose perfume of the Shrines... and those beautiful little white flowers that sit on the Threshold and beg me to prostrate my nose into them and breathe so deeply... until i cannot... hold... any ... more... until the perfume drives away the thoughts of any other thing that has ever filled my lungs... and my heart... and my soul... You will allow me to get lost in the warm light of the Shrine lamps, the soft, palpable flow that comes from hard, cold stone illuminated by Your light...

Lord, for You i will bite my tongue over... and over... and over again, until it hurts to be misunderstood and undervalued, because i know that the only value worth having is that which comes from forgetting myself and what i might "deserve" and moving and serving and working and striving until i ache... and it feels good...

You will give me people to hold me up, people to defend me against myself and encourage me... people to cry with me and feel this ache of wanting to give up, and the ache of knowing that the bruises will heal and we will be stronger to serve You better... people to test me and my reliance on You and forgetfulness of self, or lack thereof... people to enrich my mind with ideas i'd never conceived and places i've never been and experiences i've never dreamed of... people to love me when i don't love myself... through my mistakes, my inadequacies, my frustration, my joy...

i will give this year of should-haves, would-haves... i will do everything that i think i can... and many things that i think i can't... i will carry this ridiculous thing up those stairs... i will mop this floor that we could already eat on... i will pick up that ball of fluff, straighten that fringe, and walk back up those stairs to put the mats and the keys back where they belong...

You will put me to work on the best crew, with a schedule with no time to spare, with the strongest and most determined people so that i can become strong and determined to do... You know what... someday... i will do those pointless things for you... i'll put my cell phone on vibrate... i'll mop the spotless Council Chambre... i'll sweep the car parks... i'll hang from a rope on scaffolding, praying that You'll make it hold, while i swing into a column to get that last invisible line off the side...

You will let me see January 16th and the last week of May and the service areas on Your Arc and the Council Chambers and the offices and the terraces and the gardens and even the hairs of Your Blessed Head... i will look at the little things... that flower... that smile... that ray of light that falls just so through those windows so that my floor... Your floor... shines like the mirror on my wall... You will teach me that i can... You will give me the strength...

You will teach me that i am not responsible for how others treat me, but i am responsible for my behavior, my feelings, my actions... i will beg you to give me patience, give me love, give me strength, make me beautiful, make me smart, make me a better servant, make my hair behave, make my mind behave, purify my motives... You will give me everything i need... and even some of the stupid things...

i will thank You for a family that taught me about Your love, reliance on You, laundry, cooking stir fry, being teach-able, following instructions, communication, serving Your servants... You will further test these skills... over... and over... and over...

i will clean for 1 year of my life and pray that You will accept it... even through the grumbling... hear my soul, not my words...

You'll know what my limits are.. and You'll stretch them...and the stretching will make me give You the rest of my years...

(farewell message to the Bahá'í World Centre, June 2001 )

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

bits of bucket list

--- kayak the Nantahala River again
--- dance at my sisters' weddings
--- ride a gondola through Venice
--- be part of a neighborhood that pulls together to improve in some way
--- have the star in my tattoo filled in with something like the flowers in The Lotus Merchant
--- visit Toyeme and family in New Caledonia/Vanuatu
--- visit Nur in Argentina
--- sing in all Baha'i Houses of Worship
--- summer in Alaska
--- dance to steel drums at sunset on the beach in the Caribbean
--- live in the mountains
--- learn to make Hollandaise sauce
--- adopt
--- grow and birth a baby naturally
--- paint my own shutters
--- plant a garden that feeds people
--- grow marigolds in my own yard
--- sleep in a redwood forest
--- "make you banana pancakes/ pretend like it's the weekend"
--- knit a scarf for each of my grandmothers
--- see a show on Broadway
--- see an opera at the Sydney Opera House
--- make a mug and drink tea from that mug on my porch in the morning mist
--- eat really good food in Italy
--- sew a dress and wear it
--- give this to someone
--- take a road trip in a fun car with a good camera and someone I love
--- journal every day for the first year of my childrens' lives
--- create and maintain a family scrapbook
--- paint something I would be proud to see hanging on my parents' wall
--- be home base

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Someone reminded me of this the other day, and I had to go find it...

I was reading The Diary of Juliet Thompson just now, and I came across this little bit that reminded me of our conversation. She was a Baha'i who lived during the time of 'Abdu'l-Baha, and she spent a good deal of time with Him, talking with him, learning from his example of selfless service and love for humanity... Juliet was in love with a Christian preacher called Percy Graves who wasn't the best of men. Abdu'l-Baha told her that she should endeavour to give her heart to God, and she said that she would, and then this happened later... and "'Abdu'l-Baha" is the title He chose for Himself. It means literally "Servant of Baha" ("Baha" meaning "glory", refering to Baha'u'llah), but Baha'u'llah called him "The Master", so He is refered to in both ways.
That night the Master had a supper for all who had been with Him at the Mission. It was held in His suite at the Ansonia and He took me and two of the Persians, Valiyu'llah Khan and Ahmad, in His own taxi to the hotel.
As we drove up Broadway, glittering with its electric signs, He spoke of them smiling, apparently much amused. Then He told us that Bahá'u'lláh had loved light. "He could never get enough light. He taught us," the Master said, "to economize in everything else but to use light freely."
"It is marvellous," I said, "to be driving through all this light by the side of the Light of lights."
"This is nothing," the Master answered. "This is only the beginning. We will be together in all the worlds of God. You cannot realize here what that means. You cannot imagine it. You can form no conception here in this elemental world of what it is to be with Me in the Eternal Worlds."
"Oh," I cried, "with such a future before me how could my heart cling to any earthly object?"
The Master turned suddenly to me. "Will you do this thing?" He asked. "Will you take your heart from this other and give it wholly to God?"
"Oh, I will try!"
He laughed heartily at this. "First you say you will and then that you will try!"
"That is because I have learned my own weakness. What can I do with my heart?"
And now the Master spoke gravely. "I am very much pleased with that answer, Juliet."
-- from The Diary of Juliet Thompson