Sunday, January 30, 2011

Persevering Steps

Steps to the roof in the Prison at Akka

An article I wrote in 2004 aftrer returning from Pilgrimage.


Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? and what seeker findeth rest away from his heart's desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved.

(Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

Mt. Carmel is a fairly good size hill. It is, being a hill – steep. Being a very large man, I was worried on the trip over to Israel, that I might have trouble climbing the Terraces and walking all over the mountain. My family will tell you that I majored in worrying in college. It’s just part of who I am.

My worries were put to rest the very first afternoon of Pilgrimage. The Pilgrim’s were assembled at the Haifa Pilgrim House and walked quietly to the Shrine of the Bab together for our first visit to the Shrine. We were led by Counselor’s from the International Teaching Center. It was during the walk that I saw H.R. for the first time. H.R. was walking along the crushed tile and pebble walkways hunched over his walker on the way to the Shrine. I wondered how he would be able to go through Pilgrimage in his physical condition. He was obviously in his mid to late seventies and in poor health.

After we had assembled in the Shrine of the Bab and the Shrine of Abdul-Baha and heard the Tablets of Visitation read, we all headed back to the Pilgrim Reception Center. It is a good walk from the Shrine. I ran into H.R. and his wife and son on the way there. H.R. was having some physical difficulty but he was determined to make it to the Pilgrim Reception Center because Hand of the Cause of God Vargha was speaking that evening. He made it. He also made it everywhere else Pilgrim’s go on Pilgrimage.

H.R. is my hero. Nothing in this world, no physical limitations, no health condition was going to stand between him and his Beloved. His desire, his effort, his perseverance, inspired me to let go of my petty preoccupations and concentrate on why I was there, not on any limitations, real or otherwise. Just thinking of H.R. made me happy during my time in Israel and it still does today.

O thou yearning flame, thou who art afire with the love of God! I have read thy letter, and its contents, well-expressed and eloquent, delighted my heart, showing as they did thy deep sincerity in the Cause of God, thy persevering steps along the pathway of His Kingdom, and thy staunchness in His Faith -- for of all great things, this is the greatest in His sight.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 162)

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