Last night I hosted the commemoration of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha. Since getting people to come at 1am after Thanksgiving is probably unrealistic, I decided to host a Baha’i movie marathon.
We started by watching a gem I had been totally unaware of, a one man performance called “The Noble Thief”. This is a very touching story of spiritual transformation; a wonderful showcase of the convincing power of the arts. Since for the movie marathon Alissa let me use her video tape of “The Noble Thief”, I ordered my own DVD copy of the performance. I highly recommend it! I can’t wait to show it to the next seekers whose presence will blessed my home.
All I need to know about any place is whether there are people who have not yet heard of Baha’u'llah!
Next was the full length documentary “The Promise of All Ages”. it has a totally different mood than “The Noble Thief” — also professionally made but in the fashion of a History Channel program. A very informative and respectful portrait of the life of Baha’u'llah and the diversity of the community of His followers.
Since we still had some time until the start of the devotional program, we also watched “Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience”, a DVD which beautifully illustrates what happens during a Baha’i pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as expressed through visually-stunning vistas and the response of the pilgrims to being at the Most Holy Spot on Earth. Very appropriate for the closing of a Thanksgiving night, showing a different kind of pilgrims, and a different kind of pilgrimage.
Even though a few of the group of seven had fallen asleep, everybody was fully awake for the devotional program which we started with “Let All Associate” by New Creation:
Let all associate, therefore, in this great human garden even as flowers grow and blend together side by side without discord or disagreement between them.
(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 68)
Around that time the clock showed 1 am, so a beautiful Arabic prayer by Shoghi Effendi was chanted by Ramin, followed by a selection of readings from the The Book of the Covenant of Baha’u'llah, the Covenant of Abdu’l-Baha and several of His tables, including His farewell talk given at the time of His departure from the United States:
These are the days of my farewell to you… I must, therefore, give you my instructions and exhortations today, and these are none other than the teachings of Bahá’u'lláh.
You must manifest complete love and affection toward all mankind. Do not exalt yourselves above others, but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God. Know that God is compassionate toward all; therefore, love all from the depths of your hearts, prefer all religionists before yourselves, be filled with love for every race, and be kind toward the people of all nationalities. Never speak disparagingly of others, but praise without distinction. Pollute not your tongues by speaking evil of another. Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good. You must not see evil as evil and then compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is hypocrisy, and this is not worthy or allowable. You must consider your enemies as your friends, look upon your evil-wishers as your well-wishers and treat them accordingly. Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with anyone. If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer. Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart. Assist the world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear.
In brief, let each one of you be as a lamp shining forth with the light of the virtues of the world of humanity. Be trustworthy, sincere, affectionate and replete with chastity. Be illumined, be spiritual, be divine, be glorious, be quickened of God, be a Bahá’í.
(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 452)
We concluded with a reading of Abdu’l-Baha’s Visitation Tablet (Whoso recitheth this prayer with lowliness and fervor will bring gladness and joy to the heart of this Servant; it will be even as meeting Him face to face) and a marvelous recording of the angelic vocal trio SKY (Shirin, Karen, Yasmin) set to these words of Abdu’l-Baha:
Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul.
(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 27)
SKY’s CD aptly named “A Cycle of Divine Love Songs” deserves a full review. Let me for now just briefly state that it is among the most beautiful Baha’i music I have ever heard! Buy it and enjoy it!
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