Monday, February 2, 2009

"I have lost my fear because I know that giving a gift to others is not a scary act."

The following is a letter from an individual believer in the Scottsdale, AZ (A) cluster. It describes the transforming effect of the recent Regional Bahá’í Conference she attended. I hesitate to dilute its joy and power with lots of additional comments. It is a inspiring testimony of how the conferences have inspired the friends to action. As this believer states, “I have lost my fear because I know that giving a gift to others is not a scary act.”

I am a Baha'i from Scottsdale, Arizona. I have been a Baha'i all my life.

I'll be honest: the Institute process has been one where I've had to shift my perspective on many different things about the Faith, the most important being that of teaching the Cause.

This is where the Regional Conference literally transformed me. . . .

I've said it many times since and I'll say it again: the first feeling I got when I arrived at the conference was one of immense and intense love. Love is a feeling, but if there was ever a time and place to actually see it, it was at the Regional Conference. I felt it from the first moment in the hotel until the last session ended. I was moved to tears. I still am.

Another feeling that I got loud and clear was that of humility. I could sense the sincerity and humility of all those involved in the conference, from the emcees to the speakers to the entertainers to the volunteers. Such humility. Such love. So beautiful. So incredibly powerful.

The message that came out of those two days for me was so strong. First and foremost, individual transformation. Individuals must transform themselves in order that we may then be effective at transforming society. We are lucky enough to have been given guidance by Bahá’u’lláh: Read the writings, pray, teach . . . and lo and behold, all these things are present in the four core activities. Read the writings—Ruhi classes. Pray—devotional gatherings. Teach—children's classes. WOW! I was finally beginning to see the big picture. That was all I needed. I needed to see the big picture. To be humble. To look past myself and see how beautiful and perfect Bahá’u’lláh’s Plan is.

So I listened hard. I took notes. Eleven pages typed. I listened some more. I was moved. I was encouraged. I was gently encouraged to step it up a bit. I was loved. I was accepted. I was learning. I was unknowingly humbled with love. I felt energized. Reinvograted. I finally understood "the Plan." And now, I could see that not only is growth a possibility, but that it is inevitable.

One of the most important activities was having a cluster meeting during the conference itself. For the first time ever, I was able to walk around and see what others do in their cluster meetings. Our facilitator was wonderful. Our cluster had a glimpse of what a cluster reflection meeting can be like, feel like, and could produce. What a gift that was. I have now been to the first cluster reflection meeting since the Regional Conference and what difference that was. What a joy. What an immense joy for those of us who were there to have learned and to have then turned that learning into true action. It was by far one of the most positive, loving and productive cluster reflection meetings I have ever attended. It was a meeting that inspired me, made me feel loved, supported and encouraged me, and was truly spiritual in nature.

I finally understood how I cannot go one more day without following through with requests of the Universal House of Justice, of the National Spiritual Assembly, and of my Local Spiritual Assembly. I felt a huge sense of urgency. Not only in transforming myself as an individual, but in engaging in all four core activities. What a gift we have. What an awesome gift to be blessed with. How great is God's love for me and for all of us to have given us this gift. How great is God's understanding of our ability and our capacity. We must be responsible and demonstrate our capacity for understanding the greatness of this Day and the gift we have. We must teach. We must give the gift to others. We do not need to worry about their response. We must not get stuck on that. We HAVE to give the gift. It is our duty and responsibility to give others the opportunity to enjoy the bounties and blessings of prayer, of the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith, and of children’s classes and junior youth groups. They will choose whether or not to accept these gifts. But we cannot get in the way of ourselves. We cannot be so arrogant that we decide who should receive God's bounties and blessings.

So I made up my mind. I was going to go back home to Scottsdale. I was going to finish all the Ruhi books that I had not taken. I was immediately going to set up children's classes, and although I have been a junior youth group animator for 3 years, I was going to do something different there too.

My prayers were immediately answered. I found a dear friend who would tutor Ruhi Book 4 and Ruhi Book 6 for me and some other friends at my home. I sent an email to my friends (moms of two of my daughters’ friends). The response was amazing, immediate, receptive, loving, and supportive. So I now have a Book 3A children's class at my home for 11 children, 9 of whom are from the wider community. I also have a Book 3 children's class at my home for 7 younger children. Ironically, at the last minute I couldn't find anyone to teach the Book 3 children's class and a great friend of mine (not a Bahá’í) offered to do it. So far we have had two classes. The second class was attended by more children than the first. The parents (all from the wider community) are extremely supportive and loving, have offered to bring snacks, and even to teach the class. I have set up my first devotional of this year and know that my friends will come. I have lost my fear because I know that giving a gift to others is not a scary act. It's an act of love, kindness, and service to your fellow neighbors. As far as the junior youth group that I am a part of, well once again, God knows best. I am thrilled to be doing the revised version of Book 5, which by the way is brilliant! I cannot wait to go back to the junior youth group that I am a part of and discuss with the participants their capacity and the incredible future ahead of them in helping transform society.

Growth is no longer distant and inexplicable concept that's out there for me. I am experiencing proof of it every day in my daily life. So go out there and teach the Faith with no fear. Masses are waiting for you, thirsty to hear about how they can go about transforming themselves and ultimately, all of society.


Scottsdale, Arizona

Mother of 3 beautiful girls

Servant of the Cause and the whole of humanity

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