September 26, 2011

hospitality ~ serving others

we have been working with 2 carpenters to order and receive furniture for a few months: Ephram and Ada.  last week was our final delivery.  they brought the items in a pick-up truck and brought them inside.  once they were finished setting things up, they sat down to write the receipts and settle the payment.  i asked them if they would like some tea or coffee.  this is a question i ask each time but it is not easy for them to accept the request.  after their pause i commented, 'That means yes!'  i knew they wanted to accept the offer because of their silence instead of an instant 'no'.  i brought them some tea on a tray with some leftover doughy rolls from breakfast.  next i came with 2 small plates, each with a little jam to spread on the rolls.  one of them never ate jam before..
the tv unit, center table & bookshelves..all made by Ephram & Ada
after settling the bill, they began talking in twi, their mother tongue.  Ephram then began speaking on behalf of Ada (who speaks less English that he does).  he explained that they have never met anyone like me -- a white person with some wealth who has been so kind to them.   the way it was explained was very touching and brought a tear to my eye.  my response was explaining that this is what my love for Baha'u'llah does, and this is our way of life because of Him..that we see the beauty of God in each soul through His Teachings.  we respect each soul.  we don't think anyone is more important than anyone else.

we cannot measure how much our simple acts of service or hospitality are touching people's hearts.  the remnants of racism and prejudice are carried like a heavy burden and buried deep inside many black people's hearts as a result of their life experiences.  it sometimes takes a long time for acts of service to easily be received as genuine from white people.  Ephram said that clients do not offer even a cup of water to them when they deliver the furniture.  i know that it's more than just being deprived of a quenching drink that he's conveying.  it's just an example which demonstrates the overall the lack of genuine kindness shown to them.  it's insulting and cold, especially to the African culture of always offering whatever you have to make the person in your home welcome after their journey to come see you. 

every person in this world can make a difference, every day, every moment -- just by offering simple acts of generosity, helpfulness, thoughtfulness or kindness.  all of these are universal qualities, simple virtues.  but unless one's heart is like an empty receptacle of God's love, that love we have for Him cannot be channeled and translated into service.  i wasn't 'trying' to be of is a natural impulse that bursts forth as a way to express my love for God, for His people -- we are all His people, His servants, created out of His love.  there's no ulterior motive, or hope for reward or recognition.  the moment those impurities creep in, the spirit is removed from any act of serving.  as we spread the Teachings of Baha'u'llah which open one's heart to this limitless sense of seeing the world under the banner of Oneness, and each living thing as part of each other, connected beyond what we can describe, then this way of serving one another -- without any barriers which currently create estrangement, pride, arrogance, fear, greed, selfishness, jealousy, envy -- will be discovered as the key to happiness.  true happiness is nearness to God..and the best way to grow closer to God is by serving humanity for His sake, not our own.

Ephram has taken 6 Baha'i books up to this point.  he likes to read and investigate.  he knows that we are Baha'i.  he is rooted in Christianity yet is very interested to know Who Baha'u'llah is in relation to Christ.  he is reading 'Some Answered Questions' and 'Christ and Baha'u'llah' among others like 'Thief in the Night'.  aside from any books he is reading, i realize that it is our family life, our innermost thoughts and intentions, the purity of our hearts, and the radiance of our faces that will connect his heart with the spirit that is in Word of God that he is reading.  this is our daily striving and supplication..

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