September 08, 2011

the 'fourth step' of prayer

Baha'is have been provided some notes for prayer.  they aren't considered part of the Holy Writings or with any authority, but since they are helpful, we refer to them for guidance.  today i feel like the spirit of the "Fourth Step" has permeated my entire day:
Have faith and confidence that the power will flow through you, the right way will appear, the door will open, the right thought, the right message, the right principle or the right book will be given you. Have confidence, and the right thing will come to your need. Then, as you rise from prayer, take at once the fifth step.
(Compilations, Principles of Bahai Administration, p. 90)
2 days ago i was in a state of despair and sunk in sadness.  i immediately called out to God in prayer.  i knew the situation was a test.  i intuitively knew there was no other response but to call upon His assistance.  this is how we grow spiritually, drawing upon our spiritual powers in times of tribulation.  i felt so quiet and needed to empty myself of all negativity toward others.  it was the ultimate test because i was drawn to blame, to estrangement, to mistrust, and to coldness.

my first inclination was to call Dashiel.  he wasn't answering his cell phone.  my next thought was to call Mrs. Asare.  as soon as she and the Professor sat down i began to feel that answer to prayer.  later in the day i spoke with Dashiel and he provided that spiritual insight and vision for the blessings in disguise.  by yesterday morning, the 'fourth step' began to enter my consciousness.  it was mid-morning and the thought came to me to bring some seeds to one of the families who grow corn in their yard.  i purchase eggs from them & have come to admire their way of life.  when i arrived the kids were sitting on benches behind the tall wall where they have a table of groceries for sale.  i didn't realize it but i was in another family's courtyard where i entered.  the couple came outside and were very interested in the seeds and my interest in coming to visit.  it isn't common for people who live in big homes to walk and have genuine relationships with people who live in small homes.. or for people with $ to be close friends with people who don't.  it is the silent prejudice that keeps people apart..

going to visit the neighbors was followed by hanging out late in the afternoon just outside of their home while the kids played together.  as soon as i entered the dirt road i saw the little boy from that family at the end of it, standing by his wall.  he started running toward me and jumped up into my arms!  it was priceless and precious.  this was the first time he initiated the affection.  i've been all over his cute little self, but now he was reciprocating it instantly.  such a sign from God.  i sat on a rock and prayed, greeting passers-by with the local language and a smile.  i saw one guy that we play soccer with.  i listened to a born-again Christian expound his beliefs while inviting me to attend his church services.  and i was bitten continuously by little ants that kept crawling onto my sandals.  at the exact moment we were walking home i see the woman who was asking me about the Baha'i Faith this past weekend -- she and i met at that same neighbor's home when i first bought something there, and so we arranged for her to come today to teach me how to make a traditional ghanaian tomato sauce.  it was simply divine because i haven't been able to call her; somehow i had entered her # into my phone incorrectly.

so today began with this woman's visit.  i wish i had taken a photo of this sauce, or a video of the process.  it was thrilling and beautiful.  we shared a great time together.  later i received a surprise knock at the door from the woman i met where seeds were offered yesterday.  she came to return the bucket that we had filled with cow dung and chicken fertilizer.  she came inside with her baby and asked if i needed anyone to do the cleaning for our home.  i apologized and said i didn't but that we could have a relationship that wasn't around her being my worker.  it could be around sharing, learning from each other, supporting each other, trusting each other.  she opened up to me about her mother and her life of suffering in a way that was a divine message to me: 
The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.

(Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words)
Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth.

(Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words)
this 24 year old mother expressed her suffering with a pure heart, without intending to do so.  i knew i was supposed to be the recipient of her heart's pain.  it touched my heart deeply.  i knew this wouldn't have happened if the crisis with the owner of this compound hadn't occurred.  in fact, everything to do with my neighbors now is a result of that crisis.  it has prompted me more than before to visit and reach out and be a neighbor.

the same confirmation came later this afternoon when we decided to bring banana bread to the woman who taught me how to make the sauce.  we brought enough for her neighbor who is next to us across the street -- a family with 3 children with whom i visited the evening of the incident.  i ended up meeting the woman's mother, walking back up the road to see Mrs. Asare in her car who stops and greets us in front of the other family's house -- the woman's mom then greets Mrs. Asare and they begin speaking in Twi about the banana bread and us knowing each other as Baha'is.  and then we see Mrs. Asare talking with the guards in front of our complex about how to direct the owner to her home for the consultation.  all within 10 minutes time!  so many connections and spiritual forces at work from a simple decision to visit 2 neighbors.

the last sign that occurred today was which book Domani chose for me to read to him tonight.  it was a Max Lucado book, "Just The Way You Are".  it brought tears into my eyes.  i felt like the little girl in the book who feels she doesn't have a special talent, only a good heart.  she ends up to be the one that the king likes immediately.  sometimes i feel so inadequate, so limited in capacity to serve humanity..but i can feel my heart bursting with love for people.  i'm not eloquent or wise or full of knowledge but i love people.. this entire situation has resulted because of my love for the children.  it created a little shaking up of old world standards and is gradually leading the way to an agreement and new possibilities outside of the compound that would not have occurred as quickly or as magically as i feel they are now.

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