September 07, 2012

striving. struggling. meaning of life.

"...Effort is an inseparable part of man's life. It may take different forms with the changing conditions of the world, but it will be always present as a necessary element in our earthly existence. Life is after all a struggle. Progress is attained through struggle, and without such a struggle life ceases to have a meaning; it becomes even extinct. The progress of machinery has not made effort unnecessary. It has given it a new form, a new outlet."
~ Baha'i Writings

typical structures throughout Ghana

with humility and gratitude, i am striving each day to put into action the principles of the Baha'i Faith in very practical, useful and significant ways.  i cannot ignore for a moment my duty to give and be generous, to show genuine love and sincerity, or to be a radiant beam of hope and kindliness to my neighbors.  this is the meaning and purpose of my life.  though oftentimes it entails spiritual toil and struggle amidst suspicion, mistrust, estrangement and apathy, nothing in this life brings greater fulfillment, contentment or happiness.

"..the happiness and greatness, the rank and station, the pleasure and peace, of an individual have never consisted in his personal wealth, but rather in his excellent character, his high resolve, the breadth of his learning, and his ability to solve difficult problems."

~ Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p.23

we returned back to our life in ghana a week ago.  arriving at the accra airport is quite a struggle in and of itself -- it usually takes an hour to get through customs and then it's mass chaos trying to obtain one's bags through the overly crowded space..

when we first opened the door to our house, it smelled full of must; it had endured intense heat and humidity for the 3 months we were away.  it took us several days of heavy duty cleaning before it felt clean and back to order.  the army of tiny ants still sends some brave soldiers out every day in the kitchen but they are met with a damp cloth and a squirt of cleanser..

once the house was cleaned and the shopping was done and it felt like we could resume normal activities of life as a family, i was excited to go visit the neighbors with whom i've developed good friendships.  the children and jr. youth were so happy to see us again!  it was a very long 3 months apart for us and the hugs were more delightful than words can describe.  each day i go and visit them since they aren't allowed to visit us (read earlier post).  i invite them to come by and collect water since they have none where they live; thankfully the guards and gardener of the compound agree that this is ok and allow them to enter.  i am always in awe watching them carrying it away on their heads as noble and strong servants of God.  the little 5 year old, Joshua, is the cutest..

our way of life continues to be enmeshed with the struggle, toil and suffering of others.  i cannot hide or separate myself from it.  i wake up and go to sleep with my thoughts 'fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men'.  the fabric of my mind is wrapped around the struggles of life that come with economic, social, educational and ecological inequality and injustice.  my thoughts are set in motion toward 'the betterment of the world' by practicing the counsel of Baha'u'llah to 'do some good to every person' whose path i cross.  in this way, i live with the rhythm that justice begins and ends with me..

although we live simply and economically as middle-class people, we always have something to pass on, to share, to offer, etc. to be like a fruitful tree in the garden of our neighborhood.

it is easy to connect with people on a soulful level in Africa.  here in ghana, i feel like a butterfly or a buzzing bee that stops by and visits with many of the varied flowers and gets to exchange the energizing spirit of life with them.  the love in my heart overflows with joy through many acts of kindness, hospitality and generosity.

the other day i received a call from our carpenter.  he did a lot of work for us when we first moved into this house, making a wide variety of furniture that was tailor-made for our family's needs.  he said that he had tried to call several times over the past 3 months but that my phone was switched off and he realized i must have traveled (a common thing for foreigners here in accra to do).  after the usual 'how are you?' introductions and general conversation about what's happening in life, he said something which felt like a gift from God.  he explained that because of my loving-kindness and general love for everyone, especially the children of his land, it was helping him to grow more like this toward his 'own people'.  he expressed that my love for God is so great that it helps him see what is meant by his belief in the example of the life of Jesus..

i can only attribute such a comment to my love for Baha'u'llah whose life and Teachings serve as the channel of God's love in my life.  as a soul whose life is dedicated to the betterment of the world, and whose heart yearns for an ever-advancing spiritual civilization, it is encouraging to receive such a divine confirmation for just being who i am in a very simple way of loving others..

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