The call–in campaign will occur on May 12, 2017. We have provided a downloadable PDF of the letter from National here.
20170428 NSA re May 12 Congressional Call-in PDF file
Healing Prayer for Handmaidens by Baha’u’llah
Recited by Lynette Slaman-Garcia http://allthingsbahai.net/
Instrumentals by Elika Mahony http://music.elikamahony.com/
Floral Photography by Glenn Franco Simmons http://www.glennfrancosimmons.com/
Produced by Tricia Hague-Barrett https://www.youtube.com/user/NaaniAmma
Image on opening cover: Layah Garcia
Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir (Arabic: رحمةالله مُهاجر; 4 April 1923 – 1979) was a prominent fourth-generation Bahá’í, born in ‘Abdu’l-‘Azím, Iran. Following is a memory of Dr. Muhajir’s visit to my home in Palmerston North, New Zealand in the 1970’s.
This quotation from Bahá’u’lláh always reminds me of this gentle soul.
“Whoso ariseth to teach Our Cause must needs detach himself from all
earthly things, and regard, at all times, the triumph of Our Faith as
his supreme objective. This hath, verily, been decreed in the Guarded
Tablet. And when he determineth to leave his home, for the sake of the
Cause of his Lord, let him put his whole trust in God, as the best
provision for his journey, and array himself with the robe of virtue.
Thus hath it been decreed by God, the Almighty, the All-Praised.
“If he be kindled with the fire of His love, if he forgoeth all created things,
the words he uttereth shall set on fire them that hear him. Verily,
thy Lord is the Omniscient, the All-Informed. Happy is the man that
hath heard Our voice, and answered Our call. He, in truth, is of them
that shall be brought nigh unto Us.”
(Bahá’u’lláah, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 334)
My Story Begins
I do not remember collecting The Hand of the Cause, Dr. Muhájir, from the airport in Palmerston North back in the 70’s, though I did pick him up. Nor do I remember how long He was in Palmerston North or anything about community meetings held during his visit with us. I had married a man who was in opposition to the Faith, (unfortunately I was not aware of this before I married him). I was living at 220 College Street, Palmerston North, and across the road was the famous Hedge House, where several Bahá’í youth were resident. I was forbidden to have anything to do with the Faith, was monitored on any phone calls about the Faith, and could not receive National Newsletters. I was on the LSA, but could not attend meetings, however, what does stand out for me, was on the day that he and some other friends visited me at my home. Out of the blue, they had picked him up and brought him to see me. During the course of the visit, he asked me, about my life, which I shared, and then he asked me a question. “Is there something in this house that should not be here?” Apart from my husband, I could not think of a single thing for heaven’s sake, I was stumped for words for a few minutes. What on earth could He mean? He repeated the question, and I was trying hard to think.
Suddenly I remembered. Oh gosh, How did he know?” I wondered. So, I related to him what I had done as Secretary to protect the Bahá’ís in our community. It seems I had indeed forgotten about it. So, as nervous as I was, I informed him, that about 6 months earlier, I had heard that there was a covenant breakers book donated to the Public Library. I figured that I would have to go and get rid of it. I rushed to the Library, and took the book off the shelf, checked it out with the Librarian and took it home without opening it. I wrapped it up in several layers of old newspapers, cardboard, and wrapping the whole thing in a bit of old sackcloth, I tied it with string, in many different ways, and threw it under my bed where it could gather dust bunnies to its heart’s content, and hopefully be thought of no more. Now, here I was being asked about “something here that should not be here,” and I was terrified of being smacked over the knuckles for having done so. Instead, he asked me to go and get it, unwrap it, take it straight back to the Library, pay the fines, and leave it there.
The next day I did exactly that. With His words ringing in my ears, “More people will become Bahá’ís through that book, than any other,” I returned it to the Library. There was much more that he said to me, but alas, I cannot remember anything but this sentence. However, from my understanding, he implied, that people would soon see truth from error when they investigated further. I paid about $16 dollars in late fees, then left it in God’s hands, as obviously, it was not my job to protect the Bahá’ís from these insidious and disunifying forces.
For the following few weeks, things seem to be much easier for me; whether it was a direct result of having gotten “rid” of the book off my premises or not I can only surmise. Until I did this, however, I am now sure that it was the cause of much pain and suffering. Thank God I never read it.
“Light and glory, greeting and praise be upon the Hands of His Cause, through whom the light of fortitude hath shone forth and the truth hath been established that the authority to choose rests with God, the Powerful, the Mighty, the Unconstrained, through whom the ocean of bounty hath surged and the fragrance of the gracious favors of God, the Lord of mankind, hath been diffused. We beseech Him—exalted is He—to shield them through the power of His hosts, to protect them through the potency of His dominion, and to aid them through His indomitable strength which prevaileth over all created things. Sovereignty is God’s, the Creator of the heavens and the Lord of the Kingdom of Names.” (Bahá’u’lláh, pg. 83, ‘Lawh-I-Dunyá’ [Tablet of the World])
It is strange how it seems hard to be creative and write when I’m not in emotional pain. We all draw our creativity from somewhere. Mine is hardship, heartache and pain it seems (sigh…chuckle). It has been at the lowest or most challenging points in my life that I have been the most creative. Maybe such darkness prompts the soul to express itself…to break free from the chains that seem to be holding it down. Is it during such times of external and internal suffering, resignation and humility that one draws closer to God; when there is nothing left to cling to but His Love, His Beauty and His memory? Is suffering the gateway to happiness…to self-actualization?
“The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. His attitude in this world will be that of divine happiness. Man is, so to speak, unripe: the heat of the fire of suffering will mature him. Look back to the times past and you will find that the greatest men have suffered most.” (Paris Talks)
During my Bahá’í life, I have had the honor of meeting (being in the presence of) several Hands, if you could actually call it that, and would like to share some of my experiences. The missed opportunities, the not fully understanding the functions of the Hands of the Cause of God, led me to be quiet and remaining in the background for the most part. On becoming a Bahá’í, which was the best decision I have ever made in my life, I was literally thrown into the deep end the day I declared. It was 10:45 am on the 21 April 1973. 44 years ago in just a few minutes from now (a whole nother story), and was elected as Secretary of the Bahá’í Group in Palmerston North that same evening. Throwing 18 bottles of bourbon down the kitchen sink, I went cold turkey and tried to heal myself from my own miseries. I took to secretarying like a duck to water, except in the drowning kind of way. I became too busy to be able to think of drinking, although that would not be the whole truth, given the fact that for the first 4 months, I would undergo extreme torment as I experienced the DT’s and drying out. I would plan to go to the pub and sneak out of meetings to do so, only to find that by the time I finished scheming and planning my escape, the pubs were closed. Typing up the minutes of the regular meetings kept me so busy that I didn’t have time for much else. I turned the minutes into hours you see. When the next meeting came, the believers would have to sit through the full meeting of last week. Hahaha. The hard part, of course, was that I took things so seriously back then. Having grown up with constant disapproval, proved to be a huge test for me in my new life. The laughter of the community over the weird spelling errors was at times just a little too much to bear. But bear it I did. Oh well, I had a long way to go. Sitting up into the wee small hours after each meeting typing the minutes, I would pour myself between the sheets at some God forsaken hour, just to be woken by the kids to go to school the next morning.
I deepened myself in the Writings with the friends, and read the books of Hand of the Cause William Sears, “Thief in the Night”, and of course “”Wine of Astonishment” and “Prisoner and the Kings” but I cannot ever remember reading any one of them all the way through to the last page. I cried, I laughed, and I only got up to where I seemed to be reading something I had already read in some other book, so the current book was set aside and was never completed.
My life was rather funny actually, as reading was not my number one activity. The only real reading I got to do, was the Minutes for 6 organizations, and reading them out at their next meetings. I did, however, read an odd book or two, if not completely. I read parts of books, like Gleanings, Baha’i World Faith, and it was while reading “Prisoner and the Kings” in the bath one day, that I was completely converted to the Faith. Naked as the day I was born, I was transported into the Heavenly Kingdom. It was the spiritual awakening that left me feeling like I was floating in the air, and it all happened in the bath on that day of days. I had by this time been a Bahá’í in my head, but not in my heart. Still what I did believe, was enough to make me throw away an old life. His precious book fell into the bath and I scrambled to towel it dry with tears rolling down my face. The pages dried slowly, me too, and ultimately the book has since disintegrated. My love of the Faith took on a new spirit that day, and I suddenly became on fire with this love.
It was around this time, that I told my spiritual father, Mac McLellan, that I wished I could tell the Universal House of Justice just how I was feeling. He said “do it” and gave me the address to write to. Yet I felt so unworthy. Yet a few days later, I sat down at my typewriter and poured my heart out to the Governing Body of the Bahá’í Faith, in Israel. I rushed to the Post Office to mail it before I could talk myself out of it. It would be a few weeks until I received an answer, and it was certainly one I was not expecting. According to my thinking, they would not have time for me. I was wrong. I received a most loving letter of acceptance into the Faith from them. In my letter, I had said thank you to them for being there, and other things too, but alas, now forgotten. Their letter arrived and I went to the mailbox and found an envelope with “Haifa” stamped on it. “Oh my God!” I exclaimed and ran inside. I rang every Bahá’í in the city and told them, “I’ve got a letter from God! I’ve got a letter from God!” I was so excited, and the last person I rang was Mac and Barb’s house. Barbara asked me “What does it say?” and I had to admit it had not crossed my mind to open it.
When I did, the very words changed me, and with my soul in tears, suddenly I became aware of just how important the Faith was.
Unfortunately, I did not truly understand the role of a Hand of the Cause, and barely understood that there were Hands for Protection, and Hands for Propagation. I never knew which ones were which. It never occurred to me to read about their lives, finding out about them as I went.
HAND OF THE CAUSE COLLIS FEATHERSTONE
I was present at many gatherings with Hand of the Cause of God, Harold [Collis] Featherstone, and found him to be a wonderful person, full of a love of the Faith, and always ready to help our New Zealand Bahá’í Community. There is no story to go with any of these events, unfortunately, as I never actually got to sit down with him and talk. He came to New Zealand many times. I learned since of course that He was born on 5 May 1913 in a place called Quorn in South Australia, and he passed away on 29 September 1990 in Kathmandu, Nepal. There were a few opportunities for me to have some kind of communication with him, but I always felt that I was unworthy to speak to them. Instead, I would sit back and let others have that contact. In fact, although I had come off alcohol, I was still what they call ‘dry drunking’ (a term well known to alcoholics) and was, of course, feeling sorry for myself. Sadly, there were many lost opportunities. I am sad that I never got close enough to chat with him. I was always worried about what people thought of me or my actions,
HAND OF THE CAUSE DR Rahmatu’llah Muhajir
Around 1975-6, another Hand of the Cause of God came to New Zealand. Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhajir arrived in New Zealand at the height of a storm that hit the country. Dr. Muhajir came to my home while visiting NZ, at a time when I was recovering from surgery I think. He spent a little bit of time with me, and I felt very honored. Possibly around 1976. Not sure of the exact date though. As Secretary, I found out about His arrival and not sure if his plane was diverted to Palmerston North because of the weather, or if the purpose for His visit was to come here anyway, for a holiday to see His family, which He did often. There are two stories related to my meeting Him though, and share it I will.
I was with Shirley Charters when we went to the airport to greet Him. His plane was delayed and so Shirley and I sat around the airport waiting. At one point, Shirley got an idea that we should do some teaching while we were waiting. There was a man in the corner of the room, leaning back against both walls. In front of him was a newspaper, held high up to his face. Shirley said to me, “watch this” and she walked over to him. I followed to see what was going to happen, and so I could hear what she said to him. As I closed in on the two, I heard her say, “Excuse me, young man, Have you heard of Bahá’u’lláh?” Well, I was surprised, for one because we could not see if he was indeed a ‘young man’ and by the words that she uttered. He too was surprised, and he very slowly lowered the newspaper to look straight into Shirley’s eyes. “No,” he replied. She stood her ground and said, “Well, young man, if you had been searching for the “Truth” you would have found Him by now.” I was stunned, to say the least, and she walked away. She didn’t repeat His Blessed Name so I was left wondering if he would even remember her words. I never forgot her words at all. We had been waiting for about 6 hours.
I have another wonderful story about Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhajir that I would like to share, but shall leave this for another time.
HAND OF THE CAUSE MR FAIZI
Hand of the Cause of God, Abu’l Qásim Faizí, I didn’t actually meet, but I attended a talk he gave at the National Office in Auckland many years ago. It was possible that it was during the first National Convention I ever went to, in 1973, and somewhere in my belongings, possibly in a box in the garage, I have a photograph of the event, which was held downstairs in the Baha’i National Office which was in or near the inner city of Auckland. There were many of the souls in attendance. I remember how the believers at that time sat spellbound as Mr. Faizi gave talks about the importance of teaching children.
It could just as easily been during the International Teaching Conference held between the 19-22 January 1977 at the Town Hall. Sir Robert Muldoon, the then Prime Minister of New Zealand opened the Conference if my memory serves me well. He wished us a very successful Conference and we all stood in respect during his arrival and departure from the stage. Mr. Faizi may have represented the Universal House of Justice at that Teaching Conference.
HAND OF THE CAUSE `AMITU’L-BAHÁ RUHIYYIH KHANUM
I met Hand of the Cause of God, `Amitu’l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum when She came to New Zealand at a Marae in Dunedin, but not sure of the actual date of that event. Possibly sometime in 1979. When I was living in the south island, I attended a meeting with her, and there was only one seat when I arrived somewhat late. Ruhiyyih Khanum invited me by beckoning me to come and sit next to her. During the course of the talk, I was unable to concentrate on her talk as I was in extreme pain from what was thought to be an ectopic pregnancy. She must have sensed that something was wrong, for she reached around to my back and started rubbing up and down my back, the pain eased and when I returned to Timaru, the doctor said that all was well. She always knew when women were pregnant. There are lots of little Ruhiyyih’s (named after her) in many different countries.
I had been told that I would die if I had another child, after major surgery back in 1971 and so I wrote a will and went ahead with it. I did not believe in having an abortion, so I was willing to die if need be, to be able to have a daughter. I did, and she was born normally. I named her Felicity Jane which means “Happiness is a gift of God.” She was certainly touched by a Hand.
Throughout my Bahá’í life, I have listened to as many Hands of the Cause as I could, mostly on cassette tapes, cds, and of course now on YouTube and have been truly inspired by Their talks. Each in their own way has created a passion within me to do heaps of teaching. The first of these was by Hand of the Cause William Sears, called “What is a Bahá’í?”
This wonderful short video by The American Baha’i touches home for me. Being from Wisconsin and having attended UW Madison myself, it is such a joy and inspiration to see this project taking place there. This dynamic group of professional adult youths are making a difference in their community by empowering other teens at a local Junior High School and creating social change. See more Service Projects videos HERE!