O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 11.
In one of my previous BahaiTeachings articles, “Perfecting Your Work,” I related a nightmare I had — two unfinished poems that came alive in my dream. Yearning for their perfection, my two poems transmogrified — shape-shifting, before my subconscious eyes, into two furry creatures. They looked like diminutive wolverines – small, fuzzy, but a little threatening.
The wolverine-poems stirred, but did not purr. In rage over their imperfected state, they growled gutterally, grimaced menacingly, stared at me piercingly, not sure whether to attack their creator. The animals’ screaming invaded my primal dreaming. Then they decided to bite. I woke up in pain. The dream-state pain subsided. But the waking-state pain subsisted in my painful imagination, obviously trying to avoid a painful reality.
Without claiming to have done perfect work, I did finally finish the two poems. The last line of one of these poems I vividly remember:
Nitid chitin busy.
Translation: “Shiny insects active.”
This seemed, at the time, a chilling line about the inevitability of death — but nowhere near as chilling, to me anyway, as this warning from the Baha’i writings:
“for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.” – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 11.
In my advancing age, as I meditate more and more on my mortality, the quality of life takes precedence over thoughts of impending death. The days of my life add up. I can subtract from my statistical life expectancy. Do I dare pronounce that number out loud? Has the countdown begun? Am I ready for lift-off to another world — for the life beyond this earthly existence?
Regardless of the answer, the days still add up. The sum total of life will become the end result. At the end of the line, I’ll discover the bottom line. Will my wife still love me after I die? Will my sons treasure my memory? Will they pray for the progress of my soul?
Death brings us the best questions: Beyond my net worth, what will my moral worth amount to? My intellectual legacy? (Perhaps a footnote, at best, for a generation or two.) Did I make the world a better place, if ever so slightly?
If I die today, was my life worthy? What will I leave behind? How will others remember me? Will I be remembered? Will I have a legacy?
I can hope that my legacy leaves good thoughts, good words, good deeds. I can hope to leave this physical existence with a clear conscience, fond memories, few regrets. I hope to have a precious life, a noble death, a worthy reputation. I hope I leave an inheritance of love.
How? I can bring myself to account each day, which helps to transform the next day into a new day. That way, I can make each tomorrow a better day. Day by day. Incrementally. Routinely. That’s the magic. Transformation over time. Legacy over a lifetime. Baha’u’llah puts it this way:
Set before thine eyes God’s unerring Balance and, as one standing in His Presence, weigh in that Balance thine actions every day, every moment of thy life. Bring thyself to account ere thou art summoned to a reckoning…. – Baha’i World Faith, p. 45.
Have a nice day. And a better tomorrow!
Read the previous article in the series: A Way to Make Today Better
©2013 by Christopher Buck.