I awaken to the sweet chirping of hummingbirds at the feeder outside my window. I silently say these words from a beautiful prayer: be calm, be strong, be grateful.
No matter how bleak or bright the day begins, no matter what the coming day holds, they center me and give me hope.
The world is in turmoil now more than ever, but at the same time it is going through an awakening. With calamities afoot, and undoubtedly more on the horizon, it can be very unsettling. Human rights are at stake, and this time in history is filled with uncertainty and fear, but the Baha’i teachings promise that we will come through:
Sometimes God calms the storm, sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child. – Mark 4:35.
…the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy. The ills all flesh is heir to do not pass him by, but they only touch the surface of his life, the depths are calm and serene. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 111.
Inner calm can be found in prayer, meditation or quiet reflection. Remembrance of God soothes our souls. Let the burden of being in control go, in the realization that God has it covered. Staying calm when the world seems to be crumbling around us is a daunting task, but it is the only way we can return to inner peace:
O sincere servant of the True One! I hear thou art grieved and distressed at the happenings of the world and the vicissitudes of fortune. Wherefore this fear and sorrow? The true lovers… fear no calamity, nor feel depressed in the hour of trial. They regard the fire of adversity as their garden of delight, and the depth of the sea the expanse of heaven. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 309.
For many of us, this time in history is testing our resolve, our strength and our faith. It may be faith in ourselves, our fellow-man or even God, but we are told that we were created to endure and that we will never be tested beyond our capacities. While in the midst of trials, this may not seem true, but we are assured of our strength.
Depend not on the sight of anyone except yourself, for God hath never burdened any soul beyond its power. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 107.
Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear… – Qur’an, 2:286
God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. – Corinthians 10:13.
Thou wert created to bear and endure…. When the shafts fly, press onward! – Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, pp. 219-220.
Of all God’s gifts, gratitude brings us peace and serenity. Despite the changes and chances of this world, when we return to gratitude our hope is renewed. There are so many bounties in our lives that we take for granted or overlook. Remembering all we are grateful for elevates our consciousness and attracts more blessings. Whatever we focus on we get more of, so we must focus on what is good in our lives rather than what we don’t want. Every day, see one thing with new eyes as if for the first time, and be thankful for its existence:
The mind is the source of happiness and unhappiness by what it chooses to compare the experience with. If it chooses to compare it to something worse then it will create happiness, gratitude and pride but if it chooses to compare it to something better then it will create unhappiness, bitterness and envy. – Buddha
Navigating these tumultuous times can challenge us. Some mornings I wake up full of hope; some with trepidation in the realization of how far we have to go—but when I say this simple prayer it guides my steps aright:
Be of no cheerless heart; have no wing nor feather broken; sigh not, neither do thou wail, and sit not chilled in a corner… Be calm, be strong, be grateful, and become a lamp full of light, that the darkness of sorrows be annihilated, and that the sun of everlasting joy arise from the dawning-place of heart and soul, shining brightly. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, Volume II, p. 405.