Now that I had decided to officially become a Baha’i, and before the Christmas vacation was over, I had three more dramatic moves to make, only one of which turned out to be very dramatic at all. First, I had to inform my brother and his wife Judith that I had decided to be a Baha’i. This occurred unexpectedly while Judith and I returned from a talk Bill was to have given in Gainesville, Georgia.

Bill had felt ill, so Judith and I had gone in his stead. Judith gave the main presentation, a basic introduction to the Baha’i Faith, but during the question and answer period following her presentation, I found myself offering answers to those who had come to investigate this religion—or else I would amplify answers other Baha’is gave. I certainly was not trying to demonstrate the depth of my knowledge or my capacity to field difficult or complex questions. I simply felt that I could offer lucid answers, because the questions these seekers asked were the precise questions I had pursued for three years, and the answers they sought were the very answers I had spent an incalculable amount of time discovering, and corroborating to my satisfaction.

On the way home in the car, I remember saying to Judith that this was ludicrous. Here I was, having established to my satisfaction that the Baha’i description of reality, religion and religious history was true; that Baha’u’llah was indeed the messenger of God for this Day; that I was sufficiently capable of teaching others about this good news that I could easily do so and take joy in doing it; and yet I was denying myself the bounty and support of assuming this new name on the basis of a promise I had made more than two years earlier to my father.

After all, the purpose of Dad’s covenant with me was to protect me from following Bill blindly or from following a path without thoroughly investigating it for myself. But I was doing neither of these. For more than three years I had studied it, tested it, and was now advocating it to others. What sense did it make to deny myself this privilege?

So when we returned home that same evening, I approached my father with tears in my eyes as he embraced me, having no idea what was wrong. “Dad,” I murmured in a broken voice, “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I can no longer keep my promise to you. I must become a Baha’i!”

I sobbed on his chest as he embraced me firmer, patted my back and said, “Son, son, there’s no need to cry about it.” I backed away, and quickly my tears turned into laughter, and we all celebrated my decision:

I supplicate that you may become as new beings, illumined with the Divine Light, like unto shining lamps, and that… the knowledge of the Love of God may spread.

May this boundless love so fill your hearts and minds that sadness may find no room to enter and may you with joyful hearts soar like birds into the Divine Radiance.

May your hearts become clear and pure like unto polished mirrors in which may be reflected the full glory of the Sun of Truth.

May your eyes be opened to see the signs of the Kingdom of God, and may your ears be unstopped so that you may hear with a perfect understanding the Heavenly Proclamation sounding in your midst.

May your souls receive help and comfort, and, being so strengthened, may they be enabled to live in accordance with the teachings of Baha’u’llah.

I pray for each and all that you may be as flames of love in the world, and that the brightness of your light and the warmth of your affection may reach the heart of every sad and sorrowing child of God.

May you be as shining stars, bright and luminous for ever in the Kingdom.

I counsel you that you study earnestly the teachings of Baha’u’llah, so that, God helping you, you may in deed and truth become Baha’is. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 95-96.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

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