Give this some thought: how do you think you’ll be remembered after you’ve left this physical plane of existence?
How do we know a loved one’s life had worth and meaning? After their passing, friends and strangers share the stories of how their own lives were affected and improved because of the kind words and deeds of that dear departed one. Accomplishments, honors and material success mean little in comparison to those eternal spiritual attributes.
I recall the stories that came to light after the death of my maternal grandfather, especially how he had helped people throughout the years of the Great Depression. Some people didn’t know where their next meal would come from, and it turned out my grandfather provided many of those meals—without ever mentioning it. No one in the family had been aware of his various services to customers and neighbors until they brought their stories to light after his passing.
Many times I’ve attended funeral and memorial services where other families were similarly and surprisingly enlightened. With others, it is not a surprise. Just watch peeople. See what they do, how they do it, their demeanor, their choice of words and tone of voice, and then observe the reactions of the people with whom they interact, to know the power of their example.
When speaking of the prophets of God, Abdu’l-Baha advised that we should:
…strive to follow the example of these Divine Beings, drink from Their fountain, be illumined by Their Light, and to the world be as symbols of the Mercy and Love of God. Be unto the world as rain and clouds of mercy, as suns of truth… – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 172-173.
He wanted us to:
…become assisted and confirmed in the good pleasure of the Lord. May your spiritual perception become keener, your attention to God more complete and your spirituality an example for others. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 5, p. 22.
The first person I usually think of when I read these words is Molly King, a woman whose life was for me the greatest living example of how to be a mother, how to be a friend, how to be a neighbor, how to be a teacher. Molly was, for close to 20 years, the Program Director at the Bosch Baha’i School, set amidst the towering redwood forest in the mountains above Santa Cruz, California. Our family attended sessions the entire time that she served there and we also lived nearby and met at numerous Baha’i events and Holy Day celebrations.
Through our many interactions Molly and I developed a strong spiritual bond. So when my husband and I went to California last November to attend her memorial service, we were not surprised but rather had our own perceptions affirmed by listening to the numerous testimonials given that all had the same theme. We wondered how she possibly did all these things for so many people. Did she ever sleep? Part of her obituary read, “Molly’s home was a beacon to all, for Baha’is and any curious seeker and friend alike, where… interfaith meetings, Baha’i Holy Day celebrations and Feast gatherings overflowed with love and fellowship. She joyfully shared, tirelessly taught, and consistently embodied the Baha’i tenet of the unity of the human race.”
Molly’s kindness was legendary. She held open swim time each week at her home for the children in her town. She was also a busy volunteer, active in numerous organizations. Molly was indeed a living example for all of us. She embodied Abdu’l-Baha’s wish for us:
I hope that thou mayest become a source of joy to the hearts, a good example for people, imbued with spiritual qualities in the world of humanity, and mayest promulgate the divine teachings, so that the various people may find unity and become freed from discord. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 62.
We can all be like Molly—if we so choose. If we ponder the wisdom in the words of Abdu’l-Baha and make an effort, however small, to manifest even just one of his spiritual exhortations, we could transform ourselves and thereby become an example to others. They might just realize that they, too, can do the same. Don’t tarry. We never know how long our time is here on earth, so:
…without delay employ your powers in spreading the effulgent glow of the love of God and so order your lives that you may be known and seen as examples of its radiance. You must deal with all in loving-kindness in order that this precious seed entrusted to your planting may continue to grow and bring forth its perfect fruit. The love and mercy of God will accomplish this through you if you have love in your own heart. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 8-9.