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O SON OF THE SUPREME!
I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?
O SON OF SPIRIT!
With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice! To the court of holiness I summon thee; abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore.
O SON OF SPIRIT!
The spirit of holiness beareth unto thee the joyful tidings of reunion; wherefore dost thou grieve? The spirit of power confirmeth thee in His cause; why dost thou veil thyself? The light of His countenance doth lead thee; how canst thou go astray? – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, pp. 11-12.
Everyone gets one life and one death.
My dear friend Truitt White reached his death a few weeks ago. We had a memorial service for him at the Los Angeles Baha’i Center. Truitt was relatively young, but he had packed a great deal into his life in this material world. As a Baha’i, Truitt exemplified what Abdu’l-Baha meant when he urged all people to become “world citizens” – he lived in many different places around the world, and enriched those places with his beaming smile, his gentle manner and his beautiful character.
If I had to pick one word to describe Truitt, I think it might be sweet. And I don’t mean that artificial sweetener, syrupy kind of sweet, either – Truitt was truly and naturally sweet. He had a loving aspect, if you know what I mean. When you first met Truitt, the sparkle in his eyes told you that he loved humanity. He had an easy smile, loved a good joke, and lit up when somebody raised the topic of spirituality.
Truitt spent his life educating children, and when you saw him in large groups of kids, you knew they felt his loving, sweet spirit, too.
His memorial service moved us all. Many hundreds of people gathered, and it looked like the United Nations. People from just about every racial, religious and ethnic group you can imagine attended. And they didn’t just show up – they cried and sang and celebrated Truitt’s wonderful life. We sung gospel songs and Baha’i prayers. We laughed and talked and ate and socialized and got to know new friends in a spirit of loving, kind fellowship.
And I realized, about halfway through the service, that Truitt had left a legacy of joy in the world. His children and his grandchildren, both biological and spiritual, all mourned their great loss. But they also, at the same time, fondly remembered Truitt’s happiness in this life and his eager anticipation of the joy that awaited him in the next one.
His friends all over the world lamented his absence while they cheered his presence. We prayed for the progress of his luminous soul on its journey to the great mystical destination we all have in common.
Truitt loved the three short passages above, perhaps some of the most well-known and most-memorized of all of Baha’u’llah’s writings in the Hidden Words, this small, powerful book of spiritual aphorisms. The joy that Truitt felt in this life, he told me once, could only increase in the next world. Truitt knew, deep down in his soul, that his death would be a bridge to enormous happiness and freedom, to the court of holiness.
That promise – the very core of all faith – simply assures us that this existence is not the end. When Baha’u’llah says “I have made death a messenger of joy” it gives us not just solace but hope; not just comfort but love; not just a wish but a promise of reunion and light and eternal delight.
Godspeed, my friend.