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Religion

All Things Made New

David Langness | Mar 4, 2015

PART 4 IN SERIES The Renewal of Religion

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Mar 4, 2015

PART 4 IN SERIES The Renewal of Religion

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

…in this world of being, all things must ever be made new. – Abdu’l-Baha

I wish all of you out there in cyberspace could’ve known my good friend Jim Stone.

When I met him, almost half a century ago, Jim worked as a travelling appliance repairman who lived with his wife Roan in Gallup, New Mexico. At that point, after living there for many years, Jim’s old blue and white Ford pickup truck had become a familiar and welcome sight on the nearby Navajo Reservation, with its big hand-painted sign over the cab that said “All Things Made New!”

Jim humbly worked in the tradition of the itinerant, traveling tinkers, the tinsmiths and metalworkers who moved from place to place in old Europe in the Middle Ages. He could fix anything—but more importantly, Jim had a huge heart and an even bigger smile. He would repair and rebuild toasters and washers and pickups and leaky stock tanks and just about anything else, and if you couldn’t pay he’d take something in trade, or share a meal, or simply not charge you at all. This pure generosity, as you might imagine, endeared Jim to many people. I’ve never known anyone with more friends, people who genuinely loved him for his spirit of service and his joyous approach to life–and never once have I mentioned Jim’s name to anyone who knew him, and not received a big smile in return.

What a remarkable thing to leave behind in the world, I’ve often thought—a big grin on each person’s face every time your name comes up. Actually, I can’t think of a better lifetime achievement award. So let me tell you where Jim got his lightheartedness, his joy and his devotion to people.

Jim’s “All Things Made New!” sign had a double meaning, of course. It referred to his appliance repair skills, but it also came directly from one of his most beloved quotes in the Baha’i writings:

Out of this pitch blackness there dawned the morning splendour of the Teachings of Baha’u’llah. He hath dressed the world with a garment new and fair, and that new garment is the principles which have come down from God.

Now the new age is here and creation is reborn. Humanity hath taken on new life. The autumn hath gone by, and the reviving spring is here. All things are now made new. Arts and industries have been reborn, there are new discoveries in science, and there are new inventions… all these have likewise been renewed. The laws and procedures of every government have been revised. Renewal is the order of the day.

And all this newness hath its source in the fresh outpourings of wondrous grace and favour from the Lord of the Kingdom, which have renewed the world. The people, therefore, must be set completely free from their old patterns of thought, that all their attention may be focused upon these new principles, for these are the light of this time and the very spirit of this age. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 252.

Jim’s sunny disposition and generous nature grew directly out of his love for Baha’u’llah, who he once told me “came to this world to speak to everyone, especially the people the world doesn’t see as important.” In Jim’s travels, he took special care to speak to those people, too. He went anywhere to help anyone. He had a regular monthly circuit on the reservation, visiting hundred-year-old Navajo grandmothers and their extended families who lived in remote earthen hogans, and doing whatever he could to be of service to them.

Truck-driving-down-dirt-roadI went with Jim a few times. We’d drive down a rutted dirt road for thirty miles, and keep going when it turned into a sheep trail, and then keep going some more when it turned into no trail at all. At the end of the journey, dusty and hot and thirsty, we’d pull up to a dirt and log hogan, and Jim would honk the horn out of politeness to announce our arrival. Pretty soon a grandmother or a family would emerge, smiling, and wave us in. Jim would happily fix whatever needed fixing, and then we would all usually sit down together and eat something and laugh. You couldn’t help laughing when Jim was around, not because he told funny jokes, but because of his warm, direct, open and giving soul—and because he was such a kind, big-hearted and good-natured person. He spoke clearly, honestly and not very often. His light seemed to always shine.

Jim told just about everyone he met about Baha’u’llah. He never proselytized or pushed his beliefs on anyone, but folks would invariably ask him about how he got his sunny disposition, or his positive outlook on life, or why he helped people so much, or even the sign on his truck.

“Well, it’s good news,” he would answer in his loving, straightforward way. “A new prophet’s come to renew the religions of the past. His name is Baha’u’llah.” Sometimes Jim would show people who were interested a little booklet in Navajo called “A New Day Comes,” which contained this quote about all the prophets of God from Baha’u’llah’s writings:

Even as the visible sun that assisteth, as decreed by God, the true One, the Adored, in the development of all earthly things, such as the trees, the fruits, and colours thereof, the minerals of the earth, and all that may be witnessed in the world of creation, so do the divine Luminaries, by their loving care and educative influence, cause the trees of divine unity, the fruits of His oneness, the leaves of detachment, the blossoms of knowledge and certitude, and the myrtles of wisdom and utterance, to exist and be made manifest.

Thus it is that through the rise of these Luminaries of God the world is made new, the waters of everlasting life stream forth, the billows of loving-kindness surge, the clouds of grace are gathered, and the breeze of bounty bloweth upon all created things. It is the warmth that these Luminaries of God generate, and the undying fires they kindle, which cause the light of the love of God to burn fiercely in the heart of humanity. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 33.

Jim Stone passed away years ago. He left no great monuments or fame or material riches before he plunged into the ocean of light. Instead, Jim Stone left a better, longer-lasting legacy in this world—his abiding love for all of the prophets of God, and the beaming smiles on the faces of everyone who knew him.

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Comments

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  • John McGimsey
    Mar 5, 2019
    -
    I knew Jim & Roan from my work in NM with the Pueblos and attending Bahai Native American events. I also met them in Switzerland at an Esperanto Conference about 1980. I wish I had spent a lot more time getting to know them. They once delivered me a washer to Taos from Gallup in an old car. That washer lasted forever. Both were fantastic people.
  • Peter Danzer
    Dec 16, 2016
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    It was also in 1988 that i stayed with Jim & Roan in Gallop NM for a week or so. Roan of course was known to me because of her ESPERANTO activities. She showed me some correspondence of hers with LIDIA ZAMENHOF. Where are all her archives one wonders? May God's bounties rest upon her and Jim in the Abha Kingdom.
  • Jeff Jain
    Jul 18, 2016
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    I met Jim and his dear wife just near the time of his passing. When I first declared as a Baha'i in 1988 in New Mexico. What lessons they parted on the heights of service and sacrifice one can scale in the work for the Oneness of Humanity.
  • Roger Prentice
    May 16, 2016
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    Great piece David - what a blessing to have known Jim and his pickup!
  • Mar 5, 2015
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    " ' Bring forth thy people from darkness into light and remind them of the days of God.' " And these are in truth the days of God, could ye but know it. GDM 62
  • Mar 4, 2015
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    Thank you, David. I lived with Jim and Roan for three weeks in the fall of 1972. It was one of the most impressive memories and time of my life. The most devoted and detached people I have ever met. His deep laughter and Joan's quiet, humble, and comprehensive determination left an eternal mark on my soul.
  • Mar 4, 2015
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    Any more info available David?
    The theme is fascinating from a Christian point of view given 'all things made new' in Revelations, Peter, and Paul.
    Also, John Ferraby's well received Baha'i book of the same name comes to mind from 3 or 4 decades ago.
    Does the legacy that Jim left include any patents or off spring?
    As an Esperantist I'm wondering too about any possible connection to a well known American Baha'i lady named Roan Orloff Stone who passed away about a decade ago; she composed many Baha'i essays in Dr Zamenhof's international auxiliary language.
    Baha'i love.
    Paul
    • Jeff Jain
      Jul 18, 2016
      -
      That is the right lady. Met her in late 80's, and she had been very hard working in Esperanto field
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