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Spirituality

A Coffee Shop Conversation: Purses, Love, and the Baha’i Faith

Jennifer Campbell | Aug 22, 2016

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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Jennifer Campbell | Aug 22, 2016

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

…those souls whose inner being is lit by the love of God are even as spreading rays of light, and they shine out like stars of holiness in a pure and crystalline sky. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 203.

At Starbucks on Thursday during lunch, I went inside and ordered an iced tea. I smiled at a woman who entered the café, and let her pass after I received my drink. I found a comfy chair by the window and started writing an article for BahaiTeachings.org

A few minutes later, that same woman sat next to me and said she liked my purse. We both liked the same brand and style of purse; hers was simply an older version in a different color. I thanked her and complimented her on her purse, too. 

In her early-to-mid-seventies, she appeared youthful, intelligent and articulate. She showed me a newspaper ad for the latest colors available in these purses. She mentioned the great deal she received on her purse, and said that she had owned it for several decades.

As my new Starbucks friend continued to chat she mentioned the current American Presidential candidates in this election year, and she asked who I planned to vote for. Due to my beliefs as a Baha’i, I try to steer clear of potentially polarizing discussions revolving around politics. So I kindly redirected the conversation to the Baha’i belief in unity and love for everyone. I saw a twinkle in her eyes; this resonated with her, and she asked, rhetorically, “What reason is there for God having created us, other than to love each other?” 

I agreed with her wholeheartedly.

We talked about the challenges facing the world today, the discrimination, the negativity, and the prejudices. She wondered aloud how the world’s difficulties will improve.

I said, “I pray for the betterment of the world and for world peace.” 

She asked, in a serious and respectful tone, “Are you a minister?” (I smiled inside at this amusing question, and took it as a compliment.)

“No, I’m a Baha’i—have you heard of the Baha’i Faith?”

She said it sounded familiar, and I mentioned that she may have seen pictures or heard of the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, where everyone is welcome, regardless of religion or beliefs. She was very interested and said she had heard about the House of Worship.

Then we talked about our shared beliefs regarding loving everyone—that everyone is equal, and that we all come from the same God. She jokingly said she was a “purported Christian,” and told me she believed love was the basis of all life. In the Baha’i writings, too, love is mentioned as being the reason we were created:

O Son of Man! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 4.

As we sipped our drinks, she introduced herself to me. 

“My name is Susan,” she said, “which means lily, and there’s a lily that’s associated with peace.”

“That’s beautiful,” I said, “and it fits you well, based on your attitude towards spreading love to others.”

She smiled, and after I introduced myself, she told me, “You should look up your name and see what Jennifer means.” (I took her suggestion and later Googled it: it means Fair Lady or White Wave. I found out other cool facts about the number of Jennifers in the U. S., and the variations of the name in other countries around the world, but I digress.)

Susan thanked me for “being so kind to talk to me,” and we exchanged contact information. As I left Starbucks, I reflected on the importance of talking to our fellow humans, asking how people are doing, finding our commonalities, and spreading love and positivity. Susan had talked, also, about how often people forget to just talk to each other, and to help a person in need.

I enjoyed my conversation with Susan. I admired her positive attitude and her view of the world. The world needs more connections like this, and more love and unity, especially if we want to bring about world peace. We can each play a role in obtaining that peace, and we can start in simple ways—even something as simple as having a conversation with someone at the local coffee shop:

…Love is greater than peace, for peace is founded upon love. Love is the objective point of peace, and peace is an outcome of love. Until love is attained, peace cannot be…. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 169.

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Comments

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  • Mary Grace Javier Ipac
    Aug 22, 2016
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    I learned a lot. ❤
  • Aug 22, 2016
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    I love Starbucks and Dark Roast black coffee. While I'm religious and like talking about religion, the Golden Rule, and the Meaning of Life, you did obviously dodge the political part of the discussion by side tracking the conversation. I'm a supporter of Gary Johnson and William "Bill" Weld during this election cycle due to the great Town Halls on CNN for all four tickets. I'm Buddhist (Mahayana Buddhist, Nichiren Budddhist, Soka Gakkai, Soka Gakkai Intenrational) and Unitarian Universalist, so I care about love. Love is the four immeasurables and four divine abodes. All sentient beings are part of the ...same Universal Life Force/Spirit. Back to politics, I believe in acceptance/tolerance with regards to social/cultural issues and responsibility with regards to economic/fiscal issues. I'm an Independent, but vote third party whenever I get a chance to. My stance for marijuana legalization, abortion rights, LGBT rights, open immigration, instant runoff voting, non-interventionism, the abolition of capital punishment, etc are examples of my belief in love leading me to be accepting and tolerant on social issues. Even though Unitarians and Buddhists are most accepting/tolerant on social issues, I still feel the need to mention my stances on social issues as the general stereotype of religious people is the opposite. I'm very introverted, but I would have gave an invitation to the nearest Unitarian Universalists church and/or nearest Soka Gakkai International community center (equivalent to a Nichiren Shoshu temple after the split between NS and SGI).
    Read more...
  • Gwen Massey
    Aug 22, 2016
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    On 8/21/16 I had a similar situation happen as I was tutoring a Book 1 to a youth of Moslem faith at a McDonald's who has agreed to become a animator, we were talking about prayer, when a lady with a 2 year old over heard and started up a conversation, I was able to share my information with her and hope to heard from her soon. I so agreed with the importance of extending love in all our relationships!
    gwen
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