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As I started to read the Baha’i Writings, I had a huge realization — that there was a plan for the work I do that was outside of my own ego. And I started to not be led to the Baha’i Writings out of fear, but out of hunger, out of curiosity, out of awe and this sudden humility too. That was another big surprise.
As I said, my husband, who I respect, started to attend Baha’i events again, and he came and asked me one day if we could host them in our home. And I was reluctant again. I thought people are going to come here and pressure me. They are going to tell me they know the best way again. Uh-oh. And I kept waiting for that to happen. And it didn’t and it didn’t.
Until one day, it actually did. And it was perfect because a Baha’i person who shall remain nameless came up to me after a few weeks and said “Holiday, what are you doing? Why aren’t you a Baha’i? What are you waiting for?”
And I was furious for a while and testy and mad. And then, pretty soon, which is natural, more Baha’is started to really get on my nerves. The more I knew them, the more they became human. But then, unlike before when I was tending to the issues of the spirit like dropping by cocktail parties, I decided to stay. And then I realized that Baha’is are fallible too. People are fallible. Especially ME. And faith gives us guidance. Faith is there, God is there, to forgive us, guide us, help us develop. Faith is a process, like writing every day, even for just ten minutes.
I remember a wonderful Baha’i named Lois Willows, who is no longer in this world, and who is missed terribly, saying once to a room of new Baha’is, including myself: “If Baha’is get on your nerves now, forgive them. Just imagine what they were like before they became Baha’is.”
And then my Grandmother Alice died, a major family transition, and when we went through her things we found a secret Bible.
There was the Bible she shared with my Grandfather and then there was her secret one, her private one. And it had all kinds of things written in the margins, all kinds of things underlined and crossed out. She had blacked out entire verses in the Holy Bible. She had written next to one line in Isaiah, maybe once when she was having a crisis of faith: This simply isn’t true.
That line was written in her neat schoolteacher’s handwriting. The pages were dog- eared. Some of them were ripped. She had struggled over this Bible. She had obviously questioned it. She had turned to it again and again. There were 3 X 5 cards in there with pages and pages of quotes. I discovered a whole secret self she was exploring, an exploration that was private and hers alone.
And I realized she was seeking her truth. And suddenly, instead of seeing my grandmother as someone who exemplified quiet perfection, I saw her anger and her revolutionary response to the verses. I saw her grief and her rage and her powerlessness. And she became more spiritual in my eyes instead of less. It was an example that we are allowed to question God. Faith is our invitation to ask those questions. She spoke to me through that Bible, my own, deeply spiritual grandmother, and her own independent investigation of truth.
She made me think of these words from the Baha’i Writings:
God has not intended man to blindly imitate his fathers and ancestors. He has endowed him with mind or the faculty of reasoning by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth; and that which he finds real and true, he must accept. He must not be an imitator or blind follower of any soul. He must not rely implicitly upon the opinion of any man without investigation; nay, each soul must seek intelligently and independently, arriving at a real conclusion and bound only by that reality. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 73.
And I realized this may be one of the major reasons we are here.
“If there is a truth anywhere in here,” my grandmother wrote. “I will find it.” And that must be what it’s all about to begin with — the search.