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Spring, that joy-drenched season when the heart feels that all things are once again imaginable, renews our inner and outer worlds. Everything grows, blooms and begins to bear fruit. Rain and wind sweep away winter’s detritus. The whole earth humbly announces that its fecundity and beauty have returned, and will always return.
Joy blossoms again. The days grow longer, the light streams toward us, love flourishes, we thaw. People sit in parks and turn their faces up to the radiant warm sun. Snow and ice melt, streams rush down to rivers, waterfalls roar, birds trill, the new leaves leap out of their buds on every tree and unfurl to the light.
Our hearts and souls feel it. The human spirit, often more sensitive than our minds can understand, responds to the season and opens to new possibilities. If the earth is renewed, if the air itself is fragrant with pollen and flight and change and transformation, if the irresistible call of life sounds in every molecule of every plant and animal, certainly we can sense spring’s signal in our very cells.
The cycle of religion has its seasons, too.
“Religion is the outer expression of the divine reality,”
“Therefore it must be living, vitalized, moving and progressive. If it be without motion and non-progressive it is without the divine life; it is dead.”
It was springtime in New York in 1912 when Abdu’l-Baha used the metaphor of the seasons to explain the Baha’i principle of progressive revelation and the renewal of religion:
The divine Prophets are as the coming of spring, each renewing and quickening the teachings of the Prophet Who came before Him. Just as all seasons of spring are essentially one as to newness of life, vernal showers and beauty, so the essence of the mission and accomplishment of all the Prophets is one and the same. Now the people of religion have lost sight of the essential reality of the spiritual springtime. They have held tenaciously to ancestral forms and imitations, and because of this there is variance, strife and altercation among them. Therefore, we must now abandon these imitations and seek the foundation of the divine teachings; and inasmuch as the foundation is one reality, the divergent religionists must agree in it so that love and unity will be established among all people and denominations. (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 126)
A year later and exactly a hundred years ago this spring, Abdu’l-Baha told a large audience in Paris that the spring of religion’s renewal had come again:
God leaves not His children comfortless, but, when the darkness of winter overshadows them, then again He sends His Messengers, the Prophets, with a renewal of the blessed spring. The Sun of Truth appears again on the horizon of the world shining into the eyes of those who sleep, awaking them to behold the glory of a new dawn. Then again will the tree of humanity blossom and bring forth the fruit of righteousness for the healing of the nations. Because man has stopped his ears to the Voice of Truth and shut his eyes to the Sacred Light, neglecting the Law of God, for this reason has the darkness of war and tumult, unrest and misery, desolated the earth. I pray that you will all strive to bring each child of God into the radiance of the Sun of Truth, that the darkness may be dissipated by the penetrating rays of its glory, and the winter’s hardness and cold may be melted away by the merciful warmth of its shining. (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 32-33)
We know now, thanks to evolutionary biologists, that our Earth is a single super-organism, one organic system, a living planet. The cycles of that planetary life evolve as the earth revolves around the sun, just as the Baha’i teachings tell us there is one religion, renewable and progressive, the warming rays from one Unknowable Essence.