The light and the dark of us

dark clouds
Orb from a stormy sky.  Photo by Emily A. Lee

In the dark before dawn today I arose, fed the dogs and went to watch the first glimmerings of the existence of a sun to the east.  That view is quite surrounded by three story, pillored, white Georgian style buildings with black mansard roofs.  The black and whites is what some locals call the buildings.

Indeed, the thought crossed my dozy mind, our lives can feel surrounded by dueling points of view as sharp as the colors of the buildings and the sunrise against the darkness.  Aiming straight into our psyches.

As individuals we have two natures, the material and the spiritual ones.  How we develop and turn out as life unfolds depends, as an old Native saying has it, on which nature we feed with our thoughts and deeds.

I couldn’t eat anything,  despite being a dedicated morning person who needs food to push aside grogginess, as my dear daughter was taking time out of her work day to get me into the doctor’s office for a routine blood test.  Overnight fast required.  This situation made me woozy, wobbly and weak in the knees.  Well — my knees would have been all those things if they weren’t paralyzed.

Perhaps this state enhanced my preoccupation with the divisions amongst us that even Pollyannas can no longer ignore.  Perhaps that is what brought out the memory of two prayers that I have found, for decades, to be both inspiring and terrifying.  Two prayers describing, in the world-embracing way of the Baha’i Faith, the two natures of humanity.  Just as we as individuals have two aspects, so does our collective.  The human race as entity.  The over arching realm of common thought and purpose that builds in around a civilization.

So I perused these two prayers.  It occurred to me to share them in this time when dissension and dwelling on human misfortune, misery, greed and the entitlement of the few contrasts with persistent and determined efforts of a significant number of people to work with and bring out the justice and brilliance that lie within people.  Individually and collectively.

These passages give insight, I think, into the  dark views we hear too much about — and into the light that we carry, that we quietly urge to grow.

The first is about the darkness of our days, the second is filled with hope.  Both are prayers of ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1844-1921), who was an important figure in the Baha’i Faith.

The first:

O my Lord, my Defender, my Help in Peril!  Lowly do I entreat Thee, ailing do I come unto Thee to be healed, humbly do I cry out to Thee with my tongue, my soul, my spirit:

O God, my God!  The gloom of night hath shrouded every region, and all the earth is shut away behind thick clouds.  The peoples of the world are sunk in the black depths of vain illusions, while their tyrants wallow in cruelty and hate.  I see nothing but the glare of searing fires that blaze upward from the nethermost abyss, I hear nothing save the thunderous roar that belloweth out from thousands upon thousands of fiery weapons of assault, while every land is crying aloud in its secret tongue: “My riches avail me nothing, and my sovereignty hath perished!”

O my Lord, the lamps of guidance have gone out.  The flames of passion are mounting high, and malevolence is ever gaining on the world.  Malice and hate have overspread the face of the whole earth, and I find no souls except Thine own oppressed small band who are raising up this cry:

Make haste to love!  Make haste to trust!  Make haste to give!  To guidance come!

Come ye for harmony!  To behold the Star of Day!  Come here for kindliness, for ease!  Come here for amity and peace!

Come and cast down your weapons of wrath, till unity is won!  Come and in the Lord’s true path each one help each one.

Verily, with exceeding joy, with heart and soul, do these oppressed of Thine offer themselves up for all mankind in every land.  Thou seest them, O my Lord, weeping over the tears Thy people shed, mourning the grief of Thy children, condoling with humankind, suffering because of the calamities that beset all the denizens of the earth.

O my Lord, wing them with victory that they may soar upward to salvation, strengthen their loins in service to Thy people, and their backs in servitude to Thy Threshold of Holiness.

Verily Thou art the Generous, verily Thou art the Merciful!  There is none other God save Thee, the Clement, the Pitiful, the Ancient of Days!

The second:

O Thou kind Lord!  Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock.  Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household.  In Thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy Providence. 

O God!  Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all.  Thou hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy.

O Thou kind Lord!  Unite all.  Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home.  May they all live together in perfect harmony.

O God!  Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of mankind.

O God!  Establish the Most Great Peace.

Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together.

O Thou kind Father, God!  Gladden our hearts through the fragrance of Thy love.  Brighten our eyes through the Light of Thy Guidance.  Delight our ears with the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold of Thy Providence.

Thou art the Mighty and Powerful, Thou art the Forgiving and Thou art the One Who overlooketh the shortcomings of all mankind.

I leave you with this recording by Smith & Dragoman of their instrumental, The Passing

Dove on the ark in the sun
Arc for a dove in the sun, from a photo by Emily A. Lee


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