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  • In 1844, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad (known by His title, the Bab, which means "the Gate") announced that He was the bearer of a Divine Revelation whose aim was to prepare the world for a Messenger of God--Baha'u'llah. The anniversary of that declaration is celebrated by Baha'is and their friends all over the world.
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A Love Letter to Mothers

May 12, 2024, in Articles > Baha'i Life, by

Dear mothers,

I struggle.

I struggle with deepening my understanding and carrying out my sacred role as a mother, without allowing feelings of guilt, inadequacy, or pressure to get the better of me.

There. I said it!

I recently took on a commitment that I regretted. It involved a virtual late night meeting of intense study and consultation and I was burnt out. The friend organizing the study had very graciously told the mothers in the group that we all had permission to not show up, without explanation, if family obligations or life prevented us from attending. I told myself I would just look at the study materials that had been thoughtfully mailed to me before I texted my apologies for not attending. I ripped open the envelope wearily. Stuck on top of the pages was a note from the organizer. All it said was: “with my love.”

Those three little words — in combination with the permission to bow out of the meeting if I needed to — touched me so deeply it gave me the energy to attend the study session without any sense of obligation, pressure or dread. My regret dissolved. I logged into the meeting and I benefitted greatly from it. My heart was filled with sweetness.

The experience made me wonder: how do we allow ourselves to feel the love of our Beloved and how do we allow it to motivate us in our service to others, free from guilt or out of a mechanical or empty sense of duty? And how can we spread love to others, genuinely, without expectation? How can we be as compassionate with ourselves as we are to others when our service doesn’t look like what we had planned?

I was moved to tears when the World Centre released an English translation of the following prayer by Abdu’l-Baha:

O Thou forgiving God! Forgive the sins of my loving mother, pardon her shortcomings, cast upon her the glance of Thy gracious providence, and enable her to gain admittance into Thy Kingdom.

O God! From the earliest days of my life she educated and nurtured me, yet I did not recompense her for her toil and labours. Do Thou reward her by granting her eternal life and making her exalted in Thy Kingdom.

Verily, Thou art the Forgiver, the Bestower, and the Kind.

I offer this prayer both in thanks to my own mother — who, after raising her own children, now serves others ceaselessly, wholeheartedly and sacrificially — but also for myself, that I may learn to set aside my own shortcomings.

In writing this article I have come face-to-face with myself and I have admitted some of my many shortcomings as a mother. However, even if I don’t serve my kids enough fruits or vegetables, even if I lose my patience, even if I struggle to make devotions a joyful and integral part of family life, even if I cancel on a meeting or don’t attend a community event, even if I don’t have time to participate in that study circle I keep meaning to join, even if it’s hard to find enough time for personal study and prayer, even if I keep failing the same tests and difficulties, even if I say “no” when asked to serve in a specific capacity or role, even if I don’t take enough time to exercise or care for myself, even if I am dog-tired: I am still loved.

What if, in moments when my spirit of service is flagging, I remembered some of the following words of Abdu’l-Baha?

You are always in my thoughts. You are not nor shall you ever be forgotten.

By night, by day, at morningtide and sunset, when darkness draweth on, and at early light I remember, and ever have remembered, in the realms of my mind and heart, the loved ones of the Lord.

You are all very welcome, and I love you all most dearly. Day and night I pray to Heaven for you that strength may be yours…

Do not take into consideration your own aptitudes and capacities, but fix your gaze on the consummate bounty, the divine bestowal and the power of the Holy Spirit—the power that converteth the drop into a sea and the star into a sun.

I am going away from your city, but I leave my heart with you. My spirit will be here; I will not forget you. I ask confirmation for you from the Kingdom of Baha’u’llah. I pray that you may advance continually in spiritual susceptibilities, that day by day you may grow more radiant and draw nearer to God until you become instrumental
in illumining the world of humanity. May these confirmations of the Kingdom of God encompass you. This is my hope, my prayer.

Ye live, all of you, within the heart of Abdu’l-Baha, and with every breath do I turn my face toward the Threshold of Oneness and call down blessings upon you, each and all.

O! So this is perhaps why some of these quotations are included in Book 8 (The Covenant of Baha’u’llah) and we are asked to memorize them! If I can call these words to mind, it will be like that unexpected note that I found in the envelope. These words can call me back to myself with love.

Perhaps you too have a list of “love notes” that you turn to for encouragement and if you don’t, perhaps this short list might help you start one. Wherever you are this Mother’s Day, whatever shape and form your service takes, whatever shortcomings you are wrestling: I see you.

With my love,

Sonjel

Posted by

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.
Sonjel Vreeland

Discussion 1 Comment

This is simply beautiful. Thank you dearest Sonjel. I know I need to feel the acceptance of my shortcomings so as to avoid becoming derailed in service. We are not created to be perfect but to strive each day to be the best we can be that day. You are enough and yes, you are indeed well loved.❤️

GLORIAJEAN Murphy

GLORIAJEAN Murphy (May 5, 2024 at 5:12 AM)

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