Calling all angels
calling all angels
Walk me through this one
Don’t leave me alone.
Send down upon them, O Lord, the concourse of the angels in heaven and earth and all that is between, to aid Thy servants, to succor and strengthen them, to enable them to achieve success, to sustain them, to invest them with glory, to confer upon them honor and exaltation, to enrich them and to make them triumphant with a wondrous triumph. The Báb
I have this rock that looks like an egg, and it reminds me of the angels.
I just stopped typing for a moment, to remove it from my backpack (yup, I often carry it around with me) and hold it in my hand. I bought this little rock, which is the exact size and shape of an egg, at a Chinese store in Portland, Oregon, for a dollar or two. It is cool and smooth to the touch. It rests, heavy and solid, in my palm, and when you hold it up to the light, it shimmers.
Do I have some explaining to do?
Maybe the following passage from Adib Taherzadeh will help clarify the connection between a rock that looks like an egg, and the celestial concourse:
“…the spiritual worlds of God, as testified by Bahá’u’lláh in His Tablets, revolve around this world, the world of man. This means that the next world is not divorced from life in this world, but rather encompasses it. We notice in nature that while the child grows in the womb, he is, in reality, in this world. Only a small barrier separates the womb-world from this one. It is like a chicken inside an egg: before the egg breaks open, a thin shell acts as a barrier, but both the egg and the chicken are in this world from the beginning.
…As longs as man dwells in the physical world he is unable to apprehend the features of the next world, which embraces the human world and all that it contains… it is only after its separation from the body that the soul will appreciate how close the spiritual world has been, and how it encompasses this physical world.”
I am reminded of a field trip I took in Elementary School. I don’t recall if it was to OMSI or a farm or what, but it involved an incubator with a chicken egg inside. We kids clustered around it, peering in eagerly on the little egg, willing it to hatch before our very eyes. To expand on Taherzadeh’s metaphor a little bit, we and humanity are like the chicken embryo, encased in our eggshell, and those giggling schoolchildren—of whom the baby chicken is totally oblivious—are the angels that surround us.
Let’s pause for a second to introduce some “Bahá’í jargon” (to be utilized in this posting) that not everyone may be familiar with:
- The Abhá Kingdom: The “next world”—that is, world beyond the eggshell. Abhá means “Most Glorious.”
- Hands of the Cause of God: Very special individuals who were appointed by Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi for their spiritual knowledge and wisdom to propagate and protect the Baha’i Faith. They traveled the world over, and devoted their lives to serving the Faith and loving humanity. Only fifty individuals received this title, and all are now members of the concourse on high. We’ve really been putting them to work, and call on a different one to assist us each week. This week, it’s Hand of the Cause of God John Robarts, who—conveniently—once ended a speech with the following affirmation: “We know that we are accompanied by a band of chosen angels who will open the doors and prepare the way for us.”
- The Concourse on High/The Supreme Concourse/The Hosts of the Heavenly Kingdom/The Scattering Angels of the Almighty/The Hosts of Divine Inspiration: What I have been referring to as “angels”…only ‘cause it’s less wordy. J But my understanding of what these titles refer to is the gathering of souls that have “crossed over” from the eggshell into the world beyond. They are our physical ancestors, and our spiritual ancestors…and they are eager to help us out.
- Prayer Journal: I think this phrase originated with Liz Washington. It’s essentially a little diary in which one writes down prayers and poems and beautiful words that inspire the soul. Isn’t it nicer to call it a “prayer journal” than a “quote book”? (Incidentally, it’s time for me to start a new prayer journal, as Capacity ate a good portion of mine for a midnight snack last night).
Roushanac and I call on the angels every morning, and they walk us through the day (I think I’ve come to rely on them even more readily than coffee). I mean, honestly, is there anyone out there who can make it through the day without their assistance? The Bahá’í Writings offer myriad assurances that the members of the heavenly concourse are yearning to rush to our side, if only we call on them (which Roushy and I do, unabashadely). Here are a few such assurances:
“The souls of the well-favored among the concourse on high, the sacred dwellers of the most exalted Paradise, are in this day filled with burning desire to return unto this world, that they may render such service as lieth in their power…” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
“The triumphant hosts of the Celestial Concourse, arrayed and marshaled in the Realms above, stand ready and expectant to assist and assure victory to that valiant horseman who with confidence spurs on his charger into the arena of service.” Abdu’l-Bahá
“The hosts of the invisible Kingdom, be assured, will sustain and reinforce your efforts. The essence of power is now dwelling within you, and the company of his chosen angels revolves around you.” The Báb
As I mentioned earlier, we have established the weekly routine of calling on a Hand of the Cause to assist us in our work. But we don’t stop there. We have also been calling on the souls of early pioneers in Dominica, such as the Segens, deceased loved ones of our neighbors, my grandfathers, Bob Marley…frankly, anyone and everyone. If you have a friend or family member in the Abhá Kingdom, especially if you think they have a soft spot in their heart for the Caribbean region, send us their name, and we’ll put ‘em to work! 😉 I hope you realize that, even though it’s impossible for me not to write in a playful tone, I take this matter quite seriously.
We have also been calling on the soul of Veronica Darroux. Veronica was Francillia’s older sister (Francillia is our main contact person/auntie/best friend/mentor here), and she was, I believe, one of the first Carib Bahá’ís. She was deeply in love with the Bahá’í Faith, but never lived to see it flourish in her country (God willing, Francillia will live to witness this!). She passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, a little over two years ago, and is buried in a cemetery on the Carib Reserve. The nurses at the Princess Margaret Hospital still remember her radiance, and sense of humor, and ever-present smile.
Francillia, Roushy and I recently took a walk to the cemetery to pay Veronica a visit. I believe there are few more lovely places to pray than a cemetery. What is it, after all, but a gathering of angels? Veronica’s resting place is located on a sloping green hill overlooking the sea, nestled amid banana trees and hibiscus. The air smells like ocean and flowers, and there is an ever-present breeze. We weeded her grave a bit when we arrived, and then we just sat in silence, listening to the crash of the waves. After a time, we began to sing. Veronica’s favorite Bahá’í song, Francillia had told us, was “Queen of Carmel,” an homage to the Shrine of the Báb on the Holy Mountain in Israel, and we sang out:
Standing on a mountain
looking across the bay.
The Queen of Carmel reigns
She reigns majestically…
It felt almost as if we were in the presence of that Shrine during this visit…and I knew that, somewhere beyond the egg-shell, Veronica was beaming. At some point during the devotions, Roushy opened up her prayer journal and read a passage from Hand of the Cause of God Ruhiyyih Khanum:
Everything that man does, every experience that he encounters, his whole world, mental and physical, is there but for one purpose—to launch him on an eternal voyage to a destination far better than his dearest dream. The day his plane takes off on its journey is the day of its death.
Above our heads, a small white plane soared over the Atlantic Ocean.
I heard that Maya Angelou was once asked, in an interview, how she is consistently able to speak with such inspiration, to repeatedly move her audience to tears. “It’s simple,” she responded. “When I approach the podium, I wait…and only when I feel my ancestors lined up behind me, do I open my mouth to speak.” Dorothy Baker, another inspired speaker, and a Hand of the Cause of God, has said, “Listen to the inner silences…There is always divine companionship in every loneliness. A soul is never alone.”
But we do feel alone sometimes, don’t we?
It’ so easy to forget that the angels are holding our hands, when we can’t see them or hear them or hug them. I can, however, see and feel this egg-rock. It It is cool and smooth to the touch. It rests, heavy and solid, in my palm, and when you hold it up to the light, it shimmers.
It reminds me that we are surrounded by angels.