Inspired by the 100th anniversary of the release of the Tablets of the Divine Plan and the Dec. 29, 2015 letter from the House of Justice, many clusters and Baha’i Institutions are gathering together to write letters to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, setting forth their goals for the next 5 years, and fervently asking for His assistance.
This idea captured my imagination, and I thought I would write my own letter. I had such a great time writing it, that I thought I’d share it, hoping that it will inspire you, wherever you are, to write your own letter.
Dearly loved ‘Abdu’l-Baha,
This is a broken winged bird, in so many ways, desiring to soar in Thy limitless space, fervently desiring to find an area of service which best suits my talents, skills, training and material resources.
You know how badly I wanted our cluster to be one of the ones which established a programme of growth, during this plan, and it breaks my heart that our cluster has not had the collective effort required to sustain the 2 initiatives we tried.
Please let me accept that without a shared spirit of collaboration among the Plan’s three protagonists–the individual, the community, and the institutions, we didn’t have the prerequisites required for these undertakings.
Help me remember that I can’t do it alone – that everyone has a share in the work of the Faith. Without a core group of willing participants, I am incapable of mobilizing individuals by myself. Please raise them up for me, and let me recognize them when they arrive.
Help me to remember that in previous plans, I sacrificed rest and comfort and left my home to journey to unfamiliar lands and homefront outposts. I set aside my own interests for the common good. With limited means, I sacrificially contributed my share of resources. I taught the Faith to multitudes, to groups in various settings, and to individuals in my home. I quickened souls and helped them on their own paths of service, disseminated widely the Baha’i writings and participated in deep study of the teachings. I strove for excellence in all fields, engaged diverse peoples of all strata in conversations pertaining to the search for solutions to humanity’s ills, and initiated efforts for economic and social development.
I understand that in the coming plan, the requirements are both urgent and sacred, and I know that when sacrificially and persistently addressed, we may hasten “the advent of that Golden Age which must witness the proclamation of the Most Great Peace and the unfoldment of that world civilization which is the offspring and primary purpose of that Peace.” I became a Bahá’í because I wanted to be part of that process. Please keep me steadfast and unwavering in my determination, till I draw my last breath.
I am a determined to fully participate in the current Plan and am eager to advance further along the path that experience has marked out. I long to see a significant advance in the process of entry by troops and I’m not afraid of the immense exertion necessary to bring to fruition the seeds that have been so lovingly and assiduously sown and watered in the five Plans that preceded it.
In My Role As An Individual
Help me to have a heightened understanding that comes from efforts to apply the teachings in different contexts.
Instead of allowing my habit of disappointment in the world to grow, please help me have confidence that a better world is being created; help me to help myself and others become more conscious of the spiritual forces at work, and encourage conscious contact with them.
Help me to find the right balance between “doing” (arising to serve and to accompany fellow souls), and “being” (increasing my understanding of the divine teachings and mirroring forth spiritual qualities in my life).
In My Neighbourhood
Trusting in the flow of assistance that finds its origin in the imperatives laid out in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, help me to turn my attention to serving the residents of my town and my cluster.
I want to learn through action, how to act more systematically, making goals and plans in quarterly cycles of activity and learning to depend more and more on the potent confirmations from the divine realm.
In the expansion phase, help me invest time and focused attention on visiting homes and having firesides; and in the consolidation phase help me work more systematically at studying the relevant materials and finding creative ways to share them with others.
Help me to make my home a venue for community-building activities and make me a point for the diffusion of the light of divine guidance.
Please prepare the hearts of receptive souls and guide them to me, so that I can have conversations on spiritual themes, prompted by the receptivity and experiences of all of those involved.
Please bring me into many social spaces, so a wider array of people can become familiar with the teachings and help me find ways to consider seriously the contribution they can make to the betterment of society.
In all my conversations with others, please help me to
- initiate discussions which explore spiritual reality
- improve my ability to express profound concepts
- increase the number of times I am able to elevate conversations
- become more adept at discerning when I have found a hearing ear
- decide when to be more direct in sharing the message
- remove the obstacles to understanding
- help seekers to embrace the Cause
Help me find ways so that my friends and neighbours can realize how society around them can be refashioned.
Help me find ways to nurture environments where the hesitant can be reassured, the inhabitants can see the rich possibilities created by working together, and help me to encourage others to arise to serve the best interests of our society.
Let me take full advantage of opportunities afforded by my personal circumstances and engage in conversation with people I come in contact with in daily life about the spiritual and material conditions of our communities.
Help me to encourage the practice of gathering for collective worship, so I can nurture in myself and others a much deeper connection with the Revelation of Baha’u’llah. Help the ties that bind all of the participants grow more affectionate, and let the qualities of mutual support, reciprocity, and service to one another stand out as features of an emerging, vibrant culture among those involved in these devotional gatherings.
Help me to encourage others to be in the vanguard of offering their own devotional gatherings, so that our efforts can spread to hundreds of people in our town.
Help me to learn how to explain the purpose of the core activities and demonstrate through my deeds, the purity of my motives.
Understanding that central to the pattern of action evolving in a cluster is my ongoing transformation, effected through the Word of God, help me continue to produce materials for my website on weighty themes which help others to cultivate the habit of study and deep reflection upon the Creative Word, and to see the practical application of the Writings to everyday life problems.
Help me to learn through action, how to act more systematically, making goals and plans in quarterly cycles of activity and learning to depend more and more on the potent confirmations from the divine realm.
In the expansion phase, help me invest time and focused attention on marketing my materials through social media; and in the consolidation phase help me work more systematically at studying the relevant materials; writing and refining newsletters, books and blog postings.
In the spirit of love and detached from outcomes, help me to offer the Baha’i Councils, Institute Boards and Auxiliary Board Members articles which could help them in their work with individuals and communities.
In my Role as Homefront Pioneer
While I long to be part of a cluster in which there are over a thousand inhabitants taking part in a well-established pattern of activity and being part of raising communities whose habits of thought and action are rooted in Baha’u’llah’s Revelation; and even participating in social action initiatives, I am willing to stay in my cluster as a homefront pioneer, trying to find and support a pocket of heightened receptivity.
Please help me to make a long-term commitment to my cluster and give me such a yearning to become so familiar with the reality of my town that I better integrate into local life and, eschewing any trace of prejudice or paternalism, form bonds of true friendship that befit companions on a spiritual journey.
In My Role as Community Member:
I know that the only way to initiate a process for building capacity within our cluster is to engage in the framework for action and I will continue to build my capacity outside the cluster, in preparation for a time when others in the cluster will assume their part in contributing to the spiritual and material well-being of their communities and begin to offer acts of service.
Help me to increase my capacity to serve ably at the cluster level by having people with whom I can
- study the guidance
- reflect on my actions in its light
- draw insights therefrom
- become connected with the wider body of knowledge being generated in surrounding clusters and further afield
- develop and share an appreciation of the sophisticated set of operations through which a cluster develops
Please give me a nucleus of friends to work and consult with, as we find small centres of population in my town, where intense activity can be sustained. Let me find people I can work with as teams of friends, serving together, offering mutual support, and building confidence so that, in time, the society-building power inherent in the Faith can become more visible.
Help me to be one of the many who experience the transformative effect of studying the Word of God together and let my life be touched in some way by the community’s activities.
Please help me:
- Be open to the receptivity of those who are exposed to the divine teachings
- willing to help the friends in other clusters, by sharing the materials I’ve gathered on my website
- continue tutoring those in isolated communities as they proceed further through the sequence of courses and supporting them as they start to engage in service
- organize gatherings for collective worship
- be open to opportunities to visit friends at their homes or on the phone and study a prayer together or share a theme from the Baha’i teachings.
Understanding that growth can occur quickly when the right conditions are in place, please help me be patient while I wait for the number of people sharing this commitment to rise, and our collective capacity for undertaking systematic action within the framework of the Plan increases.
Programs of Growth:
Please forgive me for not being able to apply all that had been learned from previous Plans to the work of extending the process of growth to my cluster.
You know how badly I long to see growth accelerate in our cluster, and notwithstanding the natural ebb that’s existed for several decades, please help me take this cluster solidly to the first milestone by the end of the plan.
Please let me remain open to the emergence of new programmes of growth, with assistance from clusters that neighbour our own. Help me to organize and be an active participant in cluster-wide reflection meetings which generate a stronger feeling of responsibility among those attending.
Help me to see a sense of collective ownership become more apparent from cycle to cycle as we witness the force released by a united body of people taking charge of their spiritual development.
Let me learn to talk about the needs of the current plan in such a way that I can help people catch the vision.
I recognize that developments like these are yet a distant prospect for the members of our cluster so help me to help them see that in some places, this work of the moment results in a significant percentage of the entire population involved in community-building activities. Help me to understand how a flourishing local population can transform the society of which it is an integral part.
By mid-way through the plan, help us to have reflection gatherings with those pursuing related lines of action so that we can regulate the pulsating heartbeat at all points of the cycle.
Let us all see a clear arc of progress over the course of the next twenty cycles, so that we can see a programme of growth become firmly established by Ridvan 2021.
In My Role As A Member Of An Assembly:
Although our Assembly is inactive, help me continue to make provisions for
- gatherings for the Nineteen Day Feast
- Holy Day commemorations
- Baha’i elections
until such time as the Assembly is functioning again.
Help me to also:
- encourage special programs to commemorate the two-hundred-year anniversaries of the Birth of Baha’u’llah in 2017 and the Birth of the Bab in 2019 and to attract the largest possible number of believers, their families, friends, and collaborators, as well as others from the wider society, to commemorate moments when a Being peerless in creation, a Manifestation of God, was born to the world.
- Encourage special programs to commemorate the Centenary of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in November 2021
In My Role As Assistant:
In my role as assistant to the Auxiliary Board, let me work closely with the board member to maintain a clear and united vision of what is needed.
Help me continue to:
- advise the friends in our cluster
- expand their vision of what can be accomplished without seeking to impose my own expectations on them
- keep abreast of, and share the lessons learned in the remotest parts of the planet so that our cluster can benefit from the worldwide process of learning and see that every follower of Baha’u’llah can take part
- have a progressively deeper understanding of the Five Year Plan and over time, ensure that insights that arise from applying the guidance are recognized, articulated, absorbed, and shared.
- become so familiar with the relevant guidance that I can help illuminate deliberations by calling attention to pertinent considerations
- fan into flame a passion for teaching
- encourage gatherings for worship to be integrated into the core of community life throughout the cluster so that:
- every soul may enter and feel welcome
- everyone will inhale the heavenly fragrances, experience the sweetness of prayer, meditate upon the Creative Word, be transported on the wings of the spirit, and commune with the one Beloved.
- feelings of fellowship and common cause are generated, particularly in the spiritually heightened conversations that naturally occur at such times
- the “city of the human heart” may be opened
When others are ready to engage in a planning process; help me to help them gradually enhance their ability to devise and implement a course of action informed by familiarity with actual conditions in our community. Help me to ensure that each element of the growth process attains the requisite characteristics and that the integrity and coherence of all the endeavours are maintained.
Help me to assist the friends everywhere (in my cluster and online) to appreciate that, for existing programmes of growth to continue to gain strength, the strategy of initiating community-building activities in neighbourhoods and villages that show promise must be widely adopted and systematically followed.
With regards to the Funds of the Faith and the Right of God, help me to continually encourage the friends to:
- manage their financial affairs in the light of the teachings.
- cultivate a set of attitudes towards wealth and possessions very different from those holding sway in the world
And to understand that:
- the habit of regularly giving to the Funds of the Faith arises from and reinforce a sense of personal concern for the welfare of the community and the progress of the Cause.
- the duty to contribute, just like the duty to teach, is a fundamental aspect of Baha’i identity which strengthens faith
- our sacrificial and generous contributions can be regarded as expressions of the love that binds us more closely together
- voluntary giving fosters an awareness that managing one’s financial affairs in accordance with spiritual principles is an indispensable dimension of a life lived coherently.
- it is a matter of conscience, a way in which commitment to the betterment of the world is translated into practice.
In My Role As Tutor:
Help me connect with and work with the institute board to find creative solutions to improve the quality of my role as tutor, particularly avoiding these two undesirable outcomes:
- taking people through the courses of the institute too hastily, so the capacity to serve is not sufficiently developed
- prolonging the process and robbing it of the dynamism essential to its advancement
Please also help me build capacity in others by swiftly helping make arrangements to accompany them into the arena of service, understanding that
- an adequate level of support extends far beyond encouraging words.
- working alongside a person with some experience increases consciousness of what is possible.
- an assurance of practical help can give a tentative venturer the courage to initiate an activity for the first time.
Help me to become part of a growing number of tutors who, cycle after cycle, offer the full sequence of institute courses between them, at times with marked intensity.
Help me to instill right from the very beginning in those who participate, a belief that they are protagonists in a noble endeavour to build the world anew.
I know that the coming plan will call for the
- application of proven strategies
- systematic action
- informed analysis
- keen insight
Please let me achieve these goals.
Please let my actions always to be motivated by a desire to see capacity develop in others and to foster friendships founded on cooperation and reciprocity.
Help me to see everyone as a potential collaborator in a collective enterprise, and appreciate my own part in nurturing a spirit of common purpose in the community, even if for this plan, it has to be the world-wide community of those who come in contact with the materials on my website.
I know that to reach these objectives is truly a formidable undertaking and that a herculean effort will be required; and many sacrifices will have to be made, but God willing, please let my exertions prove worthy to crown a hundred years of toil and set the stage for exploits as yet unimagined that must adorn the second century of the Formative Age.
In all my endeavors, please let me evince a prevalent attitude of joyful service, flexibility, and detachment from personal preferences so that I can give even routine administrative activities a sacred quality.
I can’t see who I might be able to work together with during the coming plan or how it might test my capacity, but no matter what, let me preserve a unified spirit among all who work together.
And let the world’s desperate condition not plunge me into despair, but impel me to find the urgency to act systematically, and to make the herculean effort necessary to achieve all that my capacity allows me to achieve. Let me occupy myself with teaching the Cause of God and training all that dwell on earth.