A Giant Step With the Short Oblig
By John Taylor; 2010 April 14, Jalal 06, 167 BE
My ten-year-old son Thomas came up with the following two aphorisms this morning as he was preparing to go to school.
"An apple a day keeps the teacher at bay."
"In the early stages you cannot tell the difference between a sneeze and a yawn."
Myself, I have been able to come up with nothing these past days, so let me offer this spontaneous commentary on the Short Obligatory prayer. (Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations, CLXXXI, p. 313) I have been swimming around in the gap between the first and the second sentence of this prayer all my Baha'i life.
"I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee."
So, let me see, we have been created to know an Unknowable Essence, to do something that is by definition utterly impossible. Our reason for being is permanently beyond our grasp. How about worship then. But if I cannot know Him how is it that I am expected to love Him? Another utter impossibility. You can only love what you are intimate contact with.
Okay, true, the teaching is that we can know and love God virtually. You can know and worship by means of His Proxy, the Manifestation. Even so, it is a pretty tall order.
This first sentence is like the first half of a step forward. As you are walking, you realize that you are almost falling, until the other foot hits the ground. Here comes the other foot.
"I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth."
So let me get this straight. My destination is an unattainable one and I have no power to get there with. Nor do I have any spending money to burn on the way. I am chasing an impossible dream, with no means, no energy, no hope.
But all I need is enough impetus to drive me forward to the next step. What little I can know, what little I can worship only needs to be powerful enough to carry me forward to the next step. So I slap my foot down.
"There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting."
`No other God but God.' Hmm. Nothing else in this universe is going to help me fulfil this daunting purpose. At least I know that, discouraging as standing here is, I am facing in the only direction with any hope of getting me there.
`Help in Peril' My shortcoming must be there for a reason, to bring out this attribute of my Creator. If He manages to make me succeed, it will be for His greater glory. My purpose is to highlight His power, wealth and helpfulness.
`The Self-subsisting' Another virtue I can now appreciate better now than before I set out on this unending quest. God has enough to subsist for Himself, and He has plenty left over for my substance as well. Maybe I am not as far off from my Object as I thought.