The 26 prayers of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, recently translated into English to commemorate the centenary of His ascension, inspired a flurry of activity in the large rural cluster of Lennox and Addington. These prayers were released in March of 2021 by the Baha’i World Centre, adding to two other sets of prayers that have been translated over the past year. Kathy Hayman, a devotional host in Belleville, shares how the newly translated prayers led to a beautiful and touching evening during her regular gathering:
Our next devotional gathering was coming up and I needed to create a slideshow presentation for our Zoom meeting. I was trying to decide on a theme – what should it be? Perhaps the theme could be the nobility of humankind or the Writings could revolve around the quote “Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.” Or maybe it could focus on prayers for humanity? As I was pondering what to do I happened to check my email. There in my inbox was a letter from the National Spiritual Assembly sharing some newly-translated prayers of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! Now I knew what I was going to do: I would choose a selection from these prayers for our devotional.
Two of the prayers I chose had a particular effect on me. The first asks God to give us the gifts of worthiness and capacity:
“O Thou peerless and loving Lord! Though capacity and worthiness are lacking, and it is infinitely hard to withstand tribulations, yet worthiness and capacity are gifts vouchsafed by Thee. O Lord! Give us capacity and make us worthy, that we may evince the most great steadfastness, renounce this world and all its people, kindle the fire of Thy love, and even as candles, burn bright with a consuming flame and shed abroad our radiance….”
During this pandemic we have had to think of new ways to offer the core activities. In light of that, this prayer seems particularly timely as we increase our capacity to serve our communities in creative ways.
To close the devotional meeting I chose the prayer that is written in the form of a poem. As it was being read I noticed that the Persian Baha’is in our community were smiling. They shared with us the memory of learning to chant this prayer when they attended children’s classes in Iran. They were kind enough to chant it for us. It was a wonderful way to end our evening.
We are so fortunate to have prayers written by the central figures of our Faith. They have a special beauty and power and, as I have witnessed many times, they can have such an effect on those we share them with. We now have a new gift we can share during this centenary year of the Master’s passing.
Meanwhile, across the cluster in the village of Stirling, Emma Persaud was thinking of ways to get her children – aged four and two – involved in the excitement. She says:
I decided that we would make prayer book covers for these new precious gifts. I sat my children down at the kitchen table with paints and large pieces of paper and told them I was very excited: we now had more prayers from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that we could read!
I asked them to close their eyes and think about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – my two-year-old son immediately closed his tight and clasped his hands in prayer under his chin. How does He make your heart feel when you think of Him? What colours do you see? How do they look? Let’s take these feelings about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and paint them onto the paper for our prayer books.
My son smashed his brush on the paper again and again saying “Abdu-ha-ha!” with every spray of colour. He was having a great time.
My daughter, however, was very quiet. She took a long time mixing her paint until they were just right and then started to paint carefully. Every now and then she would sigh or laugh and say things like, “‘Abdu’l-Bahá makes me feel like a brilliant star!” or, “Look, Momma, this is the garden of my heart and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has filled it with love.”
We made a lot of paintings that morning, and ended up with more prayer books than we needed. This was a delight, because now we have some to give away!