Nurturing the Fragile Child of Inner Peace

Strangely, when you’re dying, wonderful things can happen. Today, one of my dearest friends, who occupies a very deep place in my heart, came back into my life after the passage of over 22 years. 

For me, her absence has been a source of sorrow, loneliness, and self-condemnation. Her return has once again filled my soul with peace, and I have let go of those guilt feelings. This end-of-life miracle confirms that God loves me!

The second wonderful thing that has happened is that my teaching and serving others here in the nursing home continues to grow, which at times makes me feel so wonderful, almost giddy and drunk. I keep saying that the Baha’is are cheap drunks — rather than drinking alcohol, we drink from the wine of astonishment and the sweet nectar of the love of God. There are no side effects; it is 100 percent legal for all ages, and it is free.

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The third wonderful event: I am even more into reading and understanding the Holy Bible. I’ve always wanted to understand the meaning of the book of Revelation, the only book that Christ asked St. John to write. It’s daunting to read and understand this book. A friend of mine, a very wonderful and consistently rescuing friend when I feel so ignorant, sent me this book. I am so excited, and at the same time, so impatient to finish it — but it will take me a while, one bite at a time. I want my spiritual stomach to have a zipper so I can unzip and put all the spiritual food, and then digest it.

The fourth happening: our kitchen family and I finally resolved my food issue, which makes me very happy and full. I now enjoy every bit of food. The only problem that might remain is that I may gain too much weight — funny for a person experiencing terminal cancer to say that, right?

Finally, the fifth issue is spiritually challenging me as well and forcing me once more to look inside myself at what I consider important. I think I am becoming too critical and am finding fault more than is needed. I do not like that aspect of myself because since I moved to this place, I have been doing my best to change my thinking and attitude from critical and fault-finding to that of tolerance, perseverance, and inner peace. This is a test for me and I wonder — how am I dealing with this test? Am I passing it at all? I do not like this feeling. 

To seek a better sense of inner peace before I die, I frequently say this prayer from Abdu’l-Baha:

O Lord! Grant me a measure of Thy grace and loving-kindness, Thy care and protection, Thy shelter and bounty, that the end of my days may be distinguished above their beginning, and the close of my life may open the portals to Thy manifold blessings. May Thy loving-kindness and bounty descend upon me at every moment, and Thy forgiveness and mercy be vouchsafed with every breath, until, beneath the sheltering shadow of Thine upraised Standard, I may at last repair to the Kingdom of the All-Praised. Thou art the Bestower and the Ever-Loving, and Thou art, verily, the Lord of grace and bounty.

I’ve discovered that inner peace is a child! I am becoming more and more convinced that inner peace is a fragile child that has to be nurtured consistently. Otherwise, my inner peace will disappear partially or completely. Even though I do have a sense of inner peace most of the time, occasionally, its opposite — inner commotion, stress, and anxiety — takes over, and I fall into the trap that robs me of inner peace. 

Once in a while, at least for a moment, when something irritates me, my inner peace becomes derailed, and I have to start all over again, which makes me question my sincerity toward God. That irritates me, making me question why I can’t just grow up, at least spiritually.

During these moments, once again, I ask myself and the universe, “Why am I here?’ 

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What use do I have for being alive? Of course, I know why! It is just that I still want to have control of the date of my passing. It is “I want! I want!” time. That is when I must learn to give up my will to the Creator’s, and be humble, letting God control my life and decide the date when I will leave. 

That’s why I think that inner peace needs to be nurtured consistently. I know I’ll only achieve true inner peace through submission to God’s will — by stopping my “yes butting” and playing mind games with God. The strange or funny thing about it is as soon as I think I got it and I’ve conquered my inner struggle, I fall flat on my face. As Baha’u’llah said in his Words of Wisdom, “The source of all good is trust in God, submission unto His command, and contentment with His holy will and pleasure.

I’ve learned that one way of protecting myself from my own puny will taking over my ego is to recite this prayer from Baha’u’llah, which keeps me anchored:

My God, my Adored One, my King, my desire! What tongue can voice my thanks to Thee? I was heedless, Thou didst awaken me. I had turned back from Thee, Thou didst graciously aid me to turn towards Thee. I was as one dead, thou didst quicken me with the water of life. I was withered, Thou didst revive me with the heavenly stream of Thine utterance which hath flowed forth from the Pen of the All-Merciful.

O Divine Providence! All existence is begotten by Thy bounty; deprive it not of the waters of Thy generosity, neither do Thou withhold it from the ocean of Thy mercy. I beseech Thee to aid and assist me at all times and under all conditions and seek from the heaven of Thy grace Thine ancient favor. Thou art, in truth, the Lord of bounty, and the Sovereign of the kingdom of eternity.

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