Many great thinkers, prophets and poets have written about hope. In the Bible (Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3), we are reminded: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”
During the holy seasons in our faiths, we are more likely to slow down, be a little gentler and kinder to ourselves and others, and turn our thoughts to being of greater service to others—especially to those in need. Many people are feeling overwhelmed—feeling like we are living in a dark time and rightly concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. However, God does not abandon us.
There is a beautiful Baha’i prayer that comes to mind as we contemplate this season of hope:
“O thou servants of God! It is our utmost desire for the union of the friends, the agreement of the believers and the spiritual communication of the hearts; in order that they may shine in this darkened world like unto bright stars; educate all the communities of the world like unto bright stars; educate all the communities of the world in the precepts of love; be kind and benevolent to every one, sympathetic and compassionate to all; to become the cool and pure water to every thirsty one, a heavenly table to every hungry one, a swift healing antidote to every sick one and the cause of the everlasting glory to every humiliated one.”
In the Christmas story, great hope is born in a stable, then placed in a manger after the travelers were turned away from shelter. In the Hanukkah story, commemorating the re-dedication and purification of the Temple, a single jar of oil miraculously lasted eight days.
In the 1800s, Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i faith, was banished, persecuted and imprisoned in a dark dungeon. In that darkest of settings, he received a vision of great light and was given the Baha’i Revelation—a message of love, unity and lasting peace. The Baha’i teachings envision the coming of a golden age of universal peace promised by Baha’u’llah—and all the great prophets—as part of the divine plan; the time signalizing the advent of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Foreshadowing humanity’s golden age, Baha’u’llah wrote, “These great oppressions are preparing it for the advent of the Most Great Justice.”
Forecasting the bright future in store for the world, he further proclaimed: “The whole earth is now in a state of pregnancy. The days are approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings.”
We can stand up and show our light. We can honor this season with words and deeds that reflect our humanity and love for one another. To quote some empowering words from visionary thinkers:
“The cure for despair is not hope. It’s discovering what we want to do about something we care about.”—Margaret Wheatley
“Active hope is about becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for.”—Joanna Macy
How can we go wrong dealing with one another with hope, love and kindness? In Baha’u’llah’s words:
“The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light is these words: Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Day Star of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
When the sky is darkest, the stars shine their brightest. Maybe this season is calling us to link arms, shine greater light, reflect and then act on bringing about our hopes.