Meditations on hope

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The other day, I literally walked into the path of a person who had left the Baha'i community over 15 years ago. She was sitting at a small table in the mall, drinking coffee. Without realising it, I walked straight toward her and then focused on her and realised who she was. The incident was amazing because I often go to that coffee shop to read, but I have never seen her there before. We hadn't seen each other for over a decade, but met up again at Mark's funeral. I had been thinking about her just the day before and, voila, there she was in front of me.

We shared stories. She told me she was no longer a believer. I told her that I'd been thrown out of the community but that I was still a believer and, what's more, was even more of a believer than I ever was when I was a community member. I explained that Baha'u'llah was my life and that I lived and breathed the faith everyday. She had heard that 'something' had happened to me and, when I explained that I'd been tossed out when my views had become public on the Internet, she said things like, "What about the clash of differing opinions?" She heard herself and stopped and said, "Gee, I still can remember that stuff".

{josquote}I'm open to being convinced that there's hope.{/josquote}

She commented that I must really believe, implying that to have remained a believer after all that indicated that the faith must have taken hold in me. This intrigued her because she had gone the opposite way. Tentatively, she indicated that she might be interested in talking some more about it. And then she made a comment that stuck in my mind afterwards but that didn't register at the time: 'I'm open to being convinced that there's hope'. I can't remember exactly how she put it, but that was the sentiment. She had to dash off, so I didn't get to ask her what she meant - hope about what, exactly?

It got me thinking and, in the days following, I found myself having conversations with her in my head about hope. I thought hard about whether I had hope. I realised that I don't think in those terms any more. I had forgotten what it was like to live in a state where hope was something you looked for. It made me see how lucky I was to have Baha'u'llah in my life. In my mind, my heart was bursting to tell her that I know a place where it no longer makes sense to speak of hope. When you're drenched in sunshine, you don't speak of the hope that it will be sunny. Right now, the promise of God's grace is fulfilled. Nothing is wrong and nothing is lacking. There is no need for hope because everything is already complete. Each moment is a consummation that is experienced by everything in creation. Join the celebration! :-)

It made me think of the famous passage from 1 Corinthians 13:13 : "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." To me, love is the only one of the three that isn't a 'deficit' state. With faith and hope, you can still want for something. With love, you already have it. All you could ever want for is already attained.

"The essence of wealth is love for Me; whoso loveth Me is the possessor of all things, and he that loveth Me not is indeed of the poor and needy." (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p 156)

However, if one's faith is a product of love, then I think of it as assurance.

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