The Interfaith Contact Group
The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group

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Hidden Angels, Prayers and Progress of the Soul

October 28, 2020

This week we had two personal requests that proved very inspirational. The first was a request for a Mary Oliver poem entitled ‘Praying’ and because this great poet is so immediate, we added another of her poems which seemed very apt for this moment in time. In fact this beautiful text was read out at our Interfaith Service dedicated to Angels some three years ago, and was just as apt then. This has to be the hallmark of great poetry. It just doesn’t date. The second request was for a reading about the Progress of the Soul, as explained by Abdu’l-Bahá – the Bahá’i leader from 1892 to 1921, and this is very special as well.

Following on from this we have Seven Quotations about Angels, and we close this week’s Words of Connection with the great Maya Angelou, and her poem entitled ‘Touched by an Angel.’

Several weeks have passed since we offered you any film links, and so this time we have two… the first is a fascinating little film about Hidden Angels in the National Gallery. The second is one of our own films: made in 2018 it is  Angels in the City

Please stay well and calm at this most uncertain of times. Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm.

Very best wishes,

Anthea
Chair IFCG

 

PRAYING
Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

 

THE WORLD I LIVE IN
Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

 

I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that. And anyway,
what’s wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn’t believe what once or
twice I have seen. I’ll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
ever, possibly, see one.

 

THE PROGRESS OF THE SOUL
‘Does the soul progress more through sorrow or through the joy in this world?’
‘Abdu’l-Bahá.—‘The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. His attitude in this world will be that of divine happiness. Man is, so to speak, unripe: the heat of the fire of suffering will mature him. Look back to the times past and you will find that the greatest men have suffered most.’
‘He who through suffering has attained development, should he fear happiness?’
‘Abdu’l-Bahá.—‘Through suffering he will attain to an eternal happiness which nothing can take from him. The apostles of Christ suffered: they attained eternal happiness.’
‘Then it is impossible to attain happiness without suffering?’
‘Abdu’l-Bahá.—‘To attain eternal happiness one must suffer. He who has reached the state of self-sacrifice has true joy. Temporal joy will vanish.’
‘Can a departed soul converse with someone still on earth?’
‘Abdu’l-Bahá.—‘A conversation can be held, but not as our conversation. There is no doubt that the forces of the higher worlds interplay with the forces of this plane. The heart of man is open to inspiration; this is spiritual communication. As in a dream one talks with a friend while the mouth is silent, so is it in the conversation of the spirit. A man may converse with the ego within him saying: “May I do this? Would it be advisable for me to do this work?” Such as this is conversation with the higher self.’

 

SEVEN ANGEL QUOTATIONS

 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.   Hebrews 13.2

 

The reason angels can fly is because they take themselves lightly.   G.K. Chesterton

 

An angel can illuminate the thought and mind of man by strengthening the power of vision, and by bringing within his reach some truth which the angel himself contemplates.   St Thomas Aquinas

 

And you shall see the angels going round about the throne glorifying the praise of their Lord; and judgement shall be given between them with justice, and it shall be said: all praise is due to Allah.   The Qu’ran.

 

The angels are the dispensers and administrators of the divine beneficence toward us; they regard our safety, undertake our defence, direct our ways, and exercise a constant solicitude that no evil befall us.    John Calvin

 

Music is well said to be the speech of angels.   Thomas Carlyle

 

Seen in its own right, a loving person’s inner spirit is an angel of heaven, and while we are living in the body we are also in the company of angels, even though we are not aware of it; and once we are released from the body we join them. Emanuel Swedenborg

 

TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL
Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

 

 

 

 

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