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Letter to the Ecole des Jeunes May Bolles Maxwell Conference

by Ruhiyyih (Mary Maxwell) Khanum

1997-12-19
Transmitted by fax, 19 December 1997
The French-speaking National Youth Committees of Europe
And the European Bahá'í Youth Council

To the 'Ecole des Jeunes May Bolles Maxwell Conference'
26 December 1997 - 1 January 1998
Strasbourg, France

Blessed is he who in prime of his youth and the heyday of his life will arise to serve the Cause of the Lord of the beginning and of the end, and adorn his heart with His love. The manifestation of such a grace is greater than the creation of the heavens and of the earth. Blessed are the steadfast and well is it with those who are firm.
- Bahá'u'lláh

Dear Bahá'í Friends,

It is a great pleasure for me to address a few words to you on the occasion of the "Ecole des Jeunes May Bolles Maxwell Conference" for the French-speaking countries because of the association of my dear mother, May Bolles (later Maxwell), with the early development of the Faith in Europe.

As you look at yourselves in your gathering of 1997, it might be interesting to go back and remember the early history of the Faith in France, in which my beloved mother played a notable part. The Bahá'í Faith was very little known in those days, and the early Bahá'ís, of which my mother was one of the first in Europe, were followers of what we consider to be the Cause of God for this day but which, as a matter of fact, they knew very little about compared to what we now know because it was only the beginning of the spread of the Faith in the West and translation of the Bahá'í Writings from the Persian and Arabic texts into English and other languages was very limited. Now conferences such as this one are, I won't say an "every day event" of the Bahá'í Faith but getting to be so, due to the very graphic and dynamic spread of our Faith throughout the world, and particularly due to the facilities offered by the media, which are rapidly creating a world society through letting more people know what other people are doing.

I think that this Conference offers a great opportunity to the attendants, and to the other believers similar in age and background, to realize themselves that they have been given the inestimable privilege of being welcomed to arise and mention the Faith, give lectures on the Faith, organize study classes on the Bahá'í teachings, attend conferences, promote greater cooperation between the Bahá'ís and progressive people all over the world, and so on.

There is a very apt quotation in our Writings: "forgetful of self but ever mindful of what is Thine". When we look at ourselves often we get discouraged -we are too young, we are too old, we are too new, we are too inexperienced, we are inadequate. I could add a lot more but I do not want to waste time. The best thing I have found in my own life is to remember the above words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. What must be an inadequate example comes to my mind a beautiful cut crystal can reflect the light of the sun, but so can a broken piece of glass thrown down by the wayside!

To me these are very stirring times in human history and the fact that every single Bahá'í, whether he is a "new Bahá'í", an "hour-long Bahá'í", or, like myself, a "very long-time Bahá'í, from birth", has the privilege of serving and may serve to the best of his or her ability the Cause of God and share the Message of Bahá'u'lláh with other people -which is a very wonderful thing.

I understand from my very limited knowledge of the subject, that when we die we still have our personalities and are conscious of ourselves, and supposedly this includes our experiences in life. Too much self-analysis is, I find, very defeating, but there is one thing I am sure of: I do not want to sit around in eternity and contemplate all the things I could have done but did not do in service to the Cause of God and humanity! However inadequate they are, at least let me do them while I am able to. If one studies Bahá'í history, over and over we see that we not only had well-educated, prominent, well-to-do Bahá'ís in different parts of the world, but that we had a lot of the "rank and file", poor, inexperienced, sometimes illiterate believers, certainly lacking in a wealth of information about the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, who arose out of love for Him, offered their lives to Him, serve His Faith to the best of their ability and actually died rather than let go of His Name and deny it. This should encourage everyone to do all he or she can to teach the Faith. No one is obliged to arise devotedly and dynamically, but it is our privilege if we want it!

What I am trying to say is that surely now is the time -to use a very ordinary expression- for "all hands on deck", for all the friends to arise and teach the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, Who He is and what He has given mankind, and to serve Him to the best of our ability, however much or little that may be. If we do not offer ourselves, it is unlikely that we are going to be "chosen", so it seems to me that now is a great opportunity to carry the Message to the rank and file of humanity everywhere, with as much capacity as we each may have, thinking only of the greatness and comprehensiveness of the Message and not wasting time on how inadequate we may think we are.

I fell you should all remember that such occasions as the present Conference not only offer opportunities for those attending them to learn but can also generate a great spiritual impetus in the teaching field when they go back to their homes and their daily activities, so I wish you every success, and urge you to always remember those words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá : "forgetful of self but ever mindful of what is Thine". If we ask for help, we will get it, and however modest our efforts, we will have at least contributed them.

With loving Bahá'í greetings,

(Signed) Ruhiyyih

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