January 11, 2011

“Before Abraham was, I am”! – by Thornton Chase, “The First Baha’i in America”

(A letter written by Thornton Chase, of Chicago, Ill., on September 27th, 1902, to a Christian studying the Baha’i Revelation)

Your letter to me was duly received. I am not inclined to feel discouragement or disappointment, when a true soul is seeking the Light and yet does not grasp its wonderful presence rapidly. We have seen too many, who have "accepted" all with little or no hesitation, and then when the first winds of testing blew, "faith" proved to be of shallow depth, and passivity proved more attractive than endurance.

"Hasten slowly" is a good motto. Some seemed to be truly prepared and waiting for this Truth, and it comes to them as satisfactorily as water to a thirsty traveler, but even in those cases, there is required a process of growth through trials and tests of the most severe kind. The seed may fall into rich and deep soil, and begin to grow immediately and perhaps rapidly, but the full tree is not sown, only the seed. It must be nourished, cared for, cultivated and yet not overfed, and tried by difficulties, that it may become strongly rooted, and thus fitted to stand all winds of opposition.

This Truth offers the wonderful opportunities of a fresh Dawn, in which all things are become new, and are presented in newly charming dress, but the truths themselves are as old as Eternity, and have been told to God's creatures throughout their existence, in such guise as their varying conditions could, from time to time, permit them to comprehend. But no more now, than then, is any "royal road" to Paradise offered. The path is strewn and hedged with thorns, although sweet roses bloom above them. The way is one of testing, trials and fire, that "searches the reins" and tears away from us one beloved stronghold after another, until the very essence of the creature realizes its utter helplessness, its nakedness, its need of the presence of its Maker. It must come to realize that every birth is only through death, and that the spiritual birth can only be through the natural death.