Hold ye fast unto His statutes and commandments,
and be not of those who, following their idle
fancies and vain imaginings, have clung to the
standards fixed by their own selves, and cast behind
their backs the standards laid down by God.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 24)
Thou beholdest, O my God, how every bone in my body soundeth like a pipe with the music of Thine inspiration, revealing the signs of Thy oneness and the clear tokens of Thy unity. I entreat Thee, O my God, by Thy Name which irradiateth all things, to raise up such servants as shall incline their ears to the voice of the melodies that hath ascended from the right hand of the throne of Thy glory. Make them, then, to quaff from the hand of Thy grace the wine of Thy mercy, that it may assure their hearts, and cause them to turn away from the left hand of idle fancies and vain imaginings to the right hand of confidence and certitude.
(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 111)
It is now clear to me that I have no sense of moderation in all aspects of daily living, not just in the area of food. My "idle fancies and vain imaginings" are my various addictions, obsessive thoughts and actions, daily distractions with petty trifles, and being plagued with nervous anxiety, "fear, doubt and insecurity", as described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is the foundational text of all 12 step programs. This book is a miraculous tool that was written to help mankind rid itself of the veils of fancies and vain imaginings that keep us from communing with the Source of All Creation, the Most High. We are all blessed, whether we are Baha'i, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, pagan, agnostic and even atheist (although they might be hard pressed to admit any need of help, but it is there regardless), to have such a tool available to us during the Most Holy of Days, these days where humankind stands poised upon the precipice of change, as many in the United States have felt so deeply that they voiced their discontent with the staid methods of social and political life by electing Barack Obama as their president. I have been experiencing change in a deeply transformational manner and on a personal, social and spiritual level. And there is so much change yet to come. I feel it in the very core of my being, and I pray daily for the courage, strength, trust and faith to welcome it.
So far, the blessings have been many. I was able to let go of excess food and obsession with fantasy relationships with the opposite sex (the epitome of "idle fancies and vain imaginings", in my opinion) enough to be present in mind, body and spirit as my mother lay dying. Although we were in a nursing home room with two other elderly women whose beds were separated by thin hospital curtains, and the constant presence medical and administrative workers gave us very little privacy, I was able to let the tears flow, hold my mother's hand and tell her I love her. As I experienced the miracle of relief that she was finally releasing her lifelong pain and surrendering her spirit to God, the remorse of seeing my life with Mom re-wound in painful clarity. I reviewed all of my willful manipulation of both of my parents for emotional and/or financial gain, my appalling demonstrations of childishness, self-serving accusations and so-called righteous indignation. The remorse flooded over me as I silently asked for her forgiveness. I also felt, as I do right now, regret that I did not set aside my self-centeredness earlier. What I did not say out loud was how sorry I was (and still sorry) that I couldn't have been a better daughter to her. I don't know if she heard me physically because her body was so consumed with the burden of breathing and remaining alive minute by minute, but I hope she heard me spiritually.
When I am into excess portions of food, which, for me, has alway been all flour products (even whole grain), anything high in fat content, all sugars and even worse, the combination of all of these properties as represented in food like cheesecake, apple fritters, red velvet or "down home style" pound cake, etc, (I'm dangerously close to doing food fantasy here, however, I just wanted to illustrate to the reader the source and depth of my "idle fancies" along with what led to my previous high weight of 400 pounds and three time near death experiences), I cannot show up for life. My mind becomes completely absorbed with what I'm going to eat next, and how good it is going to taste. Life becomes a constant search for the thrill of taste, and no matter how much I delve into the wanderings of my highly evolved taste buds, complete satisfaction always eludes me. I just want more and more and more. I won't go into the increasingly hazardous cycle of addiction and its corresponding downward spiral of the mind, body and spirit. Copious volumes has been written on the subject. Just google "cycle" "addiction" and be amazed by the number of hits you'll receive. Most of it is about drug and alcohol addiction, but trust me, the same dynamics apply to food addiction.
I'm grateful that recovery brought me close to my mother at the closing hours of her life. There have been other blessings--I now wear a size 18-20 instead of 30-32, as I have for the past 26 years of my adult life. The last time I wore this size, I was in junior high school. I can bend over and touch my toes, and walk anywhere I want. Sometimes I don't use my cane, but because of my deformed hip and lower spine, I still need it for balance. I can play soccer and climb on the playground equipment with my beloved grandson. I don't need as much pain medication. My periods of depression are becoming shorter. And best of all, when I pray, meditate and beseech God to use me to do His Work, I am better able to carry out the tasks in front of me.
I am writing professionally now, and doing the footwork of making my God-given ability to be of service to mankind, all the while trusting that my economic fears will be removed. I am starting to talk less and listen more to those close to me, and I realize how precious my family is to me. It is much more important to be emotionally and mentally PRESENT when I'm around them, instead of mentally tallying their character defects and all the ways they have annoyed me in the past. What a complete waste of time that was!
And, God willing, my apartment complex and Baha'i community will be the focus of service and teaching projects, which is so exciting and re-energizing to me! I'm sure there will be unknown obstacles and challenges in this undertaking, but even in the discussion and formative stages, friends are gathering in agreement to do the work set forth by this Glorious Era. Not often is a person afforded the opportunity to take even a tiny part in the significant changes of our world. I'm thankful that my 12 step program shows me the how to be present in my life so I can be of service to others. These activities keep me out of the food and my idle fancied, fantasy addled mind. And, though I never thought I would say these words, but living the life God has willed for me and being of service to mankind feels better than any food has ever tasted, and MUCH better than any real or imagined relationship I've ever had with the opposite sex.
Ya' Baha'ul Abha'!
62. O SON OF MAN!
Many a day hath passed over thee whilst thou hast busied thyself with thy fancies and idle imaginings. How long art thou to slumber on thy bed? Lift up thy head from slumber, for the Sun hath risen to the zenith, haply it may shine upon thee with the light of beauty.
63. O SON OF MAN!
The light hath shone on thee from the horizon of the sacred Mount and the spirit of enlightenment hath breathed in the Sinai of thy heart. Wherefore, free thyself from the veils of idle fancies and enter into My court, that thou mayest be fit for everlasting life and worthy to meet Me. Thus may death not come upon thee, neither weariness nor trouble.