Updated: Nov 3
Seeking the Sublime in the Everyday As I seek ways to save the world, I'm learning about people who have done extraordinary things. Last week my friend, Noushin Framke gave a talk at our church about Presbyterians in Iran. That sounded odd to me too. Did you know that one of the top schools in Iran started out as a Presbyterian mission school, built and run by missionaries? This is Alborz College.
In the Early nineteenth century, in a time called "The Great Awakening," many highly educated and committed people felt the call to spread the word of God, thereby saving the world, according to theirlights. By 1870 a group called the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions had focused their efforts on Persia, Syria and Egypt. They named this the Mission to Persia." For the next hundred years or so, the only Americans there were Presbyterians. but Persia, new known as Iran, is 99percent Muslim and Islam has rules against converting away from the faith. So the missionaries, instead of forcing their faith on the unwilling, said, "Well, let's do what we can do." and they built hospitals and schools, teaching in Persian, which is now known as Farci. They lived their faith through their works, spread goodwill and made friends for our country. We know how it turned out; two world wars and the thirst for fossil fuel wreaked havoc in the region but this story gives me hope. It also reminds me of a phrase my Presbyterian grandfather used all the time. Whenever there was work to be done, and he was always directing his children in work projects, he'd say, "Let the job talk to you." that meant, Pay attention, see what needs to be done and do it without being told. I would add, make it fun. Ben and Jerry, the great ice cream makers and social activists, said,''If it's not fun why do it?" You can't always live by that rule as I learned with algebra but it doesn't hurt to keep it in mind.
I'm thinking of our bottle cap project, how amazed we were at how ready everyone was to collect them and how delightful the results are. Here's my tribute to Persia, where the garden was considered a vision of Heaven on Earth.