Bahai since 2008
I was born in 1957 and right after high school enlisted in the US Military. I become a member of the Green Berets, part of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, which was a great honor for me.
As a soldier I was sent to South America in 1975 and was there for seven years. During that time I was witness to violence, bloodshed, and devastation from the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua and the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. These horrifying experiences had a chilling effect on me—my soul was cold. But I was there in the jungle with a job to do and I did it.
The jungle holds many dangers—but there are wonders too. I have always tried to find some light in the darkness. We were in a beautiful part of the world. The smells and sounds in the morning were incredible, and the morning mist hangs in the air like cotton candy. I loved to lie on the ground and look at the shooting stars at night, too.
When I was discharged from military service I began to have nightmares—nightmares that lasted 30 years. I couldn’t sleep. I briefly turned to alcohol to find relief, and then I found myself on a spiritual quest to find God.
I checked out various religions but I found that some were too rigid, and others seemed too angry. While I was living in New Mexico, I spent some time with the Hopi People, and was interested in their prophecy that a great change is coming to the world, but I essentially remained without a true religious community for many years.
In 1984, shortly after my military discharge, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. My physical condition deteriorated over the years. I began taking a lot of medications to control my pain and was eventually confined to a wheelchair.
During a period of unexpected remission in 2008, a young woman invited me to a Baha’i Fireside. I had never experienced such an absolutely amazing Faith. I had never met so many kind, loving, generous people who were totally devoted to God. No religion I had ever known or been associated with had ever given me such a feeling of community and love for each other. I knew right then that my search was over, and I have been a Baha’i since that day.
My health was not good, though, and I was in hospice two times. When the doctors told me I had only two months to live, I told them that was for God to decide. The Baha’i community rallied around me and we prayed together every day. We also started on the study circles, and studying Ruhi Book Four set my soul on fire. Never had I felt so close to God or so loved in all my life!
After six months in Hospice I am now walking with no problem, I serve on a Local Spiritual Assembly in Irondequoit, NY, and work to help others with this crippling disease. I have been sharing prayers with Veterans, who find that praying helps calm their own nightmares. And here are some of my favorites:
- For Aid and Assistance: “…Supply me, then, with the good of this world and of the next….”
- For Detachment: “… Remove the veil from mine eyes, O my Lord,…”
- At Evening: “…This, Thy servant, seeketh to sleep in the shelter of Thy mercy…”
- At Midnight: “…O Lord, enlighten my sight by beholding Thy lights in this dark night,…”
- For Forgiveness: “…Pardon us for the things we have done…”
I am so happy to have found the faith I have searched for my whole life and no matter what happens to me I will always have God in my heart and love for my fellow man. I am the luckiest man alive. I am grateful to all who helped me through my illness, including my friends and mentors, Charlie Dick and Bob Rosenfeld. Becoming a Baha’i is the best thing I have ever done. By Steven Giordano, as told to US Baha’i