Nineteen Months Poetry

Over at Nineteen Months (the site that I founded and now run with my friend Caitlin), we had 19 day project of words from various authors about the Baha’i Fast, and Caitlin organized it all. She put it together in a PDF for everyone to enjoy: A Fast Word: The Anthology.

The poem that I contributed:

My Mother’s Hands 

My hands do not yet look like my mother’s hands
but they are starting to move in the same ways
and express themselves on their own.
When I pour coffee early in the morning
my hands cradle the cup
and I view the skyline of my home.
Dawn comes in little pieces
the tests come in waves
each chasing the other.

Recent Photo Publications

Over the last year I was asked if I could provide some of my photos for the Baha’i Publishing Trust’s upcoming publications.

The Baha’i Datebook is a physical pocket calendar for 2016-2017 for the year 173 B.E. and my photo of the new Welcome Center at dusk is the cover photo. It was a challenging shot to get, as I didn’t want people, construction equipment, or cars in the shot, so Shea patiently helped me drag around my tripod and take many shots.Baha'i Wall Calendar (173 BE)

The Baha’i Wall Calendar also features the same photo.

 

 

 

 

The Dawning Place is a book about the building of the House of Worship that was originally published in 1984 and was an integral part of my life growing up in the area near the House of Worship. When I was guiding at the House of Worship as a kid, my parents encouraged me to read this book to be able to answer questions about the House of Worship and tell stories that people may not know. I was so excited when I was told that my photos would be included in the new edition. It is a gorgeous, display-worthy book that has loads of very interesting information about the House of Worship.

The cover photo is not mine (actually taken by a friend, Bobby), but the below photo shows some of the photo pages inside the book with photos I had taken over the last few years.

Again and again…

My heart has been so heavy these last few days. These last few months and years. I don’t have words. But I am watching, and reading everything that I can, praying, and standing witness. I can’t pretend to know, but I can be aware, I can educate, I can listen, I can disagree with those who say things that are not ok…

It’s not just Baltimore. Or Ferguson. Or any one place anymore. Chicago has these problems, everywhere does. We are all…struggling. Regarding the problem of racial prejudice in the United States, Shoghi Effendi wrote in 1938:

“Let neither think that such a problem can either easily or immediately be resolved. Let neither think that they can wait confidently for the solution of this problem until the initiative has been taken, and the favorable circumstances created, by agencies that stand outside the orbit of their Faith. Let neither think that anything short of genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent, and prayerful effort, can succeed in blotting out the stain which this patent evil has left on the fair name of their common country. Let them rather believe, and be firmly convinced, that on their mutual understanding, their amity, and sustained cooperation, must depend, more than on any other force or organization operating outside the circle of their Faith, the deflection of that dangerous course so greatly feared by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and the materialization of the hopes He cherished for their joint contribution to the fulfillment of that country’s glorious destiny.”
-Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice

How grievous it is…

Plane sunset earlier this evening.“God’s greatest gift to man is that of intellect, or understanding…

…How grievous it is to see how man has used his God-given gift to frame instruments of war, for breaking the Commandment of God “Thou shalt not kill,” and for defying Christ’s injunction to “Love one another.”

God gave this power to man that it might be used for the advancement of civilization, for the good of humanity, to increase love and concord and peace. But man prefers to use this gift to destroy instead of to build, for injustice and oppression, for hatred and discord and devastation, for the destruction of his fellow-creatures, whom Christ has commanded that he should love as himself!

I hope that you will use your understanding to promote the unity and tranquillity of mankind, to give enlightenment and civilization to the people, to produce love in all around you, and to bring about the universal peace.”

-Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks

Fall is here?

#latergram Chicago at sunset is the most beautiful place at the end of summer.

Chicago on Monday

3:30 pm. Chicago is throwing a little tantrum.

Chicago on Friday (last week)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago has been angry and confused recently. Thunderstorms, dark skies, rain, cold weather, mixed with warmth and sun. I had to wear my wool winter coat today and I was not very pleased about that in mid-September. It just feels wrong. I want to wear a lightweight coat and cute boots and a funky scarf! There should be leaves turning different colors, not this dreary miserable mist. Everyone in the office has blankets on their laps and coats on throughout the day because our AC unit is confused. College students don’t know if they should actually put pants on, or just continue wearing leggings. Women stand shivering at the L stop in only a pencil skirt and blouse. It’s chaos!

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My youth group started up again last week. We have 8 young women now, and they are making their way through Ruhi Book 4. In addition, they are teaching children’s classes, learning how to guide at the House of Worship, and hosting Feast once in a while. All this while balancing crazy school loads and extracurricular activities. I continue to be so proud of them.

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Over the last few weeks an experienced Treasurer from another Baha’i community was kind enough to spend time with me, teaching me some Treasurer skills. A few members of our community have also spent a lot of time helping me with the transition. (I’d call their names out here but they know who they are.) This experienced Treasurer went through the trouble of making an entire chart of accounts for me to use. Funny enough, I am in budget season at work right now and a lot of what I’ve been learning through work can be applied to being the Treasurer in a Baha’i community.

It has not been a particularly easy thing to learn, but I am finding that as long as I get some decent tools and make a checklist for myself, it isn’t as hard as I thought. Granted, we have a small community in Wilmette so that helps a lot.

Priorities

Tulips around town.It has just been a lot recently. A lot of things, a never-ending stream of scheduling and travel and mostly fun things and a few not-so-fun things, and it was getting to the point that I was resenting my calendar. Which is sad, because I love my calendar and to-do list…

But it is summer and I want to enjoy it! In fact, I am staring out at the 85 F weather right now wishing I was outside with the sun baking into me and my toes in the water.

It is perhaps a combination of the nature of the work that I do all day and the service in the Baha’i community, along with my desire to stay connected to all the friends that creates untenable situations in which my brain starts misfiring. My true nature is a mixture of completely social extrovert who only thrives when she has adequate social interaction and a person who needs alone time to recharge on a regular basis. As I get older this is just exacerbated.

Of course this is a life-long process and struggle, but being newly-married (to an amazing man who is really good at having conversations about this stuff with me) is helping me figure out how to balance things and be more deliberate about how I spend my time. This may mean choosing to go only to meetings in the Baha’i community that I know will bring me joy or that I have chosen as a priority, or it may mean spending time with people that I truly feel connected with, instead of doing something out of a sense of obligation.

It also means letting people go from my life who I have trouble keeping in touch with or who never reach out to me. It means holding people accountable when they waste my time or do not respect the service that I am offering. These are not easy things to do, of course!  But the alternative is feelings of pain, resentment, or frustration whenever certain things happen. Here are some things that I have been doing to help manage this process.

Step 1: Make a list of current priorities. This is not a to-do list, but rather a list of the larger things that are important to me this summer. Things like: spending time with good friends/family, being outside, wrapping my head around being Treasurer for my local community, working with my youth group, etc.

Step 2: Create boundaries/the ability to say no. This may mean having someone to talk to about the decision, or telling people that I will get back to them after considering the request.

Step 3: Revisit priority list whenever a request comes up or I feel overwhelmed.

It is working so far and I will just have to continue this process. 😉

All the news, in one little post

House of Worship at sunset yesterday. Perfect. #latergramThere are some amazing things happening at Nineteen Months, since my friend Caitlin took over as Writing Editor and we changed up a lot of stuff, including the site design. I’m so happy with the direction that it is going and the talented contributors that we have.

I have a new niece in my husband’s family, and I’m pretty much wanting to see her all the time but my current life schedule doesn’t really allow it. Newborns are just so delicious!

A year ago, Shea and I were in the process of getting consent from our parents to be married, and I cannot believe time has gone by so quickly.

I was recently elected Treasurer of our local community and am still trying to figure out all the details. Online banking makes a lot of things easier, but it is still a tough job!

My youth group of young ladies started Ruhi Book 4 a few weeks ago, and I am so impressed with their abilities, their mature questions, their bravery to take on projects even when they don’t know how to do everything. I feel so lucky to be able to spend time with them!

There are the usual friends leaving Chicago (waah!), the friends getting married, having babies, traveling, etc. The winter has left us acting like hermits and I think we’re all still trying to crawl out from under the rocks we were buried under.

I have been spending a lot of time reading about the event industry, for various reasons, and of course am immersed in it every day at work, so I’m always in “event mode”, which is a bit of a shift for me in some ways. I love the networking events, learning about the best new way to set a room, or what hotels are being built in cities. I want to write more about this subject here (without pulling work into it too much), because I feel that so much of what we do is hidden. Most attendees don’t have any idea what it takes to put a meeting together, so it seems that educating at least the small audience of this blog may assist with some of the misconceptions or lack of knowledge about the meetings world.

Decor for the Ridvan celebration in Wilmette. It was wonderful.
The Wilmette Baha’i community recently put on a Ridvan Holy Day celebration and we had a lot of people from surrounding communities show up. It had been a while since we hosted something like this and it was so sweet. The children captained little “boats” they made out of cardboard, ferrying people across the “river” that they drew in chalk on the sidewalk outside, and the inside of the Baha’i Home was made to be a “tent” with roses everywhere. Such creative and talented people in our community! It was fun to be a part of the process, but it reminded me why I do event logistics and not event decor! The decor part seems more challenging to me than logistics for some reason.

The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire…

New Orleans“The Most Great Name beareth Me witness! How sad if any man were, in this Day, to rest his heart on the transitory things of this world! Arise, and cling firmly to the Cause of God. Be most loving one to another. Burn away, wholly for the sake of the Well-Beloved, the veil of self with the flame of the undying Fire, and with faces joyous and beaming with light, associate with your neighbor…

The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire; how regrettable if ye fail to be enkindled with its flame! Please God, ye will regard this blessed night as the night of unity, will knit your souls together, and resolve to adorn yourselves with the ornament of a goodly and praiseworthy character. Let your principal concern be to rescue the fallen from the slough of impending extinction, and to help him embrace the ancient Faith of God. Your behavior towards your neighbor should be such as to manifest clearly the signs of the one true God, for ye are the first among men to be re-created by His Spirit, the first to adore and bow the knee before Him, the first to circle round His throne of glory. I swear by Him Who hath caused Me to reveal whatever hath pleased Him! Ye are better known to the inmates of the Kingdom on high than ye are known to your own selves. Think ye these words to be vain and empty? Would that ye had the power to perceive the things your Lord, the All-Merciful, doth see—things that attest the excellence of your rank, that bear witness to the greatness of your worth, that proclaim the sublimity of your station! God grant that your desires and unmortified passions may not hinder you from that which hath been ordained for you.”

-Baha’u’llah, Selections from the Writings of Baha’u’llah

Shea pointed out this quotation to me a few weeks ago, and I had never seen it before. It is so encouraging!

Not merely talking about the weather

As I continue working with young women within our Ruhi Book 2 study circle, I am reminded of this quotation that encourages women to elevate their level of conversation. How do we do this among ourselves?

Sunset last night. Goodbye Los Angeles! #youthconference
“Confirmations from the kingdom of God will assuredly be received, enabling some radiant leaves to appear resplendent in the assemblage of this world with clear proofs and convincing reasons, which will adorn the cause of womanhood. They will prove that in this cycle women are equal to men, nay, in certain respects they will excel. Ponder ye: in this wonderful Cause numerous were the men who scaled the heights of knowledge; they had a brilliant utterance, a convincing proof, an eloquent tongue and magnificent speech, but the blessed leaf, Jináb-i-Táhirih, because she was a woman, emerged with immense splendour and dumbfounded all the people. If she were a man, this would not have been so at all. Therefore, ye should know that the greatness of the Cause hath penetrated the nerves and veins of the world in such wise that if one of the leaves is attracted and gains mastery in demonstrating reasons and proofs and in uttering convincing evidences, she will shine resplendently. O radiant leaves, I swear by the Beauty of the Desired One and the Mystery of Existence that if ye work actively in this realm, the outpourings of the Blessed Beauty will reflect as the sun in the mirrors of the hearts. Your progress will astonish all.

The attracted leaves should not, when associating with each other, talk merely about the temperature of the weather, the coldness of the water, the beauty of the flowers and gardens, the freshness of the grass and the flowing water. They should rather restrict their discussions to glorification and praise and the uttering of proofs and reasons, to quoting verses and traditions and putting forth clear testimonies, so that all the homes of the loved ones will be converted into gathering places for lessons on teaching the Cause.

If ye do so, in a short while the outpourings of the Kingdom will be so manifested that each one of the handmaidens of the Merciful will become a perspicuous book revealing the mysteries of the Lord of Mercy.

Upon you be the glory of glories.”

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ, A Compilation on Women

A fragmented note

I normally don’t go so long without posting on my blog (over a month?!). I can’t even begin to summarize the last few weeks and months. Here are a few things that have been keeping me busy. In no particular order:

Work. This is taking up a lot of my brainspace/time these days. Yes, I am part of the team that is assisting the National Spiritual Assembly with the planning of the conferences.

Baha'i Youth Conferences

 

View from the pool. Ahhh.

I traveled to Florida for a week of vacation, staying with dear friends and trying to relax after a very hectic year. I took a lot of photos of animals, went to several lovely Baha’i events, and just generally relaxed. I also took some long bike rides with my friends, which reminded me how much I love biking and also how much Chicago winter saps all of my energy. sigh. I even saw a manatee and a crocodile in the wild (as well as a ton of awesome birds).

 

I went to a farm for a North Shore networking event. The animals were stinky and cute and I loved them.

This little guy was pretty shy. #sheepish #latergram

Spent some time with my friends in the sun on a rare spring day that felt like summer in Chicago.

The view yesterday. I love Chicago in the summer. #latergram

Went to the park with my Ruhi youth group, and it made me appreciate them even more. They are such great people!

And this past weekend I worked at Baha’i National Convention, where the delegates gather to elect the National Spiritual Assembly. I also stopped by the Choral Festival and saw lots of people that I love.

Nothing is slowing down right now. Everything is top speed and it probably won’t stop until after the summer is over. This is not a complaint, merely a fact. And so, here I go!

Eternal sovereignty

“O thou maidservant of God! Every woman who becometh the maidservant of God outshineth in glory the empresses of the world, for she is related to God, and her sovereignty is everlasting, whereas a handful of dust will obliterate the name and fame of those empresses. In other words, as soon as they go down to the grave they are reduced to naught. The maidservants of God’s Kingdom, on the other hand, enjoy eternal sovereignty unaffected by the passing of ages and generations.

Consider how many empresses have come and gone since the time of Christ. Each was the ruler of a country but now all trace and name of them is lost, while Mary Magdalene, who was only a peasant and a maidservant of God, still shineth from the horizon of everlasting glory. Strive thou, therefore, to remain the maidservant of God.

Thou hast praised the Convention. This Convention shall acquire great importance in future, for it is serving the divine Kingdom and the world of mankind. It promulgateth universal peace and layeth the basis of the oneness of mankind; it freeth the souls from religious, racial and worldly prejudices and gathereth them under the shade of the one-coloured pavilion of God. Praise thou God, therefore, that thou hast attended such a Convention and hast listened to the divine Teachings.”

-Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Thank you to S.M. for sending this to me the other day, exactly when I needed to read it.

our study circle

At the end of Ruhi Book 1 every Sunday night, we read a story about a Baha’i that served in extraordinary way. It started out as a way for the young ladies in the study circle (they’re aged 12-15, some non-Baha’i) to learn about the heroines of the Baha’i Faith, and it has been a great method to talk about different subjects outside of the book.

This week I felt like changing it up and we read about Martha Root in the beginning instead of the end. Somehow, we ended up spending 3/4 of our study circle time talking about her, the Holy Family, a brief overview of the Covenant, what happened when the Central Figures passed away, who were the Maxwells, why people break the Covenant, and if there are members of Baha’u’llah’s family still alive. They’re the ones that asked the questions that led to these subjects. I do the best that I can to answer their questions.

These young women just amaze me. I want to help them find a love for reading about the history of the Faith, to know the beautiful stories of service and sacrifice and love so that they can share it whenever they want. I feel lucky to have this interaction with them.

Naw-Rúz

MC at Greenlake Baha'i ConferenceI have been reflecting on the events of the last year, since March 21, 2012. It has been an absolute roller coaster. There have been challenges beyond my expectations, heartbreak, joy, travel, a beautiful summer, love, and a lot of laughter. I worked on one of the biggest events I’ve ever coordinated (the Centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to the United States), was a MC at a Baha’i conference, attended several other conferences (including a session at Louhelen with Mr. Nakhjavani), attended weddings, celebrated the birth of so many babies I’ve lost count, grieved the loss of family members, facilitated a youth group, began learning how to be a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly, worked on a never-ending Wilmette Baha’i archives project…

I wandered my city in rain, wind, sun, and love. Mostly in love.

At Green Lake

It has been proven to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am surrounded by some of the most amazing family and friends that this earth has to offer.

I have learned that people can be exceptionally cruel and not even understand that what they have done is wrong.

I have been validated in my feelings and told that I am loved.

I know that I need to be in warm, sunny weather to keep my spirits up to my normal state of existence.

I have taken greater risks this year than I ever have before.

I will never, ever let people tell me that my joyful exuberance needs to be reined in. And I will do my best to make sure that my actions allow others to feel no judgement, and to feel welcomed in my circle.

In Monterey, by the aquarium

To everyone in my life, thank you for this beautiful existence that we share.
I love you very much, and I wish you a very happy Naw-Rúz (Baha’i New Year).

How to be happy

sunset from the roomIt still feels like winter here…the gray and cold have seeped into my body, I crave sunshine, heat, and friendly faces. I was reminded this weekend that I can bring joy to myself and others simply by choosing to be happy. There will always be people who are not pleasant, so how does one counter that with joy and radiance?

“Believers, he added, must show their belief in their daily lives, so that the world might see the light shining in their faces. A bright and happy face cheers people on their way. If you are sad, and pass a child who is laughing, the child, seeing your sad face, will cease to laugh, not knowing why. If the day be dark, how much a gleam of sunshine is prized; so let believers wear smiling happy faces, gleaming like sunshine in the darkness. Let the Light of Truth and Honesty shine from them, so that all who behold them may know that their word in business or pleasure will be a word to trust and depend upon.”
-‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London

“If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look?

This is the time for growing; the season for joyous gathering! Take the cup of the Testament in thy hand; leap and dance with ecstasy in the triumphal procession of the Covenant! Lay your confidence in the everlasting bounty, turn to the presence of the generous God; ask assistance from the Kingdom of Abha; seek confirmation from the Supreme World; turn thy vision to the horizon of eternal wealth; and pray for help from the Source of Mercy!
-Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas

“Happy the soul that shall forget his own good, and like the chosen ones of God, vie with his fellows in service to the good of all; until, strengthened by the blessings and perpetual confirmations of God, he shall be empowered to raise this mighty nation up to its ancient pinnacles of glory, and restore this withered land to sweet new life, and as a spiritual springtime, array those trees which are the lives of men with the fresh leaves, the blossoms and fruits of consecrated joy.”
-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization

Old patterns of thought

Ninteen Months: Loftiness“O ye respected souls! From the continual imitation of ancient and worn-out ways, the world had grown dark as darksome night. The fundamentals of the divine Teachings had passed from memory; their pith and heart had been totally forgotten, and the people were holding on to husks. The nations had, like tattered garments long outworn, fallen into a pitiful condition.

Out of this pitch blackness there dawned the morning splendour of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. He hath dressed the world with a garment new and fair, and that new garment is the principles which have come down from God.

Now the new age is here and creation is reborn. Humanity hath taken on new life. The autumn hath gone by, and the reviving spring is here. All things are now made new. Arts and industries have been reborn, there are new discoveries in science, and there are new inventions; even the details of human affairs, such as dress and personal effects—even weapons—all these have likewise been renewed. The laws and procedures of every government have been revised. Renewal is the order of the day.

And all this newness hath its source in the fresh outpourings of wondrous grace and favour from the Lord of the Kingdom, which have renewed the world. The people, therefore, must be set completely free from their old patterns of thought, that all their attention may be focused upon these new principles, for these are the light of this time and the very spirit of this age.

Unless these Teachings are effectively spread among the people, until the old ways, the old concepts, are gone and forgotten, this world of being will find no peace, nor will it reflect the perfections of the Heavenly Kingdom. Strive ye with all your hearts to make the heedless conscious, to waken those who sleep, to bring knowledge to the ignorant, to make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and restore the dead to life.

It behoveth you to show forth such power, such endurance, as to astonish all beholders. The confirmations of the Kingdom are with you. Upon you be the glory of the All-Glorious.”

-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p 252

Thanks to S.M. for sending this to me.

Be

Flowers from an office party cheer things up a bit“Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression.”
-(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh)

Trying to remember the above as I fight some battles, try to rest (managed to fight off a cold last week!), and keep moving along with everything. I am so lucky, and sometimes the reminders come all at once. This past week has been full of reinforcements from various people around me, some of whom have absolutely no idea what has been happening in my life…they just seemed to be inspired to encourage and show love to me. That, in turn, makes me want to do the same.

Sometimes we expect people to be fair, just, loving, kind, etc, and when our expectations are not met, we are sad/disappointed/angry. The feelings we have are valid, but what we do with those feelings is what matters. How do we encourage justice while showing detachment? How do we support the individuals and analyze/improve the process?

I’ve been thinking a lot about building capacity these days. About how to encourage people to develop their natural talents and strive beyond what they thought they could do. What kind of person do I want to be?

“The work advancing in every corner of the globe today represents the latest stage of the ongoing Bahá’í endeavour to create the nucleus of the glorious civilization enshrined in His teachings, the building of which is an enterprise of infinite complexity and scale, one that will demand centuries of exertion by humanity to bring to fruition. There are no shortcuts, no formulas. Only as effort is made to draw on insights from His Revelation, to tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race, to apply His teachings intelligently to the life of humanity, and to consult on the questions that arise will the necessary learning occur and capacity be developed.” -Universal House of Justice, Riḍván 2010

Silenced

Wisconsin sunset
we are an entire generation
silent
we are here to serve, to work, to strive
we are silenced
we raise our hands to voice concern
we raise our voices to fight injustice
we are silenced
our brothers and sisters are imprisoned
we are here, in a prison which should not exist
in a place that should be joyful
and we are silenced.

I will still fight this battle.

Distinction

Today.“For you I desire spiritual distinction—that is, you must become eminent and distinguished in morals. In the love of God you must become distinguished from all else. You must become distinguished for loving humanity, for unity and accord, for love and justice. In brief, you must become distinguished in all the virtues of the human world—for faithfulness and sincerity, for justice and fidelity, for firmness and steadfastness, for philanthropic deeds and service to the human world, for love toward every human being, for unity and accord with all people, for removing prejudices and promoting international peace. Finally, you must become distinguished for heavenly illumination and for acquiring the bestowals of God. I desire this distinction for you. This must be the point of distinction among you.”

-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

Ducks

“When the Master was in the city Mrs. Goodall would drive Him and some of the friends (often including my father) to Lloyd Lake, a small lake surrounded by trees and flowering shrubs, in Golden Gate Park.  On the edge of the lake was placed a marble arch, which is all that remains of the Towne family mansion after the fire of 1906.  This arch is called ‘Portals of the Past’ and is on the shore across the lake from where the Master would stand on the path and watch the ducks.  The little ducks swam toward Him as if drawn by His presence.  Once He said, The ducks and flowers are more conscious of My presence than are the people of the city.  He spoke of many things and said that He hoped the Faith would progress in the West.”

[Source: Ramona Brown, Memories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp.47- 48.]

Thanks to Christina M. for sending this to me. 

Hope

Perfect day“O ye friends of God! Show ye an endeavor that all the nations and communities of the world, even the enemies, put their trust, assurance and hope in you; that if a person falls into errors for a hundred-thousand times he may yet turn his face to you, hopeful that you will forgive his sins; for he must not become hopeless, neither grieved nor despondent. This is the conduct and the manner of the people of Baha’. This is the foundation of the most high pathway!”

-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas

 

Attempting to trust, to forgive, to be open to everything.

If thou hast in thine heart one desire for thy life…

Back porch view in the sunlight.

A friend shared this poem by Baha’u’llah with me, which I had never heard, and I wanted to post it here.

——————

The following was told by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the friends at Abu-Sinan in 1915.

Whilst at Baghdad many learned mullas and others came into the Holy Presence, several of whom became His devoted friends; one of those was Kayvan Mirza, grandson of Fath-‘Ali Shah. This gentleman came and asked Mirza Muhit to obtain permission for an audience at some midnight in secret.

The reply was:

“When I was in the wilderness of Kurdistan I composed this poem:

If thou hast in thine heart one desire for thy life, then come not hither!
But shouldst thou be prepared to sacrifice soul, and heart and life,
come and bring others!
Such is the path if thou desire to enter the Kingdom of Light,
If thou art not of those able to walk this path —
Begone, and trouble us not!

Mirza Muhit conveyed this reply to Kayvan Mirza. He chose to “Begone,” his heart failed him!

(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 55)

Abdu’l-Baha in America

by Sholeh Loehle

(originally posted at Nineteen Months)

Over the last few months I read Abdu’l-Baha in America by Robert Stockman. I enjoyed the little details that were obviously meticulously researched, as well as the focus on historical context around `Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit. This is a good book for those who may not be familiar with the Bahá’í Faith, as the author has attempted to write to a wide range of audiences to make the subject matter more accessible.

I have also been using the book as a reference guide, to see where `Abdu’l-Bahá was on certain dates, and which cities He visited. There are excerpts from the talks, to give some perspective, but there is a nice balance of talks and information about His travels. I liked having more information about the types of people that attended talks, why He may have spoken on certain subjects, and His experiences in different cities.

Reading it straight through was a bit challenging for me, but it has been nice to go back here and there to read highlights. As the author himself states, there will be more research and information in the coming years regarding `Abdu’l-Bahá’s travels, but this is a good addition to the existing material that is already out there. A good companion book would be Promulgation of Universal Peace.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Baha’i Publishing Trust through its Bloggers Network book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Updates at the Baha’i National Center

These are my coworkers. 🙂

Life of Your Contribution part 2 from FUNDamentals on Vimeo(Part 1)

There has been progress on the building of the new Welcome Center for the Baha’i House of Worship. You can check out drawings, photos, & updates on the progress at the Facebook page for One World Architecture. I stopped by today and got a photo from one of the gardens:

photo.JPG

Also, the new north entrance is finished, but I haven’t had a chance to stop by in daylight. You can see the drawings and images of the entrance that are much better than mine.

New north entrance (also known as the back door or tunnel) last night. Soooo nice!

So much going on

This weekend I’m at the Conference of the Association of Friends of Persian Culture, which has mostly entailed spending time with friends and talking so much that I’m losing my voice. I’ve attended a couple of sessions that are in English, but I do not have the attention span to sit in long sessions in another language. Mostly it is an opportunity to be overwhelmed with thousands of Persians in a convention center.

So I’m trying to get through this weekend, survive long enough so I can get into September and leave the chaos behind a little. I’m looking forward to the beginning of autumn, the start of things, the end of summer (as sad as that makes me). This time of year has always held important changes for me, throughout my life.

Everything is good.

Timely utterance

Trying to remind myself of using wisdom in speech, and in all things…

“Know assuredly that just as thou firmly believest that the Word of God, exalted be His glory, endureth for ever, thou must, likewise, believe with undoubting faith that its meaning can never be exhausted. They who are its appointed interpreters, they whose hearts are the repositories of its secrets, are, however, the only ones who can comprehend its manifold wisdom. Whoso, while reading the Sacred Scriptures, is tempted to choose therefrom whatever may suit him with which to challenge the authority of the Representative of God among men, is, indeed, as one dead, though to outward seeming he may walk and converse with his neighbors, and share with them their food and their drink.

White flowersOh, would that the world could believe Me! Were all the things that lie enshrined within the heart of Bahá, and which the Lord, His God, the Lord of all names, hath taught Him, to be unveiled to mankind, every man on earth would be dumbfounded.

How great the multitude of truths which the garment of words can never contain! How vast the number of such verities as no expression can adequately describe, whose significance can never be unfolded, and to which not even the remotest allusions can be made! How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the appointed time is come! Even as it hath been said: “Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it.””

– Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh

Travel

The last few weeks have been marked by suitcases, last minute travel, sunsets, children, friends, sleep-deprivation, laughter, learning, and family.

First ice cream cone I have had in 9 years. For the 4th of July weekend, I drove to Minnesota for 6 days to visit my mother’s family and some friends. It was extremely warm, so I spent as much time as possible out of the house. I went swimming once, in a small lake, which made me really appreciate the warmth, since Lake Michigan is almost never warm. I also ran into my cousin at the beach, who I thought wasn’t even living in MN anymore. Minnesota is my home state, as I was born there, and I love visiting when I have the opportunity.

 

perspective In June and July I went to Starved Rock State Park on two different occasions. There are “18 canyons formed by glacial meltwater and stream erosion. They slice dramatically through tree-covered, sandstone bluffs for four miles at Starved Rock State Park, which is located along the south side of the Illinois River.” Highly recommended day-trip activity for Chicagoans, since it is only 2 hours outside the city. We took picnic lunches and enjoyed the greenery and canyons.

 

Perfect day at Louhelen.

Louhelen

I was at Louhelen Baha’i School for 5 days, August 3-8. I have been going there for years, but it had been a long time since I had attended a session and it was wonderful to be back. It is incredibly peaceful there, and I needed a break. Mr. Nakhjavani and Kathy Jewett-Hogenson gave such great presentations, I’m still trying to process what I learned.

I also got eaten alive by mosquitoes, which hasn’t happened in years, and made for a very uncomfortable few days. But it was totally worth it.

 

Another view from the room.

The view from our hotel room!

I flew to Montreal on Wednesday, after the session at Louhelen, for the Association for Baha’i Studies Conference. I have never been to this particular conference, and enjoyed it thoroughly. On Wednesday night my sister and I went to the Baha’i Shrine, which is the only shrine in the Western Hemisphere. It was beautiful and peaceful. The conference was great and I saw a lot of wonderful people (and made some new friends). I’ll have more photos soon, I just haven’t had time to process them!

 

The next few weeks will be just as busy, and I’ll try to keep up with updates as much as I can.

The value of these days

Hydrangeas at the House of Worship“The doors of the Kingdom are opened. The lights of the Sun of Truth are shining. The clouds of divine mercy are raining down their priceless jewels. The zephyrs of a new and divine springtime are wafting their fragrant breaths from the invisible world. Know ye then the value of these days.

Awake ye to the realization of this heavenly opportunity. Strive with all the power of your souls, your deeds, actions and words to assist the spread of these glad tidings and the descent of this merciful bounty. You are the reality and expression of your deeds and actions. If you abide by the precepts and teachings of the Blessed Perfection, the heavenly world and ancient Kingdom will be yours—eternal happiness, love and everlasting life.”
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

I have been reading Rob Stockman’s new book on my lunch break, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America, and this talk was quoted in the book. I have become more and more conscious in recent weeks of the precious value of these days, trying not to waste any moments, trying to take action and move forward with my life. The distractions are many, and sometimes it is hard to focus.

One day at a time, trying to be inspired.