My Nineteen Days post – Baha’i Fast, Day 8

frykter nye blodbad i libya i dag vg watch I had a hard time taking my photos for Nineteen Days today. I struggled to find a Dawn subject, and I was at a training for the volunteers for the Centenary events at the House of Worship at sunset. But I managed to figure it out.

block my ip address visit As I went outside to take the photo at dusk, the resident hawk of the House of Worship flew overhead into the sunset. Unfortunately I was too slow to capture it, but it was a perfect way to end the day.

http://hotzero.download/2018/08 steinbrudd pris kontrakt Go on over to Nineteen Days and check out the rest of the photos. I am so glad I got to participate this year.

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Nineteen Days

http://knockhorse.download lang nghe con tim Have you checked out the first four days of photos and quotations over at Nineteen Days? You really should. The stories being told are beautiful, and it is a way to enjoy the Baha’i Fast with people from all over the world. I’ll be participating in a few days, and I’m really looking forward to it!

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hovedlønnstabell staten 2016 It also has a special place in my heart, because this project, which was started by dear Amy and Leila, helped inspire Nineteen Months. And Nineteen Days always uplifts my heart and makes me smile during the Fast.

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Looking for Baha’i videos?

http://travelgold.xyz/2018/08 abonnement aftenposten barn Below is a creative video that explains how to find Baha’i video content online! Share it with your friends, and “like” the U.S. Baha’i Video Library page on Facebook.

http://sheepalready.download/2018 moteur srt8 challenger Ernie’s Quest from Bahai.us on Vimeo.

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Wo(men)

http://putchocolate.life platte buik challenge I don’t involve myself in internet debates/comment discussions on websites. There is absolutely no point. However, in some of the discussions I’ve seen recently over at The Good Men Project (one of the few sites of this kind that I frequent), there seems to be the idea that the issues that relate to men should be dealt with by men, and issues that relate to women should be handled by women.

symptoms of polymyalgia This makes me so mad. The stupidity inherent in this kind of belief structure, where we think we can advance humanity by the genders working in their own silos, where they bring the other gender down and dehumanize them in order to raise themselves up, is just plain crazy.

standesbeamtin cornelia barkawitz Winter gulls

apple kalder opladere tilbage I have been lucky enough to grow up in a family and faith that encouraged a beautiful balance of ideas, practices, and tools that enable men and women to grow together, to build each other up. The world is still largely imbalanced, favoring men, but to reject men and all the wonderful things that make them men would be to reject half of humanity, would leave me feeling imbalanced.

http://blocktomorrow.space klaus huber died That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature and makes possible their complementary roles in certain areas of the life of society; but it is significant that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that in this Dispensation “Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced.”-The Kitáb-i-Aqdas

ad block test check I don’t have a long, thought-out post about this, but I had to write something. I wish we could have more productive conversations about this subject, instead of fighting who should be in charge.

leren broek festival visit  

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Behind the Scenes

Because I work at the Baha’i National Center, there have been times that I’ve been asked to participate in short videos produced by our Media Services team. Actually, since I grew up in the area, there is probably a great deal of embarassing footage out there, especially from my middle school and high school years.

I shot my particular part of the video on a very cold, blustery day in March. I only had to do a few takes, but I loved the idea and the end result turned out even better than I thought, and a lot of my friends ended up in it too. This is my favorite introductory video of the Baha’i Faith so far (and not because I’m in it!). Good job, team! I kept forgetting to post it here, but finally got around to it.

Baha’i Basics: Principles & Practices from Bahai.us on Vimeo.

And I’m sharing this video because it has two of my coworkers/friends and it makes me laugh when I watch it. The purpose of the video is to encourage Baha’is to give to the Baha’i Funds, and I love that it was done with humor. And awkwardness. Lots of awkwardness.

Don’t Miss Out! from FUNDamentals on Vimeo.

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My response to Ahmadinejad

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times interviewed the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and one of the questions he asked was about the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran (which I haven’t seen much from other recent interviews, so thank you, Nicholas). Ahmadinejad’s answer, as with most of his interviews, was to slide around the question by asking more questions and being very vague.

Ahmadinejad implied that Baha’is are possibly a political or intelligence security group, that they break the law, and then brought the American hikers into it at the end. The entire answer was ridiculous, and shows how little logic enters the equation when it comes to human rights in Iran.

Ahmadinejad: Do you even know the group that you name? Do you know their makeup? Are they a religious group? A truly faithful group? Or a political group? Or an intelligence security group? Let’s make sure they are all named? Let’s make sure they all come forward. Let’s see their true makeup.

Sir, the Baha’is of the world have never tried to hide. We have always been exactly what we claim to be: followers of a peaceful religion that abide by the laws of the countries in which we live, who are endeavoring to foster community life and bring about peace. In every part of the world, you will find Baha’is doing all of these things openly, with love for their fellow human beings.

Since the very beginning of our Faith, the Baha’is have been persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, killed, banned from education, removed from their homes, and had property confiscated and destroyed. Our holy places in Iran have been razed to the ground, and our graves desecrated.

My great-uncle and his son were put to death because of their faith. I have never been to the country of my mother’s birth, it is my lost home. I love Iran, and I have never been there. Think of how great Iran could be if you let all of these innocents live freely, if you let children be educated whose only aim in life is to serve humankind.

There are Baha’is in prison at this moment whose only transgression is to try to help their fellow human beings, for believing in the same God that you believe in. There are many minorities in Iran who suffer, for no purpose except fanatical hatred and fear on the part of the government and clerics.

This is the true crime.

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Make of this mortal world…

nighttime tulips

“All humankind are as children in a school, and the Dawning-Points of Light, the Sources of divine revelation, are the teachers, wondrous and without peer. In the school of realities they educate these sons and daughters, according to teachings from God, and foster them in the bosom of grace, so that they may develop along every line, show forth the excellent gifts and blessings of the Lord, and combine human perfections; that they may advance in all aspects of human endeavour, whether outward or inward, hidden or visible, material or spiritual, until they make of this mortal world a wide-spread mirror, to reflect that other world which dieth not.

…Wherefore, O loved ones of God! Make ye a mighty effort till you yourselves betoken this advancement and all these confirmations, and become focal centres of God’s blessings, daysprings of the light of His unity, promoters of the gifts and graces of civilized life. Be ye in that land vanguards of the perfections of humankind; carry forward the various branches of knowledge, be active and progressive in the field of inventions and the arts.”

-‘Abdu’l-Bahá

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Baha’i National Convention

I’ve been attending the United States Baha’i National Convention since I was a kid. There have been a lot of changes over the years, but I have to say that this year was one of the best that I have attended.

The House of Worship171 delegates are elected by Baha’is all over the country, and they come to the House of Worship to vote for the National Spiritual Assembly and consult on topics relevant to the advancement of the Baha’i community. If you want more details about the 103rd Convention, click on the links, as the articles are much more explanatory than I have room for here. There is also a Flickr page with photos from Convention, including an amazing photo of a red-tailed hawk.

There was a cohesive force, a unity among the delegates that I haven’t seen before. There was also an elevated level of discourse and desire to change habits of thought and action that was highly encouraging. A sense of joy and excitement pervaded Foundation Hall the whole weekend.

Nineteen Months - BeautyI was at the Convention for nearly every session, working as stage manager and doing other random duties as they came up. It is such a privilege to interact with Baha’is from across the country, and Mr. Hooper Dunbar (former member of the Universal House of Justice) and his wife Mrs. Maralynn Dunbar were attending as special guests. It took me back to my days in Haifa, attending the youth classes that Mr. Dunbar had every Thursday night.

There are always things happening behind the scenes at every National Convention…staff members doing heroic things to make sure that everything goes smoothly, sweet moments of conversation between friends, a youth inspired to offer a prayer, even the panicked rush to make sure the microphones are working (my constant battle this year). But as I try to convey every time someone brings it up, it is truly a fun, intensely rewarding experience to contribute to the success of this gathering.

Although I have to admit, I would like to take a nap right now. 🙂

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The month of Glory is up at Nineteen Months!

If you haven’t already checked out the awesome photos over at Nineteen Months for the Baha’i month of Glory, I highly recommend that you do so right now.

I’ll wait for you to do that before continuing.

Nineteen Month-Glory

There are also some great articles on the subject of “Community”, and we’ll keep updating those throughout the month.

I took the above photo in D.C., and have yet to upload the other photos that I took there. I’m working on it, there are a lot of other things going on right now. Keeping Nineteen Months going, family, friends, Holy Days, Baha’i National Convention coming up at work…not to mention all of the people and side projects I have to keep up with. It is great fun, but sometimes I just want to curl up on my couch and do absolutely nothing.

Contrary to popular belief, there are times in which I actually do rest and let my mind take a break. It isn’t often, but I try to make that effort. There is just no way to be productive if I’m constantly running on empty or am stressed out.

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Nineteen Months – the online magazine

The international photoblog that I’ve been working on for the past year has evolved. We have turned it into an international collaborative online magazine. It still has the photos, but we have added articles, features, and reviews.

Ronnie and I asked photographers and writers to join our team over the course of several weeks, reaching out to a diverse group of friends around the world. It has required conference calls across two time zones, many emails and gchat conversations, and a great deal of consultation. Oh, and we did most of it during the Baha’i Fast. That may have been a little crazy.

To answer a common question I’ve gotten over the last few days: no, we do not have any funding. None of us get paid to do this, it is an individual initiative. The response has been overwhelming and inspiring. We’ve had 2,100 hits in three days. People have been emailing us from around the world, commenting, and promoting it. (Please keep it up, folks! We love our readers!)

If you’re interested in participating (or know someone that you want to recommend to us) you can check out the FAQs. Our contributors are so amazing and I can’t wait to see how Nineteen Months progresses. Thanks for all of the support!

Follow us on Facebook or add us on Twitter.

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the number 19

There are some exciting developments in the worlds of Nineteen Months and Nineteen Days.

First of all, we have completed our first year of Nineteen Months! You can see the photos for the month of Loftiness here. We are looking forward to the next year of photos, and will be doing great things with the site. Announcements will be made in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

photo for the month of Loftiness (Ala)

Nineteen Days has announced its photographers for the 2011 Fast, and have dedicated this year’s project to the Baha’is who live in Iran.  I am sure that the photos will be amazing, as always. Check for daily updates from March 2-21.

Tomorrow is the last day of Ayyam-i-Ha. I spent the weekend with friends and family, ate way too much food, and worked on a service project with my junior youth group. They baked cookies and brownies for the fire and police departments of Wilmette as a thank you for the service they do for the community, then had the opportunity to tour the facilities.

finished cookies!

I watched the Oscars last night with a group of friends, which is much more fun than watching it alone. Even so, it was often painful. You wonder at the amount of money being spent, and how difficult it seems to be to find hosts in an entire city devoted to entertainment.

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Joy and sadness

A gathering of souls, meeting to discuss the future, full of excitement. You can see what the world might look like one day, if we strive hard enough.

lens flare

News of my great-aunt’s passing at the age of 94. Maryam Saniei Firouzi, wife and mother of martyrs, servant of the Faith, loved by her entire family. I was able to visit her a few weeks ago, and I know she is now reunited with her family, so my sense of sadness is overtaken with joy that she has been released from this life.

2011-02-08 17.29.32

The sun is finally shining today. Accomplishment in my tasks, the week isn’t over yet but I know that it is all perfect, no matter what.

white sand

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Light and Power

the moon above
“This is the divinely-inscribed Book. This is the outspread Tablet. Say, this indeed is the Frequented Fane, the sweet-scented Leaf, the Tree of divine Revelation, the surging Ocean, the Utterance which lay concealed, the Light above every light…

Indeed every light is generated by God through the power of His behest. He of a truth is the Light in the kingdom of heaven and earth and whatever is between them. Through the radiance of His light God imparteth illumination to your hearts and maketh firm your steps, that perchance ye may yield praise unto Him.” -The Báb

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at sunset, construction

One day a few weeks ago, there was a need for prayers. A long day, friends and family who needed love, everything about that day sent me to the House of Worship. When saying farewell, I turned to see this:
sunset construction

As I drove away, the sun was turning the sky into a perfect sunset.

sunset on Linden

“O ye who have turned your faces toward the Exalted Beauty! By night, by day, at morningtide and sunset, when darkness draweth on, and at early light I remember, and ever have remembered, in the realms of my mind and heart, the loved ones of the Lord. I beg of Him to bestow His confirmations upon those loved ones, dwellers in that pure and holy land, and to grant them successful outcomes in all things: that in their character, their behaviour, their words, their way of life, in all they are and do, He will make them to achieve distinction among men; that He will gather them into the world community, their hearts filled with ecstasy and fervour and yearning love, with knowledge and certitude, with steadfastness and unity, their faces beauteous and bright.” -Abdu’l-Baha

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The things that I do

I realize, looking over recent posts, that I assume that the majority of my readers know what is going on in my life, or even what my day-to-day life looks like.  However, it is difficult for me to gauge my audience these days.  6 or 7 years ago, I knew pretty much everyone who read my blog.  I know that isn’t the case anymore.

My working life AND personal life revolve around the Baha’i Faith.  I work for the national governing body of the Baha’is in the United States, so I am constantly immersed in the Faith at work…and I LOVE my job.  Sometimes on lunch breaks I go to the House of Worship to pray and check out the restoration/construction work.

The House of Worship today

Once a week I try to attend a devotional (prayer) gathering at my friends’ house in Chicago.  We have a late potluck brunch, prayers, and often spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying everyone’s company.  There is usually some kind of music/singing, too!  I haven’t had a lot of time to attend over the summer, unfortunately.

During the summer a small group of friends gathered for a Baha’i study circle, book 6 in the Ruhi sequence, which is about refining our inner lives, learning, and teaching the Baha’i Faith.  The great thing about study circles in the Baha’i context is that the facilitator is not at a higher level than the rest of the group…we’re really all learning together!  We just finished it last week.

In August I hosted a 3 night study on the Ridvan Message from the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Baha’is of the world.  Baha’is from my local community came to my home to read and discuss.  It gave me an opportunity to get to know the people in my community, and we ate really well.

I also participate in Nineteen Months, which I post about on this blog occasionally, and it has been stretching my photographic skills.  On September 13 I modeled and shot photos as a last minute favor for some friends, which was super fun and I wish I had the opportunity to do it more often.

Black dress

I also went to a few Baha’i conferences in August and September, which were super fun but then laid me out sick because I didn’t rest or sleep for a couple weeks.  October was the month of weddings.  The first weekend was a wedding in NYC, the third weekend was a wedding in Peoria.  I still haven’t unpacked from either wedding.

Of course, mixed into all of this are friends visiting from out of town, friends moving in and out of Chicago, family gatherings, making plans, reading books, fixing my condo (yes I’m still working on that), baby showers, etc.  I miss writing about my life, and I’d like to do more of it here.  Twitter & Facebook are still there, and I utilize them for their purpose, but this is the place that is truly “me” on the internet.

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unwisdom

“Let us also remember that at the very root of the Cause lies the principle of the undoubted right of the individual to self-expression, his freedom to declare his conscience and set forth his views. If certain instructions of the Master are today particularly emphasized and scrupulously adhered to, let us be sure that they are but provisional measures designed to guard and protect the Cause in its present state of infancy and growth until the day when this tender and precious plant shall have sufficiently grown to be able to withstand the unwisdom of its friends and the attacks of its enemies.”

(Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, p. 63)

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reminders

It happens every few weeks, or months.  A reminder of what I left behind.  It comes with a sudden warm, coastal wind, or a flower that I saw every day, or a friend’s smiling face.  It sometimes sneaks up, like feet sinking in the sand, and sometimes it is like tripping on uneven rock paths.

I am home, over 2 years and I am taken back to a place that is burned into my soul and heart.

Wishing I could dissolve in tears with my face pressed to the carpet, the silence and the smell of roses like a warm embrace…

“O thou cherished Fruit of the heart! Give ear to the melodies of this mystic Bird warbling in the loftiest heights of heaven. The Lord hath, in truth, inspired Me to proclaim: Verily, verily, I am God, He besides Whom there is none other God. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise.

O My servants! Seek ye earnestly this highest reward, as I have indeed created for the Remembrance of God gardens which remain inscrutable to anyone save Myself, and naught therein hath been made lawful unto anyone except those whose lives have been sacrificed in His Path. Hence beseech ye God, the Most Exalted, that He may grant you this meritorious reward, and He is in truth the Most High, the Most Great.”

– the Báb

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For Gavin

O my God! O my God! Verily, Thy servant, humble before the majesty of Thy divine supremacy, lowly at the door of Thy oneness, hath believed in Thee and in Thy verses, hath testified to Thy word, hath been enkindled with the fire of Thy love, hath been immersed in the depths of the ocean of Thy knowledge, hath been attracted by Thy breezes, hath relied upon Thee, hath turned his face unto Thee, hath offered his supplications to Thee, and hath been assured of Thy pardon and forgiveness. He hath abandoned this mortal life and hath flown to the kingdom of immortality, yearning for the favor of meeting Thee.

O Lord, glorify his station, shelter him under the pavilion of Thy supreme mercy, cause him to enter Thy glorious paradise, and perpetuate his existence in Thine exalted rose garden, that he may plunge into the sea of light in the world of mysteries.

Verily, Thou art the Generous, the Powerful, the Forgiver and the Bestower.
—‘Abdu’l-Bahá

May your soul always have the same laughter that you had on this earth. We love you.


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Saying prayers

For the Yaran. For the flood-stricken in Pakistan. For the women of Congo. For everyone.

Lauded be Thy name, O my God! Thou beholdest how the tempestuous winds of tests have caused the steadfast in faith to tremble, and how the breath of trials hath stirred up those whose hearts had been firmly established, except such as have partaken of the Wine that is life indeed from the hands of the Manifestation of Thy name, the Most Merciful. These are the ones whom no word except Thy most exalted word can move, whom nothing whatever save the sweet smelling fragrance of the robe of Thy remembrance can enrapture, O Thou Who art the Possessor of all names and the Maker of earth and heaven!

I implore Thee, O Thou Who art the beloved Companion of Baha, by Thy name, the All-Glorious, to keep safe these Thy servants under the shadow of the wings of Thine all-encompassing mercy, that the darts of the evil suggestions of the wicked doers among Thy creatures, who have disbelieved in Thy signs, may be kept back from them. No one on earth, O my Lord, can withstand Thy power, and none in all the kingdom of Thy names is able to frustrate Thy purpose. Show forth, then, the power of Thy sovereignty and of Thy dominion, and teach Thy loved ones what beseemeth them in Thy days.

Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious, the Most Great.

-Baha’u’llah


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Hidden Gem

I started reading the Kitab-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude) again this week.  It is one of Baha’u’llah’s most important books, and I realized that I hadn’t spent enough time with it, especially in light of questions that have been coming my way recently. I strongly recommend picking up a copy of Hooper Dunbar’s A Companion to the Study of the Kitab-i-Iqan if you really want to get into it.

“A model of Persian prose, of a style at once original, chaste and vigorous, and remarkably lucid, both cogent in argument and matchless in its irresistible eloquence, this Book, setting forth in outline the Grand Redemptive Scheme of God, occupies a position unequalled by any work in the entire range of Bahá’í literature, except the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá’u’lláh’s Most Holy Book.” -Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

“The significance and essential purpose underlying these words is to reveal and demonstrate unto the pure in heart and the sanctified in spirit that they Who are the Luminaries of truth and the Mirrors reflecting the light of divine Unity, in whatever age and cycle they are sent down from their invisible habitations of ancient glory unto this world, to educate the souls of men and endue with grace all created things, are invariably endowed with an all-compelling power, and invested with invincible sovereignty. For these hidden Gems, these concealed and invisible Treasures, in themselves manifest and vindicate the reality of these holy words: “Verily God doeth whatsoever He willeth, and ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth.” -Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Iqan

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Baha’i Youth

“We may well emulate Bahá’í youth whose recent surge forward into the van of proclamation and teaching is one of the most encouraging and significant trends in the Faith, and who storm the gates of heaven for support in their enterprises by long-sustained, precedent and continuing prayer. We are all able to call upon Bahá’u’lláh for His Divine, all-powerful aid, and He will surely help us. For He is the Hearer of prayers, the Answerer.”

(The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973, p. 90)

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Arts and music

I had the opportunity to volunteer at the 4th Annual Baha’i Choral Music Festival in May. It was wonderful to see so many people at the House of Worship. I was manning the main entrance for both performances, so I got to see everyone.

A number of my dear friends went on the Voices of Baha tour in India in June. Imagine 120 singers from around the world, traveling around India in the heat of summer just to sing! Seeing the photos and video made me wish I was with them.

I purchased my copy of The Baha’i Gardens by my friend Marco Abrar a few weeks ago, and received a copy of this gorgeous book soon after. It is a coffee table book that I think everyone should have. It has beautiful photos of the Baha’i Holy Places in Haifa & Akka, Israel, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes as I looked through the pages and remembered my time there.

Speaking of photobooks, you should definitely pre-order Hasten Forth, a photobook that takes you on a journey of Haifa and Akka, by my Haifa companions (and lovely friends) Ginous Alford and Anis Mungapen.  I can’t WAIT until my copy arrives!

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Distinction

O ye who have turned your faces toward the Exalted Beauty! By night, by day, at morningtide and sunset, when darkness draweth on, and at early light I remember, and ever have remembered, in the realms of my mind and heart, the loved ones of the Lord. I beg of Him to bestow His confirmations upon those loved ones, dwellers in that pure and holy land, and to grant them successful outcomes in all things: that in their character, their behaviour, their words, their way of life, in all they are and do, He will make them to achieve distinction among men; that He will gather them into the world community, their hearts filled with ecstasy and fervour and yearning love, with knowledge and certitude, with steadfastness and unity, their faces beauteous and bright.

-Abdu’l-Baha


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Peace, Peace

WHENEVER the faithful hear the verses of this Book being recited, their eyes will overflow with tears and their hearts will be deeply touched by Him Who is the Most Great Remembrance for the love they cherish for God, the All-Praised. He is God, the All-Knowing, the Eternal. They are indeed the inmates of the all-highest Paradise wherein they will abide for ever. Verily they will see naught therein save that which hath proceeded from God, nothing that will lie beyond the compass of their understanding. There they will meet the believers in Paradise, who will address them with the words ‘Peace, Peace’ lingering on their lips…

(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 62)

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Revival, the movie

I have some friends who are really talented.  And they made this great short film called Revival that I think that you should see.  So many of my friends are in this little movie!  I’ve embedded both parts here.  Tell your friends about it!

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The National Spiritual Assembly

It would be impossible at this stage to ignore the indispensability or to overestimate the unique significance of the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly – the pivot round which revolve the activities of the believers throughout the American continent. Supreme is their position, grave their responsibilities, manifold and arduous their duties. How great the privilege, how delicate the task of the assembled delegates whose function it is to elect such national representatives as would by their record of service ennoble and enrich the annals of the Cause!

(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 3 June 1925 to a National Convention)

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The Baha’i House of Worship – a story about a silk carpet

In looking for quotations about National Convention, I found this touching story.   I remember that a silk carpet was displayed in Foundation Hall when I was a child, but it is no longer hanging on the wall.  I love this story about the House of Worship.  It is an excerpt from “The Priceless Pearl”, the book that Shoghi Effendi’s wife, Ruhiyyih Khanum, wrote after his passing. She attended the dedication of the House of Worship in 1953 on behalf of the Guardian.  I have chosen select passages, but I suggest reading the book in its entirety.


Although the first Temple was built according to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’í own instructions in Ishqabad during his lifetime, the Guardian assured us that the first Temple erected in the New World was the holiest for all time because the Master Himself had laid its foundation stone during His visit to North America and it had been one of the undertakings dearest to His heart. By 1921, when Shoghi Effendi became Guardian, its foundations had been laid but the building ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had so longed to see erected before His passing was only a hideous black waterproofed cylinder, resembling a gas tank, sticking up above the ground.

The Guardian conceived it as one of his major duties to complete this sacred edifice as soon as possible. It took him thirty-two years to accomplish this task which he called the greatest enterprise ever launched by the western followers of the Faith and the most signal victory won during the Formative Period of the Bahá’í Dispensation. One of his first acts was to send 19 [pounds] to its Temple Fund in 1922, and in 1926 he says he is “joyously pledging 95 dollars per month as my humble share”; throughout the years he frequently contributed towards its erection…by 1923 the Convention was held in what became known from then on as Foundation Hall; to embellish its walls he sent as he gift beautiful Persian rugs from the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh; until 1928, however, no progress was made in the erection of the Temple. To the Convention held that year he sent a strongly worded message pleading with the American believers to resume the construction of their great Temple and this influenced them to initiate what became known as the “Plan of Unified Action”, designed to raise money for the extremely costly work of the superstructure. In spite of this by 1929 the required sum had not been obtained and Shoghi Effendi, not himself at that time in a position to send a large amount, decided to sell the most precious thing the Faith possessed in the Holy Land. He cabled the Convention: “Am sacrificing the most valuable ornament Bahá’u’lláh’s Shrine in order consecrate and reinforce collective endeavours American believers speedily to consummate plan unified action appeal for unprecedented self-sacrifice.” It was typical of him that he first cabled the Persian donor of this priceless object: “Temple work America progressing three quarters sum required first storey actually subscribed. Strongly feel desirability sale silk carpet you donated. Wire views promptly regarding market and price. Appreciate your consent.” Only when he received a warm answer and advice to sell in New York did he inform America of his decision. So deeply touched were the Bahá’ís by this offering of their Guardian that they raised almost $300,000 before the Convention rose. Fearing that heavy debts might be incurred if the sum for the entire future work was not pledged in advance, Shoghi Effendi would not permit contracts to be signed. However, by the 1930 Convention the sum was pledged, the Guardian consented – and the Bahá’ís wanted to buy the precious carpet themselves, which in the meantime had reached the United States. His cabled replies were typical in every way: “Approve proceed construction entire Temple without external decorations provided believers are determined to consummate their sacrifice by adding decorations eventually. Feel we all should uphold design in its entirety as approved ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” “Consecrated carpet need neither be sold nor returned. Dedicated as permanent ornament first Mashriqu’l-Adhkar of West.” The Convention, overwhelmed, cabled its “deep gratitude for matchless gift”. The enthusiasm Shoghi Effendi engendered by such messages and acts as these was not produced by policy on his part, but rather by the deep unselfconscious instinct of a born leader with a singularly pure motive and heart…

…Year after year the messages went out and the fabulous Temple went up, until, at the second and last great Centenary to be celebrated during Shoghi Effendi’s lifetime, I was able to read those words: “On behalf of the Guardian of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, I have the great honour of dedicating this first Mashriqu’l-Adhkar of the Western World to public worship…I greet and welcome you on behalf of the Guardian of our Faith within these walls…”

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The dawn star is shining…

“The winds of the true springtide are passing over you; adorn yourselves with blossoms like trees in the scented garden. Spring clouds are streaming; then turn you fresh and verdant like the sweet eternal fields. The dawn star is shining, set your feet on the true path. The sea of might is swelling, hasten to the shores of high resolve and fortune. The pure water of life is welling up, why wear away your days in a desert of thirst? Aim high, choose noble ends; how long this lethargy, how long this negligence! Despair, both here and hereafter, is all you will gain from self-indulgence; abomination and misery are all you will harvest from fanaticism, from believing the foolish and the mindless. The confirmations of God are supporting you, the succor of God is at hand: why do you not cry out and exult with all your heart, and strive with all your soul!”

-Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization


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The Most Great Festival, Ridvan

Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridvan and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the garden of delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise. We have chosen thee to be our most mighty Trumpet, whose blast is to signalize the resurrection of all mankind.

– Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 31

The Festival of Ridvan lasts for 12 days, and is a wonderful time in the Baha’i community.  There are 3 holy days (1st, 9th, and 12th days), there are the elections of the Local and National Spiritual Assemblies, and every 5 years the election of the Universal House of Justice occurs at Ridvan.  It is hard to believe that 2 years ago at this time I was in Haifa, preparing for the 10th International Convention.  This year, I am preparing for the National Convention in Wilmette for the election of the National Spiritual Assembly, which will happen next week.  I wander the gardens of the House of Worship (where the tulips are blooming!), instead of the gardens of the Shrines in Israel.

Have a joyous Ridvan!

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