It’s autumn again. I went out for a walk this afternoon to gather kindling, and took some photos along the way. Check ’em out on flickr. It’s still early in the season, and there are quite a few green leaves left, but as the weather gets colder, more and more of them will be reddening, drying up and making their final downward journey, ending up in a pile at the back of the parking lot. Autumn is definitely my favourite season. Maybe it’s the massive flourish of colour that overtakes the city – the country, even – within a few weeks. Maybe it’s the sudden snap of cold air that makes me want to curl up in front of a fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate. Last year, I blogged:
Autumn gives me a feeling of gratitude for the things I have that keep me warm and dry, the friends who bless me with the gift of their presence, and the joy of closeness to the ones I love.
Speaking of warmth, joy, and closeness—and above all, gratitude—it’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. We celebrate it in October up here because it’s too cold in November (maybe that’s not the real reason). My family’s having a little dinner tomorrow (Sunday) night, with promise of good food and sharing some good times. some of the conversation will probably have to do with pilgrimage; my mom, sister and I will be going to Haifa in about two and a half weeks. I can still barely believe that this is IT, we’re actually going on pilgrimage, we’re actually going to be right there at the Baha’i Holy Places, walking, talking, breathing where Baha’u’llah was just a little over a century ago.
I mentioned spiritual preparation the last time I blogged about our upcoming pilgrimage, and I left the definition rather vague. Recently, I was invited to be part of a group that offers a unique sort of spiritual preparation—based on the courses of the Ruhi Institute…what else? What a blessing! Some of us were describing it as a “Baha’i Support Group”: we meet weekly to share our trials and pitfalls in teaching, and communicate by email and phone regularly during the week to 1) share insights about a set of readings from the Hidden Words that we’re all doing in parallel, and 2) share elements of our daily and weekly plans and encourage each other to take action on them.
The focus on action and support has been encouraging; we’ll focus on a small set of actions each week, mostly based on practice components of the Ruhi books. For example: reading and understanding the Hidden Words, or studying a prayer with someone. The goal is to make habits out of these actions: the more comfortable we are reading and understanding the Baha’i Writings, the easier it is for us to remember to turn to them at all times. The more comfortable we are visiting people to study prayers with them, the easier it is for us to get up and pay someone a visit at their home when they need our fellowship, and to share prayers and Writings with them that can provide the solace, comfort, and inspiration they may need. We’re creating life habits—that’s what you call a culture of learning. And once we’ve experienced the process of creating these habits, we can help others create those same habits in study circles.
More later; for now, roam around on flickr and enjoy the sights. I posted a bunch of photos from Ilya’s going-away party on the 10th of September; see how many people you recognize! And OMG how could I forget this link: Ilya is blogging his day-to-day experience in Haifa, so if you’re wondering what he’s up to, you should definitely visit his blog.