we gathered together just after three o’clock in the morning, local time, at the Ottawa Baha’i Centre. all was quiet and the sky was dark, though streetlamps and the glowing blue and white “Baha’i Centre” sign lit the way for those who arrived for the commemoration of the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, one of the main holy days in the Bahá’í calendar.
as I walked in, wonderfully unearthly music wafted from the main hall; a violin and piano duet by two of our Baha’i youth, Marie-Claire and Mathieu Saindon. It infused the building with a mood of rarefied spirituality and expectation—glowing, echoing chords suggesting candles at a vigil, evoking “the fire of Thy love which drove sleep from the eyes of Thy chosen ones” in the early hours of May 29th, 1892, as Bahá’u’lláh, the Blessed Beauty, drew His last breaths upon this earthly plane and ascended into His other Realms. Baha’i pilgrims might recall the image of the oil lamp owned by Bahá’u’lláh which still burns in the night in His room in the Mansion of Bahji.
The program was short but touching; a combination of readings, chanted prayers and music took us through to the reading of the Tablet of Visitation just after 4 AM (daylight savings time)—after which we slowly returned from those spiritual realms into the present moment, and shared greetings and refreshments together.
one of the Baha’is half-jokingly suggested that there must be souls (angels or spirits, in common parlance) among the Concourse on High who had problems with punctuality in life, and who make up for it by going around waking people up so that they don’t miss their appointments. that may have been the case for me; I fell asleep sometime around eleven o’clock (I think) without setting an alarm, and yet on the stroke of three in the morning, I was suddenly wide awake. thank goodness, since I was asked to chant one of the prayers for the program.
when the commemoration concluded and everyone began to return home, it was maybe a quarter to five, and dawn was ready to break soon. I decided it would be nice to stay up and say some prayers as the sun rose, so I rode my bicycle through the empty streets of downtown Ottawa all the way to the statue of Samuel de Champlain behind the National Gallery—an elevated spot known for its excellent view of its surroundings. All I can say, really, is that it was glorious, and that the time I spent there praying, watching the dawn break and catching the first rays of the sun as its bright orb crept up and over the horizon was special and invaluable. Something about dawn prayers carries one higher into the spiritual realms than is possible at other times of the day; I can see why they come so highly recommended.
that’s it for now. be well.