Ottawa’s Baha’i community opened up the 10th cycle of its intensive program of growth on Friday night with loud whoops and hollers, African drums, singing, laughing and dancing. In fact, the assembled crowd seemed so joyous that they even interrupted the MC’s opening jokes with outbursts of applause. So, as a word to the wise: if you had the impression that reflection meetings were supposed to be sober occasions full of number-crunching and wringing guilty commitments out of people, then you desperately need to think again.
There were two shining stars of the evening: first, those brave souls who were able to gain experience with “Anna’s presentation“, using it as a general yet complete overview to introduce seekers to the Baha’i Faith; second, those equally brave souls who participated in the first wave of the Fire and Snow initiative in Toronto and were able to report on their experience in glowing and inspiring terms. In both cases, the sharing was uplifting, exciting and inspirational—being evidence, as Regional Council member Todd Smith stated, of a “true change in culture” within the Baha’i community.
Those people who attended Fire and Snow, they announced, will now be leading outreach groups in which all four core activities will be offered to the general public, similar to their recent experience in Toronto. Moreover, they’re inviting everyone (meaning everyone) who wants to learn about outreach to join them during the upcoming intensive phase (Aug. 4-19) in one of three outreach groups: one in Blackburn, one in Beacon Hill and one in South Keys. If you’d like to join up, you can either contact me and I’ll put you in touch, or contact someone like Marty or Sahba and they should be able to hook you up directly.
All in all, it’s been exciting to see how reflection meetings have progressed in the last few years. When we first started holding them, they seemed like just another meeting—just another burden (an annoying one, to some) on our already-busy work week. They truly seemed to have changed into what seems like an indispensable feature of a joyous and uplifting culture of learning, encouragement, and growth. They’ve become something genuinely fun, full of celebration and inspiration, balanced with frank consultation and a serious sense of purpose. Personally, I take it as another confirmation of the infallibility of the Universal House of Justice—and that if we stick to the Plan and are wholly united in our efforts to carry it out, the promised benefits will be ours, without a doubt.
OK so one more thing: I’ve added photos from this reflection meeting to a new photoset on flickr called baha’i reflection meetings, along with a bunch of other photos from previous reflection meetings. Check ’em out!