quiet day with god’s creation

thanks 030after a morning devotional and brunch in Blackburn with some of our newfound friends (newfound after this summer’s outreach projects, that is), I called up my Dad to get a ride home to Cumberland village this afternoon, where Mom’s been cooking jars of preserves, pies and even a turkey! it’s nice to go home. I haven’t been in a while because it’s not so convenient to get all the way out to the country all the time, but today just happened to work out quite well. things are quiet here; the air is a little colder—we thought we saw a few snowflakes falling—and it seems a little cleaner. the leaves are covering the lawn right now in a thick, bright carpet of many colours. I spent part of the afternoon cutting up pumpkins for freezing, eventually to go into pies later on in the winter.

I’ve noticed that my life has been lacking artistry lately—beauty surrounds me on all sides and I feel like the natural impulse is to sing in praise of God’s creation, but my voice has been weak—my pen longs to write, but the inkwell seems to have gone dry. I’ve been pushing my own limits in many ways of late, and that uses up a lot of free energy. I guess I’ve been feeling stressed out. Man needs to praise God, not only for his own sanity, but for the simple fact that God must be praised—part of our eternal covenant with God is that we, His creation, must strive to know Him and worship Him; and what higher form of worship is the expression of His name, the Creator? I want to sing, to paint, to write, to draw, to create. create art, create relationships, create beauty in this all-too-ugly world. read this and comment back with your feelings.

baha’i house of worship photos

askancehey. the photos I took of the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette during my family’s visit are now gathered together in a photoset on flickr; check them out if you haven’t already.

want to see more photos of the House of Worship? pay a visit to the Baha’i Houses of Worship group on flickr—it also includes photos of the other Houses of Worship around the world, such as those in India, Uganda, Germany, etc…

family photos

family photos 2hey—you guessed it, we’re back from our trip to the States, none the worse for wear. Check out the new photoset for the trip—mostly photos of family before and after the memorial service so far. i’ll keep posting photos throughout the week; still to come are the visit to Ralph & Fluff’s place in Oxford and the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette. k stay glued 2 ur scrnz plz.

family time

crazy group shotI’ve spent the past little while gallivanting about the United States of America in my parents’ mini-van (mainly listening to music and reading The Advent of Divine Justice by Shoghi Effendi), on the way to visit relatives throughout the country. We just arrived in Oxford, Ohio at my uncle Ralph’s place, after having visited my aunt Marilyn in Carlisle, PA for a few days. There was a commemoration in a nice UU church there for another one of my uncles, Marilyn’s husband, who died recently. We’ll be on the road for most of the rest of the week, with a stop in Wilmette, IL on Wednesday afternoon and overnight to visit the Baha’i House of Worship there, and Sault Ste. Marie, ON later in the week (not really sure why…what’s in Sault Ste. Marie anyway?) We’re expecting to be back for the weekend. I’ll try to check messages on email and on Facebook throughout the week, just to stay connected.

growing up baha’i

bahji samovarI have lots of memories of growing up Baha’i—there’s a lot of stuff I didn’t understand back then that seems a lot clearer now (naturally, I suppose). For example, my mother was on the Spiritual Assembly in the town where we lived, so I remember going with Mom to meetings now and then, hanging around in a separate room playing with toys while the adults discussed boring and serious things in the living room. Who knows? They were probably talking about the same kinds of things I did while pioneering and serving on Spiritual Assemblies in the province of Quebec, some 15 years later—correspondence, administrative procedure, the healthy growth and progress of the Baha’i community, planning for upcoming Holy Days and the 19-day Feast.

I always loved attending the 19-day Feast (well, most of the time, I suppose—everyone has their off days too). Back then, our local Baha’i community was fairly small, so Feast was always held in people’s houses, allowing different families to offer hospitality each time. And it was always so beautiful! Pleasant, restful music playing as the friends entered, prayer books in small piles on a coffee table, candles lit and softly flickering throughout. Everything was so big back then, so grand and amazing. High-topped dressers filled with books like God Passes By and Lights of Guidance, with curios and mementoes, and here and there you’d see an engraving with the ringstone symbol on it, or, up on the highest shelf, you’d see a beautifully framed reproduction of the Greatest Name of God. You’d see art from many cultures along the walls, and you’d smell perfume in the air—perhaps rose or jasmine. And then, when it was time to eat, you’d get up and walk (don’t run!) to the table at the back where the hosts would lay out platters of persian rice with tahdig (or “tahdeeg” or whatever), kookoo sabzi, adas polo, baghali polo, chicken drumsticks, and so on. I can smell it all now just writing about it. (On a side note, I’m somewhat glad the Fast is over.) Listening to prayers, either chanted in lilting tones or spoken softly, has left me with fond memories and a great love of Persian chanting. Sometimes I would recite prayers too, along with the other children. Sometimes, I fell asleep (hey, it got late, and the chanting sometimes sounds like a bedtime song).

We’ve learned a lot about the place of children in the community since I was young. “Our children need to be nurtured spiritually and to be integrated into the life of the Cause,” the Universal House of Justice wrote in its message to the Bahá’í world on Ridván, 157 B.E. (April 2000). Continue reading

shalom from israel

hi everybody – greetings from Tel Aviv. It’s currently 7:47 PM. Mom, Catherine and I arrived in Israel this morning at about 4 AM local time. Left from Montreal on the night of the 27th, arriving at Heathrow Airport in London at around 9 AM local time. We visited the Guardian’s resting place and said prayers, and spent a little time in London (visited Piccadilly Circus) before taking the underground back to Heathrow in time for our connection to Tel Aviv. The weather here is OK; it’s overcast and mild. We’ve hardly had any sleep since leaving from Montreal, so we booked a room for the day in a hotel here and just slept straight through. We just had dinner (mexican food… ?!??) and are about to depart for the bus station to catch a ride to Haifa, where our reservation awaits and the pilgrimage program begins tomorrow morning.

We can’t wait to get there, to meet our fellow pilgrims, and to begin the experience of pilgrimage to the Baha’i Shrines and holy places. It is really exciting to be here. We will keep you all in our prayers – no, really, we have lists – and hope that God will accept our devotions and shower confirmations on all your (and our) efforts to love and serve humanity.

Update: Nov 8 2006 – hey everybody. it’s 10 AM Israel time, and we’re getting ready to leave our cozy little hostel in Haifa, the Port Inn. At 11 AM, our bus leaves for Tel Aviv; our flight to London leaves at 4:45 PM. Pilgrimage has been very moving and beautiful – very hard to describe. All of us have been praying in the shrines a great deal, and have been remembering our friends, co-workers, and family – along with those who asked us for prayers for their loved ones, as well as the Baha’is of Iran (read the recent story from the Baha’i World News Service). We’ve met a lot of wonderful Baha’is from all around the world and received a lot of inspiration. I’ve got about 2 gigs of photos to post up; I’ll be adding a whack of them to my flickr site as soon as I can. I also plan to put together a more complete photojournal to tell the story of our pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy Places. There are so many stories to tell.

Anyway I will be back in action (but jet-lagged) this Friday, the 10th.