spring is in the air

hi all. hope you’re all doing well on this lovely morning. the sunlight is quite beautiful this morning; opposite me right now is our east window where the glory of sunrise plays out each and every morning in divine hues of bold yet muted reds, sober oranges, and timid yellows melting into a quiet sea of calm blues. in the mornings the sun casts shadows through the trees and fills our house with shifting, branching lines that creep slowly down the walls and across the floor, until they finally disappear at sunset. today is day 18 of the Fast, so once again, no food or drink from sunup to sunset. I’m looking forward to breaking the Fast tomorrow night – this year’s fast seems to have been more difficult for me – but I know I’ll miss this time when it’s gone. the Fast gives us a taste of detachment that our otherwise complicated lives rarely afford us.

Tomorrow night, the Baha’is of Ottawa will be hosting their annual Naw-Ruz party, a celebration to mark the Baha’i new year and the spiritual rebirth that follows the month of fasting. Everyone’s looking forward to that (especially to the kebab). Just imagine a night full of music, dancing and revelry, good cheer, getting dressed up in your best duds, and eating enough Persian food to make you pop, just because you can – and waking up without a hangover the next morning. And no silly ball to drop in Times Square. Damn I love Naw-ruz.

It was three years ago, on Naw-ruz 159 B.E. (Baha’i Era; 2002 AD) that I first stepped out of the comfortable coccoon of complacent city life and began my journey of change on a year of service in Victoriaville and Drummondville. There was a blinding snowstorm that day, and still I lumbered on through the snow from Ottawa to Victoriaville in my Dad’s worn-out old Mazda 626 to begin the transition to a new life. I blogged about it one year later and reflected on the many trials and pitfalls that awaited me in the year that followed.

The process of change, progress and transformation has continued since then, as it will no doubt continue to. To be very honest, the past few years presented me with so many tests and trials that I was beginning to lose it. Eventually I had to come back to Ottawa to safeguard my health (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual – the whole kit). But once I did come back, divine confirmations began to kick in once again. And perhaps since that time I stepped back into the boundaries of this multiply-blessed city, the greatest change and the greatest transformation has begun. Not to sound prosaic or anything, but this is surely the bounty of God, a proof of the power of His confirmation and of the living waters of His mercy. I can’t thank or praise God enough for what’s happened in my life. Not particularly for the good times or the bad times – but for the change, the opportunity to grow, to become a little bit better than I was yesterday.

So happy new year all you peeps. many big ups and shout outs to all of my crew in the OT, in MTL, Gatineau, the Heart of Quebec, around the nation and across the planet. Kind thoughts and best wishes to a particular friend of mine who’s getting married today in Drummondville. Que votre union soit une lampe qui éclairera les ténèbres avec la puissance de la lumière divine. Meilleurs souhaits et Allah’u’abha.

Enfin, pour traduire en quelques mots, mes meilleurs souhaits à tous mes amis au Québec (et oui, même ceux qui ont déménagé mais qui sont encore là en esprit), et un très joyeux Naw-ruz à vous tous. Comme toujours, je vous aime et je pense à vous. Je ne suis pas trop présent de ces jours-ci mais vous restez dans mes prières tout le temps. Mes amis de Montréal, de Québec, de Sherbrooke, Drummondville, Victoriaville, Warwick, Trois-Rivières, Thetford Mines, Rimouski, Lanaudière, l’Outaouais, la Rive-sud, bref, de tout partout, je vous souhaite un merveilleux nouvel an. Je suis content qu’on soit amis et je suis content d’avoir partagé avec vous une partie de vos vies. Qu’on se revoit bientôt en circonstances des plus joyeuses 🙂

(PS: hé sam… sham… ou donc est passé samnsham.com??? faites pas la fugue là…)

thanksgiving photos

talk about a late dinner? here are some photos from my family’s thanksgiving dinner last October. more family photos are going up slowly but surely.

what’s more, Wildfire Dance Theatre performed on Saturday night. I have screen captures from videos I took (the photos I took didn’t turn out real well because of the low light conditions, but the video captures look pretty good), so watch for those soon.

the Fast seems harder this year than in previous years. perhaps it’s because I haven’t been eating as well as in previous years (and I’ve been getting less sleep, too). today seems to be the best day so far, though – I got up early and even got into work early (around 8:30 instead of 9:00)… and I don’t feel quite as tired, thanks to taking a whole day to rest yesterday. sometimes you really need rest. I understand why Shameem always takes naps now. they really work.

Only seven days ’til Naw-ruz. Reco’nize.

fasting can be fun

Don’t ever break the Fast with coffee and a big slab of chocolate fudge cake. Ever.

The Fast began on Wednesday, March 2nd, so me and the rest of the Bahá’ís in this time zone just finished Day 3. I’m staying at work a little later than usual so I can work on a website project for one of the Bahá’ís in Victoriaville – it’s for a not-for-profit organization that does socioeconomic development work in the Bois-Francs. It’s going along well – the longer I work here at the Conference Board of Canada, the more I get to sharpen my web design skills and exercise my creative side. No matter what sort of distance I’ve put between myself and my artistic, creative side, it’s always come back full force to become a dominating mode of expression for me. It’s nice – I see this as leading me back to a better knowledge of my own identity as a special, unique creation of God – as each one of us is, no? Anyway. I’d really like to keep working at this job, it’s excellent experience. I’ve heard rumours that my contract may be extended, and hopefully they may prove to be true.

Have you visited Martin’s website lately? He’s got a neat little PHP script all hacked up for the Fast. It displays fast times for Ottawa and everything. Speaking of other people’s websites, here’s some neat info I’ve found about some interesting upcoming events:

  • March 5: Vafa is having an 80’s Movie Devotional… DON’T MISS IT!
  • March 11-12: MQ.com has a note about the upcoming Wildfire Youth Workshop/Social and Public Performance.
  • March 20: Nika Naimi sent me the url for information on the upcoming Montréal Naw-Rúz party.
  • March 26: Aaaaand of course there’s Celebration 162, the Greater Toronto Area’s notorious annual Naw-Rúz party.

Depending on circumstances (including how well I think I’ll hold up, and whether I can find my way down there), I might go down to the Victoriaville area for Naw-Rúz. If so, I’ll be sure to take pictures. Much love for les Québécois. Je vous aime et je pense à vous! Oh, speaking of finding one’s way – if you like maps, visit Google Maps. It’s still in beta, but it’s good. Darn good.

Aight I’m out. Off to have a blast. Friday night rox0rs.

mees is back! (and other news)

Misagh is back from his service in Zambia! Post your warm welcomes as comments to this post, or in Martin‘s shoutbox.

The Ottawa Bahá’í community’s Ayyám-i-Há festivities this weekend were most excellent. If you missed the super-pumped performance of Funk Master Vafa and DJ Dan Jones at the Kanata Ayyám-i-Há party, see it on Vafa’s website. Also, this week’s photo of the week is from the Ayyám-i-Há/study circle wrap-up party that Julie and Fanfan hosted on Sunday night. It was cozy and friendly and fun. The participants from the recently-completed study circle on Ruhi Book 6 were there, as well as many of their friends and family. The rest of us were kind of stragglers. Oh and people brought their kids too. The kids were money. There were a couple of two-year-olds that were just too cool, all hopping around and giggling at everything. Sahba and I sang “I’m a little teapot” to one of them. As for food, Catherine and I brought some neat middle-eastern pie things from the nearby shawarma shop, and people seemed to love them to pieces (crumbs). There was also some excellent Spanish omelette that Tonia P. made, and – gosh – so many good things I don’t even remember them all. Roasted plantains… roasted chicken… wonderful things… Oh and cranberry juice (of course). Can you tell I have an attachment to food? I’m really gonna need the Fast this year.

I met lots of new friends, as well as one of the Ottawa Bahá’ís who had just come back from Drummondville — he played African drums for an Ayyám-i-Há event put on by the Drummondville Bahá’ís. He told me all sorts of stories about what’s going on over there. Apparently it’s really amazing. Several people have become Bahá’í over there recently and many more are becoming involved in community activities – the proof is in the numbers: a community of perhaps nine or ten adult Bahá’ís hosted this event, which netted about 80 guests. Phat, no? Check back later; I’ll post up more stories (as I get them).

ayyam-i-ha and the fast

All praise be unto God, Who hath revealed the law of obligatory prayer as a reminder to His servants, and enjoined on them the Fast that those possessed of means may become apprised of the woes and sufferings of the destitute. (Bahá’u’lláh)

Ayyam-i-Há is coming this weekend, and with it, a time of charity, generosity and giving, a time to think of others around us and share our wealth – and also a time for preparing ourselves spiritually for the Fast. Briefly, Bahá’ís from the ages of 15 to 70 years abstain from eating or drinking from sunrise ’til sunset during the nineteen days between March 2nd and March 20th, culminating in Naw-Ruz (the Bahá’í new year) on March 21st.

I’ve posted up sunrise/sunset times for this year’s Fast in Ottawa. Feel free to bookmark it (if, of course, you’ll be observing the Fast in Ottawa). You can also get sunrise/sunset times for your own city by visiting the Fast calculator at BCCA.

a sunny day of frozen puddles

Welcome to the -10 Celsius world of Ottawa, the capital of Canada. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and Winterlude is wrapping up soon. Have you been out to see the festivities yet? There are ice and snow sculptures, skating on the Rideau Canal, street performers, and so on. Ottawa is buzzing, but it’ll be over on the 20th – so this is your last chance to see it before it closes!

A few dates to circle on your calendar:

  • February 20th – Ottawa’s Cluster Reflection Meeting. This is gonna be a big one because the whole city is going to be embarking on a collective teaching campaign, focused around enlarging our community of interest. We especially need youth and junior youth to be involved with this project – because as we all know, youth are the ones who will change the world! We need you with us during this exciting time. By participating, you will be helping to drive the growth of the Bahá’í community and to transform the way we live. Make your mark!
  • February 26th-March 1st – Ayyám-i-Há! Consult Martin’s, Vafa’s, and Arash’s website – not to mention the Ottawa Bahá’í website – for details on Ayyám-i-Há activities.
  • March 2nd-March 20th – The Bahá’í Fast. A spiritual time full of blessings, confirmations, prayer and nearness to God. Coming soon: a blog post about the Fast, with sunrise and sunset times and related information.