ridván continued

Keeping Love Alive by deb5376 (cc)So the twelve-day festival of Ridván, “…the holiest and most significant of all Bahá’í festivals”, continues. Check out some pictures from Ottawa’s celebration of the 1st day of Ridván. Spiritual Assemblies – building blocks of Bahá’í administration – were elected across the country on that day, in a rarefied atmosphere of spirituality that provides a refreshing contrast to the crassness and ego-mongering that too often characterizes our familiar democratic process. The Bahá’í National Convention happens this weekend in Toronto; there, representatives nationwide will gather to elect the nine members of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada. Offer your prayers for smooth and productive deliberations at the convention, so that we may enter the new Five-Year Plan running and more united and resolute than ever.

As usual, if anything in this post doesn’t make sense to you—drop me a line!

photo by deb5376 (creative commons)

happy ridván!

Best wishes on this first day of Ridván, the King of all Festivals.

From John Walbridge’s Two Articles on Ridván:

Ridvan, Festival of. The twelve day period commemorating Baha’u’llah’s announcement of his claim to prophethood and his departure from Baghdad in 1863, observed from sunset 20 April to sunset, 2 May. The first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridvan are major Baha’i holy days on which work should be suspended. Baha’i elections are normally held during Ridvan. The name derives from the Najibiyyih Garden in Baghdad where Baha’u’llah stayed during this period and to which he gave the name Ridvan (Paradise).

See also the BBC’s fact file on Ridván.

View a Ridván-themed Flash presentation hosted by the Bahá’ís of New York City.

naw-rúz muse (back again)

happy naw-rúz, all. every year at around this time, I generally take the time to muse a bit about the path that my life has taken. I like to think that a new chapter of my life began on Naw-rúz day, 2002, when I left Ottawa to begin two years of service in the Centre-du-Québec area. I’ve been thinking a lot about that service lately. Last Friday, I was invited to attend a gathering for tutors of the courses of the Ruhi Institute. The Institute Board of Ontario (or Canada, maybe?) had asked all study circle tutors and participants to go through the practice component of the first unit of Ruhi Book One—studying prayers with people around them. We gathered to share about how this practice was going, what progress we (and the participants) had made, and so on. We touched on many related topics—home visits, reaching out to people around us and doing real, one-on-one teaching. It was pretty good—inspiring and practical. I like how the Bahá’í community is becoming more and more focused and practical. The more we focus on carrying out the Five-year Plan and its goals, the better.

Anyway, I thought about my first few months in Québec, when I had just arrived from Ottawa with my rusty French and my prayer book. It was so easy to reach out to people! I was pioneering, so I knew I didn’t quite fit in and that was all right—in fact, I played off of that in order to teach. Quickeners of Mankind was constant bedside reading. It was exciting to see the divine confirmations being showered from all sides, sustained by love for Bahá’u’lláh and the Bahá’í Faith. There were lots of adventures and amazing experiences. Then, as time went on, tests came. Financial tests, emotional tests, mental tests, physical tests, spiritual tests… you name it. I had prayed for tests, and got them by the bucketful. I started to feel depressed, weighed down by the difficulties I was going through. The slower I moved, the fewer were the confirmations, and the less I seemed to be able to “quicken” those around me, until I got so depressed that it all just stopped, and the only thing left to do was to cry out for help.

It’s a few years later, and things are better. Much better, actually. There are still downs, like the one I had earlier this winter. But they’re not crippling; they don’t shut me down to the point where I can’t bounce back and start to live life again. It’s clear that some sort of recovery has taken place, allowing me to see the effects of transformation in my life… So I guess what I’ve been thinking lately is: how much longer before I really get my groove back? I mean, that uplifting, exhilirating pioneer type of vibe that comes from putting all of your trust in God, from taking one step and letting Him carry you the next ten. And you know, that’s not a question anyone else can answer for me, nor can anyone decide. It’s up to me to keep doing the work that will take me that many steps closer to Bahá’u’lláh, and enable me to serve the Cause to the utmost of my capacity.

So I guess I’ve answered my own question. When will I be able to reach out to the people around me in friendliness and fellowship, and share with them the most precious gift I have to give*? Whenever I want. As some people have pointed out to me, I already do, but don’t always realize it.

O My servants! My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of surpassing luster. It is the duty of every seeker to bestir himself and strive to attain the shores of this ocean, so that he may, in proportion to the eagerness of his search and the efforts he hath exerted, partake of such benefits as have been pre-ordained in God’s irrevocable and hidden Tablets. […] This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p.326

With that, I’m off to bed. May this new year bring each one of you peace, certitude, hope, and confirmation. Even if I don’t always respond to each and every email these days, rest assured that the little notes and e-cards that pour in with greetings and naw-rúz wishes are very much appreciated.

* See Ruhi Book 6, Unit 1, Section 6.

naw-rúz events in ottawa area

Our friendly Feasts & Holy Days Committee gives us this heads-up about tomorrow evening’s Naw-ruz party:

Celebration of the Bahá’í New Year

Monday, March 20th, 2006
7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
The St. Elias Centre, 750 Ridgewood Avenue, off Riverside Drive
[ Find it with Google Maps ]

Artistic program, followed by dancing and socializing.
Light refreshments will be served.
Excellent opportunity to invite your friends to a lovely Bahá’í event!

and Basim, who doesn’t appreciate all the French gobbledygook :P, sends word of a partay at their place in the East End:

COME BRING FRIENDS
NAW RUZ PARTY

Date: March 25, 2006
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Tassnim and Basim’s house

Bring junk food, pop, chips, timbits, Krispy Kreme, tahdigh, sholeh-zard, kookoo sabzi, kabob barg, kashke bademjoon– um, I mean anything.

and remember folks… don’t forget your haft sin this year! [Ed. note: haft sin is a Persian custom, not a Bahá’í one. thanks Dad. -dj]