three headed hill

Can you hear the echoing ring
A century of bells sing to their steeples
We will, on this three-headed hill,
Soon see the gnat become the eagle.

Crowning the city of Montreal is a hill, Mount Royal, with three peaks: Westmount, Colline d’Outremont (or Mount Murray), and Colline de la Croix (also called Mount Royal proper). ‘Abdu’l-Bahá himself gazed out onto to Montreal from atop the highest of these a hundred years ago, having taken the now-defunct Mount Royal Funicular from Fletcher’s Field (Parc Jeanne-Mance) to the East-End Lookout.

Commemorating the centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit, The Brothers Farr composed an original song, “Three-Headed Hill”. They performed it with Jacques Proulx on violin in St. James Church, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave one of His talks, on September 5, 2012—one hundred years to the day He gave it. Watch above, or check it out on Youtube. If you like what you hear, give their band a like on Facebook.

For here, one hundred years ago,
A mystery none can fathom
Came and uttered the Name
That can create life from a mound of atoms.

abdu’l-bahá’s visit to montreal

at the door of the shrine‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, arrived in the city of Montreal after an eleven-hour journey from Boston, on the night of August 30th, 1912. His business, far from any material pursuits, was to spread His Father’s message of universal peace, brotherhood and unity. Settling in to the home of Mr. William Sutherland Maxwell and Mrs. May Maxwell, nestled snugly onto the side of Mount Royal, he declared, “This is my home.” A hundred years later, this house is now regarded as a national Shrine, a grace conferred onto the Canadian Bahá’í community that stands unequalled among most of its sister communities worldwide. Montreal was the only Canadian city he visited during his 239-day-long journey, bestowing a priceless spiritual heritage to that city and to the country of Canada—and, at the same time, making an important and profound social statement.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá had ample reason to come to Montreal: the Maxwell family, with whom he had already been acquainted many years earlier and who would develop a unique and special relationship to the central figures of the Bahá’í Faith, had succeeded in raising up a small but active Bahá’í group there, and it was at their invitation that he made the long trek north from Boston rather than simply cutting across the west on his way to California. But beyond being a gracious visit to long-time friends, his visit to Montreal was also, in a way, an example to the early Canadian believers, many of whom came from Anglophone and Protestant backgrounds, and who carried with them, to varying degrees, the prejudices prevailing in society regarding the French Catholics of Quebec. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, known by the Bahá’ís as the Perfect Exemplar, was no stranger to making examples when there were lessons to be learned, especially when it came to social conventions. He it was who insisted on having Louis Gregory, a black American lawyer, sit next to him at the head of the table at a luncheon in Washington, D.C.—an unthinkable act in a society for which racial segregation was just another fact of life.

It can safely be said that racism is the most challenging issue confronting America, as was stated clearly in a 1991 statement by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of America, The Vision of Race Unity. Canada’s challenges, though slightly more nuanced, are perhaps just as serious. Broadly, it can be said that intercultural prejudice—a combination of racism, nationalistic sentiment and economic and religious prejudice—is Canada’s most challenging issue. This issue was directly raised by the Universal House of Justice in a message to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, dated 5 September 1999. As in many parts of the world, the letter explained, Canada is “affected by various social divisions… In Canada’s case, such issues tend to be cultural in nature, particularly those separating peoples of Native and European origin or those between Canadian of French- and English-speaking backgrounds.” These issues, the Universal House of Justice affirmed, are rooted in “long-standing conflicts that weaken the country’s basic social fabric.” Continue reading

dawson college shooting

Sign for Dawson College Students by spotmenow (cc)at this point, few details about the recent shooting at Dawson College in Montreal have been released. someone, apparently a 25-year-old white male armed with a machine gun, approached the front steps of the College and began shootingindiscriminately, it appears. the shooter entered the college, moved through the atrium, and into the cafeteria. eyewitnesses have been telling their stories; so far, at least one of them has blogged what he saw while the shooting was taking place.

You can follow the story by checking with CBC / Radio-Canada. The French content is being updated quicker than the English in this case, so I recommend Radio-Canada for best results. See their in-depth coverage. 20 people were reported injured. As of midnight, two deaths were confirmed; the shooter as well as an 18-year-old woman.

Once I began to read about the story I just got so sad, angry, incensed. I suppose it hit home because I have connections to Montreal; I was born there, I’ve spent some time there, and I have friends there. But it affects me on a human level as well, and it frustrates me to see people flip out like the Dawson College shooter did. Weirdly, I feel like I can empathize with everybody in this story—the victims who had to endure this horribly traumatic experience; the families who were worried to death that something terrible had happened to someone dear to them; and yes, even the shooter, who appeared (from what little we know) to have been so badly traumatized, wounded or deprived during his life that he decided to inflict his pain on others. It makes me angry both that someone would choose to do such a callous, atrocious, cruel and senseless thing, and that the family, the community, the society and the world he lived in seems to have been so unable to provide the support, the fellowship, and the education he may have needed to learn how to live and act in accordance with his own nobility as a human being and to reflect divine qualities and attributes, rather than abasing and degrading himself with conduct that not even animals would engage in.

Sorry. I don’t make a habit of posting rants. Prayers are in order for all those involved—prayers for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing. Also, prayers for unity are in order. I feel that one of the most fundamental reasons why tragedies like this happen is lack of unity. we all know the world is in trouble and needs help, but it seems like nobody can—or will—agree on what to do about it. as long as we come to the discussion table with our hidden agendas and vested interests, as long as we fight each other trying to prove each other wrong instead of working together to investigate and understand the truth, as long as we mistrust one another and set ourselves apart from others, tragedy upon tragedy will keep dogging us like the waves of a slowly rising sea. without unity, no social progress is possible; the longer we quibble, the more people will hurt.

Ninety-four years ago, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in North America and paid a visit to Montreal, staying in a home not very far from the place where Dawson College stands today. Here’s one of the things he said while he was here:

“…the oneness of the world of humanity shall be realized, accepted and established. When we reflect upon this blessed principle, it will become evident and manifest that it is the healing remedy for all human conditions.” (source)
dawson college shooting

tackling racism together

The Montreal Gazette just ran a story about the Multicultural Society at Laurier Macdonald High School, quoting a Montreal Baha’i youth, Mona Ghadirian, in the process:

Mona Ghadirian, a past president of the Multicultural Society, was on hand to talk about the Baha’i faith.

“We’re here to make sure that individuals, although they are very diverse, can come together and be united in one common goal,” said the 18-year-old Marianopolis College student. “And that goal is the unity and diversity of humankind, and the main goal of world peace.”

Ghadirian’s involvement with the club taught her a lot, including how to overcome a fear of public speaking.

“At the beginning, when there was a mic in front of me, I kind of froze,” she said. “But I learned to be confident in what I know and how to express it. And now I feel like I’ve grown a lot in those two years.”

The quote is at the bottom of the first page, regarding her participation at the school’s recent commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racism. Mona is cool. Read the story!

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.

bigger!

after almost five years of hanging around and not doing much at all to my computer I finally decided (with some hefty moral support) to upgrade my computer. I bought a copy of Mac OS 9.2.1 and a couple of sticks of RAM, and now my old G4 is zooming along happily as pictures get downloaded from my new digital camera. sweet. sweet. sweet. I put this picture as my desktop background. very warhol. well, I liked it. and hey – I can even use MSN messenger again. sweet. still can’t use the little display pictures on the mac version, but oh well. it’s to be expected.

I love my digital camera. I explored buzznet a bit on tuesday night. check out this person who takes pictures of Montreal metro stations as a hobby. For those not in the know, Montreal metro stations are one of my favourite things in the whole wide world. also featured on buzznet is Wil Wheaton (you know, the guy who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: TNG). He’s cool. and there are lots of other people who take very good photos. check it out. or else.

tonight is feast night in ottawa. I have a meeting tho, for the 3CJ – in Montreal. it should be cool tho, we’re all going to the Commensal on Queen Mary, near the U of M. we’re gonna talk about HOT TOPICS OMG OMG and André Bergeron from the Conseil Baha’i du Québec will be with us to straighten us all out act as a liaison to our committee. committee committee committee committee. what a waste of letters. why are there so many double letters in the word committee? the french have it right: “comité”. anyway. uhhh I’m going back to Drummondville tomorrow, and staying until Ridvan. after that…?

watch this space. fnord.