thoughts about pilgrimage

nine pointed starMy family’s pilgrimage to the Baha’i World Centre is over, but the journey of others has only just begun. Several friends and acquaintances—Sham, Sahba and Melody are among those leaving for pilgrimage this season; the Moradipours (you may know Tassnim, Basim or Salim) just returned from their pilgrimage last week, and their photos are already up on flickr—good time, considering mine weren’t up for an entire month.

Maruška from Slovenije, er, I mean Slovenia—took time away from writing her thesis to write up her pilgrimage experiences for everyone to read. Go check them out, it’s definitely worth the read. Maruška is one of the Baha’is who stayed with us at the well-recommended hostel, the Port Inn, in Haifa. She taught me that cmrlj means “bumblebee” in Slovenian. We have fond memories of the good times shared with our fellow “Port Inners”. We miss Rachel too 🙁

A few more friends we met on pilgrimage have made their presence known on the Internet. Seth from Georgia, Nina from NZ and Farideh from Saskatoon were all part of our 250-strong set of pilgrims. See Farideh’s photos, Nina’s photos and Seth’s photos on flickr. Juliette was part of our group—the French group—and has posted her photos to flickr as well.

A few folks have asked me questions about pilgrimage tips—what to do, what not to do, where to go, etc. Here are a few tips that might be helpful to those visiting the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa and ‘Akká:

  • Spend as much time in the shrines as possible, and attend the evening talks. You’ll probably find that they help you understand the nature of pilgrimage and your role as a pilgrim.
  • Make effort to say the long obligatory prayer as much as you can. Make a special effort to say it within the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh at Bahji if you can.
  • Use your time in the shrines to say the Tablets of Visitation. That’s what they were revealed for and you will find that they will really come alive when you say them in the Shrines.
  • Crying is not mandatory, so don’t feel bad if you don’t.
  • When visiting, try and stick with a group of six to ten people; that way, it’ll be easier for you to fill up a sherut (communal taxi). Travel by sherut as much as you can, whether within the city or outside; it’s the cheapest way to get around and is reasonably comfortable. Taxi drivers (driving normal-sized taxis) will stop whenever they see you to ask if you need a taxi; tell them that you’re waiting for a sherut. Taxis are ridiculously expensive, sheruts are not. Sheruts usually look like minibuses, and can hold ten people.
  • Spend a day in the Old City of ‘Akká if you have the time. We did it and enjoyed it a lot. You should be able to get a map of a walking tour of ‘Akká that you can follow on your own; if you know someone who lives in Haifa who can show you around, that’s even better.
  • Use the time spent visiting the Holy Places to call to mind the sufferings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Holy Family.
  • Read the pamphlets you received from the Department of Pilgrimage; read them carefully and all the way through. They include a lot of really useful information that you will really be glad you knew.

That’s it for now. I’ve been pretty busy lately, but you should be able to look forward to a continuation of the “post-pilgrimage” series in the next few weeks, sharing more of my impressions of pilgrimage as they relate to my understanding of the Baha’i Writings.

misagh and jamal’s wedding

misagh and jamal's weddingthe energetic and irrepressible duo of Misagh and Jamál were married in Edmonton on the evening of December 28, 2006, surrounded by friends and family. I’ve posted up the wedding photos, including pics from the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again here: this must have been the shortest, the most moving and the most fun wedding I’ve ever been to, and that’s saying a lot. congrats to the newlyweds, and manifold blessings and confirmations be upon their newfound union 🙂

As well, do check out some video clips of freestyle raps by Ashraf and Karim of Edmonton-based, Bahá’í-inspired rap group Dialektika, who performed at the wedding reception. There’s the impromptu wedding freestyle:

and then there’s Karim’s freestyle at Denny’s after the wedding:

And no, that video isn’t online, but you can contact me to see it.

back from vacation

hey, I’m back from vacation in Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg. I can finally say that I’ve visited Canada from coast to coast. Check out the map below.Canada Map Green provinces are ones I’ve visited, and red stars are major cities I’ve visited (including brief stopovers in Calgary and Saskatoon – hey, hanging around in the airport waiting for flights counts). Vancouver was mild and rainy, Edmonton was cold, and Winnipeg was cold and snowy.

Oh, and if you’re looking for vacation pictures—including the Baha’i wedding of Misagh and Jamál—look no further than flickr.

Moncton Saint John Quebec City Montreal Ottawa Toronto Winnipeg Saskatoon Edmonton Calgary Vancouver Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Quebec Ontario Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia

pilgrimage photos

all you patient people. look at you out there, I could just kiss you! it’s taken a whole month, but your patience has been rewarded. my pilgrimage photos—all 545 of them—are now online on my flickr photostream. go see them, leave notes and comments (free flickr or yahoo account required), and, most of all, relive the nine-day pilgrimage to the Baha’i World Centre through my trusty camera. Oh yes, and tell your friends. kthx. bye.

oh ha ha ha ha ha ha

this is me 😀

post-pilgrimage two

baha'i terracesO Son of Being! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation. (Bahá’u’lláh)

Feeling better now, and getting back into the swing of things. I’ve got less laundry lying around, the jetlag has mostly faded, and work is getting back on track. Keeping alive the conscious contact with God is a challenge when there are so many things around to steal away your energy—the effect of messy, disorganized environment has begun to dawn on me quite clearly. So, ok, doing laundry is one step, but managing my time is another thing that saps a lot of my energy right now. I haven’t yet found one reliable way to manage my time that allows me to efficiently and consistently juggle all the different things going on in my life. Which reminds me: another step I would like to take is to rewrite the set of rules by which I carry new ideas to action. In the past, my pattern has been to impulsively jump on new projects that look interesting (shiny objects, anyone?) I’d like to adopt a new pattern, in which I run all these new ideas through a set of reality checks to weed out the projects that will obviously never get done. Hopefully, something like this would help me maintain focus on those important things that are most necessary in day-to-day life and those that are (hopefully) most aligned with the Will of God.

There’s been more prayer and meditation in my life lately, and my mood has improved, which is good. I feel like I’ve learned how to pray through being so close to the Holy Shrines and asking for help at the Sacred Thresholds. Attaining to the Presence of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and ‘Abdul-Bahá was such a powerful experience—I feel like it’s left its mark on my soul, or at least I fervently hope it has. I hope that by the grace of God, I may be enabled to continue turning my will over to His day by day, one day at a time.

The grace of God is something I want to share about with you all—but that’ll have to wait for another night. Stay tuned and keep checking out the new pilgrimage photos on flickr. Also check out Maruška’s livejournal for another view of our pilgrimage from a fellow “Port Inner“.