post-pilgrimage one

moonlitThy love, O my Lord, hath enriched me, and separation from Thee hath destroyed me, and remoteness from Thee hath consumed me. (Bahá’u’lláh)

sadness came over me today as I realized that I was no longer in Haifa, and that pilgrimage was over. perhaps it was while posting my 100th pilgrimage photo to flickr, reliving the enriching thrill of nearness to the Holy Shrines, and fondly remembering all the new friends I made amongst my fellow pilgrims. since returning, I haven’t been following my daily programme of prayer, readings, and meditation as closely as I’d like. Maybe getting back on track with these will help soften the impact and help put me back into conscious contact with my Higher Power.

Catherine graciously typed out all the email addresses of people we met while on pilgrimage, so we can get back in touch with them, share photos, and so on. there’s a lot of getting in touch to do and I’m looking forward to that.

Yesterday morning, I dreamt that I was writing an exam at school – except that I didn’t recognize or understand most of the questions. For the ones I did understand, I didn’t have the tools I needed – for example, a ruler to measure lines, a calculator, etc. I remember feeling scared and anxious.

time for a photo blowout!

got icecream?so I’ve been real busy lately, right? so busy that I haven’t had time to do the most basic things, like, say, upload photos to flickr. well that was up until yesterday, anyway – cos now there’s a whole bunch of new photos.

the summer vacation set is complete – marvel at this past summer’s infamous train trip to moncton to visit family and eat lobster and quahogs. Also be sure to check out two related videos I uploaded to Youtube: a view of my train pulling into Bathurst, and Catherine showing us the joys of clay beaches.

Next, check out a beautiful set of nature walk photos, capturing the changing colours of the leaves both in Ottawa and at Pink Lake in Gatineau Park.

Finally, revel in the randomness of our random party at East Side Mario’s. See old friends, meet new people, celebrate pejman’s birthday, and discover the new craze that’s sweeping the nation.

Want more? Visit my list of photosets, browse through my flickr photostream, or explore my photos on an interactive map.


rusty leaves 1It’s autumn again. I went out for a walk this afternoon to gather kindling, and took some photos along the way. Check ’em out on flickr. It’s still early in the season, and there are quite a few green leaves left, but as the weather gets colder, more and more of them will be reddening, drying up and making their final downward journey, ending up in a pile at the back of the parking lot. Autumn is definitely my favourite season. Maybe it’s the massive flourish of colour that overtakes the city – the country, even – within a few weeks. Maybe it’s the sudden snap of cold air that makes me want to curl up in front of a fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate. Last year, I blogged:

Autumn gives me a feeling of gratitude for the things I have that keep me warm and dry, the friends who bless me with the gift of their presence, and the joy of closeness to the ones I love.

Speaking of warmth, joy, and closeness—and above all, gratitude—it’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. We celebrate it in October up here because it’s too cold in November (maybe that’s not the real reason). My family’s having a little dinner tomorrow (Sunday) night, with promise of good food and sharing some good times. some of the conversation will probably have to do with pilgrimage; my mom, sister and I will be going to Haifa in about two and a half weeks. I can still barely believe that this is IT, we’re actually going on pilgrimage, we’re actually going to be right there at the Baha’i Holy Places, walking, talking, breathing where Baha’u’llah was just a little over a century ago.

I mentioned spiritual preparation the last time I blogged about our upcoming pilgrimage, and I left the definition rather vague. Recently, I was invited to be part of a group that offers a unique sort of spiritual preparation—based on the courses of the Ruhi Institute…what else? What a blessing! Some of us were describing it as a “Baha’i Support Group”: we meet weekly to share our trials and pitfalls in teaching, and communicate by email and phone regularly during the week to 1) share insights about a set of readings from the Hidden Words that we’re all doing in parallel, and 2) share elements of our daily and weekly plans and encourage each other to take action on them.

The focus on action and support has been encouraging; we’ll focus on a small set of actions each week, mostly based on practice components of the Ruhi books. For example: reading and understanding the Hidden Words, or studying a prayer with someone. The goal is to make habits out of these actions: the more comfortable we are reading and understanding the Baha’i Writings, the easier it is for us to remember to turn to them at all times. The more comfortable we are visiting people to study prayers with them, the easier it is for us to get up and pay someone a visit at their home when they need our fellowship, and to share prayers and Writings with them that can provide the solace, comfort, and inspiration they may need. We’re creating life habits—that’s what you call a culture of learning. And once we’ve experienced the process of creating these habits, we can help others create those same habits in study circles.

More later; for now, roam around on flickr and enjoy the sights. I posted a bunch of photos from Ilya’s going-away party on the 10th of September; see how many people you recognize! And OMG how could I forget this link: Ilya is blogging his day-to-day experience in Haifa, so if you’re wondering what he’s up to, you should definitely visit his blog.

how’s that

This weekend was pretty fun. among other things, I hung out at the newly (although unofficially) opened Ottawa Baha’i Centre with a bunch of lucky folks. On Saturday there was an awesome workshop on marriage organized by the local Marriage and Family Life committee, and on Sunday I popped in for the inter-CABS (Campus Association for Baha’i Studies) barbecue. Both occasions gave everybody a chance to tour the building, see the magnificent renovations, and wow at the awesomeness of this pizza restaurant-turned-Baha’i centre. Check out the photos from Sunday, including a stopover at Pejman’s new home in lovely Sector 9, on my flickr photosite.

FYI (posted Sep.18): Anyone interested in the Baha’i Faith and the education of children and junior youth needs to come to the Ottawa Baha’i Centre this Friday, Sept. 22, 2006, @ 7:30 PM. Registration will be open for this year’s set of neighbourhood children’s and junior youth classes. This evening is open to everyone—from every faith, every culture, and every part of the city. EVERYONE. Yes, EVERYONE. Even your mom, and your grandma too. Julie and I will be there to speak briefly about our experience giving francophone children’s classes.

FYI No.2 (posted Sep.22): Come on out to the children’s classes meeting—it’s tonight (Friday)! Also, check out the photos from the Talebifards’ farewell dinner on flickr.

ahh flickr and randomness

library of parliamentflickr, my favourite photo sharing website, has just added maps! You can now geotag your flickr photos by dragging and dropping them onto a map. People will be able to pick an area on the map and see all the photos that were taken there! Check out a map of my geotagged photos.

FYI, the photo featured here is from a recent Ottawa Flickr Meetup.

Speaking of flickr, did you know that there are several Baha’i-related groups on flickr? Apart from the Baha’is group that’s been featured on Baha’i Blog, there are also groups devoted to the Lotus Temple and the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, and another group for photos of Baha’i Houses of Worship in general.

So, it’s finally September again. For many people, that means it’s time to hit the books and go back to school. Ottawa University students, don’t forget that the Campus Association for Baha’i Studies (CABS) will be beginning a new year with a booth in the University Centre on September 8th from 11AM to 2PM, and board elections will be held at 6PM on September 15th in SMD 123, followed by dinner at Zak’s.

What can college life (or university life) be like? According to Mona, being at college can mean developing “a constant attitude of egotistical nonchalance”. She contrasts this experience with the “spiritually nurturing environment” at Green Acre Baha’i School in one of her livejournal posts (blogged at Baha’i Views).

On a random, unrelated note: Witness this youtube video of a girl in the UK dancing to a song I recorded. Yes, that is my voice you’re hearing, multitracked using an audio recording program. It’s a cover of Coburn’s “We Interrupt This Programme” (with gratuitous NEDM). It’s weird to see people grooving to something you made. Update (Sept. 7): This song recently came in second in an online remix contest. Cool!

And finally, a few more random links for you to munch on: If you want to see something really cool, go see a game of full-size foosball (photo courtesy of Catherine aka zeta). You can find out more about giant foosball. And if you want your brain to hurt (a lot), check out “ is the premier online repository for pictures of dogs in bee costumes.” o m g.

this is the august update

youth triohey all you wonderful people. it’s been a long week and an even longer month, filled with lots of busymaking, vacationing, and picture-taking – and even some singing. you’ve probably noticed, but just in case, do pop by my flickr site to check out the latest photos and leave a comment or two. Along with updated vacation photos – mostly landscapes so far, more people shots coming soon – I’ve also posted some photos of the Super Ex, taken on the day I performed at the Joy of Faith concert with a musical group of Baha’i youth (well, mostly youth, with one youthful gentleman along for the ride).

It’s that time again. What time, you ask? Why, the time to get children’s classes in gear for the upcoming year. Our local coordinators have been kind enough to forward me copies of a pilot curriculum for Baha’i children’s classes, developed by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada, based on the “Baha’i Education for Children” series by A. A. Furutan. I’ll be using the pilot curriculum as a framework for our children’s class (“our” because I’m not the only teacher, and because the class is starting to feel a little like a family to me), which will entail translating it into French and finding corresponding French-language activities to replace those that don’t survive translation. See baha’i children’s class ideas to follow the progress of the class this year.

Those of you who have been following the situation in the Middle East and who have wondered about the state and condition of the Baha’i World Centre and Holy Places in Haifa and surroundings will be pleased to know that, according to the most recent communication from the Universal House of Justice, “no damage was done to the Holy Places and that the friends here remained in safety, pursuing their tasks with steadiness of purpose and exemplary perseverance”. Of course, as has been noted by many people since this most recent outbreak of violence began, we must remember to keep in our prayers not only our friends at the World Centre, but also our many fellow human beings who find themselves innocent victims of this conflict. Perhaps now, more than ever, is the time to rededicate ourselves to championing the Cause of world unity and to teach peace all the world around (to borrow a turn of phrase from Red Grammer). Part of my efforts in this wise include my participation in the core activities of the Baha’i Faith, most notably the above-mentioned children’s classes. I’ve also had a strong desire to start a study circle that would allow friends, family and acquaintances to get together and exchange on some of these topics. If you’re in the Ottawa area and you’d like to get involved, please do let me know.

On a side note, I’m seriously considering returning to my earlier vegetarian diet, after a hiatus of a few years (induced by a knock on the head). I was originally a pesco-ovo-lacto vegetarian, which means I would eat fish, eggs and dairy products – I’m thinking I may become pesco-pollo-ovo vegetarian, adding chicken but cutting out dairy (since I definitely have lactose intolerance issues). Basically, that would make me semi-vegetarian, or “wishy-washy” as some might put it. Any feedback, comments, and encouragement you may have would be greatly appreciated – via email or comment on this post. And Martin, I already know what you think.