the life of baha’u’llah

shrine of baha'u'llahHappy celebration of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh! Right on time, the Baha’i International Community has launched a new website that serves as a pictorial history of the life of Bahá’u’lláh. you should see it, especially if you’re planning to go on pilgrimage soon.

it’s been just about a year since my family returned from our pilgrimage to the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel—in the midst of my now-busy life, looking back on the traces of that sacred journey brings back a lot of memories and a lot of longing.

baha’i pilgrimage: counting the waves

Here’s a little Baha’i pilgrimage video I put together out of clips taken during my family’s pilgrimage to the Baha’i World Centre in Israel—specifically, to the old city of ‘Akká. There are many Muslim traditions (hadith) about ‘Akká, some of which are quoted by Bahá’u’lláh in His Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. This video is based on the tradition which states, “He that counteth forty waves [in ‘Akká], while repeating: ‘God is Most Great!’—exalted be He—God will forgive his sins, both past and future.”

une échelle pour vos âmes

photo des vaillants grimpeurs 2lors de mon pélérinage baha’i à Haïfa, en Israël, j’ai pu faire la rencontre d’une famille baha’ie super sympa et dotée de talents musicaux massifs et entièrement hors norme! La famille Martino vient du pays des Alpes et des noix de Grenoble, et nous avions tous eu la grande bonté de faire partie du même mini-groupe de pèlerins (le groupe francophone, bien sûr). C’était un groupe tout plein de chansons; les Martino nous ont appris tout un répertoire de belles chansons chorales baha’ies lors de nos visites aux lieux saints à Haïfa et à ‘Akka. Je me souviens très clairement des prières chantées vers le Point d’Adoration, le Tombeau de la Beauté Benie, Baha’u’llah—cette journée chaude et claire lors de notre deuxième visite à Bahji; de la soirée que nous avions passés ensembles sur les escaliers des terrasses autour du Sanctuaire du Bab, à chanter sous le clair de lune, contre la silhouette de ce Mausolée sacré, partageant notre héritage musical de tous les coins du monde.

C’est donc en me rappelant de ces moments sacrés que je reprends ces mélodies, puisque cette merveilleuse famille a pris le temps de rendre accessible ces chansons au monde entier à travers la Médiathèque Baha’ie: il s’agit de l’album “Une échelle pour vos âmes”. Ci-dessous vous y trouverez quelques exemplaires; je vous encourage à télécharger l’album au complet et commetre ces beaux airs à votre mémoire! Rendez visite aussi au blog de Silène en Inde (elle est à droite dans l’image, avec sa soeur Mélissa et moi-même).

Fais déborder mon coeur d’amour

La Rose martyre

post-pilgrimage seven

lovelywalking slowly down dusty streets
his eyes are lost in thoughts that wash over
like forty waves and swallow him up

how blessed the dust of ‘Akka
how Blessed the Beauty whose feet trod upon it
he says with a tear;
his soul cries out in its separation

like a temple-flower
his prayer falls from his lips, and a wind stirs
and scatters the words he intones;
praise God who hearkens and is ready to answer

would that these stones could speak
and recount the tales of his Beloved;
would that he could hear the voices
of the Concourse on High, singing His praise

lost in thoughts of remembrance
he steps as though scaling those hallowed steps
he walks as though treading the rocky path that leads
to that Point of Adoration, that Holy of Holies

the flutter of a breeze sweeps away the dust
and scatters the flowers falling softly at his feet
and he listens for the voice of the Promised One

post-pilgrimage six

Waft, then, unto me, O my God and my Beloved, from the right hand of Thy mercy and Thy loving-kindness, the holy breaths of Thy favors, that they may draw me away from myself and from the world unto the courts of Thy nearness and Thy presence. (Bahá’u’lláh)

shrine from upper terraceslost in a sea of subtle fragrance
and deep abounding joy i sigh

you ask me hello are you there you
need to concentrate what are you
thinking of

across the bay
like a magnet it draws me back

it feels like flying
like being there and curling into
a stance of prayer my forehead
touches the carpet and
as the faithful utter wordless devotions
i smell the scent of roses in the air
turning to face that sacred spot that
sea wall in akkáholy threshhold

drink deep from the cup of His presence
for in nine days you return to your previous life
to find that it can no longer be lived the same way

back at work on a grey day I hear chatter
while deep inside noiseless waves
crash and break upon my heart
and their silent roar echoes in my ears
and shakes this dusty shell that surrounds me

I turn aside and I sigh
and you look on wondering
if one day you look upon my Beloved
you might know why

post-pilgrimage five

divine revelationPraise be unto Thee, O our God, that Thou hast sent down unto us that which draweth us nigh unto Thee, and supplieth us with every good thing sent down by Thee in Thy Books and Thy Scriptures. (Bahá’u’lláh)

It’s been over two months since we returned from pilgrimage. Life, as life does, has once again returned to a regular, somewhat insistent rhythm. I can’t rightly say that it’s “returned to normal” or that it’s achieved any sort of equilibrium; after all, has not the whole world’s equilibrium “been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order”?[1]

Still, out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes. I’ve been finding it harder and harder to nurture that conscious connection with God that seemed to come so naturally when I found myself kneeling in the Shrines. Some days are pretty good; I feel focused, conscious, resolute, and my prayers feel like loving conversations with God. Other days, I feel hazy, distracted, and weak, and my prayers feel just like words. stairway On those days, I just find it difficult to pray because I feel so distracted by random worries—like the hosts of idle fancies and vain imaginings are launching an assault on my head.

I gather similar things happen to everyone; that’s why we always have to work at it. There’s no magic bullet to become more spiritual or to improve the quality and depth of your prayer, it seems. Instead, in His unerring wisdom as the Divine Physician for this age, Bahá’u’lláh has prescribed a number of spiritual habits for us to adopt to help our spirits grow and flourish. For those of us who worry so much that we find ourselves unable to pray, it would seem that the solution is to bite the bullet and pray anyway. In writing to a physician about health, Bahá’u’lláh said: “Verily, the most necessary thing is contentment under all circumstances; by this one is preserved from morbid conditions and lassitude. Yield not to grief and sorrow: they cause the greatest misery.”[2] Letting go of one’s anxiety and being content with the will of God, as suggested in the famous prayer, will “refresh and gladden” one’s spirit.

O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

[1]: Bahá’u’lláh, Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 118.
[2]: Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 108.