unravelling the mysteries

Just about the best conference I’ve ever been to. Many thanks to the organizers and all the brave and dear souls who put together the program and made it happen. It was a seriously high-quality event. Um, it being Unravel the Mysteries, this past weekend in Mississauga. The conference has been happening for the past five years or so, but this is the first year I’ve been able to attend. I was originally skeptical about it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the conference was deeply permeated with a sense of spiritual purpose (rather than being the mere ‘marriage conference’ some people were jokingly making it out to be).

I attended sessions by Hoda Ghadirian (“Growing with Suffering”), Tahirih Naylor (“A Spiritual Impetus to Global Forces”), and Rayhan and Taban Behin (“Humility and Submission to the Will of God”). Hoda’s talk was moving, deeply coherent and full of wisdom; drawing on research and insights given by the Authenticity Project, she related her personal and professional experience to the writings of the Baha’i Faith to explain what makes suffering and what purpose it has in our life. Tahirih spoke on her experience working with the External Affairs wing of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada, and gave us an overall picture of how the Baha’i community works to bring spiritual impetus to the work of the United Nations and various organizations of civil society. Finally, Rayhan and Taban helped us explore the concepts of humility, service and submission to the Will of God. I was part of a group that discussed it in terms of material wealth – i.e. how to make money without letting it get to your head, and how to apply the Baha’i principle of the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty.

The arts programs were stellar; you can tell that they really went out of their way to find excellent performers, and ones who could put forth their emotions and express spiritual concepts. They got a wide variety of arts involved too – visual arts, music, dance, storytelling… not just the usual same-old same-old. big ups to Geneviève Cyr, Adam Crossley, and Andrea McLean for being intensely phat. Also mad ups to Naysun Alae-Carew for his Chinese dance (Naysun is aka ‘shaolin sammy’ from the Ottawa Wildfire performance).

All in all, the best, most impressive and most moving part of the conference was the commemoration of the Ascension of Baha’u’llah, held at 3:30 AM on Sunday morning. Every time I attempt to put into words the beauty of this commemoration, I hang my head and my tongue is stilled, because mortal words and phrases cannot express something so clearly Divine. That may sound trite, but about all I can say is that it was really, really special – dignified, moving, touching, respectful, imaginative, beautiful. Just beautiful.

Pictures from the conference are gradually going up all over the Internet- check out Martin’s website regularly to see them as they come up. As for my photos? You’ll see a bunch of them popping up on my photoblog – check the sidebar to your left for some thumbnails. I may also put together a photo-journal page on this site (but I’m lazy so be warned ;).

And with that, I’m off to Drummondville. Talk to you guys later. May the Air Force be with you.

absence alert

so, if anybody asks, I’ll be away at the Unravel the Mysteries forum this weekend, unravelling the mysteries. I’ll be sharing a room with the dangerous combo of Martin, Vafa, Misagh and Kamran. Together, we’re kind of like a group of superheroes, except our super power is stuff like cracking jokes and doing Ruhi books and giving firesides and supporting core activities. And squealing tires. Then I’ll be out for the rest of next week visiting Drummondville, Victoriaville, and Trois-Rivières, doing a little catching up with some people, a little travel-teaching with others, and so on. I’ll be checking my email whenever I have access to a computer, but I may be less present overall until June 5th, when I’ll be coming back from Trois-Rivières. Hopefully I won’t bring back any mouse-related viruses (or any paper-related stench).

Salut la gang – cette fin de semaine je m’en vais à Toronto, et puis en revenant je vais passer une semaine dans le Centre-du-Québec et Mauricie… simplement pour retourner dans le coin et dire salut aux gens – et, si Dieu le veut, un cercle d’étude intensif du livre 1 de Ruhi à Trois-Rivières. Mon horaire a l’air un peu comme ça pour la semaine prochaine:

  • Dimanche le 29 mai: à Montréal le soir
  • Lundi le 30 mai: à Montréal le jour, à Drummondville le soir
  • Mardi le 31 mai: Drummondville
  • Mercredi le 1 juin: Victoriaville
  • Jeudi le 2 juin: Victoriaville (et les parages)
  • Vendredi le 3 juin: Victoriaville
  • Samedi le 4 juin: Trois-Rivières
  • Dimanche le 5 juin: Trois-Rivières le jour, et retour à Ottawa le soir

J’ai hâte de vous revoir… ah oui et la gang de Sherbrooke… je ne vous ai pas oublié… ça ne sera pas pour cette fois-ci, par contre, mais vous êtes les prochains sur ma liste 😉

baha’i youth conference fever

If you live in the Chicago area or within, say, a couple hours’ distance of Chicago, why not participate in the Chicago Baha’i Youth Conference for youth and young adults? It’s happening May 20-22, 2005 at the University of Chicago campus, and registration costs a whopping ten bucks USD. Holy moly.

If you’ve got more expensive tastes in youth conferences, or you live within a couple hours of Toronto, then why not participate in the Unravel the Mysteries Young Adult Forum? It’s happening May 27-29, 2005 at the Novotel Hotel in Mississauga, and registration costs a measly $75 CDN ($60 USD). Hmmm.

Consider yourselves notified. Oh, and Martin is unofficially coordinating rides and rooms for the latter. Word.