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.