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Monthly Reflection: Masa’il (Questions) – Who Am I?

December 11, 2022, in Articles > Baha'i Blog, by

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In recent months I’ve been striving to learn more about the original inhabitants of the unceded land on which I live, and on which my ancestors on my mother’s side have lived for the last six generations. I have been reading and having conservations; I have been learning and unlearning. I have been reframing what I think I know. And all along this process, I have shared some of the insights I have gained with my nine year old daughter.

Late one evening (and likely as an attempt to bait me into conversation so she could stay up even later) she asked me if she was Indigenous. She was disappointed when I told her she isn’t, and frustrated because she doesn’t know or understand what she is, or who her ancestors have made her to be. Part Icelandic, part Iranian, part Dutch, part Scottish–who is she? And who am I?

As the Baha’i calendar becomes more integrated into our lives, as we come to embody the names and attributes of God each month, what will come to characterize the month of questions? Will they be inward looking questions about identity and our place in the world? Or outward questions about the role we play in the application of justice and the upholding of truth? Or maybe both?

Questions, or a quest for truth, is central to this movement-based musical and poetic performance called The Seven Valleys by Sholeh Wolpé that reinterprets “The Conference of the Birds”, that famed mystical poem that Baha’u’llah refers to with The Seven Valleys. It is perhaps synchronous that the Baha’i World News Service recently shared a seven minute documentary about the Afnan Library in the UK, the only accessible research library on the Baha’i Faith in the whole world. What an incredible resource for finding answers to questions! Questioning, or critical thinking, was also addressed by Maia, a new contributor to Baha’i Blog, in her article about information literacy and the Baha’i community.

The pressing question about how we eradicate violence against women was also addressed on Baha’i Blog in this talk by Dr Melanie Lotfali.

Questions as to how we should be and how we should live our lives are answered in the example of Abdu’l-Baha and I’m loving our recent image series featuring excerpts from Vignettes from the Life of Abdu’l-Baha, a George Ronald publication that we’re sharing with their gracious permission.

A final thought on questions: have you ever noticed how often in the Baha’i Writings we are counselled to ponder? In quiet contemplation, in reflection, and in prayer questions are transformed and answered. The next time you’re pondering, you might want to listen to this soulful chanting by youth at the Baha’i House of Worship in Cambodia and see what answers you arrive at.

Thanks for joining me as we usher in the month of questions and we’ll see you next month!

Posted by

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.
Sonjel Vreeland

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