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Monthly Reflection: Nur (Light) – On the Purpose of Light & Some Ways We Reflect It 

June 2, 2024, in Articles > Baha'i Blog, by
Photo courtesy of the Baha’i International Community

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Everywhere I turn lately, people are talking about light. A few weeks ago a total solar eclipse drew millions across the world outside to observe just how powerful the light of the sun really is. This was followed by the dramatic and unusual appearance of auroras (Northern and Southern Lights) in places where they are not typically visible and long after the time of year when they are normally at their peak. Earlier this week I came across a wonderful article by Maria Popova about the recently released book The Light Eaters: How the Unseen World of Plant Intelligence Offers a New Understanding of Life on Earth. And a few days ago, Baha’i communities around the world celebrated the inauguration of the Baha’i House of Worship in Papua New Guinea—a structure that was called a “beacon of hope and light” by Confucius Ikoirere, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Papua New Guinea.

On a more personal level, as I was swimming in the Mediterranean last weekend observing sheaths of light cascading through the layers of turquoise water above me, I was thinking about the powerful ways that light emphasizes the characteristics of whatever it illuminates. In the case of the Mediterranean, it allowed me to better see the geology of the sea floor, and made the layers of water, direction of wind and currents, and even the tiniest fish swimming beneath me more visible. It also illuminated a discarded bottle that had sunk to the bottom, plastic containers and bottles that had washed ashore and become lodged between the rocks, and sticky clumps of tar—highlighting the work ahead to better care for our planet.

It seems to me that the purpose of light is to illuminate truth, whatever that truth might be. In the case of the solar eclipse the physical truth that the moon was momentarily blocking the sun illuminated another truth—that the sun was so powerful that its light still seeped around the moon to reach earth. In the case of the House of Worship in Papua New Guinea, the way that traditional weaving techniques were incorporated into its design illuminates the spirit of unity present; the fact that the “purity of heart, deep spirituality, and unshakeable faith inherent in the noble people of Papua New Guinea”1 are the foundation upon which the House of Worship has been built highlights the spiritual maturity of the local Baha’i community.   

In the words of the Universal House of Justice:

“…brothers and sisters in spirit are learning together how they can contribute their share to the betterment of their communities—and beyond this, how they can provide for the material and spiritual prosperity of their whole society.”1

Members of the Baha’i Blog team, a number of whom have deep ties to Papua New Guinea, were fortunate to be present for the inauguration of the House of Worship, and our very own Jordan Raj captured some of the luminosity of the event in his collection of photographs.

The Baha’i Writings tell us that we were put on this earth to reflect the attributes of God to the best of our ability, and in so doing worship and deepen our knowledge of God. In Baha’i World Faith, Abdu’l-Baha tells us:

“Souls are like unto mirrors, and the bounty of God is like unto the sun. When the mirrors pass beyond all coloring and attain purity and polish, and are confronted with the sun, they will reflect in full perfection its light and glory. In this condition one should not consider the mirror, but the power of the light of the sun, which hath penetrated the mirror, making it a reflector of the heavenly glory.”2

As explored in last month’s newsletter, the sun of reality never ceases to shine upon us. The brilliance with which we radiate that light however, just like a mirror, is dependent upon the purity of our character and the degree to which we are able to align our will with that of God. So often we seek illumination from external sources. Baha’u’llah reminds us in His Hidden Words that we already contain the essence of His light within us:

“O SON OF BEING! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.”3

As I was thinking about how I could strive to more faithfully reflect divine light in my daily life, I was (happily) interrupted by a video call from my best friend and her three young children. Their stories, laughter and radiant faces reminded me that Abdu’l-Baha always said that “love is light,” so I thought I would wrap up this month’s newsletter with a link to an inspiring interview with Shirin Esmaeili about light and shadows, and a beautiful song about love and light from Baha’i Blog’s Studio Sessions. Wishing you all a light-filled month ahead! 

  1. The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 25 May 2024 marking the dedication of the Baha’i House of Worship in Papua New Guinea [] []
  2. Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith: Selected Writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha, p.357 []
  3. Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, Arabic no. 12 []
Posted by

Ariana Salvo

Ariana Salvo was born in the United States, and spent sixteen years of her childhood on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. She moved to Prince Edward Island to do her master’s degree in Island Studies, fell in love with the tightly knit community, and has never left. When not writing, she can be found exploring art at galleries around the world, flower farming, traveling to remote islands, hiking and taking photos of the wild natural landscapes of Canada’s eastern shore, teaching English to international students and reading historical fiction with a good cup of tea.
Ariana Salvo

Discussion 1 Comment

Thank you for this delightful article! Also for sending a link to Maria Popova’s blog and the book review of “The Light Eaters” which I must now read – just based on the excerpts. I see in your bio that you lived in Cyprus and it reminded me that I had a friend who lived there (on the Turkish side) for a number of years and she had met with a Baha’i – a potter, I believe who possibly lived on the Greek side.

Lynette Thomas

Lynette Thomas (June 6, 2024 at 9:21 AM)

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