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Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a mother, a wife and a bookworm but professionally she is a museologist and a library technician. 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.

Mirza Mihdi: The Purest Branch

We’d like to share with you a little about a book titled Mirza Mihdi: The Purest Branch in honor of the 150th anniversary of his passing. Written by Boris Handal, this biography tells the dramatic story of Mirza Mihdi, the beloved son of Baha’u’llah, who fell from a skylight in the roof of the prison where he, his family and many other Baha’is were imprisoned. He was severely and mortally injured. When Baha’u’llah offered to save his life, Mirza Mihdi chose instead to sacrifice it so that the doors of the prison might open and those who longed to see Baha’u’llah could attain their hearts’ desire.

During their imprisonment in Akka (in present-day Israel), Mirza Mihdi often spent his evenings on the roof top, immersed in prayer and meditation, where one could breathe cleaner air, as well as watch and listen to the sound of the waves crashing in the bay. After twilight, Mirza Mihdi would count his steps in order to avoid the open skylight but one evening he was so enraptured by his prayers that he stumbled, lost his balance and fell onto a wooden crate on the floor below.

In the last hours of his life, Mirza Mihdi spoke with Baha’u’llah in private. And while we do not know everything that was said, we do know that Baha’u’llah offered to save him. However Mirza Mihdi wished that pilgrims might be able to attain Baha’u’llah’s presence. At that time, many of the Baha’i pilgrims who travelled on foot to see Baha’u’llah had to content themselves with the sight of His hand waving a handkerchief from the prison’s window.

At the tender age of 22, Mirza Mihdi passed away on 23 June, 1870 — 150 years ago to this day.  Continue reading

In This Day – A Short Film About Prayer and Overcoming Tests and Difficulties

In This Day is a poignant and visually stunning short film put together by a team of young adults in New York City (USA). It was made in honour of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab but its subject and its themes of serving others, the importance of prayer, and of facing tests and difficulties are applicable anytime.

Nava Kavelin is one of the film’s team members and she shared a little with us about the film and what she learned in the process of making it: Continue reading

Spiritual Conversation: Spiritual Resilience in the Time of COVID-19 [VIDEO]

Jacqueline Claire (you may know her from her art or her interactive art talks) has created a podcast series called Spiritual Conversation. She’s an engaging story teller who tackles elevated topics thoughtfully, honestly and joyfully. Her podcast aims to dive deep and explore spiritual ideas and inspiration to help us align with our true purpose. Continue reading

Spiritual Conversation: Spiritual Resilience in the Time of COVID-19

Jacqueline Claire (you may know her from her art or her interactive art talks) has created a podcast series called Spiritual Conversation. She’s an engaging story teller who tackles elevated topics thoughtfully, honestly and joyfully. Her podcast aims to dive deep and explore spiritual ideas and inspiration to help us align with our true purpose. Continue reading

The Public Discourse – Episode 5: Hope & Solidarity During COVID-19

The Public Discourse is a podcast produced by the Office of Public Affairs for the Baha’i Community of Canada. In it, we hear from people across Canada about the values and principles that inform the way they are thinking about society, and how we can create a better public discourse. 

On this episode, we hear from Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan-Kaplan and Peter Noteboom about the ways in which religious communities in Canada are fostering hope and solidarity in a time of coronavirus. Noteboom is the General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches, and Rabbi Dr. Duhan-Kaplan is Director of Inter-religious Studies at the Vancouver School of Theology. Continue reading

175 Years of Persecution: A Book About the History of the Babis & Baha’is of Iran

Oneworld Publications has released a book detailing the persecution of the Baha’is called 175 Years of Persecution: A History of the Babis & Baha’is of Iran by Fereydun Vahman. The book recounts how Iran’s largest religious minority has been persecuted by the state since its inception to the present and such a comprehensive study has never been published before. Baha’is and Babis have been made scapegoats for the nation’s ills, branded enemies of Islam and denounced as foreign agents. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Baha’is have been barred from entering the nation’s universities, more than two hundred have been executed, and hundreds more imprisoned and tortured.

Fereydun Vahman writes that Iran is now at a turning point. A new generation has begun to question how the Baha’is have been portrayed by the government and the clergy, and are calling for them to be given equal rights as fellow citizens. Continue reading

The Public Discourse – Episode 4: Leadership & Public Policy

The Public Discourse is a podcast produced by the Office of Public Affairs for the Baha’i Community of Canada. In it, we hear from people across Canada about the values and principles that inform the way they are thinking about society, and how we can create a better public discourse. 

On this episode, we hear from Karim Bardeesy and Akaash Maharaj about the qualities of leadership during a time of crisis, and how to build a unifying vision around public policy that serves the common good. Bardeesy is the Executive Director of the Ryerson Leadership Lab and Maharaj is the CEO of the Mosaic Institute. Continue reading