All posts by Sonjel Vreeland. Browse Other Authors

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.

The Art of Reissa Gibbs

It’s always a pleasure to discover Baha’i artists online, to hear about their creative process and to take a quiet moment to bask in their work. In this images post, we’d like you to meet artist Reissa Gibbs, whose joyful and striking use of colour and diverse media leaves me with much to savour and contemplate. She shares a few words about her craft, and offers some words of encouragement to other artists. Before we get to what she said, here is a small gallery of her work. We hope you enjoy it!

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We Are One — A New Children’s Book by Melissa Charepoo

Our family loves Melissa Charepoo’s books and her latest title, We Are One, is a gem. Centred on the theme of the oneness of humanity, this book (available in both English and Spanish) will help instil in the hearts of even the youngest children this unifying fundamental principle of the Baha’i Faith.

Melissa, gracious as ever, agreed to tell us a little about this book. We hope you enjoy our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us about what inspired you to write this book and how it differs from the other wonderful books for children that you’ve written? Why was writing this book important and meaningful to you?

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Baha’i Feasts & Holy Days Songbook – A Musical Initiative by Jack Lenz

I grew up learning the names of the Baha’i months in Arabic and English thanks to Jack Lenz’s “Song of the Months” and I repeatedly played the song to my own children so they too would be familiar with them. It’s a delightfully catchy tune, particularly when you sing “Sovereignty, Dominion and Loftiness!” (If you’re familiar with the song, I’m sure it’s in your head now!)

Jack is a brilliant musician and composer and I’m excited that he has a new project that revolves around the Baha’i calendar and the celebrations and commemorations in the Baha’i year: a songbook, CDs of those songs (both instrumental and a cappella), and a book of the vocal scores. All three are available for purchase, either physically or digitally. In this interview, Jack tells us all about his project and I hope it makes you as excited as I am. Here’s what he said: Continue reading

Ios and the King – A Children’s Book by Gail Radley

George Ronald released a children’s title by Gail Radley. Titled Ios and the King, this children’s book retells a tale that has been around for centuries, and was recounted by Abdu’l-Baha. As we turn our thoughts to Abdu’l-Baha in this year that commemorates the centenary of His Passing, I think it is worth sharing this timeless tale, just as He did.

I am so grateful that Gail took the time to share with us a little about her book. Here’s what she said:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My background is Unitarian, which gave me a good base for appreciation of various cultures, ethnicities, perspectives, and ways of being. It also demonstrated for me that we should do what we can to give feet to our words. Another element I appreciate from that background is valuing the search for truth—their symbol is a flaming chalice, representing the eternal search for truth. I was lucky enough to come upon the Baha’i teachings at age 15. At the time, I considered myself an agnostic, a rather common stance for Unitarians, I think. This was during the U.S. civil rights movement of the mid-1960s, and I was living close to the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C. I was actively committed to civil rights, the oneness of humanity, and to related social issues. So, while I didn’t know what to make of Baha’i theology, I was intrigued with the progressive social message. In time, with the Baha’is’ patient teaching, I came to realize the conception of God I had rejected, they didn’t believe in either! Rather than a bearded authoritarian in the sky, they explained that God was an Unknowable Essence— a just and loving Essence. That, I could better grasp. So, I put my feet to the words and declared my belief in Baha’u’llah

My ambition to become a writer began when I was eight or nine, and though it faltered a bit during those civil rights years, I never entirely lost sight of it. My late husband, Joe Killeen, enabled me to keep pursuing writing through our long marriage, and my current, journalist husband, Tom Armistead, is also a wonderful supporter. I dedicated Ios and the King to Tom because of his particular love of the mystical aspects of the Faith.

In addition to writing, I’ve taught English at Stetson University in Florida for the last 20-odd years.

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BWNS Podcast: A Path Toward a Unified America

In this podcast episode produced by the Baha’i World News Service, we learn how, one hundred years ago in May, the first race amity conference in the United States was held in Washington, D.C., by the American Baha’i community, a defining moment on the path toward racial unity in the country. The podcast also shares how to mark the centenary of that historic gathering, the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs brought together academics, civil society leaders, and other social actors for a three-day online symposium. Continue reading