Category Archives Baha’i Life

Will We All Be Musicians in the Future?

More than 25 years ago I was praying at the Mansion of Mazra’ih, asking God for guidance on what to do next as I was leaving the Baha’i World Centre after two and a half years of service. While I was thinking of pioneering or travel-teaching, instead, I was startled to hear the word “music” pop into my head. That was so out of left field that it felt like a very clear answer to my prayer. Since then, I have been devoting more and more of my time and studies to music. Over time, I’ve been asking myself about the importance of music in the Baha’i Faith. Here is a small snippet of what I’ve learned so far. Continue reading

My Experiences with Timeliness, Sequence & Spirituality

When I pay close attention to the timeliness, the sequence and the order to how I strive to apply the Baha’i Writings to my personal life, I feel a significant leap in my spiritual growth and understanding.

I suspect this type of discipline rolled over from my yoga teacher and therapy training, where timeliness and the sequence and order of doing things is the crux behind the “science of spirituality” that yoga is.

I will use the space below to outline what I have observed of how timelines, sequence and order, principles I learned and instituted in my yoga practice, affect my efforts to align my life and daily habits with the laws, teachings and principles of the Baha’i Revelation. These reflections are personal and the experiences shared are solely my own; everyone’s understanding and experiences of these principles will naturally be diverse and nuanced. Continue reading

What You Win – A Book of Stories for the Whole Family by Donna Price

Donna Rae Price has authored a book called What You Win: Stories for the Whole Family. The book features 16 short stories. From silly to serious, these hopeful tales are about walking your own path, finding friends, fighting everyday battles and the value of demonstrating good qualities and virtues. The stories are short, sweet and sure to capture the hearts of children who are contributing to the betterment of the world.

Donna generously agreed to tell us about herself, her book, and what she hopes you’ll take away with you once you’ve finished reading it:

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

I grew up in Northern California (USA), where I live with my family. My mom became a Baha’i when I was eight so I know what it’s like to go to school where no one has ever heard of your religion, or think it’s weird, or to fast during marching band in the heat, or to be quizzed by your friends’ parents. I can really relate to what many Baha’i children are facing.

I’ve been writing since childhood, but for the last 15 years I’ve been so fortunate to contribute to Brilliant Star Magazine. I get to work with a wildly talented and creative crew who are passionate about empowering children and youth. It’s a dream come true for me to have a job with so much camaraderie and hope for the future.

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My Reflections on the Global Conference in Geelong: Empowering Our Youngest Treasures

Photo courtesy of Samin Todd

As our family made the one hour journey to the world conference in the city of Geelong, Australia, my seven year old son made quite the soul-stirring remark from the rear seat of our car, his high-pitched, raspy voice tugging at our heartstrings.

“Mum, I invited my friend to come along this weekend.”

“Oh really? What did you say?”

“I said, ‘Hey, do you want to come to the conference tomorrow?'”

“And what did he say?”

“He said, ‘What’s it about?’ And I said, ‘To make the world a better place.’ So he said he’d ask his mum.”

My son had become inspired after watching this video released by the United Kingdom about the world conferences. He even wanted to approach his school principal and invite him to the momentous occasion.

There are so many lessons we can reap from this simple yet brazen conversation between two children: courage, friendliness, boldness, love. If only we all had that same level of determination. It is most definitely a gift, and one that we tend to repress as we age and as we become more conscious of the perceptions of those around us.

It is for this reason that I believe it is vital that our global conferences cater as much for our children as they do for the rest of us: that they empower, inspire and spur our children on so that the upcoming nine years and beyond see our children harness their inherent gems and propel them forward with utmost steadfastness.

But how can this be achieved? Here are some ideas from my humble part of the world. Continue reading

The Final Accompaniment: Learning to Support a Loved One Through the End of their Earthly Life

It is 6am on another sunny August morning in northern California (USA). I am standing beside my mother looking out through the kitchen window at a hummingbird feeding on the sun-warmed nectar in the throats of the crimson trumpet-shaped hibiscus blossoms on the bush outside. Mom has always loved hummingbirds. Perhaps it is the miracle of these tiny, brightly coloured and graceful beings, who, despite having a heart the size of a fingernail, can fly hundreds of kilometres without pausing to rest that mesmerizes her. Hummingbirds can feed on more than a thousand flowers in a single day. Perhaps because of the intensity with which they live, hummingbirds’ lives are incredibly brief. Like the hummingbird, my mother has always given everything of herself that she could possibly give to life. She has always been strong and resilient. She is a rock for my entire family. However in this delicate moment of reflection, my giant-hearted mother is dying. Unbeknownst to us, in this moment, she has less than a month to live, and so much more that she wants to do in this world that it breaks my heart.

The Baha’i Writings speak a lot about accompaniment. In its 2010 Ridvan Message, the Universal House of Justice said that we need to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, supporting each other through our struggles and partaking in each other’s joys. We dedicate a great deal of energy learning how to accompany each other during our earthly lives. But as my mother approached the day when her soul would end its association with her physical body, I realized that I knew very little about how to best accompany her as she moved towards the end of her life.  Continue reading

My Thoughts on How Architecture Evokes the Mystical

Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.

I love architecture with a passion because you can create spaces for people to use and be a part of; it’s more than just designing walls and ceilings, it’s molding shapes and lines to be used, occupied, interplayed, and reinterpreted by people. For instance, you can transform a simple utilitarian ascending tool such as a staircase into a social space used in a multitude of ways by incorporating large landings, green pockets, elongated risers, and so on. In this article, I’d like to offer some examples of the power of architecture, share some words of Abdu’l-Baha, and ponder how architecture can evoke the mystical. Continue reading

Family Matters: Filling Your Home with Purpose & Love – A Workbook by Monette Van Lith

Monette Van Lith has put together a workbook for assisting families called Family Matters: Filling Your Home with Purpose and Love. The workbook and its exercises are designed to help family members connect and bond, and to create an environment where everyone can thrive. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Monette very graciously agreed to tell us about her workbook and here’s what she shared with us:

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

Thank you for this opportunity to share a little bit about the Family Matters workbook and the work I do. I am a certified life coach and I work with parents who want to level-up their parenting and family life. Parents also come to me when they’re feeling overwhelmed or depleted. Using a very effective coaching model, my clients discover how to reconnect with their inner joy and purpose. I offer both one-on-one and group coaching. 

In my previous career I worked at various United Nations Programs in East and West Africa, and in New York at UNICEF and the World Health Organization. 

Going back to my origins, I was born in the Netherlands, grew up in Suriname, and returned to Europe to attend university. I’ve enjoyed living and working in different parts of the world and am currently based just outside of Boston, in the US.

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3 Qualities That Can Improve the World

The Baha’i world is teeming with joy and deliberation after reading and reflecting on the recent 30 December 2021 message of the Universal House of Justice. With its optimism about the future of the world and its emphasis on contributing to social good, people all around the world are consulting and planning on how they can put this vision into action where they live.

There are so many profound points in this message, but I’d like to share my understanding of one excerpt. The Universal House of Justice says:

The enkindled souls being raised up through the processes of the Plan are seeking to gain an ever more profound understanding of Baha’u’llah’s teachings—“the sovereign remedy for every disease”—and to apply them to the needs of their society… They emphasize qualities and attitudes—such as trustworthiness, cooperation, and forbearance—that are building blocks of a stable social order.

The message explicitly mentions three qualities that relate to the betterment of the world so I’d like to reflect on them. The message goes on to describe other qualities and attitudes and each could be deserving of its own article, or more! In this post however, I’d like to focus on trustworthiness, cooperation and forbearance using the metaphor of constructing a house for the society-building work we are engaged in. Continue reading

Talent or Hard Work? My Thoughts on Polishing Our Inner Gems

I have noticed that when someone mentions an excellent surgeon, the adjective used is often something similar to “highly skilled”. On the other hand, when listening to an excellently played piano concerto on the radio, I often hear people praising the pianist as being very “talented”. Both the surgeon and pianist have probably devoted 30 or more years of their lives painstakingly working, practicing, and honing their skills, so why do we use “skilled” for a surgeon (or other professions) and “talented’” for musicians? One word implies training and practice and other implies an innate ability. In this article, I explore this seeming dichotomy from a scientific perspective and by studying the Baha’i Writings. Continue reading