A few months ago, in the midst of the special bicentennial year of the Birth of the Bab, I barely survived a devastating terrorist attack. It has taken a while to digest the experience and to share about it. Continue reading
The Universal House of Justice, in its 26 November 1999 letter to the Baha’is of the world, defines the principal actors needed to build vibrant and open communities that will advance humanity towards realizing its oneness. These three protagonists are: the individual, the institutions, and the local community (and you can read an introduction to this concept here). Through their collaborations, advancement is possible in all our endeavors.
As a mother with love for the world and concern for the wellbeing of all children, I continually find the need to pause and reflect on what’s happening around us. It is hard to ignore the implications of raising children in this period of history. I wanted to explore this subject as it relates to the three protagonists and how they advance civilization. Continue reading
Conversations about community building among Baha’is often involve mentioning the “three protagonists”, and so I thought it might be helpful to reflect on what a protagonist is, who the three protagonists are, and some thoughts about the relationships between them. The more I learn about this topic, the more I realize how little I understand and how revolutionary the whole concept is. I hope you find this helpful and will offer your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below. Continue reading
When I was a child in early primary school my mother became a Baha’i. We learned as a family about what it meant to be a Baha’i and we didn’t have a conscious awareness of the importance of unity – especially between siblings. My sister and I fought a lot and I was often very cruel to her as the older sister. If we played in the pool, for example, we might splash each other and if at some point I splashed so hard that I made her eyes sting from water and chlorine I would think nothing of it, and her visible suffering would probably only encourage me to splash harder.
In 1984 I was 11 years old when my mother, sister and I attended the dedication of the Temple in Samoa. There were many Baha’is staying in the same hotel as us. I remember playing in the pool with two children whom I had never met before and have never met since – though I’ve heard they live in our region. We chased each other and splashed each other. And over thirty years later I still remember the profound impact of the behaviour of those children on me. Navid splashed his sister Nava and they were having fun, but then the water got in her eyes. Nava indicated that her eyes were hurting and her brother immediately stopped and swam over to her, apologised and checked that she was ok. I had never seen anything like it. He behaved with the same kindness in his interactions with her as he would have with me (a stranger) or with his teacher or with anyone. Kind was the only way he knew how to be. It was a highly developed quality of his soul, not a performance that could be turned on and off depending on circumstances. Continue reading
I call Prince Edward Island off the east coast of Canada home. Recently my community gathered on Zoom to study the 9 May 2020 message from the Universal House of Justice. The letter contains important guidance about navigating through this difficult time, but one particular point struck a chord with me, and I’ve been reflecting on it ever since. The section I’m referring to is this:
…while certain possibilities have been temporarily closed, others have opened up, and new means have emerged for strengthening existing patterns of activity. Flexibility has proven to be an asset, but so has vigilance in ensuring that the primarily local character of community activities is not diluted; efforts to nurture flourishing communities within neighbourhoods and villages and across clusters must continue.
Like most of us, I have embraced a more insular lifestyle in the interest of protecting myself and the more vulnerable members of my community. As someone who lives alone, over the last few months I have joined a few online communities and participated in a number of virtual events. Some are local initiatives: holy day commemorations, Nineteen Day Feasts, devotional gatherings and opportunities to study messages like the May 9 message from the House of Justice; others have been regional—I even attended a Zoom wedding this spring! But many have been international in scope, and while they enrich my life significantly, they also require a considerable investment of time and energy, which begs the question: is my participation online diluting efforts to nurture a flourishing community at the local level? How can I find ways to take what I am learning virtually and use it to invigorate my role within my own community? In exploring these questions, another arose: what exactly am I learning? Perhaps identifying the skills I am developing in these online communities, and what I find so enriching about participating in them will help me to identify practical ways that I can better support local activities too. Continue reading
Wendi Momen has compiled four devotional books perfect for couples, mothers, fathers and families. These small paperbacks with watercolor floral covers contain sacred writings, poetry and prose on universal themes. George Ronald Publishers reissued Family Worship, To be a Mother and To be a Father and released, for the first time,To Be Married.
I will shamelessly admit that I judge books by their covers and these four make a beautiful and enchanting set before you even open them for meaningful study and worship. I was eager to find out more about them and Wendi lovingly obliged. Here’s our conversation: Continue reading
A few years ago, I was having a conversation with a renowned professor of communication arts. He posed this question to me: “Why do the English translations of Baha’i Writings use such elevated language? Does it pose an obstacle to understanding for some people?” Continue reading
The Cambridge dictionary defines kindness as “the quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people, or an act showing this quality.” I like to think that we are all innately kind whether we are conscious of it or not, but events around the world this year are showing me that believing in kindness is simply not enough. We need to find practical ways to practice kindness every day. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from one of my local city council representatives. The council had recently launched a podcast in order to cast the spotlight on how people were adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, and they were wondering if I would speak on the topic of gratitude from the perspective of a person of faith.
It was the perfect chance for me to explore and (strive to) articulate exactly why I was grateful to be a Baha’i, particularly during a time of crisis. The most obvious source of gratitude is that the Baha’i Faith provides me with the guidance, strength and perspective I need to carry forward amidst times of intense difficulty – guidance to seek happiness in the happiness of others, to serve others, and to care for others. It is this outward focus that I truly believe gets us through trying times. It gives us purpose and brings us real joy. As Shoghi Effendi says: Continue reading
Courage is a word that could be used on a daily basis, frivolously, out of habit, without really thinking about it. Recently, in thinking about the stories found in The Dawn-Breakers, I’ve been reflecting on how what was very courageous ages ago, seems even more impossible to believe in nowadays and how courage can differ from person to person. I’ve been asking myself, has bravery and courage changed throughout history? What does courage look like in my life? Is it standing up for my rights at work, sharing my thoughts and opinions in discussions and being brave enough to swim against the current? Continue reading