Category Archives Baha’i Life

Love for the Sake of Love

A few weeks ago, a student of mine confided in me about a friendship that recently ended. They explained that they felt embarrassed and ashamed that they still deeply cared for the friend who was no longer an active part of their life. Before we ended our session, my student left me with their final thought: “Why does it matter if I care about someone, if they do not reciprocate that care or they aren’t around to feel it?” For some reason, I immediately thought of the familiar phrase – “When a tree falls in a lonely forest, does it make a sound?” For weeks, I’ve turned over the conversation in my mind and have found myself grappling with how we value a love that goes without acknowledgment, one that merely sits silently within our souls.  Continue reading

Some Thoughts on My Favorite Prayer for Protection

If you were going to ask me to dive into the treasury of Baha’i prayers and select my favourite jewel, I would say that I love too many to be able to select just one. But if you insisted, I would choose the prayer that is my favorite at this particular moment.

I had been looking for prayers for protection (haven’t we all?) and came to the very last one in that section of my prayer book. In this prayer, which I’ve quoted in full at the bottom, Abdu’l-Baha rises above my already heightened expectations, and soars in the sublime regions attained only by the divinely inspired poets. Surely this prayer illustrates this wonderful tradition quoted by the blessed Bab in The Dawn-Breakers:

Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets.

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How Isolation Can Help Us Draw Parallels to Events in Baha’i History

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic put the world at a standstill, it seems like life was paused in order to allow us some time to reflect on the current conditions of the world and to reevaluate what is important to us. Even though this time is very challenging, it is also rich in opportunities that we are yet to discover. As a Baha’i, I try to make sense of this uncertain time by looking at it through the lens of spiritual and historical perspectives. Continue reading

12 Online Baha’i Resources Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With all that’s been unfolding with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world, we thought we’d put together a short list of 12 Baha’i or Baha’i-inspired recourses that have been created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic so far. These resources range from the most recent message from the Universal House of Justice, to news and travel updates to the Baha’i World Centre, to an episode of the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson featuring epidemiologist Dr. Robert Kim-Farley. It also includes a number of articles which share personal viewpoints and musings on the current global health crisis as seen through the lens of the principles of the Baha’i Faith. We hope that you find these interesting and useful. Continue reading

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Body Politic

Recently, I had a conversation with some of my public health students about the incredible coincidence that the COVID-19 pandemic was happening while they were completing their degrees in Global Health. Every decision and action (or inaction) by international organizations, national governments, universities, school districts, businesses, researchers, civil society organizations, service providers, hospitals, communities and individuals is a potential opportunity to learn about mitigating an infectious disease. It is also a personal opportunity to learn and reflect on our individual responses to the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic overlaps with the Baha’i month of fasting when Baha’is are encouraged to focus on spiritual development and service as we abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for 19 days. So, I decided to dedicate my meditation and reflection during this Fast on the concepts of illness, disease, health and healing in the Baha’i Writings. Continue reading

Being Sick During the Fast and My Conscience: A Personal Reflection

If you are someone who follows a defined spiritual path (Catholic, Hari Krishna, Sufi, Baha’i), you will have adopted a set of values and spiritual practices that you believe are true and useful. This does not mean that you have stopped thinking for yourself. But it does entail that you choose to abide by those principles, with mindfulness and intelligence, no doubt.

Quite naturally when we are trying to follow a spiritual path properly, we utilise our conscience to decipher right from wrong. Having a conscience is vital: it is a distinguishing feature of being human. One example of when I rely on my conscience relates to the Baha’i Fast and being sick.  Continue reading

My Home of Peace and the Devotional Character of My Neighborhood

I have a 450-square foot studio apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My bed folds into a discrete cabinet against the wall, and my sink is always full of dishes. I have a tuxedo cat named Emma who doesn’t like anyone except me and has scratched up the ends of my armchair and leaves fuzz and hair wherever she sits. She tracks small pieces of litter across the apartment. My coffee table is covered with plastic bottles, coasters, leftover takeout containers, and graded papers. Working sixty to seventy hours a week, I roll in and out, often too tired to even put my clothes or shoes away in the right place, leaving them instead to hang out in piles on the floor or over my barstools. 

On Fridays, I hurry home from work, turn on bad reality television (Hell’s Kitchen mostly) whilst drinking a frappuccino, and start vacuuming. I sweep up all the white and black cat hairs, and vacuum them out of the sofa and throw pillows. I mop until the floors smell like lemon, sweep and wipe down the bathroom, throw my trash out, put away my recyclables, and finally fold my clothes or put them in the laundry. I take off all the extra things from my coffee table, light a candle, put a record on the turntable, turn on my string lights, change out of my work clothes, and wait for the first guest to arrive.  Continue reading

3 Spiritual Habits to Teach Young Children

Chelsea Lee Smith is the coordinator for online parenting courses for the Wilmette Institute, and Susanne Alexander, in her role as its Chair of the Relationship, Marriage, Parenting, and Family Department, often has the joy and privilege of helping Chelsea create course content. In our courses such as Fostering a Baha’i Identity in Children, Conscious Parenting, and more we help parents learn many practical ways to increase spiritual practices in their homes. Here are three spiritual habits that we love to encourage parents to teach to young children: Continue reading

A Personal Reflection on Adoption

Author Bre Vader and her family.

It can be difficult to remember the days before one’s children arrived – that’s especially true for my husband Dave and I. We married young and ten years ago had two biological children, a son and a daughter. Through a series of fortunate events when our children were four and two years old, we found ourselves on a 9-day Baha’i pilgrimage as a couple – parents will understand when I say that this special period felt like we exhaled for the very first time in four years!  Continue reading