It’s a Wednesday afternoon in the Australian city of the Gold Coast, and Cyrus Mollaian opens the door of his car and starts carrying large containers of food to a nearby table that he and some friends have just set up in a park near a City Council building. He starts lining up takeaway containers of food along the table, while someone else starts stacking secondhand clothing and other goods at the far end of the same large table. A crowd of people start to gather around the table, and Cyrus and his friends greet some of them as if they hadn’t seen each other for a while. Some take their food and sit under a tree to eat alone, while others eat their food while mingling and conversing as you would at an event or function. It’s clear that some of those gathered are less fortunate than others and have been sleeping rough, however the humming of conversations and laughter quickly wash away any obvious signs of this, and a spirit of fellowship and friendship prevails.
Here on the Gold Coast, Cyrus has been setting up tables of food for those in need every fortnight for the last 12 years rain or shine – and he hasn’t missed a beat.
I thought it would be good to talk to Cyrus about this long-standing initiative, so I asked him a few questions about it while I was at one of the Wednesday dinner events. I also chatted with Sally Michaels, one of the regular volunteers who’s been helping out over the last several years, and here’s what they shared: Continue reading
Recently I was reminded of the fascinating section in the 2015 message from the Universal House of Justice to the Counsellors regarding “releasing the potential of youth” and have read over its final paragraph several times. It really struck me: was my own period of youth going to be just a memorable chapter, or would this period of youth be remembered as the time in which service to others would become the fixed center of my earthly existence?
As my youth draws to an end and I am pulled further and further into the life of society as a contributing citizen, would these joyous memories of service and learning from my youth just become that, a “memorable chapter”, or had they really propelled me towards a vision of contributing towards universal good? Continue reading
Yara Ayache is an articulate and energetic youth who, in my opinion, is very successful! What is success, and how we can live coherent lives that balance work with service are some of the main topics she tackles in her aptly named video interview and podcast program called The Spirit of Success.
Yara graciously agreed to tell us about herself and her series and we’re delighted to share what she told us:
As I write this rain is pattering against the window above my desk. Outside, a tree that has been covered in brilliant yellow leaves for the past couple of weeks is in transition—the topmost branches are already bare. A slow but steady release is happening lower down, and the bottom is still blazing colour against the slate grey sky. Around me the world is in a season of radical transformation. We’ve come to a point where none of us can avoid the truth that individual wellbeing is inseparably connected to the wellbeing of all. Personally, the physical separation from those I love, coupled with a heightened awareness of the brevity of this earthly life is making me ask myself bigger questions than I had been previously. Three that come up for me a lot are: What is God’s Will for humanity? How do I align my life’s purpose with the Will of God? And what specific capacities can I strengthen in myself right now that will help me to better serve the needs of humanity at this pivotal time? Continue reading
Every year in our village, our Baha’i community participates in the annual autumn festival. We set up a beautiful booth with Baha’i literature and information, and photographs of the Shrine of the Bab and the Baha’i Houses of Worship. We also have a fun game for the children to play, where the prizes are candies and small gifts, but more importantly, they are also given the opportunity to write their name on a can of soup or vegetables that will be donated on their behalf to a local charity.
This year, because of the pandemic, our annual autumn festival was cancelled. In order to be of service to the poor in our community, my husband Robert and I organized a delivery of canned goods to our local charity.
This is one small action, inspired by the many beautiful examples from the lives of Baha’u’llah, Navvab, and Abdu’l-Baha. Here are a three of my favourites. Continue reading
Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.
So many people in the world, especially young people, are looking for their calling and something to cling to, something that gives life context and a purpose, something that bathes everything else in meaning, magically making sense of life. For me, this yearning for a deeper meaning to life is a sign that humans have souls, and it is a reminder that we are not content with simply getting on with life. We seek connections and a path to channel our energies. This search for deeper meaning can lead to wonderful things: some examples that come to my mind are when people become very devoted to their field of work, which leads to much-needed discoveries and advancement, or when people dedicate their lives to the spiritual education of children and empowering junior youth.
But what is finding oneself really? And how does one find oneself? Continue reading
I have been thinking about the concept of friendship lately and the positive impact it can have. Friendship is a powerful force and its influence can extend beyond homes, workplaces, and schools to every setting and scenario imaginable from a visit to the doctor’s office to being on vacation. Imagine living in a world where everyone was welcoming, kindness reigned, individuals of all backgrounds came together and people were frank in their views. Is that only a thought reserved for imaginary utopian societies? I don’t think so.
I feel like this quote from Abdu’l-Baha can be a source of inspiration as we strive to create genuine friendships with everyone:
Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.
Motherhood is described in the Baha’i Writings as a vital and elevated role. Being a mother is a noble aspiration and undertaking. Abdu’l-Baha tells us:
O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.
In honor of Mother’s Day in North America, and based on an online course called “Embracing a Spiritual Identity of Motherhood” we recently gave through the Wilmette Institute, we’ve been reflecting on the role of motherhood and its links to service and true happiness. Continue reading
Three years ago in February, our family was united after an arduous adoption journey. We arrived a family of four to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the first day of Ayyam-i-Ha and left a complete family of six. That year, the days of this festival were marked with exceptional joy, fellowship and opportunities for service; and as a family, we see the days of Ayyam-i-Ha as a gift and opportunity each year to remember how thankful we are for one another, for our wonderful Faith, our community and the opportunity to be of service wherever we are. Continue reading
The path to finding a mate for life is not easy. Through my personal life and my work as a marriage and relationship educator and coach, I have seen how perseverance, courage, discernment, and commitment are all essential. We and the world need strong, happy marriages that are fortresses of well-being.
We are not yet living in a world that has established a common pattern of courtship based on the Baha’i Teachings. As a result, individuals and couples are experimenting and trying to find their way – sometimes joyfully and sometimes with more difficulty.
As you know, courtship practices differ greatly from one culture to another, and it is not yet known what pattern of courtship will emerge in the future when society has been more influenced by Baha’i Teachings. However, there is no indication that it will resemble the practices extant in existing cultures…. In this interim period, the friends are encouraged to make great efforts to live in conformity with the Teachings and to gradually forge a new pattern of behavior, more in keeping with the spirit of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation.
The challenge we face is how to engage in patterns of courtship that strive to implement Baha’i principles in a world that is “a bewildering moral environment” and in “a society in which materialism, self-centeredness and failing marriages are all too common.”
So, when we look at what possibly aligns with Baha’i courtship, what is important? Continue reading