Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reclaiming our Enthusiasm

Our cluster had an incredible practice IPG run from January 9 - January 24 with high expectations and the knowledge that we would be an A-stage cluster by Ridvan 2009. We had four declarations and even opened a new neighborhood. As CDF, I felt like a part of something that was moving and pulling me right along with it. The difficulty came in maintaining our momentum, enthusiasm and even our ability to keep our new declarants involved.

That said, a core groups of local believers was instrumental in keeping going home visits, children's classes and jr youth activities. To them, I and the entire community owes a debt of gratitude.

Now that we have re-formed an ATC, we are challenged to gather up our resources and charge forward. Our Reflection Meeting has been set for April 25 with expansion activities to follow. This will be our first 'official' IPG effort.

In order to make the effort successful, the breadth and scope of our activities must meet the challenges inherent in a semi-transient community such as ours. I know we can do it!

We have decided to move forward with several key activities which do not vary from our past activities. It seemed that if we were still challenged to accomplish what we have been working on for the better part of a year, there is no reason to change course midstream; especially given that each practice cycle, we have made significant gains and improvements. I am very excited to be able to apply what we have learned up to this point to make everything successful.

Despite our back and forth momentum, the Universal House of Justice offers us an unequivocal reason for keeping the course without hesitation... There can be no doubt that the stage is set for a marked advance in the process of entry by troops thoughout the country.

There can be NO DOUBT...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Blog... Wanderings

Here is a fabulous new Baha'i blog that a friend is writing...

I love reading new blogs and learning what the Baha'i world is doing and thinking so please keep me posted on any blogs you like. I'd really appreciate it!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Our Family's Fast Tradition

One of the great things about being part of a Baha'i family is that we have a whole world open to us to create and cherish our own traditions. The Faith embraces individuals of even the most obscure cultural and religious backgrounds. What we are creating is a new, independent model of the world that even as we all turn to one supreme guiding body, will look and feel as varied and unique as the individuals who make up the Faith. Just imagine what the Baha'i world looks and sounds like the day we each read the Ridvan message every April!

My children are blessed to be third generation Baha'is so while they experience some version of Christmas with great-grandparents, it is merely an unimpressive blip on continuum of our lives. What they look forward to most is the season of Fasting, bounded by Ayyam-i-Ha and Naw-Ruz. (In a later post, I will talk about our efforts to swing the excitement pendulum towards Ridvan, which, after all, is the Most Great Festival and deserves equal, if not greater attention.)

Our family has a Fast tradition that which started a few years ago when the kids were young. It has become something the kids look forward to every year.

During Ayyam-i-Ha, I set out candles on the coffee table. I use a glass display plate and place a large candle in the center surrounded by 18 smaller tea light candles. My favorite candles smell like rose which reminds me of the Shrines in Haifa and Akka.

Each night of Fast, before bed when it is totally dark, we turn off all the lights in the house and light the number of candles that matches the number of days of Fast. On the first night of Fast, we light one candle; on the second night, we light two candles; and so on. We save the large candle in the middle for the last night, the 19th day of Fast.

On the final night of Fast, all the candles are lit and it is a beautiful sight. It is very special to say prayers each night by candlelight and I hope it is a tradition the boys will share with their own families in the future.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Where my thoughts should be this Fast...

I realized yesterday that I had spent the better part of a week dreading the early advent of daylight savings when I should have been thinking about how easy my life is and how easy it is for me to be a Baha'i (relative to my country of birth) and how I should be spending more time in prayer, reflection and action. Now is not the time to rest.

Reading the letter from the Baha'i International Community (working from the United Nations in New York City) to the Prosecutor General in Iran (link below) reminds me of how freedom of religious expression is a luxury many others lack. Even as I think of my fasting until 7:30pm as a difficult personal challenge, I remember that our Baha'i sisters and brothers in prison in Iran are themselves fasting, even in those torturous conditions.

The Universal House of Justice has asked us to hold our own prayer gatherings; they've asked us to hold community prayer gatherings open to the press; and they've asked us to write our Congressional Representatives both in the House and Senate. This is the least we can do.

On March 6, 2009, the House of Justice said, "The heroic steadfastness of the Bahá’ís in the Cradle of the Faith has released mighty spiritual forces into the world." We would do well to remember this during Fast and rearrange our lives accordingly so as to take full advantage of these bounties.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What happened to the weekly challenge?

I thought about calling this post The-Weekly-Challenge-That's-Not-Exactly-Happening but I thought that would give the wrong impression. The reason I haven't posted more weekly challenges is that I'm a little full with all my present challenges. Once I decided to fit the first couple in my life more forthrightly, I realized how many other things I am also challenged to follow through on.

Now that Fast is here, I am challenged to revisit my personal plan and redouble my effort to meet the goals I outlined for myself. Ridvan 2009 is fast approaching!

As the advent of Ridvan 2009 brings on our new cluster status as A-stage, I am faced with many more to-do's than even my personal plan presents. Our newly-formed ATC now needs to meet soon and start the business of planning a reflection meeting and expansion phase. If anyone has any suggestions for creating enthusiasm for a reflection meeting, please let me know!

In looking at my personal plan, there is so much I did not accomplish. At the same time, there are areas where I made definite improvements. Certainly, my next plan will incorporate many of the same elements. When it comes time to rework my plan for the new Baha'i year, I will post. Maybe it will help you make your plan.

Enjoy Fast. For me, it is never without its ups and downs but I am amazed each new year as I get a little better and a little more determined to grow spiritually. Hopefully, we all do!