Thursday, June 18, 2009

Accumulating Experience

In rereading the May 17, 2009 letter from the Universal House of Justice regarding the 19-Day Feast, I am fascinated how much it says about our community, even beyond the celebration of Feast. We are growing... both in size and capacity.

The May 17 letter notes a growing dynamism as one of the salient features of our worldwide community. The dictionary defines dynamism as great energy, force, or power. Our Baha'i community has great energy, it has force, and it has power! The individual, the community, and the institutions are all coming together to demonstrate this power to ourselves as well as the greater community.

One of the outcomes of our dynamic, powerful community is that individuals will want to attend Baha'i Feast. It is natural that our community of interest will be drawn to our gatherings as people flee from the pain and sorrow of the world. The Baha'is have something to offer and people will reach for it as moths to a flame.

Of course, this means that we will occasionally find that seekers will show up at Feast wishing to attend even when they have not been invited. Beautifully, the Universal House of Justice has helped us understand how we are to deal with these situations. As Baha'is are to have an outward-looking vision, we would naturally not wish to be rude. Therefore, the new guidance indicates that we can hold feast almost as usual keeping in mind the need for confidentiality and restraint.

Note: We should guard against taking this new guidance to mean we can invite seekers to our Feasts. However much we may wish to share our Faith enthusiastically with interested individuals, it would be a mistake to forget that Feast was an institution created for the Baha'is themselves and respecting this directive is important. Nonetheless, should someone show up at Feast who is not a Baha'i, we are free to include them in Feast and adhere to the standard format (with discretion given to the Local Spiritual Assemblies to decide how much to include).

Part of what I love about being a Baha'i is the on-going, ever-dynamic understanding of the Faith that grows along with the community. The Universal House of Justice states, The continued expansion of the Bahá’í community in the years to come will surely give rise to a range of challenges that will affect how the devotional, administrative, and social aspects of the Nineteen Day Feast are conducted in diverse localities.

Further, Responsibility for addressing these challenges will fall, in the first instance, on Local Spiritual Assemblies. Theirs is the duty to remain alert to conditions in their communities, to consult with the friends, to respond thoughtfully to a multiplicity of needs and circumstances, and to remain flexible without compromising fundamental principles.

Remaining flexible without compromising fundamental principles is a hallmark of our Faith. This is the accumulating experience that allows us to grow and change and yet never waver in our principles. This is our energy, our force, and our power... This is what makes us dynamic... This is what makes us Baha'is.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Homefront Pioneer Needed in Florida!

While mulling over the fact that we will have to rent and not sell our home when we move to Poland this summer, a copy of Reflections on Growth, number 22, came to my attention like one of those beacons that has attended every moment surrounding our pioneering opportunity.

I was sorting through some paperwork and there it was - the edition titled, Homefront Pioneers - Settling in "Clusters That are the Focus of Systematic Attention." As our Auxiliary Board member keeps reminding us, we have to find our replacements (and my replacement as ATC secretary).

How about a homefront pioneer?

Two quotes in particular from the Universal House of Justice stand out...
...equally important will be the support lent to a cluster through an influx of pioneers
; and
Let those souls able to join their co-workers in the forefront of activity hesitate not a moment longer.

My husband is still negotiating with his company but if we can swing it, we are thinking maybe we could rent our home for a bargain-basement price to a Baha'i couple who would love to move to Florida but cannot swing it without a housing deal. This would allow us to have the house cared for as well as supply much needed human resources to this new A-status cluster.

Ft Myers has been hit hard by the economic crisis but there are still jobs to be had and beaches to be loved. There are several education opportunities in the area, the biggest being Florida Gulf Coast University, which is just around the corner from our home. The Baha'i community is stalwart and loving and wanting for additional help as it pursues activities in line with the Plan.

Lee Cluster needs help... Anyone interested??? ...hesitate not a moment longer...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

More on our move to Poland

I have been thinking about my previous post and I want to add a little background... Not only are we being given the blessing of pioneering but if anyone had asked me to name the one country that I would love to pioneer too, Poland would have been number one. What I cannot reconcile is how we could be even doubly blessed!

I was in Poland twice way back when during my college years. Once, in 1991, I traveled to Poland after a month in the Soviet Union. Back then, the German National Assembly sent us in to the Soviet Union with a box of Baha'i books tucked carefully into our things so as to hopefully escape detection. I cannot remember how I ended up in Poland afterwards (and then detoured to Romania) but what I remember is my time spent with an inspirational group of youth teaching in Wroclaw. It was such a wonderful, learning time for me. My second visit to Poland (1992) was for three months travel teaching in Poznan (with short trips to Zielona Gora and Torun). Again, it was a time that was nothing short of amazing.

Now flash forward 17 years, a husband, two kids and much life later I, along with my amazing family, are headed back to Poland. Again, I have to say that I am afraid of not living up to the responsibility I feel that comes with this blessing.