This March 26, 2016, we celebrate the centenary of the Tablets of the Divine Plan. Revealed by Abdu’l-Baha to the Baha’is of the United States and Canada in 1916 and 1917, and described as “a final link in the chain of love and care which bound Him to the friends on this continent”, the fourteen immortal Tablets that constitute the Tablets of the Divine Plan embody the unique mission and mandate for the “the spiritual regeneration of the world”. Continue reading
As a child, there was always something magical in the anticipation of the days of Ayyam-i-Ha. Whilst each of the nineteen months of the Baha’i year reflects one of the attributes of God, these “Days of Ha”, that exist “outside of time”, signify the essence of God that transcends all of His attributes, and there is truly something mysterious and mystical about these special days. Continue reading
37 seconds. I have been sitting still for 37 seconds now. I am not kidding. And with my eyes closed all this time. Well, nearly all this time. I had to open them to see how many hours minutes seconds (sigh) had passed. I close them again. Focus, I tell myself. Concentrate. I am aware that my foot is itching. Now I am aware that I am focusing on my foot instead of…? What am I supposed to be focusing on? Now I am just feeling irritated. I open my eyes again. 52 seconds.
Clearly this is not working.
Meditation: something that I have been struggling to learn for years. I call to mind the simple and direct plea from TS Eliot’s ‘Ash Wednesday’: “Teach us to sit still.”
The words resonated deeply with me those many years ago in my high school poetry class, just as they do today. How do we learn to ‘sit still’, to truly be still, particularly in the midst of the mayhem and madness of life?
What does it mean to meditate? Continue reading
I am looking directly into the eyes of the stranger sitting opposite me. His face is tired, his eyes a little sad, worn out perhaps with the heaviness of thoughts. As he looks at me, a light suddenly gleams in his eyes and his mouth slowly begins to curve up at the edges. Within a few seconds I startle myself by unexpectedly and spontaneously smiling widely back at him. He throws his head back and erupts into raucous laughter. It is infectious. My giggling gets louder and louder until, I too, am unabashedly laughing, tears running down my cheeks. Continue reading
15 years ago, on January 19, 2000, Madame Ruhiyyih Rabbani, born as Mary Sutherland Maxwell, and affectionately known by the title Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, passed away from this earthly plain. She was the Handmaiden of Glory; the beloved consort of Shoghi Effendi; his “shield”, his “helpmate”, and his “tireless collaborator”; a Hand of the Cause of God; and the “Baha’i world’s last living link to the family of Abdu’l-Baha”.
On the Sunday afternoon that her precious remains were laid to rest, the sweetness of a chanted Persian prayer reverberated throughout the garden where nearly a thousand friends had gathered from places far-flung across the globe to pay tribute and homage to this beloved personage. A soft rain began to fall gently upon all there; perhaps nature’s own testimony to the grief felt in all the hearts and the tears upon many a cheek.
The beauty of the love story that was to become Ruhiyyih Khanum’s life was one that began long before her birth. Mary Sutherland Maxwell was born on 8 August 1910 in New York City. The beloved only-child of William Sutherland Maxwell and May Ellis Bolles, she was a result of the prayers of Abdu’l-Baha for the fulfillment of May Bolles’ heart’s desire to have a child, and perhaps, the gift of her mother’s complete acquiescence and resignation to the Will of God. Continue reading
I hold in my heart two memories that moved me deeply from my visit to the International Archives Building during my Pilgrimage in the Holy Land. The first was the handful of pebbles that was found in the pocket of the Purest Branch, Mirza Mihdi, after his tragic and fatal fall from the skylight of a rooftop in the prison-city of Akka; and the second was the exquisite, hand-stitched clothing of His Holiness the Bab. The latter captured my attention and imagination because of its delicate beauty and ornate craftsmanship, the elaborate attention given to detail and the painstakingly fine stitching. In my mind I could only imagine how each single stitch must have been sewn with such love and precious care for the Owner of the attire.
The Bab was born on October 20, 1819 in Shiraz, Iran, and whilst we know very little of the early days of the Person of the Bab, Shoghi Effendi describes Him as:
…infinite in His tenderness, irresistible in His charm, unsurpassed in His heroism, [and] matchless in the dramatic circumstances of His short yet eventful life.