Six years ago, my husband, Jon, our two grown kids, and our new son-in-law were on our way to Haifa, Israel, to share a Baha’i pilgrimage. Nineteen years earlier, Jon and I had visited this same spot and I’d prayed that, if it were truly in the best interest of all involved, we might return one day as a family. And so, here we were, living into a heart’s prayer answered; a dream realized.
In the golden evening glow of the Bab’s shrine, the reality of the larger spiritual reunion I am part of came home to me in a sweetly unexpected way. It was close to sunset on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, when many in Haifa close their shops or leave work early to prepare for this day kept sacred. A mood of impending reverence and quiet settled in as the streets grew vacant.
I sat in the silence of the shrine, aware of the atmosphere of spiritual preparation going on all over this bustling city. Bells started to toll from the Carmelite monastery, located near one of the caves of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, as more lovers of God began turning to prayer as the day drew to a close.
Then, from the minaret of a nearby mosque, the melodious call to prayer began to sound with soul-stirring beauty.
And here, we Baha’i pilgrims, assembled from throughout the world, lovers of all faiths, with personal roots in many different ones, were all gathered in the spot that honors one whose martyrdom, akin to Christ’s, aimed to help free mankind from its deepest bondage, and help it finally come home together.
As human beings grow, they lead the most spiritually actualized lives not when they cling to the small circle of family and what is familiar, but as they learn to embrace ever-widening circles and bonds with others. The pain in the world today seems directly proportionate to the degree to which we haven’t yet found the love for God and our fellow beings that will transcend our own limited knowledge and assumptions, that will make us eager to seek our Beloved, by whatever name we call Him, in every face.
The changeless faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future, draws a circle meant to include each and every one.
Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details –