Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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The circle is meant to include us all

Ten years ago this month, my husband, Jon, our two grown kids, and our new son-in-law were in 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 began 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

https://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details-ebook/dp/B00B5MR9B0

 

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What is Spirit calling for?

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As I’m preparing for some upcoming author visits, I’ve been reflecting on themes that are surfacing in these wildly turbulent times.

The planet, and the unfailing presence of Spirit in the world are speaking.

What are they calling for? How are we listening, or not? How are our hearts — Spirit’s intended home, by Divine design — responding, or not?

“All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory;” Bahá’u’lláh wrote nearly a century and a half ago, “yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding I have concealed thy secret and desired not thy shame.”

14671193_10155473760553902_8364308015943477763_nThe indigenous, Native peoples in every part of the planet know, and honor, the truth carried in these words. They know, too, that in so many cultures, as in their own, water represents spirit, the very source of all life.

And today, they are speaking from the “heartland” of my country.

“The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time,” author Terry Tempest Williams has written. “To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. … Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.” 14720601_10155473760403902_8711454713838355839_n

Over the next two days, Baha’is around the world will focus our hearts on love, unity, and the oneness in which the Creator has fashioned humanity as we gather to celebrate Twin Holy Days, the Births of the Báb, and of Bahá’u’lláh.

“The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.”
Bahá’u’lláh
My thanks to Patricia Hupahu Locke (Patty), age 5, named for her brave-hearted Grandmother,
for the beautiful artwork here. Her family’s hearts are standing with those who, at Standing Rock, are standing for the truth of Spirit for all humanity. And my heart stands with them.


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The building of the good lasts forever

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

It’s a special day for Bahá’ís around the world today as we remember The Báb.

His life and the spiritual revolution in its story was my first encounter with the Revelation of the Bahá’í Faith.

From those earliest days, these words of The Báb’s have traveled with my grateful heart:

     “O peoples of the world! Whatsoever ye have offered up in the way of the One True God, ye shall indeed find preserved by God, the Preserver, intact at God’s Holy Gate.”

Every sparrow, every hair of our head, every feather and seed and blade of grass is accounted for.

Imagine the real spiritual presence of each one of our willing efforts and actions.

It can be easy, in these hours and days, to feel dismayed by the world as we see it around us.

But the building of the good is what is preserved — the increase and advance of love in the coming forth of what is of God.


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What is preserved and never lost

IMG_3617The week brings a very special day for Bahá’ís around the world as we remember The Báb.

His life and the spiritual revolution in its story was my first encounter with the Revelation of the Bahá’í Faith.

From those earliest days, these words of The Báb’s have traveled with my grateful heart: IMG_3629

     “O peoples of the world! Whatsoever ye have offered up in the way of the One True God, ye shall indeed find preserved by God, the Preserver, intact at God’s Holy Gate.”

Every sparrow, every hair of our head, every feather and seed and blade of grass is accounted for. And every wish of our heart.

IMG_8756Imagine the real spiritual presence of each one of our willing efforts and actions.

It can be easy to feel dismayed by the world as we see it around us.

But the building of the good is what is preserved — the increase and advance of love in the coming forth of what is of God.

Photos courtesy of Nelson Ashberger and Saffron Moser.


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The increase and advance of love

Israel 058It’s a special time for Bahá’ís around the world as we remember The Báb.

His life and the spiritual revolution in its story was my first encounter with the Revelation of the Bahá’í Faith. From those earliest days, these words of The Báb’s have traveled with my grateful heart:

     “O peoples of the world! Whatsoever ye have offered up in the way of the One True God, ye shall indeed find preserved by God, the Preserver, intact at God’s Holy Gate.” Israel 004

 

Every sparrow, every hair of our head, every feather and seed and blade of grass is accounted for.

Imagine the real spiritual presence of each one of our willing efforts and actions.

It is easy to feel dismayed by the world as we see it around us.

But the building of the good is what is preserved — the increase and advance of love in the coming forth of what is of God.


Leave a comment

Gate to the Glory of God

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A view of the Shrine of The Bab, Mt. Carmel, Israel

 

His life is one of the most magnificent examples of courage which it has been the privilege of mankind to behold.”

 ~19th century writer A.L.M. Nicolas, writing about The Bab

This week members of the Baha’i Faith worldwide celebrate a holy day known as the Birth of the Bab. Baha’i teachings equate work performed in the spirit of service with worship. But on this day we suspend work and school in memory of someone described by a key figure in our faith as “matchless in His meekness” and “imperturbable in His serenity.”

The Bab, whose name means “Gate”, also started a spiritual revolution in the mid-1800s that resulted in the creation of the Baha’i Faith.

Israel 004Many of us became Baha’is because we couldn’t help but feel that divine messengers, including Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha, weren’t intended to be competing factions, but rather part of a single, progressive process through which the Creator is guiding humanity forward. The teachings of the Baha’i Faith describe how the world’s major religions are united. And it all began with the Bab, whose story is like a brief, intense storm that reshapes a landscape overnight, or what some have likened to a “thief in the night.”

Born Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad in 1819 in what was then called Persia, the Bab lived in a time of millennial zeal in which many Christians and Muslims held an expectation that scriptural prophecies were about to be fulfilled. Orphaned early in life, The Bab was raised by his maternal uncle, who was one day told by his nephew’s teacher, an esteemed cleric, that there was nothing more he could teach his prodigious and unfailingly courteous pupil.

Israel 151Later, in extending guidance to humanity, The Bab reminded that in order for a soul to recognize and receive divine inspiration, “eyes of the spirit” are necessary — a vision unclouded by personal attachments or preconceived notions. The promised Day of God, He declared, required new standards of conduct and a nobility of character that the Creator had destined for humanity, but which it had yet to achieve. “Purge your hearts of worldly desires,” the Bab told his earliest followers, “and let angelic virtues be your adorning.”

In a society in which moral breakdown was rampant, the Bab’s assertion that the spiritual renewal of society depended on “love and compassion” rather than “force and coercion” stirred enormous hope among all classes of people in Persia. His call for spiritual reformation — in particular, the uplifting of women and the poor, and the promotion of education for all — provoked an angry, fearful response from those who held religious and secular power in an oppressive society that had changed little since medieval times.

Persecution of the Bab’s followers rapidly ensued, and thousands were killed in brutal massacres. The remarkable courage — even joy — that many of His followers exhibited in the face of such carnage was documented by such Western observers as Leo Tolstoy. Eventually, the Bab was imprisoned and publicly executed before a crowd of 10,000 in 1850.

A century and a half later, the spirit of the Bab informs the lives of Baha’is, more than 5 million of us, who see ourselves as citizens of one world and friends of all faiths.

Photos courtesy / Nelson Ashberger

Adapted from:

Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details –

http://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details/dp/1931847673/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=04FYCSTEMYYTGP1VDXQV