Sunday, November 02, 2008


2007 brought plenty of changes but 2008 seems to be keeping pace. I've got a new job at the University of Chapel in the Library Unit and been on pilgrimage to some moving places like the Terraced Gardens on Mt. Carmel, Haifa Israel. International travel and committing time to communing with your Maker not like watching TV or running the same road trip day after day, unless you count hitting a deer which I also managed to do - albeit almost a miss. Just a graze....

My family is keeping healthy despite all the big changes that often bring illness from the stress.

Some thoughts on pilgrimage - it seems to me that in part pilgrimage is partly about having the time focus on the disciplines of a spiritual life. And if you are in a place in your life where not having a simple daily routine is ok and you can focus then all well and good. But if your life is more about malls and movies then you may find your thumbs twiddling in hallowed halls. Or if you come at pilgrimage intent on a heart felt question there can be a measure of judgement of the worthiness of the question and perhaps a window towards an answer, if over time. One of the first things I did was to simply say thanks - to recognize that because the Bab, Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha and the succeeding Heads of the religion and pioneers and "children of assurance" walked the planet, I was able to find and commit myself to something to move me beyond my comfort zone and find a home in the placeless. I find great value in meaning and actually doing something with my life beyond the limits and possibilities of simply my family have been really rewarding. There were a number of curious syzygys along the way - I happened to have the blessing of coming into the land of the Holy of Holies for several religions on the anniversary of accepting the Baha'i Faith 22 years ago. Curiously I also had a flight path that took me by Washington D.C., London, Paris, Rome, Athens - seemed almost like a trip through time except that on landing there were plenty of cell phones around. For some pilgrimage is a chance to grapple with the history that these people really lived - here are their clothes and writings, here are their pictures. However I'd read various histories a few times; enough to grasp something of the reality of events and people and places. But there is something else sitting on the floor where Baha'u'llah was in solitary confinement - and not for me so much about the privations, but of place to put my body, and attempt feeling respect, reverence, humility. To see pilgrims like myself across a moat across history from the same window he was eventually allowed to wave out from. There's a children's school out that window now. They play basketball in the empty moat. A hundred and sixty odd years ago it was a foul prison where some died. Now every two weeks there are cycles of pilgrims sitting in that room.

The youngest son of Baha'u'llah fell through a skylight in his youth in that prison. If you believe you are a son of God on Earth and can ask for anything, do you ask for being saved from this painful death? He asked to give up his life that the prison doors be opened and pilgrims be allowed in and God among us be allowed out.

It's a spot on the floor.

Millions of Baha'is have walked by it now. Some may be walking by it right now.

The manuscript with a father's prayer to God accepting this sacrifice is mostly empty. Only in tiny script squeezed at the bottom of the page does it say:

Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! Thou seest me in this day shut up in my prison, and fallen into the hands of Thine adversaries, and beholdest my son lying on the dust before Thy face. He is Thy servant, O my Lord, whom Thou hast caused to be related to Him Who is the Manifestation of Thyself and the Day-Spring of Thy Cause.

At his birth he was afflicted through his separation from Thee, according to what had been ordained for him through Thine irrevocable decree. And when he had quaffed the cup of reunion with Thee, he was cast into prison for having believed in Thee and in Thy signs. He continued to serve Thy Beauty until he entered into this Most Great Prison. Thereupon I offered him up, O my God, as a sacrifice in Thy path. Thou well knowest what they who love Thee have endured through this trial that hath caused the kindreds of the earth to wail, and beyond them the Concourse on high to lament.

I beseech Thee, O my Lord, by him and by his exile and his imprisonment, to send down upon such as loved him what will quiet their hearts and bless their works. Potent art Thou to do as Thou willest. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.1