Archive for March, 2010

If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait, and for what other time shall we look? ~’Abdu’l-Bahá

In honor of Francillia Darroux’s birthday today, I am writing an ode to her laughter. I wish I could bottle it, and share it with the whole world. It would make the world deliriously happy.

A few days ago, as we walked down a windy stretch of the Carib Territory Road, Francillia and I were philosophizing about birthdays and aging. She told me about a comment her son had made that morning. “Mommy,” he’d said, “If it’s true that laughter keeps you young, you’re never gonna die!” Francillia grinned at me. “So you see,” she said, “It’s quite possible that I’ll never get old. But I’d still love a chocolate cake for my birthday!”

Speaking of that chocolate cake. Last night, we’d assembled all the ingredients: cacao (ground by the hands of the lady down the road), 4 eggs from Ms. Petra’s shop, a bag of sugar from Mr. Will’s shop, flour from Nurse Doreen’s shop, a bottle of vanilla…and, just as we’d begun mixing them all together, the lights went out in Gaulette River. On any other occasion, we probably wouldn’t have attempted to bake by candlelight, but it was Francillia’s birthday. And we’d promised her the chocolate cake. So we forged on, by the dim glow of a flickering candle. Six of the neighborhood kids soon appeared, and helped grate the cacao. When Letisha held a cell phone over the mixing bowl, I was able to detect all the eggshell fragments in the batter. Oops. We picked ‘em out, and stirredstirredstirred. Finally, the cake was ready. We licked the spoon, licked the pan, licked our fingers, and lit the oven. Well, we tried to light the oven. But it responded with a slow hiss, and then silence. The lights came back on, at that moment—but we’d run out of gas.

I won’t go into the complexities of obtaining a new canister of gasoline…but suffice it to say that as soon as I post this blog, I’ll be scooting down to one of Roseau’s bakeries to buy a chocolate cake. I hope it survives the busride back to the Carib Territory.

But back to Francillia’s laughter. There’s a poem by Hafiz that discusses the difference between the existence of a saint (which Francillia most certainly is), and that of anybody else. The saint, Hafiz tells us, “knows that the spiritual path is a sublime chess game with God, and that the Beloved has just made such a fantastic move that the saint is now continually tripping over joy and bursting into laughter.” The rest of us, however, think we still have “a thousand serious moves.”

I’ll give you an example. A couple of weeks ago, the Catholic Priest began speaking out against the Bahá’ís during Sunday Mass. “Be aware of their trickery,” he warned his congregation. “And know that any youth or child who attends their classes will no longer be able to make First Communion.” When I heard this, my heart sank…and then I began to panic. My mind started jabbering at me, fearfully: “What does this mean?/What will happen to everything we’ve initiated?/What should we do?/This is a disaster!!!” Etc, etc. Finally, I calmed down enough to call Francillia. “Franciiiiiillia!” I wailed. “The persecution has begun! They denounced the Faith from the pulpit last Sunday!” I expected her to gasp, to fret, to wail right along with me.

Instead, she laughed. Rollickingly. “That’s fantastic news!” she exclaimed. “It means we’re finally being noticed! Praise be to God.”

Huh. Well, that was a response I hadn’t considered. I was just focusing on those “thousand serious moves.”

I am reminded of a story about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Akka, the prison city where, legend has it, if a bird were to fly overhead, it’d drop dead from the foulness of the place. It was here, in the most wretched and joyless of settings, that ‘Adbu’l-Bahá would gather the friends together every evening, and have them recount the most ludicrous thing that’d happened to them that day…and they would all laugh until mirthful tears streamed down their cheeks. I suspect that Francillia and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would have gotten along swimmingly.

Francillia is tutoring a “Reflections on the Life of the Spirit” study circle on Tuesdays, which I tag along to, mainly so I can feed off of all that light and laughter (it’s like mango juice for the soul). This week, the group was discussing the topic of radiant acquiescence in the face of tests and difficulties (a field in which Dr. Francillia Darroux has an honorary PhD). Someone shared the idea of how hardships help us to grow spiritually. “Yes!” Francillia enthused. “Even when you have difficulty, you’ll laugh over it like me—more difficulty, more laugh.”

More difficulty, more laugh. Maybe I can get the baker to write that on her birthday cake.

Francillia, I know you can’t be bothered with the internet, so I doubt you’ll ever read this. But even so, my dear friend, I want to take this opportunity to wish you the most gleeful and laughter-filled birthday…and to thank you, for showing me how beautiful it is to be continually tripping over joy.


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There are still a couple of days of fasting left, but I’m already beginning to feel the ache a dear companion’s imminent departure, a companion who won’t be back again until March of next year. I really, really miss the Fast when it ends…and even after going through this for 14 years, the goodbye never gets easier. 😉 But I also know that when a cherished friend departs, their spirit lingers, and the time you spent in their company sustains and inspires you throughout the seasons. This Fast comes bearing gifts, as many guests do, but these are not the traditional gifts of a houseguest. Rather, they are life lessons—far richer and more enduring than a box of chocolates or an ornamental vase.

This year, the gift proffered by the Fast was a lesson in increasing my spiritual perception.

Last week’s visit from my beloved friend Liz Washington—author of the previous blog posting, which I’d forgotten to attribute to her—had a lot to do with this gift, as it was a time of heightened prayerfulness. During one of our mountainside devotional gatherings, Liz and I were inspired to read all of the Fast Prayers, and it felt like I was hearing the words of some of them for the first time. A particular line, from one of the longer Fasting Prayers, leapt out at me:

and all veils to be rent asunder

I began to ponder this, and sought out clues to help me better understand its meaning. In my search, I came across these passages from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

The bestowals of God which are manifest in all phenomenal life are sometimes hidden by intervening veils of mental and mortal vision which render man spiritually blind and incapable, but when those scales are removed and the veils rent asunder, then the great signs of God will become visible, and he will witness the eternal light filling the world.


we must endeavor with heart and soul in order that the veil covering the eye of inner vision may be removed, that we may behold the manifestation of the signs of God, discern His mysterious graces and realize that material blessings as compared with spiritual bounties are as nothing.

One of my neighbors in the Carib Territory once told me “Papa God knows our needs.” Well, He must know, then, that I’m not the quickest kid on the block, and often require illustrations to help me understand a concept, spiritual or otherwise. Lo and behold—true to my neighbor’s assertion—Papa God delivered the perfect visual: the hummingbirds and the pig. I can think of no illustration that would have more aptly (and humorously!) conveyed the concept of spiritual perception…or lack thereof.

Actually, it was Liz’ idea to write about this, and she began a second “special guest blog entry” on the topic, but her brief visit didn’t allow the time to finish it. I’ll share with you her introductory paragraphs, and will try to take it from there:

“Since we still had two hours until sundown, we decided to sit outside and say prayers. Although I’ve been visiting for several days, it still amazes me that Denali and Roushy have a jungle in their backyard. Or more accurately, their home sits on the edge of a rain forest that extends down a sharp and lengthy decline, eventually reaching the Atlantic Ocean. We usually drag our chairs outside and sit on the last little patch of flat land that hovers on the edge of the incline. Here, we can see the ocean through a thick curtain of greenery. This time, however, we decided to venture down into the jungle just a little. We threw our plastic chairs ahead of us and slip-slided our way down the mountain until we reached what looked like a perfect spot. The view of the ocean was stunning. We were completely surrounded by fragrant, fruit-laden trees.

To our left was a steep little valley about twenty square feet in diameter. In the middle of the valley was a particularly beautiful tree bearing vibrant purple-pink flowers. The flowers themselves shed a brightly colored pink dust-like substance that blanketed the ground around the tree, looking for all the world like something out of a fairy tale. As we were marveling at the tree’s beauty, we noticed that there were dozens of hummingbirds flitting around its branches. We were overcome with its obvious blessedness. “It’s the ninth day of the Fast!” we told each other blissfully.

And then we saw it.

Underneath the tree was a huge, fat, dirty pig, lying on its side and snorting its way through some kind of wild boar-dream. With each snort, its ears shook and its belly vibrated.”

We gawked at the scene in stunned silence for a moment or two, and then erupted into side-splitting laughter. The juxtaposition of that divine tree with the snarfling pig below was just too ironic. But once we’d finally caught our breath, we began to reflect on what was really happening in the picture before us. The tree was literally raining down beauty—I have never seen anything quite so vibrant as those blossoms, and their electric-pink dust—and the hummingbirds, aware of the tree’s bestowals, were delighting in them. They circled the tree in adoration, partaking of the sweet nectar and dancing about the branches. Yet the creature below was oblivious of that which surrounded him. He remained rooted to the earth, unwilling to lift his mud-caked snout, or to open his eyes.

Now, in the biological sense, we can’t find fault with the poor pig, for he was simply behaving according to his nature, as were the hummingbirds. But we humans possess at least two  faculties that the hummingbirds and the pigs do not: spiritual perception, and the ability to strive. But that spiritual perception is latent, and it takes some mighty striving to conjure it up. Fervent prayer and fasting assist the process tremendously.

So, similar to the “choose your narrative” idea from an earlier blog entry, this time it’s choose your metaphorical animal. As we navigate through this world, immersed in splendors and grace, do we inhale the fragrance of the flowers, or cover our eyes in mud?

All too frequently, I find myself assuming the role of the pig (I mean, hey, it’s the path of least resistance). But every so often, I’m enabled to experience a glimmer of life as a hummingbird…and the Night of the Heavy Rain was one of those glimmers. That night, there were two concurrent study circles: one at our place in Gaulette River, and the other in St. Cyr, in the home of the Joseph family. The sun had been quite hot that day, and when we began our study in the late afternoon, the heavens contained not a wisp of a cloud. But the skies here can be more volatile than the Atlantic, and—as we were saying our closing prayer, right around sunset—heavy clouds had congregated above the ocean. And then the rain was upon us, before we even had the chance to rise from our little wooden benches.

Now, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest; rain doesn’t usually phase me. But this was like no rain I’d ever experienced. Each drop sounded forceful enough to knock you off the side of the mountain, and the sky was dispensing those drops with such urgency that they soon merged into a vertical blanket of water. We huddled closer to each other on the porch, wide-eyed. Night descended on the island, and it was time to break the Fast…but no one was budging. I grew impatient, and started thinking about the dinner that Liz and Roushy would be cooking at home. I thought about the nearly dry clothes I’d left out on the line, now drenched. The little wooden bench began to feel uncomfortable, but when I shifted my legs to the side, they got splattered with rain. In my head, I started picking a fight with the storm. “Impeccable timing,” I seethed at the heavens. “Couldn’t you have waited ‘til I was at home, with a big plate of food in front of me?” The heavens didn’t answer. So I tried the pathetic, whiny approach. “C’mon, please just let it stop long enough for me to get home? I wanna go hooooooome. I’m hungry! Please?” The sky guffawed in response, and upped the wattage of the downpour. I scooted my bench closer to the wall, and stewed. My tummy groaned.

And then the little girls began to dance.

Our hosts’ young granddaughters, ages 5 and 3, whispered something in their father’s ear, which must’ve been “Daddy, can we bathe in the rain?” When their father nodded his assent, the girls shrieked with delight, and wriggled out of their clothes. They ran from the shelter of the porch, and into the blanket of water, where they jumped and twirled and clapped their hands. Someone handed them a piece of dish soap, and the girls scrubbed between their toes and behind their ears, splashing and giggling and catching raindrops on their tongues. It was the picture of bliss.

As I watched them, dancing there in the pouring rain, something shifted…or perhaps it was the lifting of a veil. The rain continued, but, as it fell, I stopped thinking about food. I may have even stopped thinking about myself for a minute or two. Instead, I thought of the thirsting earth, parched from nearly a month with no rain…and how it must be rejoicing. I thought of the farmers who had been hauling water on their backs the past several weeks, battling to keep their wilting crops alive…and the relief they must be feeling. I thought of the children across the island, who—if they didn’t live near a river—had had to bathe with a trickle of water from a bucket, rationing every drop…and knew that they, too, must be dancing. And then I stopped thinking (Hallelujah!), and began to notice. I noticed how the rain glistened on the lime trees and pepper plants. I noticed how the sound on the tin roof was like a thousand joyous drumbeats. I noticed that the air smelled like life, and leaves. I noticed the peacefulness of those seated with me, and the light in their eyes, and their contented silence. My tummy, and the insistent voice of my mind, were silent as well. I heard only the raindrops.

Eventually, the rain slowed to a soft drizzle, and—bidding “goodnight” to our hosts—Francillia and I ventured out onto the dark, shimmering street. My left flip-flop slid off my foot with every other step, and Francillia’s rubber sandals made a humorous squish-squash against the asphalt. We laughed at our soggy but gleeful selves, and the light raindrops danced on our shoulders.As we came around a bend in the road, a warm glow from the roadside shop beckoned us in. There, we found a boisterous group of friends taking shelter from the storm. Claudinus and Clayes, the shopkeepers, were serving up their “famous” fried chicken, and calypso hummed from the radio in the corner. Knowing that supper awaited us at home, Francillia and I limited our purchase to white bread and ginger beer…but, for us, it was a heavenly feast.

We parted ways at the Bahá’í Center, where Francillia took the turn-off up the mountain, and I continued down the road to Gaulette River. The night was inky purple, and I could barely see beyond the edges of my flip-flops (which continued to slip off my feet, rather comically). When I shined my cell phone flashlight to either side of me, I discerned processions of orange and yellow crabs, side-stepping their way across the rain-soaked street. As I reached our home-without-an-address, the participants from Roushy’s study circle—who’d also been waiting out the rain—were just leaving, and they greeted me with hugs. Liz was at the stove, frying up noodles and cabbage, and the neighbors shouted hellos over the wall. When I’d changed out of my wet clothes, dinner was on the table, and we offered the grateful prayer:

“Praise be unto Thee, O Lord my God! We have observed the Fast in conformity with Thy bidding, and break it now through Thy love and good pleasure. Deign to accept, O my God, the deeds that we have performed in Thy path, wholly for the sake of Thy beauty, with our faces set towards Thy Cause, free from aught else but Thee…”

As we finished our meal, the rain began again. It shook the branches of the palm trees, gave the yams and yucca another good long drink, and drummed a sweet lullaby on our rooftop. As I sank into my bed, I thought about the bounties that surround us, bounties I so often blot out from my perception with the murk and mire of vain imaginings. That night, though, the merciful rain washed away that murk and mire…and I dreamt of trees with purple-pink blossoms.

And now, it is the 18th of March. The Fast is drawing to a close, and the New Year* is two days away. I pray that my fast, and the fasts of all who have made this offering, will be accepted. I pray that this year will bring more laughter, and learning, and rain for us to dance in. I pray that, with each passing day, the veils will be lifted a little higher, and—as ee cummings expresses in his glorious poem below—that the eyes of our eyes will be opened.

This year, may we all become hummingbirds.


i thank you God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died and alive again today
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginably You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings

*The Baha’i New Year, Naw Ruz, begins on March 21st

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Yesterday Denali, Roushy and I spent the day at the river washing clothes. In the States, leaving your house to do laundry would be the dreariest of tasks, especially if you knew it would take several hours, and that you had to trudge uphill in the merciless heat of midday weighed down with a with a week’s worth of pungent, dirty, sweat soaked clothes. This is exactly what Denali and Roushy do every week in Dominica, and yet there is nowhere I would rather be, especially during the Fast.

Reaching the river is a grueling and sweaty business, especially while carrying backpacks, oversized tote bags, and a bucket or two. Their two puppies, Capacity and Shaloop, ran alongside us, their furry bodies squirming with excitement and their tongues dripping with doggy-sweat. To get to the river, there is a tricky path through the bush to negotiate; a crazy uphill balancing act where fallen logs, jutting rocks and mucky mudslides jump out at you like a Discovery Channel challenge. But the riverside itself is a little piece of heaven with its fast-flowing, sweet-smelling water, waist-high waterfalls and perfect pools of welled-up water, all of which beckon the weary wayfarer. Around us, brightly-colored birds hop to and fro on tree branches, and every now and then a lizard scuttles into view, strikes a quick pose, and then disappears into the bush like the chameleon it is.

After parting ways with Roushy, who opted to do her washing at the first clearing, Denali and I kept climbing up-river. The river, for unknown reasons, is called “My Louise” by the island natives, and is about four feet wide and deep in some places, while in others it dwindles down to a mere trickle. If you follow the trail all the way up, up, up, scrambling to keep a foothold on the steep, muddy, rock-littered path that is more of a mountain staircase than a trail, you will eventually reach a place called “The Boat,” where water gushes into swirling pooled areas that are, in essence, natural Jacuzzis. At the topmost section is the canoe-shaped (and sized) pool that the place is named after. The entire area is surrounded on all sides by lush vegetation, and large, flat rocks protrude from the water, creating many ideal places to sit and soak your aching feet. Bathing in the deeper parts of the river feels like being immersed in a total body spa–rushing water massages your body while the roar of the gurgling current soothes and relaxes all your nerve endings. This is the kind of laundromat I could get used to.

Denali and I sat on a rock, our legs submerged in the water, and began the two-part washing process. First, each piece of clothing is draped across the lap and given a brisk rub-down with bar soap, using a scrub brush when necessary. The soapy items are piled on a rock until Part Two, when each piece is held in the water and swirled around, using the current of the river as a rinse cycle. The clothes are then wrung out and reloaded into backpacks for the journey home, where the clothesline awaits. This process takes about forty-five minutes, but because the temperature was so cool, the breeze so refreshing, the water so soothing, and the sound of chirping birds and flowing water so heavenly, it seemed more like a meditative pleasure than work. It occurred to me that we were having a perfect “girl day”.

Since my arrival in Dominica I have been struck by the beauty, grace, and poise of the women of the Carrib Territory. There is an ageless quality about them—the oldest women seem youthful and the youngest girls seem to have a rare maturity of spirit. They are also exceptionally generous, both in spirit and deed. Denali (who has been nicknamed “Den-Den” by the local women) told me about this, but it is something else to experience it regularly. This generousity may appear in the form of being given a choice piece of fruit, or a canister of freshly-squeezed juice, or even a new hairstyle, like the one Den-Den’s neighbor Deneese gave me last night. There is a special comfort in feminine love and support—many of the women hugged me the very first time we met—and not a stiff, formal “social” hug, but a warm and loving embrace that is not afraid to get close, and often their face falls upon my neck in what for me, an American, was at first a completely unexpected moment of intimacy. The vulnerability, trust, and strength implied in these embraces are wonderfully nourishing. The other day a few of us were sitting around after a study circle that is comprised of all women (the youngest member is an adorable two-year old) and I was listening to the musical cadence of the local language as the ladies chatted about this and that. At one point Deneese, who had stopped by for a quick visit, gave voice to the age-old adage that “a woman’s work is never done,” and I thought about all of the women I know who work so hard yet make it look so easy, as the women here do. But today, during the special hours spent at the riverside with my closest girlfriend, I couldn’t help but think to myself that work should always bring so much pleasure. I wonder if this is what Baha’u’llah meant when he declared that He had elevated work to the station of worship?

Denali and I spent about three hours indulging ourselves by talking up a blue streak, singing, chanting prayers, and letting the river beat all of the tension out of our inner and outer selves. At one point we were perched upon a large rock that overlooked a gentle waterfall—the perfect place to continue our spa experience with manicures and pedicures. “What day of the Fast is this?” I asked Denali, who was concentrating on applying a shocking neon-pink polish to her nails (I had brought the polish from the States, ostensibly for the Junior Youth). She had to pause and think, and as she squinted in the sun, I watched her translucent blue eyes turn inward, then outward, and slowly begin to glow like polished bits of glass. “It’s the ninth day! Today is the ninth day of the Fast!”

We sat in silent thanksgiving. As my eyes rested on the unending supply of clear water that gushed all around us, I was reminded of an inspiring passage from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

The handmaids of God must rise to such a station that they will, by themselves and unaided, comprehend these inner meanings, and be able to expound at full length every single word. A station where, out of the truth of their inmost hearts, a spring of wisdom will well up and jet forth even as a fountain that leapeth from its own original source.

I love this passage, and recite it whenever possible. I often think of the sage-poet Tahirih, a heroine of the Baha’i Faith and of women worldwide. She lived in Persia in the early nineteenth century, and was named “The Pure One” by the Bab. Tahirih lived a life of service, sacrifice and prayer, and she did so with joyful abandon. She worked tirelessly during her lifetime to educate women about their noble station—this was during a time when women were considered little more than property to be bought and sold from father to husband. At the age of 35 she gave her life for the Cause of God. After having a premonition that the day of her martyrdom had arrived, she met her destiny while dressed in all white, her wrists, neck and fingers adorned with her finest jewelry and her throat scented with pure rose-scented oil. At the scene of her execution she produced a white silk handkerchief and asked her killers to use it to achieve their purpose. “You can kill me,” she told them, right before they strangled her to death, “but you can never stop the emancipation of women.” Her body was buried in a nearby well and covered with earth and stones.

Tahirih’s work did not end with her death—it is being carried out in every part of the globe by women from every walk of life. Her influence is clearly perceptible here on this island—I see it in Denali, in Roushy, and I also see it in the eyes and embraces of the women of Dominica. So yes, a woman’s work is never done. But when work is worship, why would we ever want it to end?

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There is a song, from Colombia, about a little caterpillar named Pecocito, who dreams of flying. “But how will I achieve this?” he wonders. “I’m just a lowly grub, nudging about in the dust.” He learns, though, that—incredible as it may seem—there is a way for him to fly…but to do so, he must renounce all that he has. “How difficult!” the song exclaims, to detach himself from his form, his color, the warmth and familiarity of the earth! But when Pecocito offers himself up, and gives way to the transformation, he finds that he has wings…and he soars.

The title of this song is “El misterio del sacrificio”: the mystery of sacrifice.

Sacrifice. I looked up the origin of this word, and found that its roots are “sacra,” which means sacred, and “facere,” meaning to do, perform. A sacred act.  Book 2 of the Ruhi Institute, Arising to Serve, suggests that the true nature of sacrifice is to renounce that which is lower for that which is higher. “Therefore,” it adds, “although sacrifice involves pain, it is in reality the bearer of joy.”

And then a series of exercises follow, to aid in further reflection on this idea. One question, in particular, stands out to me:

A young boy has a pocket full of stones. He comes across someone who offers him a handful of gems. He must throw away the stones in order to receive the gems. What is he sacrificing?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of sacrifice since the Fast* began two days ago. The fact that all the world’s religions have prescribed unto their followers some form of fasting indicates, I suspect, that it’s an act that can fill our spiritual pockets with gems. Of these gems proffered by the Fast, the Bahá’í Writings state:

“Fasting and obligatory prayer are as two wings to man’s life.”

“Grant, O my Lord, that this fast may become a river of life-giving waters.”

“Even though outwardly the fast is difficult and toilsome, yet inwardly it is bounty and tranquility.”

“Fasting is the supreme remedy and the most great healing for the disease of self and passion.”

“Fasting is the cause of the elevation of one’s spiritual station.”

“This fast leadeth to the cleansing of the soul from all selfish desires, the acquisition of spiritual attributes, attraction to the breezes of the All-Merciful, and enkindlement with the fire of divine love.”

But to receive these gems, we must offer up a pebble:


One of my favorite things to read and meditate on during the Fast is a poem by Rumi, which includes these verses:

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.

If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting,
every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears and a new energy makes you run up
the steps in front of you.

A table descends to your tents, the Lord’s table.
Expect to see it when you fast, this table
spread with other food,
better than the broth of cabbages.

Of course, the Fast can, at times, be quite a challenge (especially, I’m finding, in tropical heat!). Those chocolate-covered donuts in the display case beside me have never looked so appealing, and as I type, my tummy is rumbling a little. But it’s a joyful noise, ‘cause it’s one of the many soundtracks of the attempt to renounce that which is lower for that which is higher.

The broth of cabbages for a heavenly banquet.

Our cocoon for a set of wings.


*The period of the Fast is March 2 through March 20. During these precious 19 days, Bahá’ís in good health abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.

**Of course, abstaining from food and drink is a physical symbol of spiritual purification, and merely giving up lunch will have no effect if it’s not done in a spirit of joy, detachment, and striving.

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