A test of unity

Posted: 2017/12/07

A participant at a Toronto neighbourhood celebration of the bicentenary uses her creative flair to paint a banner displaying the quotation “So powerful is the light of unity…”

An animator from a Toronto neighbourhood shares the story of how a crisis of unity led to a stronger and more united junior youth group just in time for the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh.

A few weeks before the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, our junior youth group faced such a crisis of unity that it felt like our group was going to fall apart.

There were two incidents: both were conflicts between members that became conflicts between parents. It all happened within a week’s time and right before we were planning to invite everyone to a neighbourhood celebration. We felt discouraged in the face of such disunity, but placed our reliance in the special nature of this time and prayed for a spiritual army of support to come to our aid.

We started by having a long visit with the parents, and looked at what capacities the junior youth needed to strengthen to resolve the conflict — the ability to share how they felt, as well as compassion and forgiveness. This discussion seemed to be exactly what was needed.

Soon this visit, which evolved over six hours, turned into a family consultation. The junior youth and even their siblings joined in to discuss how to bring the group back together. We prayed to God and asked for His assistance. As we met, talked and prayed, things became clearer. The families involved even decided to meet one another to support the junior youth through these challenges.

Our prayers were soon realized: the junior youth reunited. The parents rejoiced in their children’s newfound capacities and we were incredibly encouraged by the nature of the friendships blossoming out of this experience. Not only were the junior youth more united, but we became significantly closer with the parents — true partners working to accompany their children through this challenging stage of life. The door was finally open to joyfully invite everyone to come together to celebrate the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh.

On the day of the event, the junior youth arrived hours early to help set up. Of their own volition, they arranged the entire potluck dinner and offered to serve everyone. Many of the parents said they were impressed with the behaviour of the group and that they could feel the spirit of unity filling the room. Others from the neighbourhood commented on how beautifully the group’s true nature was shining that night.

The group eagerly decided to use their newfound knack for hospitality to organize a party for another junior youth group and children’s class in the area. Those of us serving as animators can’t wait to nurture our newly-strengthened friendships with these families.

Looking back, it feels like the bicentenary brought new life to our neighbourhood. The unity of our group was intensely tested and it was, truthfully, quite painful to experience. But now we are able to see the wisdom of these tests and the power of unity that was released as a result.