“Every choice… leaves a trace” – reflections from an Ontario seasonal school

Posted: 2018/02/08

A lively discussion among the participants. Photo: Laura Friedmann

A winter school in Ontario brought together about 80 participants of all ages to unite around the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and guidance from the Universal House of Justice.

“Every choice… leaves a trace.”

This stirring line from the March 1, 2017 letter from the Universal House of Justice inspired the program and discussions of approximately 80 participants who attended the Wildfire Bahá’í Winter Family Camp. We gathered at Wildfire Lodge, located in Tiny Township, Ont., for a weekend at the end of December.

Every morning we gathered for devotions and uplifting music. The beautiful prayers offered by children, youth and adults inspired all of our hearts and set the tone for the day ahead.

Our speakers for the adult group, Mary Darling and Clark Donnely, facilitated lively discussions and presentations. We focused our reflections on the kind of creative thought that needs to be given to the conversations that could unfold with every kind of person” during the “whole of this bicentennial year.”1  Participants also shared their many stories about sharing the life of Bahá’u’lláh and inviting friends to come celebrate the bicentenary of His birth.

Everyone was excited to watch the rough cut of a film about the Hamilton community’s bicentenary celebration entitled What If? – the theme of their celebration in order to explore the impact of Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings on our lives. There was also an opportunity to come together and watch the film The Bahá’ís.

The children studied the life of Bahá’u’lláh in classes led by Pat Cameron and Janet Cundall. The junior youth learned about the laws of Bahá’u’lláh and the lives of dedicated believers of the Cause, animated by Leah Smith and Asia Naylor. On the final evening, the children and junior youth shared some beautiful songs and stories they had learned throughout the camp.

The camp organizers wanted to make sure there was time for all the participants to come together as a large group. A drumming circle led by a member of the local community helped us learn about how an entire community – encompassing the youngest children to the elderly – could participate and learn together. Terri Segal brought over 30 drums and taught us about rhythm and expression. The concept of unity in diversity was concretely demonstrated as each person’s individual beat contributed to the overall melody.

A drumming circle helped the participants of the seasonal school understand unity and diversity by sharing different beats to create one song. Photo: Laura Friedmann

The camp, when we weren’t in our study sessions, was filled physical activities to complement the spiritual and mental stimulation. Each day we held a Zumba dance class to get everyone’s blood pumping. We made time for artistic activities like painting and drama. We also held the “Wildfire Winter Games” where teams of participants of various ages participated in friendly competitions like sledding, snowball throwing and shovelling snow.

Overall, the weekend served to bring many friends together in a spirit of friendliness and love. We learned about creating a community with a focus on prayer, service and study of the Sacred Writings of the Bahá’í Faith.

– Tahirih Naylor-Thimm

1 The Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of the World, Ridvan 2017