Message from the National Spiritual Assembly to the Bahá’ís of Canada, 16 August 2017

Posted: 2017/08/23

To the friends gathered at the Feast of Names

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

The days of summer are quickly drawing to a close, and what a flourishing of activity they have seen! Examples abound of small groups working together to expand their circle of friendship and naturally deepen a meaningful conversation to include the Person of Bahá’u’lláh.

A small team in one neighbourhood in Vancouver has been aiming to engage over 300 souls and bring them to Holy Day celebrations that will be specifically designed for this population, including one large celebration and many household gatherings. The team has been following every thread of friendship and connecting with each family. During one home visit, the Bahá’í visitors explored with a mother the profound impact that Bahá’u’lláh has made on the life of humanity. She saw how she could contribute to such a significant occasion and offered her drumming group to perform at one of the celebrations. One soul, they found, can open the door to dozens of others and therefore the task of bringing large numbers into the life of the community and to the Holy Day celebrations changes from daunting to achievable. Vital to this movement is the ability to converse with others about Bahá’u’lláh and engage with them in a conversation that elicits their unique contribution.

In their interactions with newfound friends in Montreal, the youth have found that an initial conversation that used to be quite brief has now deepened and lengthened. An example was given of field visits in one neighbourhood where a lovely flow of conversation about spiritual themes led to profound, thrilling discussions that lasted more than two hours.

A neighbourhood Feast group in Toronto that includes several parents of young children have experimented with two daylong seasonal schools that have included several friends from the wider community to deepen their friendship and continue a conversation about the spiritual aspirations of their children. At one of these gatherings, two youth from the neighbourhood who had just completed the fourth book in the sequence of institute courses were invited to present the lives of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. These friends have now made plans to hold another such daylong gathering in the early fall that will centre on the Person of Bahá’u’lláh.

In another neighbourhood, having participated in a Book 2 study circle, a recently-enrolled animator of a junior youth group wished to build on the growing friendship between families involved in a children’s class and his junior youth group. He and the children’s class teacher invited the parents of their two activities, along with any other of their friends who might be interested, to a special picnic at the Bahá’í National Centre to study the life of Bahá’u’lláh together, using the deepening theme from Book 2 of the Ruhi Institute. Fifty children, youth and adults, both English and Persian-speaking, participated in the picnic and the spirit quickened the hearts of all who attended. At the end, each guest was given an extra copy of the booklet that was studied and was invited to share this conversation with others.

A lone believer in a rural cluster in Alberta has been thinking about this matchless opportunity to speak of Bahá’u’lláh. She has decided to host a booth at the community fair and will use that opportunity to make new friends, enter into conversation and invite those interested to a Holy Day celebration she has planned for families on 22 October. As this friend is expecting a baby in early October, she plans both to make a video of her talk about Bahá’u’lláh and to ask friends from other communities for backup, in case the timing of the arrival of this new wee creation of God precludes her participation.

In these few among many examples, we see signs of the creative thought that is being given to conversations that can unfold with every kind of person, how “in the course of such meaningful conversations, perception is heightened and hearts are opened — sometimes immediately.” This gift of human speech, words that can be fire or light, is the means whereby hearts are connected to their Creator. In the prayer revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for Canada, He asks God to “Loose their tongues to make mention of Thee amongst Thy people, suffer them to speak forth Thy praise through Thy grace and loving-kindness, assist them with the cohorts of Thine angels, strengthen their loins in Thy service, and make them the signs of Thy guidance amongst Thy creatures.” What joy it must bring Him to see the many ways the friends are drawing on the forces of this special period and arising to His call!

None can question that as the light of Bahá’u’lláh shines ever more powerfully through the “confusion, distrust, and cloudiness in the world”, the shadows also become more apparent. We return to the Universal House of Justice’s joyful 10 May 2017 message to Canada and its challenge to avoid distraction, focus our energies and be assured of prayers being said in the sweetest of Spots on the planet:

…With great admiration we have witnessed the increasing capacity of the Canadian friends to respond, with courage and creativity, to the burgeoning receptivity amongst their compatriots. What more beneficial service than this can be imagined? May the dear believers in your country forge ahead, putting aside the myriad distractions of the world around them, and seek the heavenly confirmations promised to all those who arise for the promotion of the Word of God. For the success of their devoted endeavours, we shall offer fervent entreaties in the Holy Shrines.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,

[signed: Karen McKye, Secretary]