For me, the privilege of handling the files of executed Bahá’ís is that it enabled me to view these believers from another time and place as part of my own life story. And though we are left with only memories, these soul scraps are more precious to me than any physical remains.
They are traces of human beings who learned to drink the bitter with the sweet. Memories of weddings, a favorite poem, and the dreams a young girl who dove headfirst into the ocean, arms and legs flying.
Andréana Lefton (@AELefton) graces our blog this week with “A Dark Privilege: Bearing Witness to Victims and Prisoners of Conscience in Iran.” Bahá’í leaders in Iran are being persecuted and imprisoned — simply for their faith. From a desk in London, Ms. Lefton reflects on their circumstances and how they remind her of the sacrifice and the richness of human life.
Therefore strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers. Turn towards God, and seek always to do that which is right and noble. Enrich the poor, raise the fallen, comfort the sorrowful, bring healing to the sick, reassure the fearful, rescue the oppressed, bring hope to the hopeless, shelter the destitute!
This is the work of a true Bahá’í, and this is what is expected of him. If we strive to do all this, then are we true Bahá’ís, but if we neglect it, we are not followers of the Light, and we have no right to the name.
God, who sees all hearts, knows how far our lives are the fulfilment of our words.
The Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, about 15 minutes north of Chicago, from Apple Maps. On the upper right you can see where the new Welcome Center is being constructed. Currently all the gardens are done being renovated although this shows 2 left undone. On the right is the canal where early 1900s newspapers reported in a gravely misinformed but terrifically creative story that Baha’is kept the “white whale” we supposedly “worshipped”.
While editing a commentary on the persecution and imprisonment of Baha’is within Iran, I happened upon this interview with Roxana Saberi. The American journalist, who was accused of espionage by the Iranian government, talks about the time she spent in an Iranian prison and the relationships she developed with Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two of the seven Yaran (“the Friends”), who are sentenced to 20 years in prison because of their faith:
“I think the lessons that Mahvash and Fariba taught me in prison are universal. And they can apply to anybody, anywhere in the world. You don’t have to be in prison. We have our own prisons, are own adversities, and we can try to turn those adversities into opportunities.”
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Incredibly powerful. The women she’s referring to are imprisoned for “spreading corruption on earth”. See if you think that’s true after listening to her story of being in prison with them…(From Krista Tippet’s tumblr On Being)
This is how I feel in the afternoons when I’m fasting.
Work on the Welcome Center at the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette is moving along despite the freezing temperatures! Scheduled completion is Spring, 2014. It will serve as a place to rest and prepare one’s self to enter the Temple and will feature a bookstore, fireside room (with a fireplace), meeting rooms, a display room and beautiful courtyard. What you see here is the frame for the entrance and the huge window that will let you see the Temple from inside.
If you’re a Baha’i living in the US and would like to contribute just email us!
Can’t wait for this to be done.
Why being a Baha’i is both awesome and challenging…
From the Baha’i Writings
A note to my flickr friends - I’ve been behind by a few days - been out shooting this weekend. I’ll be back early this weekend to return your comments and see what wonderful things you’ve been up to!
When you are all alone with your camera well before dawn and well before the rest of the world will come to meet you, you have the opportunity to bend the rules. I was taking some photographs of the otherworldly Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, IL when I decided to step inside for a few photographs. Just inside the door there was a sign that indicated photography was not allowed. There was no one around and the door was unlocked – surely they don’t want photography when the congregation is present, but while everyone is asleep and I’m there with my D700, they don’t mind …. right?
I took off my shoes and left them outside next to my tripod so as not to make a mess of the immaculate floor and carpet inside. The building has a breathtaking dome, carved with immaculate detail throughout and “The Greatest Name” in golden calligraphy on the ceiling. I took a few photographs and left before I left a trace or was caught!
One of the best pictures of the interior I’ve ever seen.