This month we released an audio reading of the 28 November 2023 message from the House of Justice that offers us reflections of the first century of the Formative Age. This recent message is a generous gift from the House of Justice. It is sweeping, majestic and panoramic. When you read and study it, you feel as though you’ve reached a mountain summit. You can see the distance you have climbed, and the vastness of what stands before you, glimpsing the outline of far-off peaks and ranges. It provides a precious vantage point.
We are deeply grateful to Rouha Granfar for her tireless efforts to read the message for us, often repeating the same sentence over and over and over again to make sure we got it right and to honour the thought, care and precision with which the House of Justice wields words. We sincerely hope that sharing this audio recording assists you in your study of this letter.
This week the Baha’i World News Service also shared a video that, while not surveying the achievements of the last century, nevertheless show us what the global Baha’i community has accomplished in the last Gregorian year.
By surveying the landscape of the last century and observing a clear but brief overview of the last year, we can look to the future with eyes sharpened by historical insight and focused by hope. This increased perception fuels me in playing the long game; in understanding the larger significance of the efforts we are making. This past month, for example, Jordan Raj travelled all over Australia recording and amassing more Studio Sessions that we are excited to share with you. As I write this, I am cognizant of the suffering of our fellow brothers and sisters around the planet and it makes sharing of the sacred Writings put to music, or glimpses of a children’s festival in the Blue Mountains, all the more significant. In its recent message, the House of Justice quotes Shoghi Effendi who said,
…our contributions to the Faith are the surest way of lifting once and for all time the burden of hunger and misery from mankind, for it is only through the system of Baha’u’llah—Divine in origin—that the world can be gotten on its feet.
I also noted with interest when the House of Justice wrote about developments regarding participating in social discourses. I’ve been mulling over this sentence:
Involvement at all these levels of society becomes more pressing as the process of the disintegration of the old world order intensifies and discourse becomes increasingly coarsened and polarized, leading to the recrudescence of conflict among the competing factions and ideologies that divide humanity.
This seemed to aptly highlight the timeliness of presentations such as the one that was shared by the UK Baha’i Office on Public Affairs called “Empathy and Hope: Baha’i Principles and Psychological Insights in Conversations about Climate Change”, and Dr Ruha Benjamin’s TED talk about whether technology–accurately described as “unbridled” in the recent letter–is our slayer or our saviour.
I was also struck by this sentence in the 28 November message:
Every believer is free to explore the ocean of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation, to come to personal conclusions, to humbly share insights with others, and to strive to apply the Teachings day by day.
It is a lovely coincidence that this month some of the team launched a new Baha’i-inspired project called Day by Day, which shares positive affirmations themed to virtues like patience, kindness and forgiveness. The aim of this initiative is to create an inclusive, open, welcoming and gentle space, a sort of online oasis where anyone of any background, race, faith, or belief, can find positive, affirming, ideas, grounded in timeless spiritual truths.
Along a similar vein of thinking of being welcoming and open to all beliefs, this month I appreciated Nava’s thoughtful reflection on embracing the essence of Christmas in a sea of materialism, and I loved revisiting what Abdu’l-Baha did during the Christmas season. As we move out of a holiday season and towards World Religion Day, a day originally created by the Baha’is of the United States but which has been adopted by so many friends around the world, I’d love to close this monthly newsletter by bringing our special inter-faith resource collection to the surface.
We wish you a happy month of Honour!
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she’s driving at night.