Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wissahickon Park, Chestnut Hill

Today we went on a brisk walk through Wissahickon Park in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. The Wissahickon Park is a great hike for late winter when you want to get a little elevation change to start preparing for Spring hiking season! The trails wind along the Wissahickon Creek and up and down the gorge. We kept a quick pace in order to stay warm on a chilly day. We had a nice lunch at Top of the Hill restaurant. Later, I wandered through Chestnut Hill and found a well-stocked and diverse Farmer's Market. I found Indian, Mexican, Japanese, and Korean food. I also found a Ten Thousand Villages store and bought a pair of blue glass earrings from India. I treated myself to some Starbucks coffee for the trek back to my car!

Most of the day looked like this. Still no signs of Spring, but we know it is right around the corner.

Some ducks and geese brave the chilly weather.

I'm not quite sure what to think of this, but I just had to take a picture.

Ah, I see, bears seem to be a Chestnut Hill theme.

Another bear, this one with some sea life!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Ayyám-i-Há!

Tonight our Baha'i community celebrated Ayyám-i-Há.

From the US Baha'i website, on the meaning of Ayyám-i-Há:
Baha'is celebrate the festival of Ayyam-i-Ha each year from sunset on Feb. 25 to sunset of March 1 as a preparation for the Fast, which begins March 2 and ends March 20. During Ayyam-i-Ha, members of the Faith perform acts of charity, give gifts to friends and family, and attend social gatherings.
Baha'u'llah has said of Ayyam-i-Ha: "It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name."

We had a potluck dinner at the lovely home of Pam and Scott in Riegelsville. After some devotions and prayers, we had our community gift exchange. Each person could either choose a wrapped gift or "steal" a gift from another person. The hot ticket items were some signed Batman comics, an art kit, and a pretty shirt. After hanging on to a golf ball collection and fly fishing book for most of the exchange (!), I finally ended up with a little purse (perfect to put in my backpack for our after hike dinners), a hand made necklace, and a silvery Hannah Montana scarf (this girl will be stylin'!). We had a fabulous time enjoying each other's company, and Pam and Scott showed us their beautiful studios. Pam is a fashion designer and Scott is a comic book creator.

Ayyám-i-Há is also a time for charity, and we collected items for a food drive and money for the new Baha'i temple in Santiago, Chile.

My contribution to our potluck was this Chocolate Orange cake from the Fat Free Vegan.

During this time of celebration and hospitality, our hearts and prayers go out to our fellow Baha'is in Iran spending these holidays unjustly imprisoned. The latest updates can be found on Persecution of Baha'is in Iran and on Iran Press Watch.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary

Today we went on an eight mile hike starting along the Delaware River in Riegelsville, PA. We walked along the river for a bit to the Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary, and then hiked through the park with beautiful overlooks of the Delaware River. The day was chilly and bright, but with a surprising amount of elevation gain in the park we soon warmed up and were removing layers! After our hike we stopped at the cozy Riegelsville Inn for a late lunch and warmed ourselves by the wood fireplace.

There are no signs of Spring yet. The colors in the park were brown and grey, with the occasional green of a pine.

There were several beautiful overlooks of the Delaware River. This view is probably only available in winter, when foliage doesn't block the vista.

Our group by Chimney Rock

Walking back along the Delaware.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Philadelphia Mural Walk

This morning we bundled up and took a short walk along the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park and then headed into the city to look at murals from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program . From the Mural Arts website:

"Since its inception, the Mural Arts Program (MAP) has been involved in more than 2,400 indoor and outdoor mural projects-making Philadelphia home to the largest collection of public murals in the country.Established in 1984 as part of a citywide anti-graffiti initiative, MAP initially worked with young, adjudicated graffiti writers, redirecting their artistic energies into making art that would enhance, rather than undermine their communities. Since then, the program has grown steadily, reaching out to an ever-widening sphere of young people and producing increasingly more accomplished works of public art."

After viewing all the beautiful murals, we wandered into Chinatown where we warmed up and had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant.

This was in a downtown city park.

Close up of a dragonfly.

Another close up

A beautiful three part mural

Statue of Liberty with flag of Puerto Rico

Common Threads

Colorful Scouting mural

Tribute to Nursing

Colorful restaurant in Chinatown

The Thinker in front of The Rodin Museum

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Community In Peril

The Baha'i community has recently received some ominous news from Iran. The seven members of the administrative Baha'i group in Iran, also known as the "Friends of Iran", who supervised the affairs of the believers in that country until their arrest in March and May of 2008, will be tried by the Revolutionary Court next week. They are falsely accused of espionage and other crimes and have not been given access to legal counsel. The U.S. Department of State has condemned the Iranian government's charges. Amnesty International has also issued an immediate call to action.

These individuals have served their communities and their Faith, and many of them have young families. For information on their background, please see Lives of Service.

For additional background on the persecution of Baha'is in the land of their Faith's birth, Iran, please see the website dedicated to news of the Persecution of Baha'is in Iran. Baha'is in Iran are denied access to higher education, children are harassed in schools, their homes are burned, their cemeteries are desecrated, property is confiscated, employment is denied, bank loans are rejected, they are imprisoned without cause, and they are denied many fundamental human rights. Baha'is have no political aspirations and are loyal citizens of the countries in which they reside. They are persecuted solely on the basis of religious belief.

You can help by contacting your Congressional Representatives. To find contact information, see The House of Representatives and The United States Senate. Any action will be very appreciated by the Baha'i Community, as the lives of these individuals are in immediate and extreme peril. If you are motivated to do so, please make a phone call or send an email to someone in government who can help. You can also help by learning about this imperiled community, by saying a prayer or thinking a positive thought, by talking about religious tolerance to your friends, or simply by reaching out to a neighbor or co-worker of another Faith or culture. We are blessed with the freedom to believe in this country, let us show our gratitude by helping those who don't have these basic freedoms, and by promoting tolerance and unity in our own communities.

Update: The United States House of Representatives has introduced a resolution, H.Res.175, on the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran. (Download PDF) . Please ask your representative to co-sponsor and vote for this resolution. Go to The House of Representatives and enter your zip code to find your Representative. Follow the instructions to send an email and ask for co-sponsorship. It takes less than five minutes and may potentially help to protect these seven individuals.

Love is Heaven's Kindly Light - Happy Valentine's Day!

Uploaded on January 21, 2007by Bob.Fornal licensed under Creative Commons

Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God's holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven's kindly light, the Holy Spirit's eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God's revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things.

Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's a Jungle Out There! Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Thank you Charles Darwin for illuminating for us the most exquisite process which gives rise to the beautiful diversity of life on our planet. For some food for thought see Krista Tippett's interview with James Moore, a Darwin biographer at Evolution and Wonder: Understanding Charles Darwin.

Among the scenes which are deeply impressed on my mind, none exceed in sublimity the primeval forests undefaced by the hand of man; one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body.
-Charles Darwin in The Voyage of the Beagle

(Also, get the full text of the Origin of Species here.)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Philadelphia 76ers Beat Miami Heat

Tonight we watched the Philadelphia 76ers beat Miami Heat at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. It was a great game, close until the very end, when the 76ers won 94 to 84 .

Making a shot

Make some noise!

Mascot Hip Hop and cheerleaders cheer on the crowd

Here Comes The Sun!

I went for a run today. Can you believe it? A run! And I wasn't freezing!

Today reminded me of my favorite and most inspirational song of all time. No matter how cold the winter is, it's always followed by spring.

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
It's all right

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Call to Love One Another and Understand One Another

I am so encouraged by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships which brings together diverse religious and secular groups to help individuals, families, and communities during these difficult times. I am also extremely pleased to see that one of the members is Dr. Eboo Patel, Founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core.

Our local interfaith volunteer initiative is the Interfaith Coalition for Community Service of Allentown. We are planning a multi-faith coalition for community service on May 3, 2009. Please check out our website for information on how to get involved! We are also planning for increased youth participation this year.

See President Barack Obama's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast and commentary on the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships:

We know as well that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together, the call to love one another, to understand one another, to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this earth.
-President Barack Obama

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Word Cloud From Let It Shine

Image created by Wordle

Apparently, this must be what's on my mind recently because these are the most frequently used words on my blog! Full size version here.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A Special Celebration

Today we had a family party to celebrate my Mom's eightieth birthday. It was so wonderful being with my family to celebrate this happy occasion. Happy Birthday Mom!

Raspberry ice cream cake

A happy day!

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