Eve of the Bahá'í Fast
Tomorrow begins the Bahá'í Fast, a period of time from March 2 to March 20 when Bahá'ís refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. The Fast is the last month of the Bahá'í year and ends in the festival of Naw-Rúz, which this year will begin the year 168 B.E.
The Fast is "…essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character." (Shoghi Effendi)
I decided to use this time right before the Fast to reflect on some of the changes of the past year. Much has happened both personally and globally.
1. I experienced a significant family loss.
2. I went on pilgrimage to the Bahá'í World Center in Haifa, Israel. A pilgrimage is significant to Bahá'ís because we visit the shrines associated with the Central Figures of our Faith and sites associated with the early history.
3. The economic downturn afflicting our country hit close to home, causing me to ask questions about meaning and purpose in career, personal direction, and change. Do we search for meaning in our career, or does a job simply serve to support a life of deeper purpose? Does that change from time to time? Are both true? How do I live when security is not guaranteed? What is really important?
4. Our country is divided in deep and painful ways making our present problems seem unsolvable. We live in a world where contention and argument is the norm. Can we disagree deeply yet work together to find a solution? Can our differences enhance our ability to see all sides of an issue instead of divide us? How can we make that possible? Do we have the ability and the desire to agree on a common set of values?
5. The global environmental and social situation grows more and more treacherous every day. We are experiencing events in our lifetime that we never thought were possible.
I am hoping to make this 19-Day Fast meaningful - a time to understand the last year and to prepare for the future. Honestly, I don't necessarily experience profound insights, sometimes the lessons are very simple, learning to appreciate that which we take for granted, feeling a sense of community, being aware of the changes in the seasons. Some questions simply don't have answers, but sometimes we learn to live with a slightly new understanding, a slightly different outlook.
For now, I'll take it one day at a time, get some extra rest, prepare for a nice breakfast to start the morning, and see what the new day brings!
Do you have any reflections from the past year? How are you personally experiencing the changes in our society and our world?