Tuesday, March 01, 2011

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?



At 9:52 AM, Blogger Racn4acure said...

Anne – my condolences on your loss this past year. I know that is very difficult.

I like your reflections. When we look at the big picture, things sure appear to be a mess in the country and the world. All we can do is live our lives the best we can, be a light to someone else, and let it shine! I like the way you are using your fasting period to reflect on what has been happening in your life and what the future holds.

I’d not done a whole lot of reflecting on the past year until recently. I think what made me think more about this was the death of a very good friend two months ago, and my sister’s increasingly tough fight against cancer. It is hard to figure out life sometimes, and hard to stay positive when bombarded with negativity every day. So much is out of our control. Our society is totally polarized to the point that people cannot even agree to disagree anymore. Everything is a sound bite or a spin. People deliberately try to polarize other people to make themselves wealthy. I fear for the future if people cannot at least work together on things. But each of us as an individual can try to make a small difference. That, at least, is in our power. We can curse the darkness, or we can light a light. I can’t cure Ann’s cancer, I can’t save her – but I can give her some good memories and some good times in the days ahead. I can’t bring my friend Judy back, but I can support her husband in this time of his grief, and I can honor Judy by doing something good in memory of her. I can’t heal the earth or suppress tyranny and hatred, but I can remain aware, and try to live a little more gently and refuse to hate.

Best of luck with the remainder of your fast, and in thinking over things during your time of reflection. Art

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Hi Art, Thank you so much for your comments, they are very helpful. I am sorry for the loss of your friend and the illness of your sister. Life has some really tough parts sometimes.
I love your positive attitude and how you look for the best even during difficulties.
Yes, as individuals we can each make a small (or maybe even a large!) difference!
Thanks again for your thoughts!

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Racn4acure said...

Thanks Anne. Yep, lives have their ups and downs - it is just the nature of things. Yes, there are plenty of examples of one person making a huge difference - both negative and positive. In any event, with all the negativity in the world, even a small positive difference can be a good thing. Good luck with the rest of your fast, and with your reflections. Art

PS - I had to laugh at your post comment the other day about masking fatigue with caffeine. I am doing that right now, LOL!


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