“Say: This is the Paradise on whose foliage the wine of utterance hath imprinted the testimony: “He that was hidden from the eyes of men is revealed, girded with sovereignty and power!” This is the Paradise, the rustling of whose leaves proclaims: “O ye that inhabit the heavens and the earth! There hath appeared what hath never previously appeared. He Who, from everlasting, had concealed His Face from the sight of creation is now come.” From the whispering breeze that wafteth amidst its branches there cometh the cry: “He Who is the sovereign Lord of all is made manifest. The Kingdom is God’s,” while from its streaming waters can be heard the murmur: “All eyes are gladdened, for He Whom none hath beheld, Whose secret no one hath discovered, hath lifted the veil of glory, and uncovered the countenance of Beauty.”
“Those hearts, however, that are aware of His Presence, are close to Him, and are to be regarded as having drawn nigh unto His throne.”
sarah johnson/left (guam, usa): Should cherry juice make one this sleepy?
synnøve deng/right (nanjing, china): “There is nothing sweeter in the world of existence than prayer.”
Prayer has truly sweetened my Fast this year, and has left me with a serene, inner calm in the midst of my Chinese language studies. I also appreciate the flowers blooming, and spring hinting at its arrival.
“Look not at your own capacities, for the divine bestowal can transform a drop into an ocean; it can make a tiny seed a lofty tree. Verily, divine bestowals are like the sea, and we are the fishes of that sea. The fishes must not look at themselves; they must behold the ocean, which is vast and wonderful.”
“O Lord, my God! Give me Thy grace to serve Thy loved ones, strengthen me in my servitude to Thee, illumine my brow with the light of adoration in Thy court of holiness, and of prayer to Thy kingdom of grandeur. Help me to be selfless at the heavenly entrance of Thy gate, and aid me to be detached from all things within Thy holy precincts. Lord! Give me to drink from the chalice of selflessness; with its robe clothe me, and in its ocean immerse me. Make me as dust in the pathway of Thy loved ones, and grant that I may offer up my soul for the earth ennobled by the footsteps of Thy chosen ones in Thy path, O Lord of Glory in the Highest.”
anjali pala/left (eliot, usa): I spent this fasting weekend at the Green Acre Baha’i School, breathing in wide gulps of bracing New England air and taking time for quiet reflection, study, laughter, and prayer. I am ready to return to New York and all that it holds for me.
shahriar erfanian/right (vancouver, canada): Praying for spiritual growth and steadfastness. Grateful for everything in my life. Hopeful that my 1.5-year-old son won’t try to force-feed me pretzels for the remainder of the fast.
“Thou hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue, inscrutable to all except Thee, Whose knowledge embraceth all created things.”
“Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form
When within thee the universe is folded?”
nazanin mondschein/left (east london, uk): Feeling hyper-aware this fast so as to not miss out on catching glimpses of the spiritual mysteries that are to be gleaned from this special time.
makini boothe/right (maputo, mozambique): The fasting period is my faaaavorite time of the year! It is at this time when I reflect, reconnect, recuperate and try to build routines into my life that will sustain me during the upcoming year. I am currently trying to s.l.o.w. d.o.w.n., learning to appreciate moments and attempting to cultivate a sense of both calm and stillness though every experience. Perhaps to do this is to accept that 5:47am may feel differently than 6:13pm. That all the hours, minutes, and seconds that make up the day are like all the laughter, confusion, and joy that make up a person.
“When we observe that in the kingdom of minerals the divine bounties are continuous, how much more shall we expect and realize in the divine spiritual Kingdom! How much greater the radiation of the lights of God and the bounty of everlasting life upon the soul of man! As the body of the universe is continuous, indestructible, the bounties and bestowals of the divine spirit are everlasting.”
“I beseech Thee, O my God, by all the transcendent glory of Thy Name, to clothe Thy loved ones in the robe of justice and to illumine their beings with the light of trustworthiness.”
kadria simons/left (toronto, canada): During these special days, I have been reflecting on how small adjustments in our spiritual life make a difference in our material life. An open heart can lead to new and strengthened friendships. Letting go of the past inspires a renewed energy and focus on the present. Most of all, thoughts of gratitude fill the heart with love.
jaclyn leaver/right (washington dc, usa): I choose happiness. I choose joy. I choose strength. I choose perseverance. I choose love.
“From the sweet-scented streams of Thine eternity give me to drink, O my God, and of the fruits of the tree of Thy being enable me to taste, O my Hope! From the crystal springs of Thy love suffer me to quaff, O my Glory, and beneath the shadow of Thine everlasting providence let me abide, O my Light! Within the meadows of Thy nearness, before Thy presence, make me able to roam, O my Beloved, and at the right hand of the throne of Thy mercy, seat me, O my Desire! From the fragrant breezes of Thy joy let a breath pass over me, O my Goal, and into the heights of the paradise of Thy reality let me gain admission, O my Adored One! To the melodies of the dove of Thy oneness suffer me to hearken, O Resplendent One, and through the spirit of Thy power and Thy might quicken me, O my Provider! In the spirit of Thy love keep me steadfast, O my Succorer, and in the path of Thy good-pleasure set firm my steps, O my Maker! Within the garden of Thine immortality, before Thy countenance, let me abide for ever, O Thou Who art merciful unto me, and upon the seat of Thy glory stablish me, O Thou Who art my Possessor! To the heaven of Thy loving-kindness lift me up, O my Quickener, and unto the Day-Star of Thy guidance lead me, O Thou my Attractor! Before the revelations of Thine invisible spirit summon me to be present, O Thou Who art my Origin and my Highest Wish, and unto the essence of the fragrance of Thy beauty, which Thou wilt manifest, cause me to return, O Thou Who art my God! Potent art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. Thou art, verily, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious, the All-Highest.”
“ … But for the burning of their souls and the sighing of their hearts, they would be drowned in the midst of their tears, and but for the flood of their tears they would be burnt up by the fire of their hearts and the heat of their souls. Methinks, they are like the angels which Thou hast created of snow and of fire … ”
wei hai deng/left (nanjing, china): “我的上帝啊,…” – “O my God,…”
The fast has always given me the blessing of the opportunity to reflect on my relationship with myself. Not only does the fast give more time during the day for other things than food, it also gives my mind more space to ponder. It is truly a special and unique time of the year. The virtue I have been reflecting on today is “responsibility”. Service, family, studies, work, marriage? Spending every dawn and dusk in prayer with my loving wife has been such a blessing. Reflecting on the taste of life, I must say it is sweet and exciting.
victor jason/right (tampere, finland): This fast arrived at the most opportune time, again. Somehow I forget how much I miss the fast every year. Also, I forgot how cold one can get sitting on a frozen lake in the wind.
“Observe, for My beauty’s sake, the fast, O people, and set no limits to its duration.”
“Oh Lord, enlighten my sight by beholding Thy lights in this dark night, and make me happy by the wine of Thy Love in this wonderful age.”
amelia samari/left (honolulu, hawai’i):Finding space this year to form new habits. Appreciating the gift of observing the Fast with my parents; my first teachers. Watching and learning from them.
From my mother: her love, her devotion, her patience.
anyssa samari/right (brooklyn, usa): I can do a lot of hard things. Like not eat or drink for 12+ hours. I can wake up earlier than I would like, and I can even run in the cold after drinking a strong cup of coffee. All of these hard things actually get easier with time. What seems to be getting harder with time, though, is being so far from my family. That is why I am so happy to share this day with my darling of a little sister. This has made me miss her a little less.
“Even though outwardly the Fast is difficult and toilsome, yet inwardly it is bounty and tranquility. Purification and training are conditioned and dependent only on such rigorous exercises as are in accord with the Book of God and sanctioned by Divine law, not those which the deluded have inflicted upon the people. Whatsoever God hath revealed is beloved of the soul. We beseech Him that He may graciously assist us to do that which is pleasing and acceptable unto Him.”
“I am greatly pleased with the city of New York. Its harbor entrance, its piers, buildings and broad avenues are magnificent and beautiful. Truly, it is a wonderful city. As New York has made such progress in material civilization, I hope that it may also advance spiritually in the Kingdom and Covenant of God so that the friends here may become the cause of the illumination of America, that this city may become the city of love and that the fragrances of God may be spread from this place to all parts of the world.”
chad mauger/left (adelaide, australia): Every year the Fast brings new lessons. In just these first few days I have re-examined my relationship with food. It has made me realize why I eat, apart from the basic physical need to do so. I have also experienced firsthand that “outwardly the Fast is difficult and toilsome, yet inwardly it is bounty and tranquility”: while my physical sense of hunger is heightened, my disquiet and anxiety is lessened. For this I am grateful.
ryan lash/right (nyc, usa): I constantly have to remind myself of the significance of this city that is now my home, the city of the Covenant. This morning, watching the sun light up the buildings from across the river was a good reminder. So far fasting this year has been a bit surreal as I’ve been so busy that I hardly notice that I haven’t eaten all day, which I suppose isn’t exactly the point of the fast now is it? But until the rest of the world gets on board with our schedule I guess that’s the way it’s going to be sometimes.
“Be thou strong and firm. Be thou resolute and steadfast. When the tree is firmly rooted, it will bear fruit. Therefore, it is not permitted to be agitated by any test. Be thou not disheartened. Be thou not discouraged. The trials of God are many, but if man remains firm and steadfast, test itself is a stepping stone for the progress of humanity.”
“O Thou Who art the Lord of all names and the Maker of the heavens! I beseech Thee by them Who are the Day-Springs of Thine invisible Essence, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious, to make of my prayer a fire that will burn away the veils which have shut me out from Thy beauty, and a light that will lead me unto the ocean of Thy Presence.”
brianna baggett/left (brooklyn, usa):
Staying ever-present in this moment.
lindsey lugsch-tehle/right (haifa, israel): It’s hard to believe that this time last year my husband and I were preparing to relocate to the Holy Land to serve this Cause. And now, having spent nearly one year here, I can’t help but feel abundantly blessed to have the opportunity to offer prayers at the Threshold during this season of purification and rejuvenation. May we all be led to the ocean of His Presence by the light and the fire that is prayer.
“O Lord! Though we are but worthless plants, yet we belong to Thy garden of roses. Though saplings without leaves and blossoms, yet we are a part of Thine orchard. Nurture this plant then through the outpourings of the clouds of Thy tender mercy and quicken and refresh this sapling through the reviving breath of Thy spiritual springtime. Suffer him to become heedful, discerning and noble, and grant that he may attain eternal life and abide in Thy Kingdom for evermore.“
“I beseech Thee, O my God, by Thy Beauty that shineth forth above the horizon of eternity, a Beauty before which as soon as it revealeth itself the kingdom of beauty boweth down in worship, magnifying it in ringing tones, to grant that I may die to all that I possess and live to whatsoever belongeth unto Thee.”
amy sahba/left (santa ana, costa rica): Praying for spiritual refreshment, for a renewed openness of heart. Praying to express gratefulness beyond words, and for forgiveness, always.
leila/right (colorado, usa): Prayers this morning made me think about unity of thought and action; all Bahá’ís around the world are engaged in spiritual recuperation through the Fast. These are special days, pregnant with mystery and bounty. As I write this, Lupita Nyong’o has won an award for her performance in the film “12 Years a Slave”. I wonder what the result would be if people around the world, en masse, witnessed this film and spent time in spiritual reflection on what we will do, in action, about the ongoing presence and legacy of slavery and racism.
“They that are endued with sincerity and faithfulness should associate with all the peoples and kindreds of the earth with joy and radiance, inasmuch as consorting with people hath promoted and will continue to promote unity and concord, which in turn are conducive to the maintenance of order in the world and to the regeneration of nations.”
“Through association and meeting we find happiness and development, individual and collective.”
“That which is conducive to association and attraction and unity among the sons of men is the means of the life of the world of humanity …
… and whatever causeth division, repulsion and remoteness leadeth to the death of humankind.”
“The religion or guidance of God must be the means of love and fellowship in the world. If religion proves to be the source of hatred, enmity and contention, if it becomes the cause of warfare and strife and influences men to kill each other, its absence is preferable.”
“Shut your eyes to estrangement, then fix your gaze upon unity.”
“That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race.”
“Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.”
“The supreme need of humanity is cooperation and reciprocity.”
“The stronger the ties of fellowship and solidarity amongst men …
… the greater will be the power of constructiveness and accomplishment in all the planes of human activity.”
“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”