“O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.”
“Gaze ye not down upon the dust, gaze upward at the shining sun, which hath caused every patch of darksome earth to glow with light.”
shirin sahba/left (beijing, china): This Fast, the air is thick with excitement as Spring approaches in our home & along with it the anticipation of new beginnings, adventures & great unknowns. The childhood memories of my mama singing the old tune come back to me daily: “Que sera sera, whatever will be will be!”…
bronwyn proctor/right (vancouver, canada): I’m reflecting a lot on silence and noise this fast. We surround ourselves with noise to the point that we can’t tolerate silence. Another beautiful function of the fast—a reacclimatization to simplicity, stillness, and rich silence.
“O SON OF LIGHT! Forget all save Me and commune with My spirit. This is of the essence of My command, therefore turn unto it.”
“Thou seest me, O my God, holding to Thy Name, the Most Holy, the Most Luminous, the Most Mighty, the Most Great, the Most Exalted, the Most Glorious, and clinging to the hem of the robe to which have clung all in this world and in the world to come.”
golriz lucina/left (los angeles, usa): Our day began with an earthquake and ended with a full moon.
And in between, I am pretty sure I felt all the feelings that a mother can have. That exhausting push and pull between wanting tomorrow to come sooner, and mourning that today is already over.
And yes, I outsourced my dawn photo to my husband. Because … sleep.
shamsi rock/right (wellington, new zealand): This time of year reminds me so much of my Mum, she always approached the Fast with humility, gratitude, grace, and humour.
When I was old enough to start fasting, I couldn’t believe how hard it was. But had seen how much my mum loved each moment of it, and because of that example, each year it became a little easier for me. That’s not to say that I don’t struggle, but as I get older, as the Fast approaches, I find it is as if I am approaching an oasis in the desert. I am so mindful of the example my mother showed me, and the example I show for my own kids especially on those days when I am struggling.
This year I am dedicating my Fast to my mother, to my mother in law, and to the many amazing women in my life who live their lives as an example of grace and fortitude every day.
“O MY FRIENDS! Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise?”
“I pray that God in His mercy may illumine your hearts and souls with His glorious Light, then shall each one of you shine as a radiant star in the dark places of the world.”
leili towfigh/left (boston, usa): This morning I went out in the frigid navy blue to take photos at dawn. While walking to the shore of the lake, I was delighted to spy a red-tailed hawk overhead soaring with occasional heavy wingbeats. I could hear them flap. Although at first I could see no evidence of it, the sun was just peeking gold over the top of the hill behind my back. I realized this when I noticed the only thing that it lit: the hawk, shining yellow, high against the grey winter top branches and sky. I could not photograph it in time, so I thought I would photograph that image in words: golden, majestic bird, alight with the promise of the morning.
naeem ghafari/right (toronto, canada): Break free.
“The steed of this Valley is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal.”
“Glory be unto Thee, O Lord my God! I beg Thee to forgive me and those who support Thy Faith. Verily, Thou art the sovereign Lord, the Forgiver, the Most Generous. O my God! Enable such servants of Thine as are deprived of knowledge to be admitted into Thy Cause; for once they learn of Thee, they bear witness to the truth of the Day of Judgment and do not dispute the revelations of Thy bounty. Send down upon them the tokens of Thy grace, and grant them, wherever they reside, a liberal share of that which Thou hast ordained for the pious among Thy servants. Thou art in truth the Supreme Ruler, the All-Bounteous, the Most Benevolent.
O my God! Let the outpourings of Thy bounty and blessings descend upon homes whose inmates have embraced Thy Faith, as a token of Thy grace and as a mark of loving-kindness from Thy presence. Verily, unsurpassed art Thou in granting forgiveness. Should Thy bounty be withheld from anyone, how could he be reckoned among the followers of the Faith in Thy Day?
Bless me, O my God, and those who will believe in Thy signs on the appointed Day, and such as cherish my love in their hearts—a love which Thou dost instill into them. Verily, Thou art the Lord of righteousness, the Most Exalted.”
tamila zeinalova/left (kyrgyzstan): I always hoped to have more of spiritual kind of challenges to think about during the Fast rather than concentration my hunger. This year around, I experienced it oh so well … food? what food?
mauricio dumet/right (atlanta, usa): There have been so many changes this past year! Some hard and challenging, some precious and exciting. The only constant has been my family and their support through thick and thin, showing how strong and united we are despite the fact that we are all spread around the world. I am grateful for them, for all our love and countless blessings and because we keep growing, together.
“Thy might, in truth, is equal to all things.”
“This is, O my God, the first of the days on which Thou hast bidden Thy loved ones to observe the Fast. I ask of Thee by Thy Self and by him who hath fasted out of love for Thee and for Thy good-pleasure—and not out of self and desire, nor out of fear of Thy wrath—and by Thy most excellent names and august attributes, to purify Thy servants from the love of aught except Thee and to draw them nigh unto the Dawning-Place of the lights of Thy countenance and the Seat of the throne of Thy oneness.”
kat eghdamian/left (oxford, uk): This year: full of gratitude, contentment, and complete awe of life’s blessings and confirmations.
glenn loe/right (japan): In the Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh Arabic 69, Bahá’u’lláh says, “O YE SONS OF SPIRIT! Ye are My treasury, for in you I have treasured the pearls of My mysteries and the gems of My knowledge. Guard them from the strangers amidst My servants and from the ungodly amongst My people.” And makes me think that there are a lot of strangers and ungodly amongst us that we should be aware of. So we have to be always be on our guard and not fall prey to them.
“Holy, holy, the Lord our God, the Lord of the angels and the spirit.”
“O Man of Two Visions! Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved.”
zach miloff/left (ottawa, canada): The fast came this year, as usual, at the best possible time. I’m thankful for the space it has created, in my heart and in my mind. There is sweetness in these slow, wide open moments to which few experiences compare.
cortney gusick/right (palo alto, usa): I love imagining all of the humans—to the furthest reaches of the earth—responding to the impulse to arise and supplicate, as we exchange chase with the sun. A form of pure magic only the Fast can inspire.
“Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes.”
“Make ready thy soul that thou mayest be like the light which shineth forth from the loftiest heights on the coast, by means of which guidance may be given to the timid ships amid the darkness of fog …”
na’im samimi-moore/left (beijing, china): My fast this year is marked by the anticipation of a child, accentuating the urgency and necessity of mental, emotional, and spiritual reflection, fortification, and strength. With the blessings from on high, the companionship of family and friends, and a spot on this beautiful blue marble, I often feel too full of love and gratitude to hunger for much else. Except for nachos. I always want nachos.
layli samimi-aazami/right (los angeles, usa): quiet. peace. stillness. laughter. gentleness. longing. missing.
missing so terribly my family—two of whom are going to be giving birth to beautiful baby boys almost exactly on my baby sister’s birthday. how we’re all so far apart, i don’t know … but when quiet, a quiet and slow and still that only the Fast can bring, my heart is open and i can feel them so close, and time and distance doesn’t feel like my curse—rather a blessing to have such a lovely, dynamic, creative, hilarious, devoted, unified family who will be with me always always.
“Fasting is the cause of awakening man. The heart becomes tender and the spirituality of man increases.”
“Although the kingdom of heaven is hidden from the sight of this unwitting people, still, to him who seeth with the inner eye, it is plain as day. Wherefore dwell thou ever in the kingdom and be thou oblivious of the world below. Be thou so wholly absorbed in the emanations of the spirit that nothing in the world of man will distract thee.”
negeen sobhani/left (oklahoma city, usa): The Fast has become a scale which measures the imbalances in my life. As a young mom, it wouldn’t make me hungry or thirsty, but rather very tired. It showed me how much I needed to slow down and take the time to rest my body. These days, I don’t feel hungry, thirsty or tired—but rather unable to focus. With so much swarming in my mind, this Fast beckons me to release what’s occupying my mind, clear it with the same hollowness that’s in my stomach and let it be a receptacle for new prayerfully-inspired thoughts and perspectives.
brianna butler/right (nyc, usa):My mind often jumps to a music as inspiration/motivation through my day! This section of the song Let Go by Frou Frou felt particularly poignant today:
So let go (so let go), jump in
Oh well, whatcha waiting for?
’Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
So let go (yeah let go), just get in
Oh, it’s so amazing here
’Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
“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.