“Since Thou hast adorned them, O my Lord, with the ornament of the fast prescribed by Thee, do Thou adorn them also with the ornament of Thine acceptance, through Thy grace and bountiful favor. For the doings of men are all dependent upon Thy good-pleasure, and are conditioned by Thy behest. Shouldst Thou regard him who hath broken the fast as one who hath observed it, such a man would be reckoned among them who from eternity had been keeping the fast. And shouldst Thou decree that he who hath observed the fast hath broken it, that person would be numbered with such as have caused the Robe of Thy Revelation to be stained with dust, and been far removed from the crystal waters of this living Fountain.”
Thank you, each and every one of you, for your love and encouragement these past nineteen days. We hope you have enjoyed viewing our little project as much as we have enjoyed putting it together, and you can rest assured we will be back in this space next year, on march 2nd, 2009.
But the truth is… the two of us enjoyed this regular pictures taking so much that we feel that we cannot stop. So, freed from the time limitations of dawn and dusk imposed by the Fast, we have decided to continue taking pictures, and sharing them with each other. As Bahá’ís we are enjoined to pray and meditate every morning and evening. Inspired by that timing we will also be taking pictures every morning and evening.
We hope you will follow us over at every morn and eve.
amy & leila
“Illumine, O Lord, the faces of Thy servants, that they may behold Thee; and cleanse their hearts that they may turn unto the court of Thy heavenly favors, and recognize Him Who is the Manifestation of Thy Self and the Day-Spring of Thine Essence. Verily, Thou art the Lord of all worlds. There is no God but Thee, the Unconstrained, the All-Subduing.”
amy: and just like that—this Fast is over. i was anxious about what photos to post for this final day, but i just took a wander through the house, looking for inspiration. the sun gifted us such beautiful light this evening.
thank you leila—for doing this with me, for inspiring me with your choice of quotes, your thoughts, your photography and your friendship.
leila: this morning i was so happy to find that my mum had prepared some sabzeh—sprouted lentils growing in a dish—the night before, which was sitting on the kitchen table. i have to admit, for both my dawn and dusk photos i spent a lot of time taking pictures of many different things, wanting to get “the perfect shots” for this last day of the Fast. in the end i chose greenery, which symbolizes—in the spirit of Haft Sin—a new beginning, new life.
(this is me pretending to be culturally iranian.)
“nineteen days” has been one of the most precious activities of the past month. i am utterly grateful that amy talked with me about doing it, because every single day i have had the excitement of her beautiful photos, the thoughtfulness of her carefully chosen quotations, and the peace of her tranquil thoughts. my thanks and joy on this Naw-Rúz is for her and for you, for sharing with us in this project.
“Thou seest, O Lord, our suppliant hands lifted up towards the heaven of Thy favor and bounty. Grant that they may be filled with the treasures of Thy munificence and bountiful favor. Forgive us, and our fathers, and our mothers, and fulfil whatsoever we have desired from the ocean of Thy grace and Divine generosity. Accept, O Beloved of our hearts, all our works in Thy path. Thou art, verily, the Most Powerful, the Most Exalted, the Incomparable, the One, the Forgiving, the Gracious.”
amy: i think so often these days of my parents, and of shamim’s parents. with how much patience they watched us grow, how they guided our steps through their actions rather than their words, how many times they bit their tongues and let us make our own mistakes, encouraged us, pushed us, loved us. i wonder if we spend the rest of our lives trying to thank them for that, trying to act in ways that will make them proud of us, if we could ever repay that kind of love, that kind of dedication.
leila: because the skies in the morning have been so indifferent, i haven’t chosen a dawn picture that has clouds in it so far—this morning was therefore a gift. in general, i take more photos of skies and clouds than absolutely anything else. my Bahá’í ring was given to me by the family i lived with in Tasmania. they have three young sons, and when they came back from pilgrimage each of the boys was given one. as was i. i wear it always.
“O My beloved friends! You are the bearers of the name of God in this Day. You have been chosen as the repositories of His mystery. It behoves each one of you to manifest the attributes of God, and to exemplify by your deeds and words the signs of His righteousness, His power and glory. The very members of your body must bear witness to the loftiness of your purpose, the integrity of your life, the reality of your faith, and the exalted character of your devotion … Ponder the words of Jesus addressed to His disciples, as He sent them forth to propagate the Cause of God. In words such as these, He bade them arise and fulfil their mission: ‘Ye are even as the fire which in the darkness of the night has been kindled upon the mountain-top. Let your light shine before the eyes of men. Such must be the purity of your character and the degree of your renunciation, that the people of the earth may through you recognise and be drawn closer to the heavenly Father who is the Source of purity and grace. For none has seen the Father who is in heaven. You who are His spiritual children must by your deeds exemplify His virtues, and witness to His glory’.”
amy: brookie loves to eat these little flowers from this plant beautiful red-leafed plant we have. we had to move the pot to an out of reach spot so that she wouldn’t destroy it. These little Indian boxes remind me of my most beloved shirin and her illuminati series.
leila: my books are the first thing that i arrange in any space i inhabit. they are more important to me than all other material possessions. in the dining room of my parents’ home hangs an unfinished painting, in inmitation of an early Georgia O’Keefe, that i began several years ago as a gift to my mother. i think she hopes that during this visit i will finish it.
“O Befriended Stranger! The candle of thine heart is lighted by the hand of My power, quench it not with the contrary winds of self and passion. The healer of all thine ills is remembrance of Me, forget it not. Make My love thy treasure and cherish it even as thy very sight and life.”
amy: we have made arrangements for our Pilgrimage, we are going in june. this evening, i read some passages about some of the early Bahá’ís from north america and europe that traveled to Israel for Pilgrimage, in the early nineteen hundreds. I was so moved to hear about their experiences there, and i felt so blessed to be able to partake in this experience myself. so soon.
leila: this morning it rained a little. when it cleared up, i took a long walk. as usual, i am Planning, Wondering, Hoping on these perambulations around this neighbourhood. i plan for the future, wonder what the future will be like, and hope that the future carries with it some of the fragrant spirit of these spiritual days of fasting.
“O wayfarer in the path of God! Take thou thy portion of the ocean of His grace, and deprive not thyself of the things that lie hidden in its depths. Be thou of them that have partaken of its treasures. A dewdrop out of this ocean would, if shed upon all that are in the heavens and on the earth, suffice to enrich them with the bounty of God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. With the hands of renunciation draw forth from its life-giving waters, and sprinkle therewith all created things, that they may be cleansed from all man-made limitations and may approach the mighty seat of God, this hallowed and resplendent Spot.”
amy: today was better, work was a bit quieter, i even managed to sneak in a nap at home this afternoon.
i have really cut down the number of pictures i take every day—and try to be satisfied with picking one from the few i took. today’s evening shot was taken on the subway, headed to queens, through a scratched up glass. i was prompted and prodded by my traveling companions to take out my camera and shoot. i am so glad they insisted because even if the shot is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, i still like it.
leila: i noticed yesterday that the palette of my photos over the fast has been most lamentably lacking in blues and reds. this morning i deliberately sought to rectify that.
in the evening, after a french film with a friend, we drove back home through downtown. sydney is such a beautiful city, and of this town hall i have memories from several years ago of attending an East Timorese benefit, where i heard Kirsty Sword Gusmão speak about the resilience and beauty of her adoptive country.
“O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.”
amy: I am not quite sure what happened to the past five days. i am just simply exhausted and if it weren’t for this exercise of taking pictures at dawn and dusk, I might barely notice the days of this Fast zip by.
I am being pulled in a million directions, trying to give one hundred percent to all the aspects of my life that are calling for my attention. but I know I can’t and something has got to give. I need some time to focus, to realign. that’s what this fast is supposed to be for—and yet I feel it’s nearly over before I am able to achieve that inner equilibrium.
so you’ll find me tonight hoping—hoping that tomorrow will be just a little bit more peaceful.
leila: tonight we had family friends over for dinner. i sometimes feel surreal when i spend time with loved ones whom i haven’t seen for years—looking into their faces is like looking into the past, present, and future all at once, and the sensation is heady, vertiginous.
“The true seeker hunteth naught but the object of his quest, and the lover hath no desire save union with his beloved. Nor shall the seeker reach his goal unless he sacrifice all things. That is, whatever he hath seen, and heard, and understood, all must he set at naught, that he may enter the realm of the spirit, which is the City of God. Labor is needed, if we are to seek Him; ardor is needed, if we are to drink of the honey of reunion with Him; and if we taste of this cup, we shall cast away the world.”
amy: my life is out of my hands. our lives are out of our hands. it is so refreshing to remember that. to make plans, to hope, to look forward to the future is what i love to do, what i do that too often for my own good. i never want to forget to how to embrace this exact moment, today, right now.
leila: detachment seems to be the theme of my fast this year. it is perhaps an obvious one, with the whole Not Eating Whenever One Feels Like It thing, but i am feeling it on several levels. although i am with my beloved family, i am apart from my beloved husband. although i love taking pictures every day, every time i see amy’s images i think Wow, I Wish I Could Take Photos Like That. although i had expectations about what this time back at university was going to be like, i am having to let go of some of my preconceived ideas. because life? it doesn’t always match up with what i want.
“Man is distinguished above the animals through his reason. The perceptions of man are of two kinds: tangible, or sensible, and reasonable, whereas the animal perceptions are limited to the senses, the tangible only. The tangible perceptions may be likened to this candle, the reasonable perceptions to the light. Calculations of mathematical problems and determining the spherical form of the earth are through the reasonable perceptions. The center of gravity is a hypothesis of reason. Reason itself is not tangible, perceptible to the senses. Reason is an intellectual verity or reality. All qualities are ideal realities, not tangible realities. For instance, we say this man is a scholarly man. Knowledge is an ideal attainment not perceptible to the senses. When you see this scholarly man, your eye does not see his knowledge, your ear cannot hear his science, nor can you sense it by taste. It is not a tangible verity. Science itself is an ideal verity. It is evident, therefore, that the perceptions of man are twofold: the reasonable and the tangible, or sensible.”
amy: more breathtaking sunlight this morning, as seen fromthe break room at the office, looking out over Central Park . the photo doesn’t do it justice. I find myself missing my family terribly during these special days. I think of my parents waking up at home, my sisters, one in India and one in Boston , with their families, and my brother, in London . and my grandmother, still waking up at dawn, even if she is no longer required to fast. We are all so far, and I really can’t figure out why we decide to live so far away from each other.
leila: today i am fasting from my own words.
“O Son of Being! Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants.”
amy: on the days when it is my turn to post our photos, I receive leila’s email for the day early in the morning, just as i am about to begin my fast for that same day she has just completed. i leave that email sitting in my inbox, incredibly tempted to open it and peek at what leila’s eyes have seen, what she has captured. but i don’t. i fight that urge. and today, i was so glad that i exercised that control or i would have been deprived of that delightful feeling of surprise and giddiness at noticing that the coloring in all our pictures today have similar hues, and that we both chose to look up at the sky and clouds bathed in beautiful light at sunset. this project surprises me and brings me so much joy each day. thank you, thank you leila.
leila: i have rediscovered my flash, a little bit. this morning i thought, “Is this the first sign of autumn?”
in the evening my sister and i went to buy very essential riocotta cheese from the supermarket deli. on one of the windows of the building, you can just see a graffitied “smp”, which you see tagged everywhere around here. whenever i see it, it makes me think of my department at university: “Society, Culture, Media and Philosophy”. because i am susceptible to non-musical ear worms, i usually end up thinking the phrase “Society, Media, Philosophy” like a mantra for hours afterwards. because my brain loves me that way.