“Thank ye God that ye have come into the plane of existence in this radiant century wherein the bestowals of God are appearing from all directions, when the doors of the Kingdom have been opened unto you, the call of God is being raised, and the virtues of the human world are in the process of unfoldment.”
“The day has come when all darkness is to be dispelled, and the Sun of Truth shall shine forth radiantly.”
“This time of the world may be likened to the equinoctial in the annual cycle. For, verily, this is the spring season of God….”
“At the time of the vernal equinox in the material world a wonderful vibrant energy and new life-quickening is observed everywhere in the vegetable kingdom; the animal and human kingdoms are resuscitated and move forward with a new impulse.”
“The whole world is born anew, resurrected. Gentle zephyrs are set in motion, wafting and fragrant; flowers bloom; the trees are in blossom, the air temperate and delightful; how pleasant and beautiful become the mountains, fields and meadows.”
“Likewise, the spiritual bounty and springtime of God quicken the world of humanity with a new animus and vivification. All the virtues which have been deposited and potential in human hearts are being revealed from that Reality as flowers and blossoms from divine gardens.”
“It is a day of joy, a time of happiness, a period of spiritual growth. I beg of God that this divine spiritual civilization may have the fullest impression and effect upon you.”
“May you become as growing plants. May the trees of your hearts bring forth new leaves and variegated blossoms. May ideal fruits appear from them in order that the world of humanity, which has grown and developed in material civilization, may be quickened in the bringing forth of spiritual ideals.”
“Just as human intellects have revealed the secrets of matter and have brought forth from the realm of the invisible the mysteries of nature, may minds and spirits, likewise, come into the knowledge of the verities of God, and the realities of the Kingdom be made manifest in human hearts.”
“Then the world will be the paradise of Abhá, the standard of the Most Great Peace will be borne aloft, and the oneness of the world of humanity in all its beauty, glory and significance will become apparent.”
“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 (brooklyn, u.s.a.) left: I marvel at how rapidly this time has come and gone again. I find myself easily recognizing and falling into the pattern of the Fast, the mood, the tone, the rhythm it evokes. It is an ever quiet time, muted, life happening around me and I, usually a full, active participant, content to observe it and absorb it. As if it is my life, but seen through someone else’s eyes. And all along I know that this is just a preparation. A time to gather my energies, to gear up and be ready to burst into the glorious, colorful, bold joyousness that this New Year brings.
Those flowers are for you, from me. You know who you are: you, who contributed, visited, shared, encouraged and loved this project. Thank you.
leila (boulder, u.s.a.) right: I have been reading everyone’s words, gazing at their photographs, and absorbed in the Writings that they have chosen to share with us: by turns groaning with empathy, joyfully thrilling, and awed. And all the while I have been eating. For the past two Fasts I have been breastfeeding my daughter, an effort that makes me so ravenous that I haven’t even tried to be tactful about sating the hunger in front of my (long-suffering) fasting husband. Every year at this time I am reminded above all to rely upon God, to trust wholly in Him. Far too often in recent years I have spent anxious insomniac nights enumerating all the ways in the world in which I am inadequate. Now, perhaps this is just plain old vanilla-flavoured neuroticism, but I do have the option of asking ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to take over the anxiety so that I can sleep for a bit: Who better to continue a list of my faults? So this is my prayer, it as often as I can remember: “Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy”.
“This is the hour, O my Lord, which Thou hast caused to excel every other hour, and hast related to the choicest among Thy creatures. I beseech Thee, O my God, by Thy Self and by them, to ordain in the course of this year what shall exalt Thy loved ones. Do Thou, moreover, decree within this year what will enable the Daystar of Thy power to shine brightly above the horizon of Thy glory, and to illuminate by Thy sovereign might, the whole world.”
“If it be Thy pleasure, make me to grow as a tender herb in the meadows of Thy grace, that the gentle winds of Thy will may stir me up and bend me into conformity with Thy pleasure, in such wise that my movement and my stillness may be wholly directed by Thee.”
mauricio (haifa, israel) left: This past year has been full of blessings as well as tests. Having the bounty of living and serving full-time in Haifa, growing more in the Faith, losing loved ones, finding the woman I love and marring her last month. Ups and downs like these, during this time, made me reflect and turn towards God more than ever.
Throughout this Fast, I find the reflection has increased, being careful with my thoughts and actions is a work in progress and asking for forgiveness is essential. The love and gratitude to God, always humbling, especially while in the Shrine. Sharing it for the first time with my wife, extremely special and uplifting.
razi (sherman oaks, u.s.a.) right: We all want to get “high”. Since we were little we loved being thrown high in the air, or going as high as possible on the swing. The euphoric rush makes us feel alive, present, and joyous. We grow up and that feeling becomes more and more difficult to achieve. Often people turn to drugs, alcohol, or many other unhealthy addictions. For myself I unseal the “Choice Wine”, with the fast, the writings, prayer and meditation. I have found that that “high” is possible. This 19-day fast is one of the fruits of God’s gifts to all of us. What an evolutionary idea, getting high on the words of God! Being “so inebriated with the wine” of His manifold wisdom that we forsake our couches in our longing to celebrate His praise and extol His virtues. Human beings seek that sensation; here’s a way that’s not physically or psychologically damaging but rather spiritually enriching. This is why I love the fast for the intensity and power of it. How it brings my lens into focus, and makes my heart catch on fire with God’s love.
“But for the tribulations that have touched Me in the path of God, life would have held no sweetness for Me, and My existence would have profiteth Me nothing.”
juliet (vancouver, canada) left: For the last five years I have been pregnant or breastfeeding and so have not fasted physically, this year included. This year I decided to fast from my own self-imposed night time depression and idleness and be creative instead. It has been truly amazing. Thank you God for this incredible fast.
philip (queens, u.s.a.) right: Not being able to fully fast for various reasons was very saddening for me: I would have liked my fast this year to be a period of reflection & gratitude for all the positive changes I’ve experienced in my life lately, but having to eat just ended up making me feel spoilt and guilty (on top of a sense of “missing out”) … I hope to live up to the opportunities that have been given me and consciously concentrate on my spiritual growth during these last few days …
“The more we search for ourselves, the less likely we are to find ourselves; and the more we search for God, and to serve our fellow-men, the more profoundly will we become acquainted with ourselves, and the more inwardly assured. This is one of the great spiritual laws of life.”
“Why then are ye quenched, why silent, why leaden and dull? Ye must shine forth like the lightning, and raise up a clamouring like unto the great sea. Like a candle must ye shed your light, and even as the soft breezes of God must ye blow across the world. Even as sweet breaths from heavenly bowers, as musk-laden winds from the gardens of the Lord, must ye perfume the air for the people of knowledge, and even as the splendours shed by the true Sun, must ye illumine the hearts of humankind. For ye are the life-laden winds, ye are the jessamine-scents from the gardens of the saved. Bring then life to the dead, and awaken those who slumber. In the darkness of the world be ye radiant flames; in the sands of perdition, be ye well-springs of the water of life, be ye guidance from the Lord God. Now is the time to serve, now is the time to be on fire. Know ye the value of this chance, this favourable juncture that is limitless grace, ere it slip from your hands.”
liam (glasgow, scotland) left: There’s so much unhappiness in the world, when there doesn’t need to be, and so much suffering when there shouldn’t be. So many people are abused, and neglected, and starving, and miserable. So I’m fasting. Big deal. What can I do for them? What can you do for them?
negeen (haifa, israel) right: These days I’ve come to realize that after years of not caring to be in my own photographs, suddenly I do. The photograph itself used to be enough of a memory of being somewhere, but now as I prepare to leave a home I’ve grown to love so much, I want to be a part of the scene I shoot. Perhaps capturing myself somehow keeps me there, at least within that image.
And at times when I don’t manage to put part or all of myself in the photo, if I look really hard, I can often find myself in the faces of my loved ones.
“Ponder then in thine heart: Matters being such as thou dost witness, and as We also witness, where canst thou flee, and with whom shalt thou take refuge? Unto whom wilt thou turn thy gaze? In what land shalt thou dwell and upon what seat shalt thou abide? In what path shalt thou tread and at what hour wilt thou find repose? What shall become of thee in the end? Where shalt thou secure the cord of thy faith and fasten the tie of thine obedience? By Him Who revealeth Himself in His oneness and Whose own Self beareth witness to His unity! Should there be ignited in thy heart the burning brand of the love of God, thou wouldst seek neither rest nor composure, neither laughter nor repose, but wouldst hasten to scale the highest summits in the realms of divine nearness, sanctity, and beauty. Thou wouldst lament as a soul bereaved and weep as a heart filled with longing. Nor wouldst thou repair to thy home and abode unless God would lay bare before thee His Cause.”
“Were the mouth of Thy will to address them saying: ‘Observe, for My beauty’s sake, the fast, O people, and set no limit to its duration,’ I swear by the majesty of Thy glory, that every one of them will faithfully observe it, will abstain from whatsoever will violate Thy law, and will continue to do so until they yield up their souls unto Thee, for they have tasted the sweetness of Thy call, and become inebriated with Thy remembrance and praise and with the words proceeding from the lips of Thy command.”
sjona (corvallis, u.s.a.) left: The Fast has never been easy for me, this year the Fast has been particularly challenging emotionally and spiritually . Judgement Day comes to me every year in March, and stripped from all the veils behind which I have hidden and without any excuses or pretenses show myself before Bahá’u’lláh, this is me.
saleem (london, u.k.) right: It’s taken fifteen fasts to realise that, for me, each fast has a theme. Twelve months ago it was a vintage nineteen days: intense daylight and dream-filled nights. Last year’s fast gathered a force that made 166 BE melodramatic. Today the fast is helping me regroup after the ensuing chaos and joy. At first, this year’s fast slid on ice, nothing seemed real. But I was slipping out of my distraction. This fast is about determination, realignment with singular goals, about waking up early not to eat breakfast but to start the day – and the year.
“O ye beloved of God! When the winds blow severely, rains fall fiercely, the lightning flashes, the thunder roars, the bolt descends and storms of trial become severe, grieve not; for after this storm, verily, the divine spring will arrive, the hills and fields will become verdant, the expanses of grain will joyfully wave, the earth will become covered with blossoms, the trees will be clothed with green garments and adorned with blossoms and fruits. Thus blessings become manifest in all countries. These favors are results of those storms and hurricanes.”
layli (rapid city, u.s.a.) left: As this year comes to a close, I find myself eager to shed some old habits and mentalities that haven’t proven beneficial to me and start fresh! Thankfully, for the Fast, I am able to more keenly identify what assists me in my spiritual development & nurtures my relationship with Bahá’u’lláh. During this time, I have been deliberately making efforts to focus on those things that bring me joy & bliss : I think of my dear family & husband, which I am so blessed to have, and the relationships in my life that nurture and feed my soul—all of these gifts are God-given & blessed! It is only appropriate then, that my best friend/dear brother and I are contributing to “nineteen days” together today.
The quote above is one that was typed up on a little piece of paper that I had printed out for a study group Na’im and I used to have in college. He then put it in his prayer book for 4 years, then sent it to me in the mail, suggesting I now put it in my prayer book. every time I read this quote, I am uplifted and reminded of the significance of trusting in the Mercy of God by staying positive & hopeful.
na’im (beijing, china) right: My year is a spindle of yarn. From Naw-Ruz onwards, the spindle unravels with increasing speed, snagging on this and extending to there. From the first moment of the Fast, each length of the yarn is sought out, hopefully examined, and with God’s blessing brought back to the center. For me there is no feeling of balance or calm like the one that accompanies these days. There is no joy like laboring on a Path of exertion and search surrounded by the fellowship and love of family and friends.
“Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbour, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, and an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.”
reed (los angeles, u.s.a.) left: This year has seldom lent itself to quiet contemplation. Reflecting on my day for nineteen days offers me a beautiful reminder of a quote from the Hidden Words that once motivated me: “O my servant! The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all worlds.” Hopefully the Fast will enable me to recenter myself towards my calling.
ramez (oxfordshire, u.k.) right: The thing I enjoy most about the fast is the year that follows it. I am looking forward to the feeling of emerging from one year, somewhat cleansed by nineteen days of fasting, and enjoying the fruits life has to offer.
“Arise, then, and make steadfast your feet, and make ye amends for that which hath escaped you, and set then yourselves towards His holy Court, on the shore of His mighty Ocean, so that the pearls of knowledge and wisdom, which God hath stored up within the shell of His radiant heart, may be revealed unto you.”
omid (santa monica, u.s.a.) left: Abstaining from food during the fast tends not to challenge me as much as I would expect, given my gastronomic tendencies. Instead my mind develops a quietude wherein all my thoughts, especially the negative ones, are amplified. The fast provides me with a reminder of how important it is to be aware and careful of what is going through my heart and mind, just as I am of what goes in my stomach.
manijeh (cambridge, u.k.) right: Those extra moments spent contemplating during this year’s fast recently reminded me of this quote. “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.” Why? Because in the same way that blindness causes the other physical senses to be heightened, fasting causes us to shut off the material world thereby sharpening our spiritual focus.
“I adjure Thee by Thy might, O my God! Let no harm beset me in times of tests, and in moments of heedlessness guide my steps aright through Thine inspiration.”
shirin (beijing, china) left: Blessed: that is the overwhelming feeling I am having during this time of year. Stripped of food, & fighting material desires & negative thoughts, I often find myself counting my blessings. & when the time arrives to eat food, I can’t help but count that blessing too!
My husband was my muse for both photos; his ruffled feathers in the early morning are especially charming.
golriz (nashville, u.s.a.) right: The fast this year falls between five months of intense travels and a wedding. My wedding! Suffice to say, this season has provided the perfect opportunity to find pause amidst the haste. And though I still rally against opening my eyes that early in the day, those minutes gift me with a rare stillness and calm that I now realize I had been desperately craving.