“Glorified, immeasurably glorified art Thou, O Lord! Every man of insight is far astray in his attempt to recognize Thee, and every man of consummate learning is sore perplexed in his search after Thee….”
“Every evidence falleth short of Thine unknowable Essence and every light retreateth and sinketh below the horizon when confronted with but a glimmer of the dazzling splendour of Thy might….”
“Bestow on me, O my Lord, Thy gracious bounty and benevolent gifts and grant me that which beseemeth the sublimity of Thy glory. Aid me, O my Lord, to achieve a singular victory….”
“Open Thou the door of unfailing success before me and grant that the things Thou hast promised may be close at hand. Thou art in truth potent over all things….”
“Refresh my heart, O my God, with the living waters of Thy love and give me a draught, O my Master, from the chalice of Thy tender mercy….”
“Let me abide, O my Lord, within the habitation of Thy glory, and suffer me, O my God, to emerge from the darkness in which Thy divine obscurity is shrouded….”
“Enable me to partake of every good Thou hast vouchsafed unto Him Who is the Point and unto such as are the exponents of His Cause, and ordain for me that which beseemeth Thee and well becometh Thy station….”
“Do Thou graciously forgive me for the things that I have wrought in Thy holy presence, and look not upon me with the glance of justice, but rather deliver me through Thy grace, treat me with Thy mercy and deal with me according to Thy bountiful favours, as is worthy of Thy glory….”
“Thou art the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Glorious, the Bestower of favours and gifts, the Lord of grace abounding. Verily no God is there but Thee. Thou art the All-Possessing, the Most High.”
“Rely upon God. Trust in Him. Praise Him, and call Him continually to mind. He verily turneth trouble into ease, and sorrow into solace, and toil into utter peace. He verily hath dominion over all things.”
amy (massachusetts, u.s.a.) left: and just like that, everything changes. and it is the most beautiful, welcome, challenging, moving journey.
leila (colorado, u.s.a.) right: Feeling thankful. Grateful for friends, family, faith, love, health, and life. Appreciating good meals at the end of long days, courtesy of friends (feeling lucky, too). Feeling thankful also for this yearly project, which fills me up with inspiration, collaboration, and harmony. (Would you believe that Amy and I chose the same quote for today?) (Oh you’d better believe it.)
“O son of man! If thine eyes be turned towards mercy, forsake the things that profit thee and cleave unto that which will profit mankind. And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself. Humility exalteth man to the heaven of glory and power, whilst pride abaseth him to the depths of wretchedness and degradation.”
“O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord.”
mona (mannheim, germany) left: “O SON OF BEING! Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee. Get thou from it thy radiance and seek none other than Me. For I have created thee rich and have bountifully shed My favor upon thee.” ~Baha’u’llah (The Hidden Words)
alisa (taipei, taiwan) right: The 小籠包 Shao Long Bao are ready. The vendors have been hand-making them since 4:00 AM, as they do every morning, and if I ever complained of waking early for the Fast, my grumpiness is now humbled by this family’s steadfast cheer. The steaming bamboo pots breathe a wakeful smell into my nostrils. They’re ordered as fast as paid for, eaten in one bite. I order another – soft dough around meat and onions. It’s my day off, perfect for a bike tour. A water-conservation museum, a wall designated by the Taiwanese government for graffiti, a 100 km cycling path circling the city, a pick-up softball game, and a converted artists village open for exploring: the city’s creative gems. Time travels faster here. Swift nightfall signals to the lanterns to greet us with their warm glow. One more day.
“O my dear friend! Verily, my heart is united with thee even though my body is in a distant land, for verily neither long distance nor immense remoteness can prevent the union between hearts, because the clear hearts are in reality assembled in union in the Kingdom of God, while bodies are disperse in the east and west of the earth. This dispersion cannot stop the affinity and cannot veil the eye of soul from seeing in all directions.”
“I beseech Thee to aid and assist me at all times and under all conditions.”
ryan (kinshasa, democratic republic of the congo) left: I was evicted from my bed last night by a plethora of winged termites (I hear they’re quite tasty) and woke this morning in unfamiliar surroundings. Of course, unfamiliar surroundings seem to be my forte as I am completely incapable of staying in one place any longer than absolutely necessary (that may as well be me in the photo above, with feet that may be planted squarely on one side of the gate, and my head already on the other). In the grips of my particular brand of peripateticism it’s hard sometimes to have any sense of progress, of development. But the fast always brings me back to my senses (if only temporarily), and see clearly how far I’ve gone, or more likely, how far I have left to go.
anyssa (brooklyn, u.s.a.) right: I don’t know if it’s an American term, but many of my peers refer to the early morning as “ungodly.” I’m naturally an early riser (a genetic predisposition I most likely inherited from my father) and when friends hear that my Saturday morning began at 7am, the response is usually: ‘my goodness gracious Anyssa, what do you do at that ungodly hour?’ To be honest, I can’t think of anything more Godly, than a giant flaming orb of gas, fire and light, rising over a darkened horizon and despite being a gazillion miles away holding the planets in a constant orbit – dancing around the sun like ballerinas in perpetual pirouette. And our little earth hangs in the delicate balance. We rise early with the sun during each day of the fast, and then see it set, and hopefully are reminded of how Godly this world is.
“I know not, O my God, what the Fire is which Thou didst kindle in Thy land. Earth can never cloud its splendor, nor water quench its flame. All the peoples of the world are powerless to resist its force. Great is the blessedness of him that hath drawn nigh unto it, and heard its roaring.”
“O son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.”
jalan (maputo, mozambique) left: It’s tough being day sixteen; anything eloquent, astute, witty, wise, insightful or original has already been shared by my thirty predecessors.
So I will take the Divine shortcut. It never disappoints.
Here is an excerpt from the Blessed Beauty that accompanies me closely during the 19 fasting days and remains close to me the remaining 346.
“Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon. In truth, they are the pillars of religion whereby the righteous are distinguished from those who transgress His commandments. We entreat God, exalted and glorified be He, that he may graciously enable all to observe that which He hath revealed in His Ancient Book.” ~ Bahá’u’lláh
leili towfigh (boston, u.s.a.) right:
“Praise be unto Thee, O Lord my God! We have observed the Fast in conformity with Thy bidding and break it now through Thy love and Thy good-pleasure. Deign to accept, O my God, the deeds that we have performed in Thy path wholly for the sake of Thy beauty with our faces set towards Thy Cause, free from aught else but Thee. Bestow, then, Thy forgiveness upon us, upon our forefathers, and upon all such as have believed in Thee and in Thy mighty signs in this most great, this most glorious Revelation. Potent art Thou to do what Thou choosest. Thou art, verily, the Most Exalted, the Almighty, the Unconstrained.”
“To speak of change or transformation in this plane would be sheer blasphemy and utter impiety, for this is the station wherein the light of divine unity shineth forth, and the truth of His oneness is expressed, and the splendours of the everlasting Morn are reflected in lofty and faithful mirrors.”
negeen (oklahoma city, u.s.a.) left: Drastic changes in my environment have caused me to take notice of what is constant in my life. Regardless of the view outside of my window, the three faces inside comprise my home. The smaller the spheres of my existence: my family, my self, my reason for being; the more defined and concentrated they feel, until I arrive at my core and seek a reflection of The Abiding One. Among life’s incidents, accidents, departures, beginnings, trials and favors, one eternally constant part of us can remain “ancient, imperishable and everlasting.”
glenn (haifa, israel) right: It is obvious as we witness the catastrophes unfolding before our eyes that the Hand of the Almighty is at work, guiding mankind to what Bahá’u’lláh mentioned in one of his Writings; “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” (“The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh”, p. 203)
“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!”
“On this plane, neither the reign of reason is sufficient nor the authority of self. Hence, one of the Prophets of God hath asked: ‘O my Lord, how shall we reach unto Thee?’ And the answer came, ‘Leave thyself behind, and then approach Me.’”
shirin (beijing, china) left: Another fast in Beijing is coming to an end this weekend, & all I can think of is: didn’t it just begin the other day? I’ve enjoyed every minute, the bustle of waking up, praying together, letting the hunger pangs remind me that a huge portion of the world only eats once a day without complaining, the day-long struggle of bettering one’s actions, letting the just-before-eating giddiness set in with glee & subsequent giggles, sharing a lovely modest meal with friends who you care for, & looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow morning … The best part? Some friends we’ve made here have started fasting with us! As a sidenote: The gloriously huge Chinese lion I photographed is what I see on my daily walk. I love how he looks like he is eating his pom pom as if humiliated by the very suggestion! The other sleeping lion? That’s my husband.
kadria (toronto, canada) right: I always find the Fast to be an intense time. It seems to build and release spiritual tension as the soul is prepared and re-shaped for a new year, a fresh start. Part of the spiritual struggle for me this year has inspired comfort in small things. A heartfelt hug, the feel of a handmade quilt, a phone-call home, a visit with good friends. Moments to be grateful for. After a long photography hiatus, taking my photos for Nineteen Days today was another comforting moment. Just the act of walking around at dusk to watch the light was refreshing and helped me remember the importance of doing something that uplifts the soul.
“Thou hearest, O my God, my sighs and my groaning, and beholdest my powerlessness, and my poverty, and my misery, and my woes, and my wretchedness. I swear by Thy might! I have wept with such a weeping that I have been unable to make mention of Thee, or to extol Thee, and cried with such a bitter cry that every mother in her bereavement was bewildered at me, and forgot her own anguish and the sighs she had uttered.
I implore Thee, O my Lord, by Thine Ark, through which the potency of Thy will was manifested and the energizing influences of Thy purpose were revealed, and which saileth on both land and sea through the power of Thy might, not to seize me in my mighty sins and great trespasses. I swear by Thy glory! The waters of Thy forgiveness and Thy mercy have emboldened me, as hath Thy dealing, in bygone ages, with the sincere among Thy chosen ones, and with such of Thy Messengers as have proclaimed Thy oneness.
I am well aware, O my Lord, that I have been so carried away by the clear tokens of Thy loving-kindness, and so completely inebriated with the wine of Thine utterance, that whatever I behold I readily discover that it maketh Thee known unto me, and it remindeth me of Thy signs, and of Thy tokens, and of Thy testimonies. By Thy glory! Every time I lift up mine eyes unto Thy heaven, I call to mind Thy highness and Thy loftiness, and Thine incomparable glory and greatness; and every time I turn my gaze to Thine earth, I am made to recognize the evidences of Thy power and the tokens of Thy bounty. And when I behold the sea, I find that it speaketh to me of Thy majesty, and of the potency of Thy might, and of Thy sovereignty and Thy grandeur. And at whatever time I contemplate the mountains, I am led to discover the ensigns of Thy victory and the standards of Thine omnipotence.
I swear by Thy might, O Thou in Whose grasp are the reins of all mankind, and the destinies of the nations! I am so inflamed by my love for Thee, and so inebriated with the wine of Thy oneness, that I can hear from the whisper of the winds the sound of Thy glorification and praise, and can recognize in the murmur of the waters the voice that proclaimeth Thy virtues and Thine attributes, and can apprehend from the rustling of the leaves the mysteries that have been irrevocably ordained by Thee in Thy realm.
Glorified art Thou, O God of all names and Creator of the heavens! I render Thee thanks that Thou hast made known unto Thy servants this Day whereon the river that is life indeed hath flowed forth from the fingers of Thy bounty, and the springtime of Thy revelation and Thy presence hath appeared through Thy manifestation unto all who are in Thy heaven and all who are on Thy earth.”
“That the heart is the throne, in which the Revelation of God the All-Merciful is centered, is attested by the holy utterances which We have formerly revealed. Among them is this saying: “Earth and heaven cannot contain Me; what can alone contain Me is the heart of him that believeth in Me, and is faithful to My Cause.”
layli (los angeles, u.s.a.) left: this morning as i woke, i opened my shutters as i do every morning during the Fast, to greet the new day and watch the sun peek up over the horizon. on this morning, to my surprise, i saw these two creatures standing outside my window, mesmerized and stunned with delight and/or confusion, as if they had been standing there all night – i like to wake up to such strange sightings.
and as the sun sets, every night, i cannot wait to tear through my delightful blood oranges and all the other citrus picked from our friends trees. the citrus is so beautifully colored, so happy and bright, it literally has the power to bring me cheer. its that time of the Fast for me where i am spiritually jacked on happiness & gratitude; my focus and inner sight is with such a keenness that i feel as if i am traversing through my history and baggage with roadrunner pace. this is the time of the Fast that i catch myself actually saying, “i don’t want it to end”.
p.s. i love that i am able to share this day with my brother, who is worlds away in the ‘jing. like last year, on this day, when we share this lovely opportunity on 19days, i feel so much closer to him, and know that we are both thinking of one another all day. it is so sweet.
na’im (beijing, china) right: This is my 13th Fast. My first Fast, I accidentally ate a Frutio. That lemon Frutio is a symbol of the Frutios that I face every year, which often must be consciously declined, or sought out in the subconscious to be rooted from my character. It is an awesome (like a supernova, not like a hot dog) process that redefines me for the remaining year, highlighting the standard to which I hope to attain. That it also is nestled in a context of love that spans the planet, fellowship, and awesome (like a hot dog) food is a bounty undeserved.
“I entreat Thee to enable me to cleave steadfastly to Thy Love and Thy remembrance. This is, verily, within my power, and Thou art the One that knoweth all that is in me. Thou, in truth, art knowing, apprised of all. Deprive me not, O my Lord, of the splendors of the light of Thy face, whose brightness hath illuminated the whole world. No God is there beside Thee, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Forgiving.”
“Blessed is he that hath set himself towards Thee, and hasted to attain the Day-Spring of the lights of Thy face. Blessed is he who with all his affections hath turned to the Dawning-Place of Thy Revelation and the Fountain-Head of Thine inspiration. Blessed is he that hath expended in Thy path what Thou didst bestow upon him through Thy bounty and favor. Blessed is he who, in his sore longing after Thee, hath cast away all else except Thyself. Blessed is he who hath enjoyed intimate communion with Thee, and rid himself of all attachment to any one save Thee.”
elliott (ross creek, australia) left: This is my first year both as a husband and as a father, so I have felt a need to ponder specifically upon the qualities of integrity and steadfastness. Fasting is truly bringing this reflection to the forefront. I Fast because I am Baha’i. That I can practice my Faith freely is a bounty. I am trying to bear these in mind in my daily activities in order to reinforce patterns of behaviour appropriate for the new roles I am taking on.
omid (santa monica, u.s.a.) right: Each year the Fast brings me heightened mental clarity and awareness such that each thought that passes through my mind is amplified and made more manifest. It’s Spring-cleaning for the mind, wherein the mental dust, clutter and cobwebs that have settled in throughout the year are purged. The additional clarity and light the process lets in shines a spotlight on the thoughts that drift, and sometimes linger in my mind. Some years there is more cleaning to do than others, reminding me to be more consistent in my tidying up so that I may enjoy the mindful state, the clarity and light the Fast brings throughout the year.
“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.”
“. . . the Ancient Beauty was ever, during His sojourn in this transitory world, either a captive bound with chains, or living under a sword, or subjected to extreme suffering and torment, or held in the Most Great Prison. Because of His physical weakness, brought on by His afflictions, His blessed body was worn away to a breath; it was light as a cobweb from long grieving. And His reason for shouldering this heavy load and enduring all this anguish, which was even as an ocean that hurleth its waves to high heaven—His reason for putting on the heavy iron chains and for becoming the very embodiment of utter resignation and meekness, was to lead every soul on earth to concord, to fellow-feeling, to oneness; to make known amongst all peoples the sign of the singleness of God, so that at last the primal oneness deposited at the heart of all created things would bear its destined fruit, and the splendour of ‘No difference canst thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy,’ would cast abroad its rays.”
anjali (brooklyn, u.s.a.) left: Every year during this time I am reminded of how quickly time passes, and how precious these moments are. When I wake in the darkness of the morning, bleary-eyed and feeling like my arms and legs are operating under conflicting directions, it’s a struggle. But as the Fast continues, I inevitably begin to relish those quiet mornings: watching the light slowly fill the apartment; mindfully preparing for a new day; and re-orienting my thoughts, actions, and perspective.
sarah (guam, u.s.a.) right: “O SON OF BEING! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation.” ~Baha’u’llah