Friday, March 28, 2008

you can be that servant

i have so much to catch up on that i really want to post about. still struggling to focus on one final conference paper that i will present in Atlanta next week at the Association for Asian Studies conference. While I am there I plan on visiting the King Center. Visit the website for a very cool experience listening to an excerpt of Dr. Martin Luther King's sermon the "Drum Major Instinct"
"If you want to be important—-wonderful. If you want to be recognized—-wonderful. If you want to be great—-wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That's a new definition of greatness.
And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don't have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir, Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

guidance for a would-be spiritual warrior

From my readings this morning in "Creating a New Mind: Reflections on the Individual, the Institutions and the Community" by Paul Lample:
"The plan of conquest is the Divine Plan. The "conquest" is, in actuality, the liberation of the human race. Its methods eschew force and coercion and opt for service, wisdom and love:
"To do battle, as stated in the sacred verse, doth not, in this greatest of all dispensations, mean to go forth with sword and spear, with lance and piercing arrow--but rather weaponed with pure intent, with righteous motives, with counsels helpful and effective, with godly attributes, with deeds pleasing to the Almighty, with the qualities of heaven. It signifieth education for all mankind, guidance for all men, the spreading far and wide of the sweet savors of the spirit, the promulgation of God's proofs, the setting forth of arguments conclusive and divine, the doing of charitable deeds." 'Selections from the Writings of Abd'ul-Baha, p. 260
Lets go forth into battle then!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

African sunshine in my little apartment

Tonight Gustaff Besungu stopped by and brought rhythm, Cameroonian warmth, sunshine, joy and happiness to a few New Jersey residents in my little apartment. How it filled my soul and took me home to Africa! He gives of his talents freely, joyfully and in service. If you have the opportunity to have him over or to go to listen to him I suggest you sieze it. If you are afraid the neighbours might object to all the drumming why not invite them in too? That is what I did.

I was thinking of my dear mother tonight and he sang a song just especially for mothers and here it is-- "a song for all the mothers" he said.

Gustaff is also keeping the Baha'i fast so we broke the fast together before the evening program and also had a little chopsticks lesson.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Yay for unity!! Baha'i children's classes on NPR this morning

"Class Teaches Virtues to Children of Many Faiths

It sounds like the start of a bad joke: A Jew, a Baptist and a Baha'i get together every Sunday morning ...
But it's a new kind of Sunday school, where families from a range of religions gather to teach virtues to their young children. On a recent Sunday in Falls Church, Va., Layli and Gil Miller-Muro invited parents and children — aged 14 months to 6 years old — to their home to learn about helpfulness.
"Parents of my generation feel incredible pressure to make our kids read earlier, to know math sooner and better, to get into the top preschools and then the best schools," Layli explains. "But what many of us forget is the other side of the character of our children, not just the academic side, but the spiritual side and their character side."
...In the past decade, the Baha'i Faith has sponsored about 900 such classes nationwide. They're based on the central Baha'i tenet that all religions are different but come from the same source, God. Gil says the couple then asked their friends if they'd be interested.
"When we proposed this idea to them, they said that was something they'd like to do to," Gil says. "So we realized we had a critical mass and it was time to get started."
The parents come from Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, Greek Orthodox and Baha'i backgrounds. Rachel Galoob-Ortega, who is Jewish, says she wants her son Luka to learn about and accept all religions."

...So, do the virtues stick?
Shazia Philipsen thinks so, especially when she receives an occasional lecture from her daughter, Serena.
"It's things like patience," she says. "In the car, when I'm driving, Serena will say, 'Mommy, you have to be patient!' So she understands through the books, through the storytelling, what it means. I don't think she learns that at school. She's changed, and it's great."
And the children have been so patient for more than an hour, waiting for the highlight of the class, Cowboy Hay. Gil Miller Muro's stepfather strides into the room, sporting a long white beard, a hillbilly hat and a banjo. He begins strumming and the kids join in, perhaps not realizing they are crooning a theological message.
"We are drops ... of one ocean. We are waves… of one sea. Won't you come and join us in our quest for unity. It's the way of life for you and me," they sing.
The parents collapse into comfortable chairs, as Cowboy Hay and his young virtuosos sing about unity in the complex future they face.

Read whole article

Sunday, March 02, 2008

the "season of restraint"?

this is the month of fasting and the "season of restraint" BUT this post is all about FOOD!! the good food continues and i find myself feeling so grateful for all the flavors and cultures that i have the bounty of being exposed to.

There continues to be the wonderful chinese cooking of yx.

a couple of days ago there were colorful cakes for Ayyam-i-Ha [the 4-5 day festival before the Baha'i fast begins]

and the other night a dear colleague invited us to dinner and her charming Mexican husband cooked us a scrumptious Mexican meal.

tonight we celebrated the end of the first day of fasting in style and vibrance at the pouschti's with

prayers and music,

pomegranate soup,

a couple of different types of Persian rice sprinkled with various precious items such as dried cherries and saffron, and much more. Of course there was Persian tea on the samovar and ended it all with

some joyful dancing and laughter.

The evening made me remember that wonderful quotation of 'Abdu'l-Baha that goes

"My home is the home of peace. My home is the home of joy and delight. My home is the home of laughter and exultation. Whosoever enters through the portals of this home must go out with gladsome heart. This is the home of light; whosoever enters here must become illumined...."('Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in an article on humor and laughter published in "Baha'i Studies Review 7," 1997)

I told them so and it turns out they had that quote framed on their wall.