Just a few more stories and pictures …

• The South Commercial Drive neighbourhood had an open exhibition at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre followed by a program consisting of devotions, live music, a multicultural dance, stories and an Indigenous ceremony. The evening ended with a vegan dinner and dessert. Nearly 140 people were in attendance on this auspicious occasion.
• Two of the Baha’i ladies in Royal Oak went to shop for the Celebration.  In Metrotown mall they were tired so one of them sat and said  “Azizam” (my dear in Farsi) “Come and sit”. A Persian lady, out of nowhere, came and sat beside her and said “Your words touched my heart, it was different!”  This became the start of a conversation and the two Baha’i ladies invited her to the Royal Oak Celebration. Sshe came and brought her son too. They were welcomed by others and next step is to invite this lady for the devotional gathering and fireside.
• A young engineering student from Iran who just came to canada was invited to one celebration.  Before coming he thought very little of the Faith, but his understanding of the Faith was completely changed as he saw so many diverse people have such reverence to Baha’u’llah.  He said  “tonight is an important night for my life” and is eager to learn more about the Faith.
• I invited my hair stylist to the celebration. He later expressed that he would like to take the symbol of ‘The Greatest Name’ and also found the nine star symbol very intriguing. He said that as soon as he saw the symbol in the film he felt as though it stood for unity.  He also said that it was very interesting for him to be at a celebration where the joy and sense of love and closeness was not due to alcohol. He felt that his heart felt drawn to the love which he felt in the hearts of everyone present. There was no judgement and absolutely no barriers. He was surprised at his own comfort and happiness. He didn’t think that Faith could be so easy and acceptable. He has asked for prayers which were recited during the devotional portion of the celebration.
• At one gathering, a special guest from a local First Nation shared “Two hundred years ago a wonderful Gem was born.  From that moment until this, His Faith has grown from Himself to all of you here in this room and all the way to many millions more.  To me that is absolutely amazing.  That’s amazing to me.  A short 200 years ago one wonderful, beautiful Human Being takes His light, His experience, His knowledge, and develops this beautiful Faith.  You are here this evening to celebrate the birth of the the first One.  Beautiful.  Beautiful.  Beautiful.”  Later that evening, a friend who was at the event posted to social media: “Baha’i Feast for Unity – Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah.  I am so honoured to have been invited to this beautiful  gathering of loving, caring, gentle spirits who came to share their love, light and beauty through their songs, stories, prayers, drumming, dance, acknowledgements, and food.  It was pure magic to see the unity, love, and respect between the Baha’is and the indigenous people of this land.  Let us mirror this celebration from this day forward so we can be the ripple effect of the beautiful truth that we are ONE.  What a beautiful life we will create for ourselves and our future generations.”
• One Baha’i friend had surgery this week and could not help with much of what was going on this weekend.  Undeterred, she was resolved and wanted to do something to take part in this momentous occasion.  She heard from her cousin in Toronto that a Baha’i visited her to gift her cookies to share the news of the 200th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birth.  She said to herself “I can do that!”  So she baked three different kinds of cookies and visited 5 neighbours, bringing each a gift from her kitchen.  They were happy to learn about the occasion and were pleased with the gift.  She will continue doing this for the next few weeks with friends who live further afield.
• One man attended a gathering on Friday without knowing anyone or even what the Faith was.  We explored some of the central teachings of the Faith. He shared how he’s always believed there was God, and had been sensing lately there there were new forces operating in the world. Towards the end of the gathering we exchanged contact information, and he asked for reading material on the Faith. Fortunately the planning team had some flyers and a little book on the life and teachings of Baha’u’llah.  That night when I got home, I sent him an email, sharing with him that there were two more celebrations taking place in the neighborhood and that it would be wonderful to see him again. A day later he replied saying that he would come to the Sunday gathering. I was so happy that he might come again; in our conversations Friday, he seemed so eager to hear about the Faith and to learn about the movement in the neighborhood.  On Sunday night, it was so exciting to see him again.  After the initial program, I was able to go and greet him. We shook hands warmly, and I sat down to join him in conversation with another of the Baha’i friends. We then had a deep conversation on the lives of Baha’u’llah and of the Bab. We talked about the transformative power of religion, and the effect of the Teachings on the society of Persia at that time. This led us to talk about the life of Tahirih and the principle of the equality of women and men. We explored the nature of progressive revelation, and how God has sent Teachers from time to time to assist humanity to learn what it needs to learn to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. At the end of the night, we embraced and made plans to meet up again. He was excited to keep reading the book on Baha’u’llah he had been given two nights before.