Sunday, March 2, 2008

Remembering Zach through teaching the Cause

Personal and collective teaching initiatives have been multiplying in the Hartford/Tolland cluster in honor of a dynamic 21 year old youth who tragically passed away in an automobile accident.

Here is a compilation of beautifully diverse teaching efforts made in honor of Zach’s birthday, January 9th.

I never got the chance to meet Zach, but my sister and brother did and really admired his character and spirit. They sent me the request for acts of teaching on his birthday, so my cousin and I held a fireside in his honor on Friday (a belated present!) in New York City. Before the fireside we prayed for him and for the effort, and for Zach to help guide the souls that would come. We had a great evening, about 10 people came, and 4 of them were not Baha'is. We had a wonderful discussion on prayer, read several quotes and ended with a few prayers set to music. One of our dear, new Baha'is from Sierra Leone came and brought 2 of his friends who particularly enjoyed the fireside and made some amazing comments... I think it was the 1st fireside for both of them. We ended at 11:30 pm or so but many stayed on for 2 hours later, just joking around and eating pizza. The spirit of the evening was perfect, and perhaps it was Zach that gave that gift to us.

Another . . . .

Our Senior Center has scheduled a series over a period of 6 weeks entitled World Religions. The advertisement stated: "With the world growing smaller and more interconnected every day, understanding the religions of our fellow believers has become more interesting and important. We will explore the religious beliefs and practices of the world's great faiths." I also noticed Baha'i was not included in the list, so I talked to the director and shared my desire to speak with the gentleman who would be the instructor. I left my information at the Center.

Yesterday, on Zach's birthday, he called me. He was warm and kindly and stated he was raised Lutheran but presently had no religious affiliation. We had a wonderful conversation and I told him my concern that Baha'i had not been listed and he said he was including a brief 5-10 minute explanation of the Baha'i Faith. I offered him our official websites, and, plus myself as resources. He said he had been to the House of Worship in Wilmette. I am looking forward to attending the sessions with my teaching partner, making friends and seeking receptive souls among the other attendees.

A home visit . . .

I lived in the same condo-complex with ___ for a year. She is very sociable and quickly became friends with several Baha’is in our town. (A Baha’i couple now lives in the same condo-complex; in the apartment directly under hers.)

More than six months ago, another Baha’i and I made one very brief unexpected visit to her apartment; while she was warm and welcoming, we were not invited inside because she was preparing to leave for another engagement. On another occasion I invited her over to my apartment and she accepted; the visit was filled with laughter and lots of questions, though she made it clear that she was Catholic and asked that if she was not interested in the Faith could we all still be friends.

Over the months, she and I corresponded several times via the internet; I’ve called her on occasion just to say hello and my calls were always welcomed.

About two weeks ago, per her request, another Baha’i and I made a plan to visit her on January 2nd. However, when the day arrived she asked if we could reschedule to the following week. Unintentionally, we scheduled the visit for January 9th, Zach’s birthday.

We arrived at her place shortly after 7 p.m. and we stayed until nearly 10 p.m.! We brought her a vase of flowers as a gift and when she saw them she began to tear. She was exceedingly happy! She gave us a tour of her cozy apartment and then offered us tea and cookies. We sat and chatted and belly laughed for hours. In our conversation the topic of prejudice came up. She had received some propaganda via email stating Obama was a Muslim and that he intended to do harm to America if he became President. As a result of her sharing, we had the bounty of sharing some truths with her as well as defend Islam. On another occasion during our visit she announced that she believed we were all sinners; that gave us the chance to speak about our God given nobility along with encouraging her to ponder the question “If God sees us as sinners, how will you accomplish your goal of getting to heaven?” She changed her position and then said; we all have the potential to sin.

As we prepared to leave, with genuine enthusiasm, she said she was so glad that we visited her; she said we’d brought her knowledge. We ended our visit with the following Hidden Word O CHILDREN OF MEN! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.

She hugged us both very tightly; we were all very happy!

Via email . . .

I wanted to share with you the email below; which I received on Zach's birthday. This is a Unitarian minister that I met at an interfaith symposium who attended a fireside the night of Zach's wake. I sent him an invitation to join us at the devotional planned to honor both Zach and Michael; below is his reply.

"Thank-you for thinking of me – I am currently in Chicago at Theological School so I will miss your devotional gathering. I will remember Zach and Michael in my prayers and daily ritual in solidarity with you. Peace be upon them both. Offer my regards to both their families.

I am planning a field trip up to the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, IL. Looking forward to it. I’ve started reading the biography on Baha’u’llah though I admit the reading is going slowly because I am so laden with reading for my classes (20 books for 3 classes – ouch!). I will try to email you after my field trip. Peace be with you. Be Well!"

Baby steps . . . .

I had my clothes washer delivered today (Zach’s birthday). I remembered someone at the reflection meeting saying that they leave the “purpose of religion” cards at restaurants, so when the two young delivery men were leaving, I tipped them, said “God bless you” and gave them the card.

A real baby step for sure, but a step.

Also, I told my husband (non-Baha'i) I want to say a prayer together every day for our son. We are!

Receptive youth . . .

There is an amazing young soul, who grew up in Montreal and has been living in CT for the past 5-6 years. He is the incredible son of a dear seeker friend of mine whom I met at the Dances of Universal Peace. He, and a couple of other youths, happened to be at my home the morning of January 9th. He has been to one devotional/fireside at my home a couple of months ago and I believe to one or two youth firesides in the past month or so. He gave a ride to another seeker who was staying with me, to the train station and then came to my house at about 7:30am on the 9th. We ended up spending nearly two hours exploring different aspects of the Baha'i Faith, his spiritual path and humanity's spiritual evolution. He is one of the most amazing youth seekers I have ever known and he will be attending NEBY with some other friends. He is so in love with Baha'u'llah's teachings that I was moved to give him a prayer book and a small book about Baha'u'llah which he joyfully and graciously accepted.

I just want to express to you that Zach's passing has truly infused this region with incredible spiritual energy and potential; I have so many stories and instances in which I have felt his soul's presence guiding seekers and connecting hearts.

"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth."

Home visit . . .

On Zach’s birthday, three youth and I made a home visit to an older woman who lives in our cluster. She loves to have people visit her and she especially loves the youth! We shared a few pages from “Anna’s Presentation” (in Book 6) which triggered discussion about spiritual themes. She’s a new Baha’i and enjoys learning about the Faith. The youth really enjoyed this experience and look forward to going again!

No comments: