Wednesday, 24 October 2007


Dear friends, comment leavers, silent perusers, ghost readers.

I'm planning on taking a little break from the blogosphere so I can focus on my college applications. I look forward to reconnecting when I've returned from planet GRE.

Those of you who have my email address are welcome to contact me personally during that time.

I want to leave you with this beautiful prayer that's been doing something revolutionary to my soul over the last 24 hours:

"God is sufficient unto me; He verily is the All-sufficing! In Him let the trusting trust.’ - Baha’u’llah, quoted in The Dawn-Breakers, US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1932, p. 632


Tuesday, 16 October 2007

BNASAA: Vanguard of the Baha'i Faith

Last Sunday night I arrived back in San Jose after one of the most faith affirming weekends of my life. The last four days had been spent at the exquisitely situated Bosch Baha'i School at the annual BNASAA Conference.

For those of you who don't know, BNASAA is an acronym for the Baha'i Network on Aids, Sexuality, Addictions and Abuse. Over the weekend, I had the honour of praying with, crying with, singing with, laughing with, hugging wih, consulting with and healing with some extraordinarily courageous souls who, due to BNASAA specific issues, have felt misunderstood or marginalized both within and without the Baha’i Community. I met gay Baha'is, Baha'is who have struggled with addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling, Baha'is who are survivors of rape, child sex abuse and domestic violence and Baha'is with HIV or AIDS - essentially, a cross-section of any contemporary Western population at this time of radical unrest and spiritual upheaval. While we came to the weekend with a variety of histories to share, hurts to mend and triumphs to celebrate, the common thread was our sincere desire to express our love for Baha'u'llah through faithfulness to His Covenant. It was truly beautiful. I believe this is what the beloved Guardian was talking about when he declared that the ideal Baha'i Community will be characterised by "unity in diversity". – Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 47.

Arguably, the areas BNASAA focusses on are some of the most difficult issues facing the Baha'i Community at this point in our evolution. In an emerging culture where the highest standards of morality have been prescribed, Baha'i Communities and Institutions are still learning how to acknowledge and support those of us who face spiritual tests in these areas, while at the same time ensuring they do not condone behaviour that transgresses Baha'i Law. In Al-Anon speak, it's called "supporting the alcoholic, not the alcoholism" and make no mistake, it is an art.

As the Baha'i Faith becomes more visible to seekers of diverse backgrounds, we are going to need to be artists one and all, adept at wielding some hefty spiritual qualities. I am not talking here about judgment, punishment, fire or brimstone. The most effective tools we possess for the building of a unified, inclusive Baha’i Community wholly committed to humanity's salvation are humility, tolerance, open-mindedness, justice and above all, unconditional love.

"...all of you ought with your hearts and minds to endeavour to win the people with kindness, so that this great Unity may be established...” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 45

Back in 1998 on a visit to a BNASAA Conference, Counselor Stephen Birkland commented that these brave men and women whom God has chosen to perfect through intense tests are the 'vanguards' of the Baha'i Faith. As survivors of abuse, as Baha'i's in Recovery, as individuals who have learned to sublimate desires that run counter to Baha'i Teachings, BNASAA has something unique to offer the both the Baha'i Community and the world at large: expertise in overcoming hardships through Baha'u'llah's Grace.

As our worldwide Community grows, this expertise is going to be indispensable. I seriously doubt that when - as has been prophesised - large groups of people start to be attracted to Baha'u'llah's healing Revelation, they will be celebrities, soccer mums and stockbrokers. Indeed, as an Auxiliary Board Member (who participated in the weekend and shall therefore remain anonymous) reminded us; these affluent, 'upwardly mobile' members of society are in fact the least receptive demographic to the Baha’i Faith. On the contrary, I believe the future champions of Baha'u'llah's Cause will be survivors of all manner of atrocities because they - like BNASAA members - will understand first-hand that Baha'i Law is “the Law of God, through which the breezes of justice have been wafted over all who are in heaven and on earth." - Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 81. Integrating these people into our Community is not going to be glamorous or easy. I'm talking about refugees, war-orphans, torture and rape-victims. The global Baha'i Community will need to be prepared to deal with post-traumatic stress en masse.

However, therein will lie our greatest victories. Not only will we be galvanised and unified by drawing together to serve our brothers and sisters, I believe we will benefit enormously from the amazing insights these individuals will have when it comes to teaching the Faith. I can testify to this from very personal experience. I am so grateful that the blessed sister who introduced me to Baha'u'llah - and incidentally, I have her permission to tell you this - was an ex-crack addict and former prostitute who I met in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. Paradoxically, it was her unconventional past that initially convinced me to investigate Baha'u'llah's claims, chiefly because it was so at odds with the ordinances He had laid down. My teacher had tried the very opposite of these ordinances and found it to be a spiritual, emotional, material and social dead-end - just as I had. Yet here she was, with an unwavering conviction that the guidance contained within the Baha'i Faith held real answers. It was irresistably compelling. I'm sorry to say I would not have been receptive had she been a picket-fence-living, apron-wearing, cookie-baking offence to any readers named Nancy.

In an AA Meeting, it’s often the newcomer talking to themselves in the back row smelling vaguely of urine who is the most cherished person in the room. Why? Because us sober ones know that if they manage to recover, it will provide further proof of God’s infinite love and the solution offered by the 12 Step program. We also know that if he or she gets well, their story may help countless others who are in need of the same solution. Hmmm. Countless others…in need of a solution…Now why does that sound familiar?

“The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men...after meditating on its needs, take counsel together and, through anxious and full deliberation, administer to a distressed and sorely-afflicted world the remedy it requireth.” – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 215

So when we encounter such a soul as described above, AA members stick out our hands, offer our phone numbers and do all we can to make them feel uber-welcome. We call it 'loving them back to life'. I look forward to the day when the Baha'i Community not only nurtures but celebrates its most disenfranchised members as 'vanguards of the Faith' in a culture of love and encouragement. In this way, perhaps we can all experience the unique camaraderie born of overcoming our common challenges by leaning on Baha’u’llah and then helping others to do the same. Open, honest, authentic dialogue about who we are and what we're struggling with is where true community will begin. BNASAA has started that conversation. You, dear reader, are most warmly invited to join us.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Big Old Jet Airliner

So. It's nearly 1am and here I sit, all packed up and ready to leave the country for three months tomorrow (this!) morning. Praise God for the frequent flyer points that are taking me direct from Melbourne to LA. Praise God for the strong Australian dollar that has bought me a tidy wad of American Travellers cheques for my battered old wallet. Praise God for the pure serendipity of scheduling my flight the same day as a dear Baha'i sister who hails from the City of Angels and whom I've not seen for months, so that we can hang out at the airport together. Praise God for the new friend in recovery who has never laid eyes on me yet is picking me up from LA International Airport, taking me home to her place and doing everything (I mean everything - she is emailing me the weather so I can pack the right clothes and asking me what kinds of food I like so she can stock the fridge, can you believe it?) she can to make a total stranger feel loved and welcome. Praise God for the sunrise that I can already see illuminating the sky in my mind's eye as a girlfriend and I drive from LA to San Diego at daybreak this Friday morning, Thelma and Louise style. Praise God for all the wild adventures that I can't begin to imagine.

I love travel. I love the stretched consciousness that comes with encountering a different culture. I love making friends with random people at bus stops and in cafes. But most of all, I love being thrust into the arms of my Higher Power. Once that plane takes off, I'm forced to confront the reality that I have absolutely no power over whether my luggage ends up in Paris or Paraguay, or whether the planes lands safely or slams into the side of a mountain and strangely I find that so comforting. All I can do is trust. There's not much choice but to surrender my will and my life to the All-Loving, the All-Merciful. And for a control freak like me, that is one huge relief.

As I embark on this journey, I'm aware that this trip is the culmination of many heartfelt prayers. Ever since becoming a Baha'i, I've been longing to find a way to integrate my Baha'i identity with the fact that active service within a community of recovering addicts ensures I remain alive. And so I'm off to the nation where the 12 Step movement begun back in 1939; the country Abdu'l Baha promised would set the benchmark of justice and spiritual wealth for the whole planet to follow, the place

with the pulse whose rythym fits my own so snugly, so comfortably. In essence, I go to see what I can learn about how to marry the two most precious things in my life: my recovery and my religion.

I believe God is about to reveal a little more about what She has planned for my life's work; how I can contribute to the unfolding of the future Baha'u'llah envisioned. For me, a integral part of that is sharing the priceless gift I've been given - the option of turning to the Holy Spirit for courage and connection rather the cheap, life-destroying bottled substitute in all its various guises:

"O Divine Providence! Bestow Thou in all things purity and cleanliness upon the people of Baha. Grant that they be freed from all defilement, and released from all addictions. Save them from committing any repugnant act, unbind them from the chains of every evil habit, that they may live pure and free, wholesome and cleanly, worthy to serve at Thy Sacred Threshold and fit to be related to their Lord. Deliver them from intoxicating drinks and tobacco, save them, rescue them, from this opium that bringeth on madness, suffer them to enjoy the sweet savours of holiness, that they may drink deep of the mystic cup of heavenly love and 150 know the rapture of being drawn ever closer unto the Realm of the All-Glorious. For it is even as Thou hast said: 'All that thou hast in thy cellar will not appease the thirst of my love -- bring me, O cup-bearer, of the wine of the spirit a cup full as the sea!'"-Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 149

Monday, 17 September 2007

I'm Not Dead

Dear reader,

how lovely to discover you exist.

Over the past two weeks, I've been surprised and chuffed to receive several emails from friends I didn't even know were perusing this blog (as well as some plaintive comments from fellow bloggers - you know who you are) politely enquiring when my next post will be. Please forgive my neglect; it's been a really overwhelming, exciting, intense six weeks and I just haven't had the space - emotionally or time-wise - to document it. Allow me to catch you up.

Straight out of left field, I've been given the opportunity to travel to America so I can make like a sponge and soak up some experience, strength and hope from both the 12 Step and Baha'i Communities there, which are far more established than our burgeoning movements Down Under. I'll be attending a Recovery Convention as well as a BNASAA Conference in early October. Then I'm planning on traveling around the country for a few months researching and applying for grad schools. My heart just implodes with joy at all this, but like anything big and glorious and whirlwind, I've needed to make some significant sacrifices. I had to let go of my BEC training, which felt like losing a limb. (So I'm sorry, Jay, there won't be any follow up post on R-E-S-P-E-C-T in the B-E-C, but I can share briefly that the kids' dances were adorable and hilarious and it was a great note to say goodbye on.)

I've also had to ask God to show me how to create several thousand dollars in a month and a half, if it be Her will. So far, the growth of my bank balance has been nothing short of miraculous, but because I hadn't planned on making it back to the States this year, I've had to get awfully busy, awfully fast. It's been an extraordinary exercise in faith - which, as a wise old sober alcoholic once told me, can be broken down into the following acronym: Future Adventures in Trusting Him. Don't ask me why I forget that God is the All-Bountiful every time there's a financial question mark over my head. She has always come through for me in the past and I'm slowly learning that She always will.

Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, I've needed time to allow some important feelings to bubble up, over and out. Like most of us, particularly those of us in recovery from addiction, I have a rich, woolly history. Every so often, a person or event will trigger some major healing that requires I be very gentle with myself. This last month has involved a lot of that. And once again I'm experiencing the beautiful fact that tests are really gifts:

"My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it." - Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words

The support of my fellows in recovery is helping. Long, hot showers are helping. Making time my friend is helping. Prayer is helping:

"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." - 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 149

So. I hope you can appreciate why I've been a little absent from this blog. Huge shifts are happening for me, both internally and externally. I'm focusing on welcoming them, because my experience has been that when old ghosts are exorcised, new space is created for Grace to enter, no matter how painful or confronting the process. I believe my Beloved is preparing me for this unexpected transatlantic adventure by thoroughly spring-cleaning my soul. My prayer is that I can follow Her guidance and arise unfettered to go meet my destiny. The destiny I'm talking about is nothing extraordinary, nor is it exclusive to me. It's the same destiny on offer to anyone alive during the Formative Age: that is, the opportuntiy to utilise our unique talents and experiences in order to become the most effective servants to humanity possible.

As my departure looms, I will do my best to keep posting in between buying travel insurance, organising couches to crash on and preparing my College applications. Thanks in advance for your loving prayers.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Present Evil for Future Good

I just read a really rich post from one of my favourite Baha'i bloggers, the Divine Ms Angela Shortt. The subject concerned is the Baha'i Ruling that women may not serve on the Universal House of Justice, the highest level of Baha'i Administration. So many stimulating ideas were raised by both the author and subsequent commenters. Do yourself a favour and check them out here. As I was leaving a comment myself, I realised my verbosity was getting the upper hand and a post of my own was in order.

The main point I want to explore is that dismay about the no women on the UHJ law tends to come from Western mouths. Here it's imperative to note that in the Baha'i Faith, men and women have been declared by Baha'u'llah as categorically equal:

"Women and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God. The Dawning-Place of the Light of God sheddeth its radiance upon all with the same effulgence" - Baha'u'llah, Women: Extracts from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, 1986, p. 26

Well, duh, it's easy to say. That's just common sense. Or is it? Pause for a moment and consider the context of this utterance. It was spoken nearly 200 years ago in Iran, a culture where women were expicitly oppressed and today are still openly regarded as second-class citizens. At the time the Blessed Beauty's exhortations regarding women were revealed, they were revolutionary even by Western standards. Make no mistake about it; Baha'u'llah was a radical feminist.

The Baha'i Faith is a Global Faith. Its mission is to unite all of humanity. It's easy for us 'progressive' (read privileged) types to forget that while many post-colonial nations have seen undeniable improvements in women's rights in recent decades, the vast majority of women on the planet are still treated like cattle. The Master has this to say about our sorry state of affairs:

"In the world of humanity we find a great difference; the female sex is treated as though inferior, and is not allowed equal rights and privileges. This condition is due not to nature, but to education. In the Divine Creation there is no such distinction. Neither sex is superior to the other in the sight of God. Why then should one sex assert the inferiority of the other, withholding just rights and privileges as though God had given His authority for such a course of action? If women received the same educational advantages as those of men, the result would demonstrate the equality of capacity of both for scholarship." - Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 161

Since becoming a Baha'i and getting intimate with the idea of the Formative Age, there's a sentiment I call upon frequently for courage and strength: present evil for future good. For a whole bunch of personal reasons, 1998 - my final year of High School - was an extraordinarily challenging time. The only way I could get through it was to focus on my goal of getting into University. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, my darling dad would repeat this simple phrase to comfort and encourage me: "Present evil for future good, sweetheart." Present evil. Future good. It became my mantra.

Now, please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying anything sent down by Baha'u'llah , including the ruling of no women serving on the UHJ, is evil. What I’m saying is that having an all-Male UHJ is a means to an ends. The Most Great Peace is a pretty big ends. Evidently it requires some big means. And it's presumptuous - as well as characteristically self-obsessed - of us Westerners to assume that nations where women have been considered inferior for centuries are going to embrace the guidance of a governing body that includes women.

Sometimes I feel sad that the world's not ready for women on the UHJ - and won't be for the next 800 years. I’m talking crying sad; it can really pain me. But I need to remind myself that my grief is a (healthy) reaction to the current state of the planet, rather than to any shortcoming in Baha’i Law. Ultimately, I have faith in Baha'u'llah's Infinite Wisdom. 'Abdu'l-Baha offers the following balm to soothe me as this faith continues to develop and deepen:

"O maidservant of God! Know thou that in the sight of God, the conduct of women is the same as that of men .... From the spiritual point of view ... there is no difference between women and men ....As to the House of Justice: according to the explicit text of the Law of God, its membership is exclusively reserved to men. There is Divine wisdom in this which will presently be made manifest even as the mid-day sun." - 'Abdu'l-Baha, Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 612

It comes down to remembering to pray for patience. The business of the Formative Age is about forming, after all. Baha'i's believe that this is a time of maturation for our species, a world-wide coming of age. But every news station testifies to the fact that we still have an awfully long way to go. In 8 centuries, when we're all grown up, I've no doubt that we'll be ready for the guidance of the next Messenger of God - in all Her spectacular Glory.

Maybe this guidance will include an all Female Government. Maybe it will consist of men and women. Maybe we'll have outgrown the need for Government. Maybe our physical bodies will have evolved to the point where our biology is simultaneously male and female - thereby reflecting the genderless Reality of Spirit. God only knows. What I know is that the best way I can contribute to the emancipation of women - and I mean sisters all over planet earth, not just my fellow middle-class college graduates - is to be a bright, beautiful, bold, active, investigating, obedient Baha'i woman.

"You will be servants of God, who are dwelling near to Him, His divine helpers in this service, ministering to all Humanity. All Humanity! Every human being! Never forget this!" - 'Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 38

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

R-E-S-P-E-C-T in the B-E-C

I've just arrived home from my second day of classroom BEC training and even though technically I'm supposed to remain a passive onlooker for the next fortnight, somehow I've landed the gig of planning and teaching the next class!

Okay. Pause. Rewind.

If you've just started reading this blog, you may not be aware that I'm currently learning the ropes as a Baha'i Education Class (BEC) teacher and have just started the class-room observation stint of my training with my Baha’i sisters Cora and Fariba as facilitators. So far it's been pretty straightforward. As far as I can see, the kids are gorgeous, lessons follow a simple routine structure and the students thrive under the consistency. Here's a breakdown of a typical BEC:

First, students enter and get settled down by selecting a star sticker, their gift upon arrival. Then they sit down at their tables, get organised, colour their folders or catch up with friends. After about 10 minutes, when everyone has the playground out of their system, we ring a bell - less Pavlov, more Buddhist - signifying that it's time for Devotions.

What does this look like in a Baha'i class? Well, we all form a big circle on the floor and start by singing songs based on Baha’i Scripture or principles. Then we share prayers from Christian, Buddhist, Indigenous, Hindu, Jewish, Baha'i, Muslim and other Holy Writings. I can't tell you how sweet it is to see a 5 year old earnestly dedicate a Native American prayer to the Great Earth Spirit, a 7 year old affirm the Hindu concept that God is "my Father and my Mother," and an 11 year old honour Christ by reciting the Golden Rule. Though the songs and the prayers vary every week, each class starts in this way, reflecting the Baha'i concept of fostering harmony among the World's religions:

“The religion of God is for love and unity; make it not the cause of enmity or dissention.” - Tablets of Baha’u’llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 220

Then we have activities. Today for example, saw the kids writing their own prayers to God. They ranged from heart-warming: "Thank you God, for keeping my family safe." to heart-felt: "God, please help me to be a better person.” to heart-burn: "Dear God, please give me a Play Station 3." Hmmm - they are kids after all. (Actually, it got my cogs turning about the deification of Santa Claus...and the Santa-fication of God...but that post can wait until December!)

The point is, in terms of structure, BEC couldn't be more simple.

Anyway, when the children had left this morning and we were packing up, Cora and Fariba started discussing next week’s lesson. They had planned to introduce the virtue of ‘respect’ and were bouncing around ideas of how to go about it. Broadly speaking, our job as Baha'i Educators is to encourage children to manifest and develop their innate spiritual qualities, or 'virtues.'

And that’s when I decided to go and open my big mouth:

“Hey, maybe we should play the song for them.”
The two women looked at me, question marks for pupils.
"You know. Respect. By Aretha Franklin?"
Continued blank stares.
"Ummm, The Blues Brothers? Soul music? Sock it to me...?"
They shrugged their shoulders.

In the hope of jogging their memories, I even belted out a few bars - as best a skinny white girl can. Now, these women may be in their 40's and sure, they were born in the Phillipines and Iran respectively, but I'd assumed Aretha crossed every cultural divide. Evidently not. That'll learn me for assuming.

“Well anyway, I'm positive the kids would know it. And love it; they'd be dancing in their seats. Hey, maybe they could even make up a dance...we could put them into groups... mixed ages... mixed genders....yeah...that'd teach them about respect... "

I was just thinking out loud. Talking to myself, really. But when I looked up, Cora had this wicked glint in her eye.

"Per-earl*...?" she cooed, (*not my real name) "How would you feel about taking the next class?"
That shut me up. “Me? Take the class? Really? I mean…are you sure?”
She nodded vigorously. I looked to Fariba for help. She was beaming in agreement. The traitor.

So, after some consultation about structure and a brief look at
The Virtues Project Educator’s Guide, (an amazing resource written by fellow Baha'i, Linda Kavelin Popov) I acquiesced.

Okay, if I'm totally honest, they didn't have to twist my arm that much.

Next week, I take my first, very premature BEC lesson. The moral education of precious, priceless children. Future caretakers of the planet. It's definitely a mission from God – Jake and Elwood style.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lesson to plan!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Miner in Training

"Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children, young plants of the Abha Paradise, so that these children, fostered by grace in the way of salvation, growing like pearls of divine bounty in the shell of education, will one day bejewel the crown of abiding glory." -Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 133

I recently completed my second day of training for my future as a volunteer
Baha'i Education Class (BEC - formerly known as BESS) teacher in Australian elementary schools. It was a excellent day, replete with games, prayers, songs, consultation and hands-on learning. We had some fruitful discussions, fondly reflecting on what qualities our favourite teachers from our own school days possessed. By the end of the day, all of us had presented a lesson plan to the rest of the group and received helpful feedback and suggestions from our facilitators, both of whom have a wealth of experience as teachers themselves.

The main thing I took away from this installment of the training is that my job is not to indoctrinate the children with my own ideas, but rather to identify and then nurture the unique spiritual qualities - or to use Baha'i parlance, 'virtues' - that each child inherently possesses. The Baha'i Teachings encourage us to think of ourselves as midwives and miners, drawing out the potential of our students, rather than imposing our beliefs upon them. My prediction is that that these kids will end up teaching me more about virtues than I could ever hope to teach them. I'm thinking patience, tolerance, honesty, listening, humility and ensuring classroom unity will be at the top of my personal 'to learn' list!

Within the Baha'i Dispensation, a period where humanity has the opportunity and means to build a globally unified society, the importance of teaching children cannot be overstated. Each child who fulfills her potential enriches the lives of everyone around her, as well as those of generations to come. In a world where greed, inequality, poverty and injustice are duking it out with our collective desire for something nobler, the moral education of children quite literally becomes the foundation of the Formative Age:

"Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal it's treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom." - Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 260

Next week I start sitting in on Baha'i classes at the local elementary school as an observer. I'm so grateful for the well thought out training sequence, which is supportive, systematic and spiritually centred. For the next four weeks I'll get to listen and learn in a non-active role while I soak up the experience from the back of the class. It's a time for me to ask questions, consider my strengths and weaknesses - and gather tips about crowd control. The class I'm entering consists of 29 kids ranging from 5-11 years of age. That's alot of little souls, all at very different stages of intellectual, physical and spiritual development. There are going to be challenging moments, no doubt. Praise be that there's a wealth of Baha'i Writings to offer inspiration and encouragement. The fact that The Master Himself is supplicating to God on my behalf that I may succeed in this endeavour gives me such comfort and strength:

"As to thy question regarding the education of children: it behoveth thee to nurture them at the breast of the love of God, and urge them onward to the things of the spirit, that they may turn their faces unto God; that their ways may conform to the rules of good conduct and their character be second to none; that they make their own all the graces and praiseworthy qualities of humankind; acquire a sound knowledge of the various branches of learning, so that from the very beginning of life they may become spiritual beings, dwellers in the Kingdom, enamoured of the sweet breaths of holiness, and may receive an education religious, spiritual, and of the Heavenly Realm. Verily will I call upon God to grant them a happy outcome in this." - Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 142

I will keep you posted.