Wednesday, January 16, 2008

On Pilgrimage: A Soul scrub, the mirror of your heart polished after the dusty build up of time and experience

There can be no better reason to blog than to share the joy of pilgrimage. -gw

Finally, after much procrastination, I have arrived in the land of blogging!

It is hard to sum up what has gone on during the last year while living in Israel. To start off with I am going to share my experience of my first ever Baha'i Pilgrimage, which happend a month ago in the twin Holy Cities of Haifa & Akka.

Part of me was reluctant to do this, to share what has been the most moving and deeply profound experience of my life, and even attempting to describe what exactly is a Baha’i pilgrimage is beyond me. I am still trying to process what happend, and will probably do so for the rest of my life!

But at the same time, going on pilgrimage is a gift and privilege that needs to be expressed and shared with everyone.I think of those friends and families in New Zealand who told me before I left to come on service here in Jan 2007, that though they long for it, they could never come on pilgrimage because they cant afford it or their health cannot take it.

I keep their faces, their words, their spirits with me as I step into the Shrines and place my head on the threshold. I think of the Baha’is in Iran and the horrendous persecutions they continually face. I think of myself, 23 years old, from a pretty sheltered, comfortable existence, and a 23 year old in Iran today who is denied university education, basic human rights, suffering so much because of their devotion, how it’s all connected, how it all contributed to getting me here.

Coming on pilgrimage, praying athe Shrine of the Bab and Baha'u'llah is one part of it but the most important part is the action once you leave, how you apply what you have learnt and experienced. So my first step in this is to share a tiny glimpse of a privilege not everyone can attain

9 days of deep reflection
Of cleansing your soul and spirit
9 days of rejuvenation
Of battery re charging
Of ‘spring cleaning’
Clarity of mind
Reminding yourself of what really is important
Walking step by step through the history of the Faith in the Holy Land
9 days of walking in the footsteps of the Blessed Beauty Himself, of Abdul Baha, of the Holy Family...

It did feel like that. The slate was wiped clean. A fresh start. A soul scrub, the mirror of your heart polished after the dusty build up of time and experience.

Of zooming out into the macro and zooming into the micro of what my faith is.
Of breathing in the same air
Of walking up the same stone steps

Of seeing what He saw from the windows of His prison cell.

The incredible waves of Akka behind that ancient fortress wall.

Sitting in the same room as He revealed tablets, as pilgrims would sit, hundred or so years before, and here we are now. History repeating but never losing its essence.

{Photos and text re-posted with permission}

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