religion

Connection and Disconnect

At my weekly Wednesday group therapy sessions, I often zone out, floating amongst the clouds far above reality, only coming down once a comment or concept piques my interest. This past session, in rare form, I was actually half-paying attention to the discussion of the group. There was a new man in the group, and he posed an interesting question: What in this world fosters connection between individuals and what fosters disconnect? Other participants listed answers involving meeting people at church, having similar interests/hobbies, attending gatherings, etc. As people continued to discuss the prompt on a more superficial level, my mind started to churn as I truly pondered the question.

I believe that, in life, connection between members of humanity lies far deeper than sharing interests and meeting individuals at gatherings. Yes, those things certainly bring individuals together, but is there permanency? A transcendent component? The strength and vitality of our connection as human beings does not end, does not die, at the end of human life. While it is relatively simple to create more superficial connections between individuals, in order for humanity to thrive and flourish, we must reach within ourselves and delve into the deep.

The Baha’i Faith is a world religion that centers upon the belief in the unity of all mankind and our shared, collective existence as members of one human family. The Faith strives to foster this unity and bring together the different races and peoples of the world. Baha’u’llah, whom Baha’is recognize as the Manifestation of God for this Dispensation and the Promised One of all Ages, says:
“That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith.”

The reason I reference the Baha’i Faith is because it, like many faiths, is an effort to delve into the deep. As a Baha’i and a member of our collective humanity, I have experienced much of my life a feeling of connectedness with other members of my Faith and with others in my life – not just because we share a fondness for crochet and Apples to Apples (which very well may be true!) – but because we share a common goal, a common endeavor: an effort to unite and better the world in which we live, both for the brief existence we spend on this earthly plane and for time immemorial as humanity flourishes and progresses.

Our connection as individuals is dependent upon our shared causes and goals. Disconnect manifests through the discard and lack of acknowledgment of our common purpose, and also through invalidation – not paying attention to or ignoring the needs of our fellow members of humanity.

Keep attending your knitting circles and playing video games for hours on end with your best buddies, as those certainly foster connection and camaraderie, but also be aware of our higher purpose in nurturing connection between members of humanity. That is where our true connection can be found, eternal and transcendent.

Finding Peace

My soul has hungered for years, starving and craving a source of sustenance to ease the pains and growls of an empty stomach.  After years of searching and seeking, I have come to find a sustenance incomparable to all worldly materials and desires that quenches the thirst and satiates the hunger of my aching soul.  It has been a long, tumultuous road, but spirituality has offered me a solace that has been both soul-enriching and a remedy, a salve, to the sickness and perpetual instability of my mind, rocking me softly in the arms of an all-encompassing, infinite and ever-loving God.  A bringer of a peace my being could never have imagined nor attempted to comprehend.

My path towards finding peace and solace within my being and my soul began years and years ago.  I was raised a Baha’i for many years, but for various reasons our family became inactive in the Faith.  Though I was not actively participating in the activities of the Faith, my thirst and desire for meaning and to feed the growth and enrichment of my soul never waned.  Subsequently I embarked on an ardent journey to find these qualities within my life.  I studiously researched the religions of the world and attended religious gatherings at various faith institutions, including Jewish temples and Catholic, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches.  I went so far as to sing in a church choir, which, in retrospect, was a poor choice, as I have no singing ability nor talent.  I am surprised I was not gently asked to cease my participation in the choir for the wellbeing and safety of those listening during church gatherings.  In my searching, I attended confirmation classes at two separate churches.  The first class did not satiate my hunger and left me with a multitude of questions and uncertainties, so I attempted to address my growing discontent and uncertainty by enrolling in another confirmation class.  Still my soul was not entirely content.

By work of what I consider a miracle, I was reintroduced to the Baha’i Faith in my mid teens.  In our home we had a massive, towering book shelf, so tall it required a ladder to reach the upper shelves.  As the years had passed in my life, I ventured shelf by shelf, seeking and discovering book after book.  It seems that with the passing of each year, my search advanced higher and higher. When circumstances permitted, my family and I had the opportunity to return to the Faith.  It was around this time that I discovered the shelves containing a multitude of Baha’i books.  I soon began to devour the content within these blessed pages and attend Baha’i gatherings with my family with such fervor, that my soul ignited a burning flame within me that consumed all inquisitiveness, confusion, and discontent that had danced through my mind.  I had found my source of sustenance, of solace and peace.  What a wonder!  With this flame, I could not be stopped.  I began to love the Faith with such intensity, a love and connection incomparable to any I had ever experienced before.  My searching concluded, and I found a home within the Faith.

The Baha’i Faith has nurtured my soul, but has also attended, with the care of skilled physician, to my ailing mind.  When my mind battles demons, the Faith disarms them with swift and deft ability.  When loneliness ensues, prayers enable me to converse with God, providing a listening ear and an eternal companionship and friendship.  I do not believe I would be alive today had I not found and been fed the sustenance that spirituality – and the Baha’i Faith – provide me.  My illness is life threatening and debilitating, yet the Faith is my bringer of eternal life and the opportunity to one day transcend the pain and suffering I experience in this world and live forever in peace and solace in the next world.