Monthly Reflection: Jalal – On Creative Expressions That Manifest Glory

In the Oxford Online Dictionary “glory” is defined as high renown or honour won by notable achievements; magnificence or great beauty; praise, worship, and thanksgiving offered to a deity; a luminous ring or halo, especially as depicted around the head of Jesus Christ or a saint; and the act of taking great pride or pleasure in something. In this month’s newsletter, I thought I would highlight some new Baha’i Blog content that introduces us to a group of writers, illustrators, musicians, and storytellers who are using their art forms to celebrate human achievements, praise God, and offer worship and thanks—all while taking tremendous pleasure in the process.

There are two books and one podcast recently featured on Baha’i Blog that seek to reflect glory. The first is a children’s book written by Helen Flynn and illustrated by Louisa Kwan Shabani called The Glory of God. Flynn was inspired to write the book when she asked herself how she could encourage children to explore the Baha’i Writings, and how she could help them to meditate on the Station and Personage of Baha’u’llah. Images are an essential part of learning and curiosity for children, and Flynn quickly realized that the Baha’i Writings are full of beautiful imagery. Flynn hopes that this book will invite families to have more elevated conversations about Baha’u’llah.

The second book featured on Baha’i Blog demonstrates the glory of acquiring knowledge: Attorney for Racial Justice: The Story of Elsie Austin. This is the latest title in the Change Maker biography series for preteens and is a fictionalized account of the life of Helen Elsie Austin, Knight of Baha’u’llah and an attorney who dedicated her life to eliminating injustice, especially in the arena of Civil Rights. Author Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis met Austin in the 1980s, and was so impressed by her poise, grace and knowledge that she did a series of interviews with her—which she used to inform this story. You can learn more about this inspirational tale by reading Baha’i Blog’s interview with Gwendolyn.

Thirdly, I want to mention Stories of the Master, a new podcast series created by Sana Vasli, who discovered his love of storytelling after becoming a father. The series features short 10-15 minute narratives about the Master as the Perfect Exemplar. Vasli’s goal in creating the podcast was to show how, though none of us will ever attain perfection, through gradual daily effort, we can slowly perfect the spiritual qualities that we each inherently possess. The series is a personal expression of his love for the Master, and as such is a form of worship—one of the many definitions of glory. You can stream Stories of the Master on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

There are two music videos that I want to spotlight this month—both of which are joyful expressions of praise, worship and thanksgiving. The first is entitled “Seedlings”, and is performed by a group of friends in Adelaide. The song was composed by Joachim Kalapatsonis, Navid Nikooei, Adora Lady, Elvin Awan, and Allene Hamidi, and it puts the following quotation by Abdu’l-Baha to music:

“O Lord!  Strengthen these fragile seedlings that each one may become a fruitful tree, verdant and flourishing.  Render these souls victorious through the potency of Thy celestial hosts, that they may be able to crush the forces of error and ignorance and to unfurl the standard of fellowship and guidance amidst the people; that they may, even as the reviving breaths of the spring, refresh and quicken the trees of human souls and like unto vernal showers make the meads of that region green and fertile.”

The second piece of music, called “Tu es ma lampe” is a song based on the following passage from The Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah in French: “Tu es ma lampe, et ma lumière est en toi. Puise en elle ton éclat et ne cherche nul autre que moi. Car je t’ai créé riche et, sur toi, généreusement, j’ai répandu ma grâce.” Or in English: “Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee. Get thou from it thy radiance and seek none other than Me. For I have created thee rich and have bountifully shed My favor upon thee.”

In this music video, the song is performed by the mass choir at the 2023 Australian Baha’i Choral Festival:

The last thing that I want to bring your attention to is the eighth video in Day by Day’s “Shaping my Day” affirmation series. This episode is about positivity and optimism. To me, being optimistic is a way of giving thanks for all that we have been given in this life, and this video seemed to reflect one of the facets of glory as Abdu’l-Baha has told us that we can remain hopeful and optimistic by not focusing excessively on the present, but by always looking toward the potential of what lies ahead. He wrote:

“Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come. In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree. Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms, and its leaves and its fruits.”

I hope that some of the creative content in this month’s newsletter helps you to delve more deeply into the spiritual significance of the month of Glory, and draw wisdom from within its folds so that it supports you on your own path of service, wherever you are in the world! 

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Ariana Salvo

Ariana Salvo was born in the United States, and spent sixteen years of her childhood on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. She moved to Prince Edward Island to do her master’s degree in Island Studies, fell in love with the tightly knit community, and has never left. When not writing, she can be found exploring art at galleries around the world, flower farming, traveling to remote islands, hiking and taking photos of the wild natural landscapes of Canada’s eastern shore, teaching English to international students and reading historical fiction with a good cup of tea.

Ariana Salvo

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