In this issue – Strengthening Marriage
Two Stories about ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Wedding
1. Before His wedding day, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made the necessary arrangements for the few guests. His mother and sister made a delicate bridal dress of white batiste. A white head-dress adorned Munirih Khanum’s hair, worn, as usual, in two braids. At nine in the evening she went with the Greatest Holy Leaf into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, Who gave her His blessing. She then went to the bridal room and awaited the coming of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The service was very simple. At about ten o‘clock ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came, accompanied by the guests, and Munirih Khanum chanted a tablet revealed by Bahá’u’lláh. ‘Later, the wife of ‘Abbud recalled the sweetness of that chanting still ringing in her ears.’ There were no choir, decorations or cake – just cups of tea. Above all, a glory and a love there were more than sufficient to bless the happy event.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
2. The occasion of the wedding had one peculiar feature so characteristic of my brother that I will mention it. Our marriage service is very simple, consisting of the reading of a tablet and the exchange of promises by the contracting parties. It is usually followed by feasting and the entertainment of friends until late at night.
Our Master had made, personally and with great care, all the preparations for receiving and entertaining the guests. The ceremony was performed by the Blessed Perfection about two P.M. My brother then quietly withdrew without speaking to any one, and did not return until after the guests had dispersed.
It was not from want of consideration for the solemnity of the occasion or for his bride that he did this, for the tender affection which he has always shown for her disproves this; or for his guests, for his minute attention to the arrangements for their pleasure disproves this also. But it was his habit to spend this part of the day and the evening in visiting the poor and sick and explaining the Koran, he being frequently thus occupied until a late hour. He never permitted his own affairs to interfere with the discharge of these duties, and was unwilling to neglect them even on this occasion. (Myron Henry Phelps and Bahiyyih Khanum, Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi, p. 91-92)
Prayer for Unity
Nedi Safa is a Singer, Songwriter, Composer, Activist and Yogi. Her CDs and recordings have sold in all continents of the world, and her last web concert was viewed in 16 countries. NEDI created all the music and lyrics on her “Mystery & Mischief” album; is the author of the Autism Anthem “Not a One of Us” and has appeared on Radio and Television in her native California, in the Far East, and in Europe.
This month I’d like to feature her original song In Love with You
Mindful Matrimony by Raymond and Furugh Switzer looks at the new reality of marriage in this time of transition.
They believe that all of our essential relationships are in turmoil and humanity is scrambling to find its new ground. While many people are experiencing these massive shifts as painful and confusing, the Bahá’í Writings, which have anticipated this dislocation in human affairs, make it clear that these changes are necessary and are the birthing pains for the establishment of a new reality. We are making the great shift from our collective adolescence into the coming of age of the human race.
The Switzer’s worry that if we fail to recognize that the requirements of marriage have also expanded, we will fall into the marital malaise that has seized most couples on the planet.
Marriage can be either a nightmare or a source of joy and enrichment – the former if we continue our old patterns; the latter if we can awaken to, and move beyond, the unconscious patterns most of us fall into all too easily.
The authors believe that marriage can now fulfil its highest potential and become an unprecedented source of well-being. We are now in a position to access a new level of consciousness and integrate the new principles which are the very ‘spirit of this age’.
This book answers the question: what does a ‘mindful marriage’ look like?
Raymond and Furugh Switzer
Raymond and Furugh Switzer are trained in Imago Couples Therapy and often work together in couples counselling. They have given numerous seminars and workshops on courtship, marriage and parenting across Europe. Raymond is a psychologist from Canada; Furugh a sociologist from Iran. They have been married for twenty-two years, and currently live in Hungary.
They believe that every couple is capable and deserving of a fulfilling, loving and enduring marriage and offer therapy for struggling couples and coaching programs for couples wanting to enrich their relationship.
Raymond specializes in:
- Addictions, codependency
- Grief, loss
- Cross-cultural issues and concerns
- Panic, Anxiety and Depression
- Separation and divorce
- Managing Conflict and Anger
- Managing and Reducing Stress
- Recovery from Domestic and Sexual Abuse
- Dealing With Life Transitions
- Normal Problems of Everyday Life
- Everyday life skills
- Job Burnout and Career Shifts
The Story Telling Mothers Project
MESÉD (The Story Telling Mothers project) was originally conceived by Furugh and Raymond Switzer in 2003. Furugh then piloted it as a personal initiative with funds for materials provided by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Hungary. Since 2006 it been operating in many different localities in Hungary in cooperation with local governmental agencies and receiving further support from the Open Society Institute as well as the Roma Education Fund.
This project aims to reach mothers, mostly from Roma background, who dropped out of school at an early age due to feelings of failure and lack of competency, which left them with an aversion towards reading and books. This negative association with book learning, when left unchecked, is passed onto their children and the pattern of educational failure continues.
Through use of attractive children story books, Meséd attempts to change this cycle by creating a positive experience in relation to books and reading which can immediately be put into practice with their children.
Through weekly sessions, and with the help of trained facilitators, mothers are introduced to simple children’s story books. They regain and improve their skills of reading and are encouraged to discuss and use the stories in a meaningful manner. In an atmosphere of support and acceptance, mothers begin to enjoy reading and talking about the stories. This also leads to sharing of real life stories and talking about issues that concern them.
Every week the mothers are given the book as a gift and their task is to read the story to their children every night using the skills they have learned in discussing the stories with their children..
The story telling project has three phases.
- The first phase concentrates on developing reading skills.
- In the second phase the element of writing is added and the use of arts including drawing and painting is encouraged. With greater proficiency in reading and writing mothers engage in writing stories of their own.
- In the third phase through the use of drama the participants develop skills in handling the challenging situations facing them in their daily life such as relating to kindergarten teachers, doctors, employers, etc. In this part of the project mothers also take on service projects to help with the development of community and society around them.
One of the goals of Meséd is to eventually motivate and equip mothers to further their own further education.
Meséd is transforming the lives of Roma women and their children in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Macedonia, Albania, and Kosovo.
Our Readers Write:
Thanks for sharing Susan your articles are amazing! (Niamh Fitzsimons)
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(Kantha Kumar in Malaysia)
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See you next month! Hope it’s a month filled with grandeur!