earth day: caring for the earth

Humanity is one family, living in one common homeland, the planet Earth. The Earth does not belong to any one person, nor to one particular group of people. It is part of God’s creation, and we must all care for it together, as part of our sacred duty to honour what belongs to God.

Prayers/readings for study

“It is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Activities

Story

  • Moving Stones, adapted from a traditional Jewish story.
  • Possible questions to spark discussion:
    • Why did the man believe it was a good idea to move the stones from his private land onto public land? Why did he change his mind?
    • When we “throw away” something that we don’t want in our space, where does it go? Do we know who lives there (people, animals, plants), and how it affects them, or do we forget about it because it is no longer in our space?
    • What happens if we burn only part of a plant? Poison only part of a lake? Does the other part remain unaffected?
    • What happens if we water one side of a plant? Clean part of a lake? Can these actions also make a difference?
    • What happens if we make our own surroundings a little cleaner, a little more healthful?
    • How does the way we treat the environment relate to the quality of justice? Detachment? Gratitude?

Songs

  • Thanks a Lot (lyrics) – this is also a nice, meditative song you can play while coloring or making art
  • Songs/prayers that use nature imagery:
    • Tiny Seed
    • We Are Drops. From Ruhi Book 3.
    • Be Like the Earth. From Ruhi Book 3.
    • God’s Creatures. From Ruhi Book 3.
  • Songs about justice:
    • Tread Ye the Path of Justice. From Ruhi Book 3.
    • Justice is the Way. From Ruhi Book 3.
  • Earth Day songs from a variety of sources

Drawings

Craft

Games & drama

  • “Doing our part”. The group must carry a ball (a globe decorated beach ball is great, but any medium to large ball or even a balloon will do in a pinch) safely from one side of the room to the other, but each person can only use one index finger. What happens when we all make a concerted effort to care for the earth? What happens as people decide not to participate?
  • Pairs can act out the story of “Moving Stones” after practicing the pantomime activity of lifting light and very heavy stones alone and in groups.

Service

  • Plant a pollinator garden.
  • Clean up litter in a local park, or in the neighbourhood surrounding the class venue.
  • Making crafts with recycled materials (see above) can also function as a service.
  • Call your local park or forestry service for ideas! Older children can help remove invasive species, count nests, and help with trail maintenance.

Reference

Conservation of the Earth’s Resources – compilation.

“Look not upon the creatures of God except with the eye of kindliness and of mercy, for Our loving providence hath pervaded all created things, and Our grace encompassed the earth and the heavens.”

“NATURE IN ITS essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise.” Bahá’í Writings

“Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man. Man hath not grasped this truth, however, and he believeth that physical sensations are confined to human beings, wherefore is he unjust to the animals, and cruel.”

the day of the covenant

'Abdu'l-Bahá‘Abdu’l-Bahá wanted Bahá’ís around the world to learn about Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, so He chose a day for us to reflect and learn about it: the Day of the Covenant. On this day, we give thanks and praise to God for the Covenant, and its role in protecting the Cause and ensuring its ultimate victory. We also remember ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s role as Centre of the Covenant, and His lifelong efforts to uphold the Covenant and lay the foundation for the Administrative Order described by His Father.

readings/prayers for study

“…Bahá’u’lláh hath made the Center of the Covenant the Interpreter of His Word—a Covenant so firm and mighty that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like.”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, cited in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh p. 136)

activities

SONGS

STORY

Throughout history, God has sent His Manifestations to educate humanity and to teach His Cause. While these Manifestations were alive, many people became Their followers, and great civilizations arose thanks to Their influence. But when these Manifestations passed on to the spiritual worlds, Their followers were left without guidance. Eventually, with no one to turn to, these followers came to disagree about certain things which were not clear to them. Differences arose, and conflict spread as they fought amongst themselves over who was right. Eventually, they divided into separate groups called sects, and their unity was destroyed.

This did not happen to the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, because of the unique power of the Covenant that He made with His followers. Bahá’u’lláh wrote that after His passing, all of His followers must turn to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for guidance and refer all of their questions to Him, and eventually, to the Universal House of Justice. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made the first preparations for the election of the Universal House of Justice, and wrote that after His passing, the followers of Bahá’u’lláh must turn to the Guardian of the Cause, Shoghi Effendi. Shoghi Effendi built on the work of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and soon after His passing, the Universal House of Justice was elected. In this way, the Covenant ensured that Bahá’ís would always know to whom they should turn for guidance, and it continues to protect the Bahá’í community and preserve its unity.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá has a very special role in the history of the Covenant. He was the unerring Interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings, as well as the Perfect Exemplar of His Teachings. He spent His life teaching the Bahá’ís about the Covenant and making sure they understood it. During His travels to the West, He announced His station as the Centre of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, and spent time helping the Western believers to understand what that meant. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament is one of the most important documents we can read to understand the Covenant, because it not only names Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Cause and confirms the role of the Universal House of Justice, but it also helps to explain what the Bahá’í Administrative Order should look like. It is thanks to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s lifelong efforts that the Bahá’í community is what it is today.

PENCILWORK

  • Maze: The Covenant. Also available in French, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
    This maze has four “rooms”: one for each of the Universal House of Justice, Shoghi Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Bahá’u’lláh. Children begin the maze at one end and follow it to the other end, going through each “room” in order according to the successive Heads of the Baha’i Faith. This illustrates the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.
  • Word search: ‘Abdu’l-Baha (PDF).

Games

  • Covenant Relay. A relay race is a good way to help children understand how the Covenant operates, as it illustrates the idea of successorship—one person comes after another. If the classroom is too small for children to run around, this activity can take place outdoors or in a gymnasium.

Colouring

  • Artist Monika Ahlkvist Mackenzie produced a lovely colouring page for the Day of the Covenant.

CRAFTS

  • Covenant collage: If your community has a lot of older, out-of-date Bahá’í picture magazines lying around, cut the photos out of it and ask the children to prepare a collage about the Covenant and the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith. If there are many children in class, they can work together in small groups, with each group focusing on one of the Central Figures.
  • Shield of the Covenant. Jim at Ruhi Crafts described how a Ruhi Book 8 study circle designed shields to symbolize the Covenant, based on the quote “All-praise to Him Who, by the Shield of His Covenant, hath guarded the Temple of His Cause from the darts of doubtfulness…” You can combine this craft with the Covenant collage, and have the children use the pictures to decorate shields representing each of the Central Figures of the Faith. Alternately, you could ask the children to decorate their shields with drawings of what the Covenant achieves—unity, agreement, cooperation, strength, great accomplishments, and so on.

REFERENCE

The Will of the divine Testator is this: It is incumbent upon the Aghsan, the Afnan and My Kindred to turn, one and all, their faces towards the Most Mighty Branch. Consider that which We have revealed in Our Most Holy Book: ‘When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.’ The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch [Abdu’l-Bahá]. Thus have We graciously revealed unto you Our potent Will, and I am verily the Gracious, the All-Powerful. Verily God hath ordained the station of the Greater Branch [Muhammad Ali] to be beneath that of the Most Great Branch [Abdu’l-Bahá]. He is in truth the Ordainer, the All-Wise. We have chosen ‘the Greater’ after ‘the Most Great’, as decreed by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Ahd, paragraph 9)

To direct and canalize these forces let loose by this Heaven-sent process, and to insure their harmonious and continuous operation after His ascension, an instrument divinely ordained, invested with indisputable authority, organically linked with the Author of the Revelation Himself, was clearly indispensable. That instrument Bahá’u’lláh had expressly provided through the institution of the Covenant, an institution which He had firmly established prior to His ascension. This same Covenant He had anticipated in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, had alluded to it as He bade His last farewell to the members of His family, who had been summoned to His bed-side, in the days immediately preceding His ascension, and had incorporated it in a special document which He designated as “the Book of My Covenant,” and which He entrusted, during His last illness, to His eldest son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Written entirely in His own hand; unsealed, on the ninth day after His ascension in the presence of nine witnesses chosen from amongst His companions and members of His Family; read subsequently, on the afternoon of that same day, before a large company assembled in His Most Holy Tomb, including His sons, some of the Báb’s kinsmen, pilgrims and resident believers, this unique and epoch-making Document, designated by Bahá’u’lláh as His “Most Great Tablet,” and alluded to by Him as the “Crimson Book” in His “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,” can find no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation, not excluding that of the Báb Himself. For nowhere in the books pertaining to any of the world’s religious systems, not even among the writings of the Author of the Bábí Revelation, do we find any single document establishing a Covenant endowed with an authority comparable to the Covenant which Bahá’u’lláh had Himself instituted. (God Passes By, p. 237-8)

the twin holy birthdays

The Twin Holy Birthdays refer to the Birthdays of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, Who are known as the “Twin Manifestations of God”. This important festival celebrates the birth of not one, but two Manifestations of God sent to usher in a new era of peace, brotherhood and unity for humankind. Each of these Manifestations revealed their own Writings and founded their own religion, but they are connected in a very important way: The Báb came to prepare the way for Bahá’u’lláh, Whom He called “He Whom God shall make manifest”, and commanded His followers to seek Him out and to follow Him. The followers of the Báb eventually discovered Bahá’u’lláh and became Bahá’ís.

These Holy Days were once celebrated at different times in different parts of the world, but as of the year 172 BE (2015 AD), they are celebrated together by all Bahá’ís around the world, on the eighth new moon following Naw-rúz each year. Bahá’u’lláh tells us that His birthday and that of Báb “are accounted as one in the sight of God”.

readings/prayers for study

“The Birthday Festival is come, and He Who is the Beauty of God, the All-Powerful, the All-Compelling, the All-Loving, hath ascended His throne.” (Bahá’u’lláh)

activities

SongS

  • Love for Bahá’u’lláh, from Enable Me to Grow.
  • Songs from the Ruhi Institute:
    • Bahá’u’lláh;
    • Bahá’u’lláh, the Glory of God;
    • I Have Found Bahá’u’lláh;
    • The Báb;
    • The Promise;
    • Who Is the Prophet of God for Today.

STORIES

The Twin Holy Birthdays are a perfect occasion to tell stories about the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, especially stories about Their childhood.

The story of the two sacred Houses of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh would also help to explain the special relationship between the Twin Manifestations.

PENCILWORK

Colouring

CRAFTS

Service Project

  • Many different kinds of service projects could be appropriate to celebrate the Twin Holy Birthdays, especially those which aim to bring joy and gladness to the people around us. A few examples include: Visiting the elderly, or those who are sick or infirm; offering a musical performance or a similar artistic activity that brings good cheer; collecting food and other necessary items for those who are in need, or helping a family that has other, specific needs; planting a garden in a space that is open to the community; and so on.

reference

Blessed art thou, O night!  For through thee was born the Day of God, a Day which We have ordained to be the lamp of salvation unto the denizens of the cities of names, the chalice of victory unto the champions of the arenas of eternity, and the dawning-place of joy and exultation unto all creation.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Ayyám-i-Tis‘ih, pp. 12–15; concerning the Birthday of the Báb)

The Birthday Festival is come, and He Who is the Beauty of God, the All-Powerful, the All-Compelling, the All-Loving, hath ascended His throne. Well is it with the one who in this Day hath attained His presence and towards whom the gaze of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, hath been directed.  Say:  We have celebrated this Festival in the Most Great Prison at a time when the kings of the earth have risen against Us.  Yet the ascendancy of the oppressor can never frustrate Us, nor can the hosts of the world dismay Us. Unto this doth the All-Merciful bear witness in this most august station.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Ayyám-i-Tis‘ih, pp. 45–47; concerning the Birthday of Bahá’u’lláh)

He is the Most Holy, the Most Great.

“This is the month wherein was born He Who beareth the Most Great Name, Whose appearance hath caused the limbs of humankind to quake and the dust of Whose footsteps the Concourse on high and the dwellers of the cities of names have sought for a blessing. Whereupon they rendered praise unto God and cried out in joy and exultation.  By God!  This is the month through which all other months have been illumined, the month wherein He Whois the hidden Secret and the well-guarded Treasure hath been made manifest and hath called aloud amidst all humankind.  All dominion belongeth to this newborn Child through Whom the face of creation hath been wreathed in smiles, and the trees have swayed, and the oceans have surged, and the mountains have taken flight, and Paradise hath lifted its voice, and the Rock hath cried out, and all things have exclaimed, ‘O concourse of creation!  Hasten ye towards the dawning-place of the countenance of your Lord, the Merciful, the Compassionate!’

“This is the month wherein Paradise itself was decked forth with the splendours of the countenance of its Lord, the All-Merciful, and the heavenly Nightingale warbled its melody upon the Divine Lote-Tree, and the hearts of the favoured ones were filled with rapture.  But alas the people, for the most part, are heedless. Blessed be the one who hath recognized Him and apprehended that which was promised in the Books of God, the Almighty, the All-Praised; and woe betide him that hath turned aside from the One upon Whom the Concourse on high have fixed their gaze, Him who hath confounded every wayward misbeliever.

“When once thou hast received this Tablet, intone it in the sweetest of melodies and say: Praise be to Thee, O my most merciful Lord, for remembering me in this Tablet whereby the fragrance of the garment of Thy knowledge was diffused and the oceans of Thy grace were made to surge. I bear witness that Thou art potent to do as Thou pleasest. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 4, p. 342; concerning the Birthday of Bahá’u’lláh)

generosity

God gives us many gifts, and looks after all of us, providing us with what we need. Just like God is generous with us, He wants us to be generous with others, and to give of what we have to those who are in need.

prayers/readings for study

To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words, #49, Persian)

activities

STORY

  • The story of a young ‘Abdu’l-Bahá presenting gifts to the shepherds, from Lesson 5 of Ruhi Book 3, Grade 1.

SONG

  • “Fountain of Generosity”, from Lesson 5 of Ruhi Book 3, Grade 1.

GAME

  • The Twins. Ask two children to stand back to back and squat down. Then, tell them to hook elbows and stand up.
  • Giving. A trading-card game in which all players start with random cards, each representing a particular human need (such as food, clothing, shelter, education, etc). The children must give away what they have to others who are in need, until everyone’s basic needs are met.

art

reference

 

[…]

experience

Photo: Inspire. Dream. by Justin W. Moore (www.outdoorphoto.com)

pure, kindly, and radiant hearts

Day 156: RadiantGod’s first counsel for us is to have a pure, kindly, and radiant heart. We can think of our hearts like mirrors that reflect the attributes and qualities of God, just like a regular mirror reflects the light of the sun. When a mirror is dirty or clouded, it fails to reflect light properly. In the same way, when the mirrors of our hearts are clouded with undesirable qualities such as jealousy, envy, anger, or prejudice, they cannot reflect the qualities of God properly. We must always strive to keep our hearts pure so that we can show forth spiritual qualities to the best of our ability.

Prayers/readings for study

“O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Arabic Hidden Words, #1)

“O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

Activities

story

  • The story of the lady and her glass of water, from Ruhi Book 3, Grade 1, Lesson 1.

songs

art

  • Drawing 1 from Ruhi Book 3, Grade 1, Lesson 1: A child sharing flowers with others.

game

  • “The Burning Thirst”. Tie sticks to the children’s arms so that they cannot bend their elbows, and then give them each a glass of water. Tell the children that they have to find a way to drink the water. Eventually, they will figure out that the only way to drink the water is to help each other.

craft

  • Mirror flowers. Look for small mirrors in a craft store—the kind of mirrors you might find in a make-up box. Round ones would be best, but square or rectangular ones are OK too. Have the children cut out flower petals from foam sheets, and use adhesive to stick them onto the mirror, making a beautiful flower with a mirror in the middle. Similar to fun foam frames.

Experience

Photo: Day 156: Radiant by Quinn Dombrowski. CC-BY-SA.

keeping one’s home clean

Cleanliness is an important part of Baha’i life. Apart from keeping our bodies and clothes clean, we must also keep our homes clean as well.

Prayers/readings for study

Be ye the very essence of cleanliness amongst mankind. (Baha’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)

…[I]n all conditions, cleanliness and sanctity, purity and delicacy exalt humanity… (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas)

Activities

GAMES

  • Reverse scavenger hunt. The children are given a collection of 15-20 sticky notes representing different things that might be found around the home. One by one, the children pick one note and stick it on the door of the room where the thing it represents should be put away: for example, a note reading “sock” might go on the door to the bedroom; “broom” would go on the door to the broom closet; a TV remote control would go in the living room; and so on. If the class is not being held in a home, different “stations” can be set up around the classroom to represent the different rooms of a home.

DRAWING

Children divide a sheet of paper into two halves. On one half, they draw a room that exemplifies the Bahá’í standard of cleanliness (clean floor and walls, no trash or other things lying around, bed made, etc); on the other, they draw the same room, but lacking cleanliness (messy, dirty, etc.)

CRAFTS

PENCILWORK

  • Word search: Cleanliness (PDF).
  • Print out an image of a messy room, such as this one, making enough copies for all the children. Give the children a list of objects to find in the room (i.e. wallet, pencil case, piggy bank, etc.), and let them each search for them individually.

Reference