Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And a Muddy New Year

I love Naw Ruz. I'm not sure why, though. It is not the party that seems to come around every year, nor the unusual fact that it is the only Baha'i Holy Day with no direct relation to the life of a Messenger of God. No, I think it is just the idea that this is a day when we celebrate the fact that the whole thing has come around full circle.

Then again, it may be the story-teller in me.

With most of the other Holy Days, many of us seem to feel constrained to re-hash the "traditional" stories that float around for that day (like the regular reading of a section of Nabil's Narrative for the Martyrdom of the Bab). Oh, and please don't get me wrong, I love those stories.  As I have said time and time again, The Dawn-Breakers is one of my absolutely favorite books, and I have had the pleasure of hearing some truly dynamic readings of it.

It's just that with Naw Ruz, there is no story associated with it.

As a story-teller, Naw Ruz is like having carte blanche: you can talk about whatever you want. I love it!

For me, it also happens to coincide with one of my favorite times of the year: the spring equinox, that first day of the re-awakening of the planet. It is a time when the icy snows of winter have melted away and the first shoots of the flowers are just beginning to peek through. It is a time when the birds are just beginning to re-appear after their months down south (remember, I'm in Canada).

And it is a time of mud.

I just love the mud. In fact, as I'm typing, I'm waiting to hear the first stirrings of my son this fine sunny morning, eager to dress him and feed him so that we can go to the park and play in the mud. I am a firm believer that every healthy childhood needs a good helping of mud-wallowing, and who am I to deprive my little guy of this?

In fact, it is this very mud that has given me one of my favorite stories for Naw Ruz.

Imagine, if you will, that you only lived for a week. You were born, matured, raised your family and passed away all within the space of a week. Your perspective of the world around you would be a bit different than it currently is.

Also imagine, if you don't mind, that you live in Canada, or some other far northern country. This makes it a bit more dramatic, for everything you know about the world would be coloured, so to speak, by snow and ice at this time of year. In fact, snow and ice would be your world, as it was your parents and your grand-parents, not to mention all of your ancestors for the past 10 or 20 generations.

You would have grown up hearing wonderful stories of how beautiful the ice and snow were, crystal-sharp, sparkling and radiant in the sunlight during the few hours of light available. But you, dear Reader, would be looking around you at the decaying structures, the mounds of dirty snow, and a world that is melting before your eyes.

You would have heard, perhaps, of a great ice hotel that was unparalleled in its time, or those magnificent ice sculptures that captured a beauty that you can scarce imagine. But when you go to visit them, they are nothing like what you heard. The mighty spires that once capped the hotel are only rounded blobs, looking like a candle that has burned for far too long. They are not sharp and pointy at all, much to your disappointment. As for those ice sculptures, there is no detail to them. It is as if the artist saw the world through gauze. You really cannot understand what all the fuss was about.

But then there are those who believe the old stories, and they want to try and recapture the beauty as it once was. They go around and gather more ice and snow, trying in vain to rebuild or save the old structures. Despite their great efforts, nothing really seems to come of it and they end up looking quite silly, for all the well-intentioned fervor and passion.

You look around you and see all these old structures melting away and cannot understand what is happening. You routinely hear the elders pining for the "good old days", but truly do not understand what they are talking about. Yours is a generation of despair and disappointment.

But then someone comes and explains the cycle of the seasons, tells of how the earth is merely continuing its advance around the sun. Yes, there may have been some degree of beauty in the snow, and the ice may have held some sparkling wonder about it, but all this pales in comparison to the coming beauty of the springtime. While we may have been enchanted by the prismatic reflection of the sun, it is a mere shadow, they say, compared to the true beauty of the flowers and grass that are on their way.

"Flowers?" you would ask. You have never heard of flowers, or if you have, they have only been mentioned as a myth. Nobody has ever seen flowers.

"Grass?" you might wonder. "You say that muddy patch over there is a field?" This would defy your own senses, for anyone can plainly see that all that is there is mud and muck, although it once was a beautiful ice-skating rink.

But to one with vision, to one who understands the nature of, well, nature, he knows that all that snow will melt away and turn the once-solid ground into mud. The rivers will overflow their banks, and everything will be covered with muck. It is just the time and nature of the season.

And yet it is that very mud that holds all the seeds of the flowers. It is the melting snows that will give them the water they need to germinate. In just a few short weeks, all that mud will start to see the growth of life and will soon turn into a lush field, filled with verdant life, abundant in colours and textures.

This, dear Reader, is the world around us.

All those old structures that we once regarded as so beautiful are melting around us. There is mud and grime everywhere. Nothing is remaining as it once was.

Yet it is that very mire that holds the seeds within it of the upcoming spring.

Those prismatic flashes of beauty that we have all tried to recapture are but the merest hint of the beauty latent within the flowers that are just beginning to germinate.

The world around us is transforming. Nothing will be the same.

And you, dear Reader, have been given a glimpse of this within the Writings of Baha'u'llah.

"The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new."

And again, "This is the Day, O my Lord, whose brightness Thou hast exalted above the brightness of the sun and the splendors thereof... This is the Day whereon the hopeless have been clothed with the raiment of confidence, and the sick attired with the robe of healing, and the poor drawn nigh unto the ocean of Thy riches."

This is a new day, a new season, a new era, and nothing we have seen can really compare with it. Not even squishing our toes in the mud.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for making my program planning a little easier, Mead!