Saturday, July 2, 2011


It was Canada Day yesterday, and so I took Shoghi downtown with me to celebrate. To make it even more special, not to mention better for the environment, and cheaper on the pocketbook, we took the bus. The double-decker bus. And we sat on top (inside, not on top top). Looking out the front window. It was so cool, and he loved every minute of it.

We walked all over to the different events, ate some great food, had a nice shaved ice, and heard some wonderful music. We also saw many friends, which really made me feel like I'm almost at home here.

Aside - Did I ever mention that I seem to know a lot of people wherever I live? There was one time, many years, that this fact drove a friend of mine up a wall. Whenever we went anywhere together, like on a date, we always, and I mean always, ran into someone I knew. But then this one day we went out to a movie, or a museum or something, and then out to dinner. We were just heading back to the car, and were less than a block away when she said, "You know Mead, this has been the perfect evening. We didn't run into anyone you know." No sooner did she say that then, I swear, a car came to a screeching halt and this friend of mine from years back jumped out and said, "Mead! I haven't seen you in ages." I couldn't stop laughing. She looked like she was going to cry. And he was left standing there saying, "What?" It was hilarious.

So that day, after seeing many people I knew in a large crowd, I began to feel like this was finally home. It's still not quite the place in my heart when I think of home, but it's getting there. (Yeah, I still miss Winnipeg.)

But what really moved me today was what happened on the way home.

Shoghi and I were sitting on the bus, a single-decker this time, in the back, talking. For some reason, we were reviewing phrases from other languages he knows, and got to Japanese. I asked him if he remembered how to say "Good morning", and he said, "Konichiwa." The man sitting next to me turned and said, "That's Japanese." He was from Japan, as were the 5 with him. It turns out that they were visiting the island from Vancouver, where they are studying English.

Naturally, this led to a conversation, and I asked them how they were liking the island so far. One of them said that he was finding Victoria confusing, so I asked him why. He reached into his backpack and pulled out a flyer for Wild Play, a outdoor obstacle course on ropes in the woods about 5 minutes from my house. They were concerned about getting to the place without getting lost.

I told them not to worry, as I was getting off at the same stop as they were. They were both shocked and happy at the same time. I said it would be a bit difficult for them to find the place from the bus stop, but I'd be happy to drive them there in shifts, as my car would only hold 3 of them at a time.

We spent the rest of the bus ride having a wonderfully fun conversation about all sorts of things. I really wanted to help them learn a bit more English and get practice.

When we finally got off the bus, 20 minutes later, I took 3 of them in the car and drove the minute or so down the hill to Wild Play. The sign said "open", so I dropped them off and went back up to get group number 2. We came back down the hill and the sign said "closed".

For some reason, I found this very funny.

They were disappointed, so I asked them what they were doing for dinner. I explained that it was Canada Day, and that a tradition over here is to have a barbecue, and would they be interested in joining. It was 5:00. They really thought about it, talked about the possibility and said "No thank you" because they had to catch the last ferry back to Vancouver in just a few more hours.

I could understand that.

But I still didn't want their trip out to the West Shore to be a disappointing waste of time, so I suggested that I drive them down to the Esquimalt Lagoon. If you haven't read about my love of this place, which is, again, only a few minutes away, just look back over my previous articles. I'm sure I mention the inspiration I draw from it at least a few times. (Or if I don't specify the lagoon then I do talk about the ocean, which is the same thing for me over here.)

I drove the 3 in the car down there, and as I suspected, they were amazed by the place. There is a thin strip of land right between the ocean and the lagoon, with the mountains off in the distance. It is a truly inspirational place.

The 3 guys got out and they were obviously mesmerized by the lagoon and all the birds.

I then got the other group, and they, too were astonished by the beauty of the place. I mean, wow, they loved it. We saw many birds, including 26 blue herons (which is the most I've ever seen there at once), 2 bald eagles, 4 swans, countless seagulls, and a pheasant.

Then I told them that we should cross the road and look at the ocean side. They were not sure about it, but when I said that you can see whales and seals there, they were hooked. Now, this may not be the season for whales, for all I know, but I've heard that you can see them from there. (I haven't from there, yet, but I'll keep looking.) I'll tell you, I've never seen so many seals there as I did today. Oh, what a joy to see them playing in the water.

And the mountains? They've never been clearer.

We spent about 45 minutes just absorbed by the beauty of the place, before I finally suggested that I take them back to the bus stop. They were so disappointed at having to go, but we took many pictures and shared contact info so that we could remember this day.

Then I rushed them back to the bus stop and they had to run to catch the bus, which arrived just as I got there with the second group. It was a wonderful time that was had by all, and they waved goodbye from the bus until we couldn't see them anymore.

Afterwards, I told Shoghi how proud I was of him because he showed wonderful Baha'i hospitality to some new friends from Japan here in Canada. I said that I bet if 'Abdu'l-Baha were sitting in the car next to him, He would be smiling so wide, and would pet him on the knee in joy.

All of this also served to remind me of one other connection to the Faith: Fujita, that stalwart believer from Japan who so admirably served 'Abdu'l-Baha in the Holy Land. I don't know why, but I have always felt such a love for this early believer. Perhaps it was his sense of humour, his abiding joy, or his quiet service in the background. I'm not sure. But one thing is for sure, I truly felt his presence with those new friends from Japan.

Oh, Fujita is the one on the right in the photo. Mountefort Mills is the other one, another stalwart early Baha'i whom I would love to read about. But look again at Fujita. Isn't his smile contagious?

There is a marvelous story of him with Curtis Kelsey (an early believer whose bio I have read, thanks to Nat Rutstein) when 'Abdu'l-Baha sent him on a mission to Egypt. Cairo, I think. While there, Fujita was finally able to wear his tuxedo, something he had always wanted to be able to do. Curtis described the scene with such joy and warmth, and attributed it to the Master's uncanny knowledge of what we desire deep in our heart. Or in this case, fairly close to the surface. Or maybe He just knew that it would make Fujita happy, and that was enough.

Yeah. Fujita. There is something about him that really touches me.

One of these days, I hope to read a biography of him. Anyone interested in writing it?

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