Friday, March 15, 2019

The Quiet Hermit

Last week I wrote a little bit about how Baha'u'llah left Baghdad and headed to the mountain, Sar Galu, where He began His two year retreat. While He was there, He would occasionally visit the small town of Sulaymaniyyih.

Now, to be clear, this was not just a visit to town, like you or I would make. It was not merely heading out the door, going for a pleasant walk to get some groceries, and coming back home again. This was a three-day walk, pretty much through the rugged mountains.

Three days. Three days of walking through the mountains and foothills to get to the town, doing whatever was needed, such as getting some necessities like milk and rice, going to the public bath, and then heading back again for another three-day hike.

This was a full-fledged trek. A camping-out-under-the-stars-hoping-it-wasn't-going-to-rain sort of hike, with no tent or shelter, and no North Face jacket to keep you warm.

As you can probably imagine, He didn't just stroll into town, do what He needed to do, and head out again later that afternoon. No. He likely stayed there for a few days. And actually, we know that He did, for when He was there, He would stay at the local religious school.

Now, here, dear Reader, I have to clarify something. Baha'u'llah did not actually stay at Sar Galu for two years. He only spent about a year there. The rest of the time He was in Sulaymaniyyih, at this seminary. More on that later.

But back to Sar Galu for a moment. While we don't know what He did while He was there, alone on the mountain, we do know what He wrote about it. "From Our eyes", He reminisced in the Kitab-i-Iqan, "there rained tears of anguish, and in Our bleeding heart there surged an ocean of agonizing pain. Many a night We had no food for sustenance, and many a day Our body found no rest. Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein..." This was not an easy time for Him, no doubt. He was likely in great anguish, considering what was happening to the Babi community.

It is also worth noting that while He was there, on the mountain, He likely came in contact with the migrant farmers who worked the fields during the sowing and harvest times. There were also, possibly, some travelers that met Him, although even today roads are few and far between. And again, while we're not sure, we do know that reports and rumours started circulating about Someone Who had chosen to live an ascetic life there in the wilderness, away from human society.

Again, He would occasionally come into town, and stay at that seminary. While there, He was reserved and usually silent. It was known that He had not taken a vow of silence, but He rarely spoke. Even then, all who were there wished to know more of this silent hermit, Who, by His very bearing, impressed them.

And that, dear Reader, is the point I wish to focus on this week: His silence.

While people are naturally curious about a stranger who comes into their midst, this was a bit more than that. Something caught their attention. These people were studying all about religion and spirituality, striving to become closer to their Lord. They knew all about asceticism and various religious practices, and here, among them, was One Who was living it. And not just living it, but living it in an exemplary way.

Of course His very presence raised their curiosity.

And yet, still, He was silent.

Shortly after His return to Baghdad, in the passages in the Kitab-i-Iqan in which He describes the True Seeker, He would write, "He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vainglory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence, and refrain from idle talk."

He, Himself, at this time in Sulaymaniyyih, demonstrated the attributes of that True Seeker, even though there was nothing He needed to seek. "In truth," He said, "matters have come to such a pass that silence hath taken precedence over utterance and hath come to be regarded as preferable." "My silence", He later wrote, "is by reason of the veils that have blinded Thy creatures' eyes to Thee, and my muteness is because of the impediments that have hindered Thy people from recognizing Thy truth."

But there, in that seminary, amongst those who wished to know more, He found some pure hearts who were, later, the recipients of some of the most treasured writings from his mighty Pen. We know they must have been sincere, for as He said, "It behoveth every one in this Day of God to dedicate himself to the teaching of the Cause with utmost prudence and steadfastness. Should he discover a pure soil, let him sow the seed of the Word of God, otherwise it would be preferable to observe silence."

And so, for one year, He was quiet. Choosing to leave Baghdad due to those who would seek leadership for themselves, who would cause such discord as to almost wipe out the infant Faith of God, He retreated in silence until He found a hearing ear.

He lived such a remarkable, yet simple, life, that it attracted those around Him.

Today, we, too, are constantly in the spotlight, even though we do not often realize it. People watch us. They know we are Baha'i, and they look at our actions to see if we stand out above the crowd. For myself, I know that most often I don't.

But occasionally, every once in a while, I will do something that you or I just take for granted, as we are influenced by these great teachings, and the effect that it has on those around me will often astonish me. Sometimes it can be something as simple as picking up a piece of garbage on a trail in the woods, or lending a helping hand to someone who is having a bit of difficulty.

No matter what it is, we should always strive to remember His great example in Sulaymaniyyih, and the truth to those words of wisdom:

The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds; he whose words exceed his deeds, know verily his death is better than his life.

The essence of true safety is to observe silence, to look at the end of things and to renounce the world.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

"The First Call of the Beloved" - part 2

O YE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MINDS TO KNOW AND EARS TO HEAR!

The first call of the Beloved is this: O mystic nightingale! Abide not but in the rose-garden of the spirit. O messenger of the Solomon of love! Seek thou no shelter except in the Sheba of the well-beloved, and O immortal phoenix! dwell not save on the mount of faithfulness. Therein is thy habitation, if on the wings of thy soul thou soarest to the realm of the infinite and seekest to attain thy goal.


Well it looks like the fast got the better of me yesterday, and I never got around to writing this article. Sorry about that. I hope your fast is going well, dear Reader. Oh, and I guess the fact that I have to reassemble our kitchen after the military redid our floor and cupboards might have had something to do with it, too. By the way, if you ever have to have kitchen renovations, or have them done to you, I would suggest not doing them during the Fast.

Now, where were we? Oh, yeah.

In the main body of this Hidden Word, we seem to be referred to as a bird. Before I go into that, though, I should point out that the middle section, "O messenger of the Solomon of love" was in the original a reference to the Hoopoe bird. Shoghi Effendi understood that the English readers would likely not know the story of Solomon and the Hoopoe bird, who carried his messages to the Queen of Sheba, so he translated it to "messenger" for our benefit.

Either way, there are three birds that Baha'u'llah references as a metaphor for us, or our spirit: the "mystic nightingale", the "messenger of the Solomon of love", and the "immortal phoenix".

Each of them has their own home, or destination. The first is "in the rose-garden of the spirit". The second is "in the Sheba of the well-beloved". And the third is "on the mount of faithfulness".

While Baha'u'llah is encouraging us to the highest ideal, for example "the rose-garden of the spirit" as opposed to just any old rose-garden, I believe that there is value in exploring what I call the "lower case" version of each of these. By doing so, we see a path that is so beautifully laid out in front of us. Same thing with the three birds referenced. We can look at any old nightingale, no particular hoopoe bird, and pretty much any phoenix out there, and again, we will see a path of progression.

As Baha'u'llah begins with the birds, let us do the same.

A nightingale, a hoopoe, and a phoenix.

To be honest, I didn't really know much about these birds before beginning this article, so I had to do a bit of research.


The nightingale, as I'm sure you know, dear Reader, is a songbird. It has a stunningly beautiful song, and has been revered through the ages. From Homer and Sophocles, to Chaucer and Shakespeare, the nightingale has long been used as a symbol for lament and love. Due to its spontaneity of song, it is also used as a symbol for inspiration and creativity. It is, however, a fairly plain looking bird.





The second bird Baha'u'llah uses here is the hoopoe. This bird has a much more varied symbolic history. In Leviticus, it is considered non-Kosher, and the Jewish peoples were forbidden to eat it, but in 2008 it was voted the national bird of Israel. In the Qur'an, it is the hoopoe who brings news to Solomon of the Queen of Sheba, and proceeds to carry letters back and forth between them. In Persia, they were seen as an emblem of virtue, having guided the other birds through the seven valleys to the King of Birds, the phoenix, which, it turns out, is actually the group of 30 birds that were successful in their journey. By stressing the importance of their unity, the hoopoe bird shows them that they themselves are actually that "King of Birds", as long as they remain united.

Does this begin to sound familiar?

Oh, and the hoopoe is quite a beautiful bird, especially when its crown of feathers is fully displayed.




Finally, there is the phoenix, that mythical bird symbolizing the sun, time, the Empire, resurrection, life in Paradise, and the highest state of man. Any picture I put here would likely pale in comparison to the image you have in your own mind.



As you can see, we go from the drab to the beautiful to the mythical, ever increasing in splendour. We go from creative inspiration, to the teacher or messenger, to the magical. We also go from the simple lover of the flower that grows on this plane to the bird that guides all the others to their heavenly state, to that bird that only exists in the highest paradise.

No matter how I look at it, this path is filled with wonder and meaning, from the bare basics to the most splendid of all, it is a path that Baha'u'llah is encouraging us to walk, or perhaps fly.

But where is this path leading? The rose-garden, the Sheba of the well-beloved, and the mount of faithfulness.

A rose-garden is so beautiful, with so much to delight the senses. Whether considered with the visual and all the myriad colours, or the olfactory with the beautiful scent wafting through the air, a rose-garden is a true delight to the senses.

Sheba, however, is shrouded in mystery. It has long been thought to be Saba, one of the oldest and most important kingdoms in southern Arabia. The wealth of this kingdom was, and still is, legendary. But perhaps most important was the willingness of their Queen to go to Solomon and learn from his wisdom.

Finally, the mount of faithfulness, a mountain so difficult to attain that only the truly faithful are able to scale its heights. It is, in the Qur'an, the Mother of all mountains, extending all around the world. But in mystic symbolism of the middle East, it is often used as a symbol for the human heart.

From a small garden to an entire country, and eventually to the entire planet, this path also leads us onwards and upwards.

And we can even look at the attributes of these different places: the rose-garden of the spirit, the Sheba of the well-beloved, and the mount of faithfulness. The spirit, the well-beloved, and faithfulness. It is our spirit that is first attracted to the well-beloved, to which we must remain faithful.

Or perhaps we wish to look at the attributes of the birds? The mystic nightingale, the messenger of the Solomon of love, and the immortal phoenix. It is the mystic, in this case, who walks this path, finding the love of God and sharing it with others, and thus earning their immortality.

No matter how we look at it, this Hidden Word is just the beginning of our journey to our Beloved.

And that, dear Reader, is a journey we all should take, "if on the wings of thy soul thou soarest to the realm of the infinite and seekest to attain thy goal."

Friday, March 8, 2019

"The First Call of the Beloved" - part 1

O Ye People That Have Minds To Know And Ears To Hear!
The first call of the Beloved is this: O mystic nightingale! Abide not but in the rose-garden of the spirit. O messenger of the Solomon of love! Seek thou no shelter except in the Sheba of the well-beloved, and O immortal phoenix! dwell not save on the mount of faithfulness. Therein is thy habitation, if on the wings of thy soul thou soarest to the realm of the infinite and seekest to attain thy goal.


You know, dear Reader, it's been a long time since I've really explored a small piece of the Writings here. I don't know about you, but I miss it. And besides, it's the Fast, so I tend to look at a single book during the Fast and kind of dive into it.

This year I was hoping to explore The Call of the Divine Beloved, but my kitchen is being renovated right now. Oh, we live in military housing and they decided that they needed to redo our kitchen, and chose this week to do it. And while I appreciate it, it means that there is a large cabinet in front of the book shelf that happens to have my copy of The Call. For some reason I put it on that bookshelf instead of the one that has the rest of Baha'u'llah's writings, so I guess I'll look at something else instead. After all, I can take a hint.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the quote that I put above, and I'm glad you asked, dear Reader. That is the quote I've decided to look at today. Why? Why not?

Ok. Here's my thinking.

I've been posting a lot of stories of the early Babis, as you may have noticed, as well as reading quite a bit of Baha'u'llah's earlier, mystical works. I've also been reading A Treasure House of Mysteries, by Dariush Maani, which is a study of the Hidden Words. And through that volume, which seems to focus on the Persian Hidden Words, I realized that I've always been more drawn to the Arabic, and know those a lot better. So why not go beyond my comfort zone, as they say, out on a limb, and look at the Persian Hidden Words, instead? Right? Right.

Before I do, though, I just want to share a quote from the Hand of the Cause of God, George Townshend. "...(F)rom the Arabic Hidden Words", he writes, "we get the impression that a loving teacher speaks to us, whereas in the Persian part we feel that a lover teaches us." I just love that perspective.

Anyways, on to the quote itself.

Let's look at that invocation: O ye people that have minds to know and ears to hear.

Interesting. The first thing I notice is the reference to Jesus, Who said "Let those who have ears to hear, hear" numerous times in the Bible. Seven times, if I'm not mistaken. And He also said "He who has eyes to see, let him see", thus adding in a second sense into it. But it's interesting to see the mind and knowledge thrown into that mix, seeming to take it a step further.

But there is something else that crosses my mind. In Bible studies, it is often pointed out that you can close your eyes, but you cannot really close your ears. Well, you can stuff cotton in them, or put your hands over them, but you can't really close your ears as you do your eyes.

The mind, though, is something different, entirely. The mind needs to be trained. You go through a process of taking in sensory perceptions, analyzing them, studying them, and then formulating your thoughts. The senses, such as hearing, are more direct.

Here, in the first of the Persian Hidden Words, Baha'u'llah is helping lead us towards God. So we can presume that these are not the ordinary senses about which He is talking. He is probably referring more to the mystical aspects of these terms, especially since this beautiful little book comes in the midst of His most mystical writings.

Perhaps He is alluding to the idea of our having minds to know God, to contemplate reality and come to a better understanding of Him, and eventually moving on to that state of being in which we can know God a bit more directly, hearing His divine melodies with our own ears, as the case may be. Of course, we can't know God directly, or hear Him physically, but we can know Baha'u'llah. We can hear those divine melodies that He has revealed with our own ears. We don't need an intermediary, such as a priest or a member of the clergy, to hear it for us. We can use our own minds to know, and our own ears to hear.

This invocation, especially as it is the first of them, really speaks to me of moving beyond the mere mind, and into the realm of the spirit. It is, if you will, the goal of the journey upon which we embark as we begin our adventure into the Hidden Words.

And whereas I could continue writing about the main body of this Hidden Word, I think I'll leave it for tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

"Enough is Enough"

On 10 April 1854, Baha'u'llah had disappeared.

His family awoke to discover that He was gone. Although we do not know what the daily life of the family looked like at the time, we can presume that they thought He had gone for a walk on a pleasant spring morning, perhaps for a cup of coffee, or something. They probably did not dream that it would be around two years before they would see Him again.

Baha'u'llah, for His part, was walking with His friend, Abu'l-Qasim-Hamadani, who, interestingly enough, was not a Babi. He was a devout Muslim. Together they walked 200 miles north of Baghdad to the small town of Sulaymaniyyih, in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, where He gave Abu'l-Qasim a small sum of money to help him set up as a trader.

The question, though, is why did He leave?

For that, dear Reader, we must look back at the history of the Babi Faith of that time.

Just a few years earlier, the Babis were renowned for their uprightness, trustworthiness, integrity, and high moral conduct. Then the persecutions began in earnest. There was the misguided attempt on the life of the Shah, and the massacres, resulting in over 20,000 martyrs for the Faith. It is no exaggeration to say that every leader of the community, with the singular exception of Baha'u'llah, was killed at that time.

By the time Baha'u'llah was settled in Baghdad, the community was essentially leaderless. There were those who found comfort and inspiration in Baha'u'llah's presence, but Mirza Yahya, His half-brother, was ostensibly the one that the Babis were to turn to. And he was in hiding. He refused to meet with anyone, or go out on the street. He was so afraid for his life that he hid away in his home. And there were others, notably Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani, who were becoming jealous of Baha'u'llah's growing prestige. They began to spread rumours about Him, casting Him in a dim light and sowing the seeds of discord within the community.

The Babis, for their part, were also afraid. If they got together in small groups, there was the very real possibility that they would be killed. Many of the Bab's writings had been destroyed, so there was little guidance to which they could turn. And all their leaders had been killed. The very people to whom they could turn for help were no longer there.

And Baha'u'llah, the only One to Whom they could turn with any real hope, was in exile, and vicious rumours were coming back about Him.

In the end, Baha'u'llah seems to have said, "Enough is enough." If He continued to stay in Baghdad the flames of jealousy would only be further aroused, and so He left.

He left the Babis to their own devices, as if to say, "All right, you work it out for yourselves."

He went to the lonely mountains of the Zagros range, to Sar Galu, a three day walk to the nearest human habitation. Living in a cave, or occasionally in a small stone hut built by local farmers when the weather was especially bad, He communed with His own spirit, "oblivious of the world and all that is therein".

For One Who was so sensitive to the spiritual nature of those around Him, Who was witnessing the downward spiral of those who had professed belief in the Bab, it must have been absolutely heartbreaking to see what was happening in the community. And so, finding refuge in a cave in the distant mountains, spending all the time He desired in prayer and meditation, away from the spiritual turmoil that must have constantly wore on Him, was most likely a blessing, despite the physical deprivation such an isolation entailed.

It was during this time that He revealed such prayers as the one that begins, "Create in me a pure heart, O My God, and renew a tranquil conscience within me, O My Hope! Through the spirit of power confirm Thou me in Thy Cause, O my Best-Beloved, and by the light of Thy glory reveal unto me Thy path, O Thou the Goal of my desire!"

When I read this prayer, and contemplate the situation in which the Blessed Beauty found Himself at that time, it reads like a completely different prayer than when I just say it for myself.

Knowing of this time, reading the history of what was going on, I realize that it is ok to walk away from a bad situation. There are many times in which the very best thing you can do is just leave those involved to themselves.

There are a few times in Baha'i history, this being the most notable, when Baha'u'llah closed the door of His presence so that the friends could just take the time they needed to decide for themselves what they wanted, without the overpowering influence of His personality.

And there are times in our life, too, that we just need to walk away and look after our own needs, our own spiritual well-being.

I will write more about this tumultuous time in His life over the next few weeks, but I wanted to start with this, the background. Although we often talk about His retreat as if it is a bit of a blank, it was actually a time of great ferment. Many things happened, and there was a lot learned, too much for just one short story, as this.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Not Quite the Lap of Luxury

When 'Abdu'l-Baha was a child of four years old, a very special meeting occurred in His Father's home. He was sitting there, on the lap of a woman, behind a curtain, as the men talked in the next room over.

The woman's name was Tahirih, and there, in the other room, were Baha'u'llah, Who was hosting this gathering, Vahid, the former envoy of the Shah, and a number of other men, most of whom were likely Babis. Vahid was speaking, and he was quite eloquent, as he was a very gifted and insightful speaker.

As she held the young 'Abdu'l-Baha in her lap, listening to the powerful oration, she began to grow tired of the continual talk in which the men were engaged. Did they not realize that this was a new Day? This was the promised Day of the Qa'im. Speeches and proofs were no longer needed. What was required was action.

"Cease idly repeating the traditions of the past", she said from her place behind the curtain, "for the day of service, of steadfast action, is come. Now is the time to show forth the true signs of God, to rend asunder the veils of idle fancy, to promote the Word of God, and to sacrifice ourselves in His path. Let deeds, not words, be our adorning." And with that short speech, interrupting some long forgotten discourse, she galvanized the men of that room, helping transform them from those who would sit and comfortably talk about their great knowledge into those who would arise and act upon their understandings, sacrificing their all for what they knew was right.

Today, especially with the rise of instant communication, we see more and more people getting involved in social discourse, but only a small percentage arising to take meaningful action on those very points they argue. Tahirih's example of speaking from behind the curtain, and challenging the men of that day to cease their discussions of the issues of the day and do something about them, rings ever louder than it has in the past, calling us to put our own words into effective action.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Pure Quest

In 1844, Mulla Husayn was returning from a successful journey in which he performed an important and delicate task for his master, Siyyid Kazim. When he returned to Karbila, instead of the joy of a successful completion to his mission, he discovered the sorrow of the passing of his teacher.

After everything settled down, with the visitors expressing their sorrow to him, the time with his teacher's family, and so forth, Mulla Husayn gathered the other students together to hear from them his master's last wishes. They all, each in their own way, told him that Siyyid Kazim had said that the Promised One was here, ready to reveal Himself. They should all, they were told, leave their homes and scatter to the winds, search far and wide in their quest for Him. They would need to, they were advised, purge themselves of all earthly desires and dedicate themselves completely to this pursuit. "Nothing", Siyyid Kazim had told them, "short of prayerful endeavour, of purity of motive, of singleness of mind" would succeed in removing the veils between them and Him.

So then why, Mulla Husayn wondered, have you all remained here in Karbila?

And again, one by one, they each and all, in their own individual ways, gave their excuses. "We must remain in this city", one replied, "and guard the vacant seat of our departed chief." "I have to", said another, "take care of the Siyyid's family." On and on the various reasons came, each pretext seeming reasonable, but failing to recognize the importance of this grand mission before them.

Finally, Mulla Husayn had had enough. He left them to their own devices and idle pursuits, and went off to fulfill the dearest wish of his late master.

How often have we seen something similar in our own lives? There is something great that we hope to accomplish, but it is the innumerable little things that get in our way. If only we can keep firmly in our sight the importance of our own mission, perhaps not as great as finding the Bab, but great nonetheless, then we will discover that everything we hope to do will eventually get done. But if we let those small things distract us, we will still find ourselves right back where we started, never having left the Karbila of our starting point.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

An Interesting Question

Last weekend I had the wonderful bounty of attending the Alberta Winter School. Not only was it a good reminder that -20 isn't all that bad when it's dry outside, but I learned a lot, too. And even better, my son was there with me. That was just light upon light, as they say.

During one of the sessions, about being relevant, the idea of an elevated conversation was brought up, and how it wasn't just mentioning a virtue, or saying the words "Baha'i" or "Baha'u'llah", wonderful as that is. No. It was pointed out that a far more relevant example would be if you were talking to two people, one of whom was adamantly pro-guns, and the other extremely anti-guns, and recognized that they were both concerned about security. One is more aware of personal security, while the other is more concerned about communal security. When you raise the discussion to this level, then you help bring them together on a real topic where they can discuss the issue at hand, and not just talk past each other based merely on a sound-bite.

Anyways, it was a very interesting discussion, and a few different points were brought up.

But what really interested me was the gentleman who asked how you would bring together two people arguing over both sides of the abortion issue. First, it was pointed out that it's not "pro-choice" and "pro-life", for the division there is actually artificial. Also, those who are generally "pro-life" are actually "pro-birth", as their interest in the life of the child generally seems to end with their birth, if their stance on other issues is at all accurate.

The discussion on that particular issue didn't really come to any conclusion, other than to dive into it and ask them why they each have their particular stance. Asking questions to learn more about why they believe what they do seemed to be the prevalent conclusion.

But this is not what I really wanted to talk about today. No. This was just an intro to my real story.

You see, dear Reader, the day after the Winter School my son and I went to the mall to meet up with a friend and her son. I hadn't seen my friend in over twenty years, and we were both real excited to get together again. Meeting occurred, lunch was eaten, and a good time was had by all, especially since ice cream and bubble tea were involved. But as always happens, our getting together had to come to an end. It was time for her hubby to pick them up.

So we headed over the pick-up point, and discovered we still had about 10 minutes.

What did we do? We walked into an electronics store. Both our sons are sort of geeks. (Don't tell.)

While the two kinder were looking at various thingies, my friend and I were standing around. One of the employees, Jay, came over and asked if we had any questions.

Now, dear Reader, I must tell you, the friend I met is not a Baha'i, but she sure is conversant with the Faith. And she knows me really well. So when I said that yes I did in fact have a question, she was just waiting to see what I would bring up.

"How would you", I asked Jay, "help bring together in conversation two people who are arguing both sides of the abortion question?"

Jay looked at me a bit curiously, wondering if I was serious or not.

My friend piped in, "You never said the question had to be about electronics."

"Fair enough," he replied, and proceeded to answer the question cogently, coherently, and with a fairly good spiritual insight into the concept of unity. The resultant conversation was pretty awesome. And we learned that the reason he was so good at bringing about unity to differing viewpoints was that he is Hindu and his girlfriend is Muslim. He's had lots of practice.

I often hear people say that it takes time to talk about spiritual ideas, and honestly, I don't know why that would be. When you're given an opening, grab it. Talk about the big issues. Ask the difficult questions. Don't lead with what you believe, because most people don't really care. But when you ask what they believe, or what they would do, then you're off and running. Once they explain their perspective, many will also ask for yours. And you know what? When you ask their opinion first, you often learn a lot.

So I just wanted to share that today. It was a great weekend, and it got me thinking about a difficult issue. The next day when I was innocently asked if I had a question, well, I did. I was still thinking about it.

Now I think I'll make sure that I always have a question on the go.

Oh, and when my son and I walked past the same store the next day, Jay recognized me and remembered the conversation. It had gotten him thinking, too.