Every week we get together with a group of concerned young adults and parents to explore the many aspects and functions of Integrated Education and how it might transform the experience of what we call education.
One of the members of our group was absent because of having surgery. We decided to hold her and her surgeon high up in our prayers and thoughts by saying healing prayers. We realized that the concept of healing and a deeper understanding of it was of great interest to us all. We also were curious how health, healing and sickness is usually framed in the physical context and how much an integrated education approach might open the windows and doors to our understanding about health and healing.
Another member of our group lost her uncle a few days before and that prompted us to get a better understanding of the cycle of life and death in general and the nature and journey of human soul after death according to the Holy Scriptures, in particular, the newest of all Divine Scriptures; the Baha’i Writings.
First, we took a walk in the garden to make note of the process of health, sickness, life, and death in nature. In a single tree, we found disease-infested leaves, dead leaves and branches, and also fresh and growing leaves, branches, and lush fruits. We bent a dead branch and it broke into half under the slightest pressure. We squeezed the dead leaves and they all crumbled into small pieces and fell to the ground. What might we do with the dead branches and leaves; we asked ourselves? Could they contaminate the garden? Could they reduce the order and the beauty of the garden? Or we can allow them to join the compost pile to further disintegrate and help with the process of recycling life.
On the other hand, the green and healthy leaves and branches proved resilient and flexible as we bent and squeeze them. Besides the healthy plants were interacting with the sun and the soil, giving life, bearing fruits, and manifesting their beauty, fragrance, and powers. How similar are we as humans in our abilities and capacities when we are healthy, alive, active, and giving?
We acknowledged our abilities and capacities for being flexible, fragrant, fruitful, and radiant. joyous, and making a difference. All of the above with the unique distinction that in nature everything; the mineral, the plant, and the animal have no choice or very little choice and are the captive of the laws of nature. While, as humans, we possess two natures; one shared with minerals, plants, and with animals and subject to the rules and laws of material reality, and the other is a spiritual, God-like, higher nature that is able to exercise its volition, to know and to love and is subject to the spiritual laws and powers. We can choose to be fragrant or abhorrent, just or cruel, kind or callus, caring or clueless, radiant or dark, happy or sad, honest or deceitful, mindful or oblivious, self-sacrificing or self-centered, learned or ignorant. Baha’u’llah gives us the choice even in relation to loving God so God’s love can reach us. He says: “Love me that I may love thee. If thou lovest me not, My love can in no wise reach thee.”
We observed the relationship between a mirror and the sun. We tilted the face of the mirror towards the sun aiming its reflection at the ground and noticing its powers, light, and warmth reflected by the mirror. We also noticed the cleaner the mirror the better it was able to reflect the light, the warmth, and the powers of the sun. We talked about how metaphorically, the relationship between God and our soul is like the sun and the mirror with the unique role of human volition in choosing to tilt the heart towards divine reality or towards transient reality.
The integrated education experience in the garden was refreshing and gave us joy. Later we walked in and took our place at the table to share breakfast. We decided to continue our integrated education exploration and each took a few minutes to browse silently through the Baha’i prayer books and find the prayer that spoke to our hearts and our minds in relation to health, healing, life, death, and death of a loved one. Once we found our desired prayer, we each took turns to read our chosen prayer. Once finished, we each took turns and shared what about the words, the phrases, and the metaphors we heard that touched our hearts, spoke our minds, illumined our souls, and connected us to Divine wisdom, divine law, and love.
The friends had much to share about their discovery of what spoke to them. One person talked about the sentence saying:” O my Lord! purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light.” The concept of asking that the soul of the departed be purified from trespasses was new, thought-provoking, and raised a new set of questions like what could be the nature of trespasses after we are gone? The thought of praying to God to dispel their sorrows was found to be illuminating, comforting, and soothing. The concept of asking God to change their darkness into the light was found to be soothing, comforting, uplifting, empowering, and connecting. We were all surprised to notice that as we were all talking about death we did not feel sad or helpless!
The concept of “O my God, Thy trust has been returned unto Thee.”, was another thought-provoking and comforting concept that spoke to us. The thought that our body will return to dust and our soul to our creator as a divine trust was very illuminating and reassuring. The feeling in the room was one of discovery and connection. We felt connected to each other through a higher source of love and knowledge, way beyond our imagination and yet quite appealing to our intellect and sense of our spiritual identity and understanding.
When we shared our choice prayers and phrases on the subject of healing, the phrase; “She is sick, O my God, and hath entered beneath the shadow of the tree of Thy healing…” was most illuminating, comforting, and pleasing to all of us. We talked about how our mirror neurons help our souls connect to the image of “entering beneath the shadow of the tree of God’s healing”. We all felt a sense of awe and wonder about the way our emotions and feelings were affected by just relating to the metaphor of “entering beneath the shadow of the tree of God’s healing”
The conversation continued and the spirit was high and we could each discover bits and pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of our spiritual reality emerging and connecting.
We remembered the quote from the Paris Talks of Abdu’l-Baha saying:
We hope the illumination we receive from coming together weekly will translate into the delivery of a most empowering integrated education for the children and youth in our care and in our communities.
A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over 20 years, specializes in using the Bahá’í Teachings to identify theories, techniques, and approaches that produce the best results for her clients. She is the founder and executive director of the Center for Global Integrated Education, a non-profit Bahá’í-inspired educational organization.