26 Prayers Adorned with 26 Flowers of Ontario

The cover of the newly released resource: 26 Prayers Revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Adorned with 26 Flowers of Ontario

In March, a selection of prayers was released in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice.

Friends across Ontario have been inspired by their beauty, drawing on these newly translated prayers in both private prayer and devotional gatherings. Many of the images in the prayers call to mind aspects of the physical world: from images of the sun, moon and flames, to that of “the spider of idle fancy” and the delight of being “filled with joy like the laughing rose.”

It is in this spirit that the Bahá’í Council of Ontario has prepared a digital resource of these prayers for the friends to use widely during this “period of special potency”.[1] The e-copy of 26 Prayers Revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Adorned with 26 Flowers of Ontario is now available for use and download at this link. It was created with love and hand-drawn by Toronto-based artist Kiana Rezvani Baghae. The document can be printed as a booklet or used as a digital resource to infuse the growing number of devotional gatherings across the region with the spirit of the Master. 

This particular set of prayers also serve as a balm for the hearts, at a time when countless tests are afflicting humanity, the global pandemic being perhaps one of the more obvious ones. One excerpt is particularly poignant for the way it highlights the depths of the challenges many friends may be facing:

“O Divine Providence! Perplexing difficulties have arisen and formidable obstacles have appeared. O Lord! Remove these difficulties and show forth the evidences of Thy might and power. Ease these hardships and smooth our way along this arduous path. O Divine Providence! The obstacles are unyielding, and our toil and hardship are conjoined with a myriad adversities.”

Another prayer reminds us that “The body is dependent for its freshness and beauty upon the grace of the spirit.”  The words of the Master seem to continually lift our spirits, helping us to draw on Divine guidance:

“Grant me the strength to bear this heavy burden, and enable me to safeguard this supreme bestowal, for so strong is the force of tests and so grievous the onslaught of trials that every mountain is scattered in dust, and the highest peak reduced to nothing…”

Kiana’s process in developing this resource involved research, developing initial sketches, hand-drawing the flowers, digitally uploading them and selecting which flowers would best accompany each prayer.  Here is her description of the process:

“Such a blessing it is to be able to at last read, meditate, and comprehend these invigorating and uplifting newly translated prayers of the Master. The sweet and encouraging imagery of these prayers reminded me of a garden full of delightful flowers; each with its own unique honey-coated scent. Correspondingly, the idea translated into a reality where each flower is accompanying a distinct prayer. To do so, I had to first find the true spirit and essence of these flowers. Therefore, I spent many joyful days in the garden of my neighbour sketching the dance of the flowers, spending the daytime adjacent to her bed of flowers, and during nighttime in my bed dreaming about them. And so, one by one, and day by day, each prayer became united with its own flower.”

We look forward to hearing stories of how these prayers and illustrations are used and shared, and continue to uplift and inspire the hearts of those labouring across Ontario in this One Year Plan!

[1] Universal House of Justice, Ridván 2021

Get in touch with the neighbourhood team in this story, or share your own learning with Ontario Baha’i here.

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