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Baha'i religion fosters gift of family unity.

Byline: FROM HEART TO HEAERT By Deb Ridell For The Register-Guard

The recent passing of a dear Baha'i friend brought cherished childhood memories that helped me deal with this loss, renewing the value of my life and family.

As I sat near his deathbed, my friend asked me to recite his favorite prayer, "The Tablet of Ahmad," revealed by Baha'u'llah, the prophet-founder of our faith. I was taught to revere this prayer long ago by my parents.

Before my fifth birthday in 1965, my parents enrolled as Baha'is. A close-knit family already, our new-found religion fostered even greater bonds of unity.

I remember every night before bed, the family would gather in the living room to pray. Each would offer a prayer, and one of us would recite "The Tablet of Ahmad." This fond memory was rekindled by my dying friend's request.

I chose my own religious path at age 15, which Baha'u'llah taught is the age of "spiritual maturity." Yes, I enthusiastically chose the Baha'i faith after personally investigating its teachings.

Declaring my belief in Baha'u'llah gave me a sense of purpose, a means to purity, filling my heart with great happiness. The fact that my beliefs were different from the majority of my friends was not an embarrassment, but a source of pride. I felt blessed, not alienated. I gained a growing sense of unity among all religions and people. My faith helped me to respect human diversity.

My friend's passing also evoked the memory of how I started my own family. I obtained parental consent to be married (a Baha'i practice), and a few years later I was blessed with two daughters. I used to recite Baha'i prayers to them while still pregnant and as they grew up. Once they learned to speak, I taught them Baha'i prayers and teachings. Throughout their childhood and teenage years we attended Baha'i feasts together. They both eventually became members of the Baha'i faith, making their mother and grandmother extremely proud.

A few years ago, my oldest daughter was married. She now has two sons of her own. She also has recited Baha'i prayers to her children since their births. They will make the best decision for their own spiritual journeys after their 15th birthdays. Whatever their decision, they will be loved and accepted by our family. They are delightful boys with loving hearts and their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother couldn't be more proud of them.

My youngest daughter is planning to be married soon. Our family is sharing great excitement as we support her. She also has asked parental permission to marry. This Baha'i practice is intended to preserve family unity.

My mother, myself, my daughters and my grandsons represent four generations of Baha'is. We all live in Eugene, and we have a blessed life. Our interactions are fun and loving. We appreciate our time spent together. Though neither my husband nor my son-in-law is Baha'i, they are equally wonderful members of the family.

I thank God daily for the gift of my family.

Deb Riddell lives in the Eugene area and serves on the administrative council for Baha'is in central Lane County. This column is coordinated by Two Rivers Interfaith Ministries, a network of more than 35 religious and spiritual traditions in the Eugene-Springfield area. For more information, call 344-5693 or visit www.interfaitheugene.org.
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Title Annotation:Religion
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 11, 2006
Words:556
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