Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

March 17, 2008

a few peaceful women

I am not very graceful at fasting. It's not easy for me to feel calm about not eating all day when the kids all have colds and cabin fever and I have PMS. But I try. I take my B vitamins and evening primrose oil, get my exercise, arrange for Billy to be home when I think I'm going to need some meditation time, and try to get enough sleep. I still feel like a beginner, but I think that my obedience is important, even if I'm not feeling all peaceful and happy about it all the time. Struggle. It means something's happening. Maybe even growth. I do feel like I'm learning things about myself and I do feel closer to God and I do feel more loving in general. The cool thing I've noticed is that being really empty of food seems to clear an arena inside all aspects of me for something else to happen. A good empty place.

My theme for this fast is women at war/women at peace and so far, most of my thinking has been about whether I feel peaceful or not. That's good but I hope to broaden my focus a bit. Hmmm.. I keep noticing that a peaceful path is not always a struggle-free path. And perhaps rarely so. Hmmm... let's move outside my head and think about other people.... The first four women that pop into my head when I think of people that are struggling to build peace in their communities are:

Helen - A Baha'i in Urbana that has been offering virtues classes in her home for about a year now to the little kids that run around her neighborhood. She has been trying so hard, with so many obstacles, to reach out to her neighbors and do something positive with them to try and build a sense of community on her street. I'm priviledged to witness her sincerity and love.

Co-op lady - There's a woman here in C-U that is working with a group of members of a tiny local food co-op to expand into a large, centrally located store that's more accessible and geared toward the general public. I don't even know her name, but I was so glad to see her doing her thing. Speaking at a neighborhood meeting recently, she was so articulate and inclusive, lovingly answering everyone's questions about the expansion and change in focus, and totally on point about every financial detail of the whole enterprise. The meeting was thorough and very concise. I love's me a concise meeting! And I love seeing talented women in leadership roles kicking ass at what they do. When I was a member of that co-op 10 years ago, it was exclusive-feeling and very political, like they were trying to be separate, and here they've decided to try and be accepting and focus on bringing healthy local food to as many people as they can. Yeah!

King Breakfast lady - Here's another woman I only met once who really made an impression on me. At this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast, I sat down at one of the last available tables and a beautiful African American woman, about my mom's age, plunked down next to me, and without preamble, started speaking to me with such vehemence that I couldn't not remember everything she told me. She said, "Look around this room. (about 300 people were there, the vast majority of whom were African American) This is a pathetic turnout. There are only about 10 white folks here. We are not going to make any progress until this room is filled with white people. When the makeup of this room reflects the racial makeup of this town, that's when the balance of power is going to shift." I don't think she was trying to denigrate the sincerity and importance of the people that WERE there, I think she wants the white people to be fighting the fight for racial equality too. I really appreciated being spoken to from the heart by a complete stranger and was grateful to know her perpective. That kind of courage is really inspiring to me because I am way too guarded.

Benazir Bhutto - OK, this woman is on a whole other plane in so many ways and her influence is on a much larger scale, but she really did come into my mind next, so she's next on my list. The former prime minister of Pakistan, recently assasinated while trying to promote peace and justice in her country. "The first woman elected to lead a Muslim state," says Wikipedia. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of her book, Reconciliation, that explains modern Islam to a western audience to help foster understanding between east and west. I plan to know more about her soon, but I am already intrigued by what I do know of her story.

There's a lot of struggle in these stories. But the struggles are along peaceful lines to attain peace, not warring to attain peace. I see education, I see reaching out to the 'other', and I see sincere desire to help people. These women are truly beautiful.

Posted by Bahiyyih at March 17, 2008 12:48 AM

To me it seems that another part of the fast, considering struggle, is about how to react to the struggle. Just the fact of being conscious of when you eat and how you eat makes you aware of how to live with new and different obstacles. We have so many unconscious (and at times unhelpful) ways of dealing with challenges, and I feel like the fast brings all those to the forefront.

Posted by: Lucy in Chile at March 17, 2008 06:15 PM

Bahiyyih, your Fast meditations have been so helpful to me. It was a hard Fast this year, because I was sick (still getting over the bouts with flu) the whole time, so didn't stop drinking or eating. It's funny, I did realize that I was asking myself every time I drank or ate if it was OK. When Naw-Rúz came, and I continued to ask myself about every drink or meal, it was a joyous dawning feeling to realize I didn't need to do that now.

I took Mom to Easter service at her church in Michigan. Easter has so much meaning to me, partly from good childhood memories,and now from feeling even closer to Jesus' sacrifices, having come to know more about Bahá'u'lláh's, and because I became a Bahá'í the night before Easter. So my emotions were a-broiling when we went to the service. I met a woman named Dr. America Nelson who reminded me a bit of your MLK Day companion, and was uplifted by our conversation. And I heard for the first time, after all those years, that part of the Nicene creed says "I believe . . . in the resurrection of the body." Freaked me out. I am so cocooned in my life working for the Faith and socializing with Bahá'ís that I forget that people believe in things, like the resurrection of the physical body, with all their hearts. And the exclusivity of there being only one way to know God that permeates the service. It was definitely not a restful morning full of peaceful meditation as going to church has been in the past. Whew.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing you and your family in just a few days. Much love to you all,


Posted by: Susan at March 26, 2008 11:56 AM

Thanks for the feedback, dear people.

Lucy, you bring up a very intriguing topic. What are some good ways you've learned how to deal with struggle? I'd like to collect some strategies because sometimes I run out of ideas.

Posted by: Bahiyyih at March 30, 2008 02:07 AM

Well, the typical way for dealing with a struggle is eating. In the fast, not only can you not eat, but not eating in itself is the struggle! For me, it's all about perspective. I can deal with difficult times as long as I can disconnect from the struggle and put it into perspective. There are many ways to do that. For me it's usually traveling or cooking or having a long conversation. And now I'm discovering that prayer has that same effect. Everyone has their strategy. :o)

Posted by: Lucy in Chile at March 30, 2008 02:30 PM