A warm hello to you, dear friends, from your executive board members. We are happy to share with you our endeavours over the past few months in Scotland but first...
How are you? Are you well? How many hugs or smiles did you give out today? Did you receive any?
We want to get to know you. No need for CV’s or bold statements on your academic achievements, or not, as the case may be. We would like to know the little things about you. What makes you happy? What brings a smile to your face? What warms your heart? What’s happening to women in your area? Please write and let us know – we are longing and waiting to assist you.
Since our last report we have had several meetings. As you may know, with any committee meeting much of the time is taken up with business decisions. However we are a Bahá’í organisation and are fortunate to open every meeting with prayers. Do any of you serve on committees outwith the Faith? Don’t you really miss having the wonderful bounty of saying prayers together before the business starts! We are really blessed to have the tool of loving consultation for our meetings.
Our first agenda item is a continued study on the ‘Women’ compilation. There are five chapters to this publication and, as there are five members, we have each taken a chapter to study as individuals and, in turn, have led a discussion at the meeting. It is wonderful to study, with others, words that have been read many times before, but take on new meaning when studied more deeply. Shelagh at the most recent meeting emphasised just three words ‘Handmaidens of Bahá’u’lláh’ – “that’s us girls!” she said. Well there it is; that’s us – all of the women in Scotland are Handmaidens of Bahá’u’lláh. The tremendous power of those three little words. Have you ever thought about what it means to be a Handmaiden of Bahá’u’lláh? Why you were created a women?
The ABWS Questionnaire
We have had some wonderful information and ideas from the Questionnaire sent out last year. Lizbeth gathered all the responses and printed them under their separate headings. This really helped us to see the diversity of our women and also the amazing similarities too. Thank you for responding and please feel free to contact us if you would like to complete one. We can help you if the questions are a bit unclear. These replies are assisting us in forming our Five Year Plan so they are very important to us. In this way we can find out what your needs are. The more information we have the better equipped we will be to serve you.
Local ABW Branches Reports
North East and Aberdeen
(Mona Helmy: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This vibrant branch meets every week. Having completed studying the compilation on ‘Women’, they are now studying ‘Women as Peacemakers’, with the Virtues Guide being the next subject. Two separate week-end retreats have been planned. Some of the members are also on the Aberdeen Women’s Festival Committee and we look forward to hearing more from them.
Some of the friends attending the Aberdeen Women's Retreat
Weekend retreat –
The branch held their first women’s retreat on 17th-18th of November. It was decided that, as it was their first retreat, it would be on a small scale but for the next one in February people from neighbouring communities would be invited to join in.
The retreat was held at the home of Mona Helmy and it was arranged that everyone would bring a light dish for lunch and a cooked meal for supper.
It was planned that there would be a very simple programme of hourly sessions with breaks and meals in between. The chosen topic was the role of “women as peacemakers.”
The program started each day with a devotional session prepared by Nadia Helmy with selections from the writings accompanied by her own lovely type of music. Each woman participant took a session relating to peace. The sessions covered topics such as: finding individual peace in our daily lives, global peace, how different people relate to peace in the home / workplace / prison / through injustice / and using the virtues. Stories of Martha Root and áhirih were also shared.
On each day there was an exceptional tranquillity zone session. The rooms were beautifully arranged to give warmth and love. Candles and music were used to provide a welcoming atmosphere. There were lovely fragrances emanating from flowers and potpourri. At the beginning of each session cards tied with ribbon were given out, with a wonderful quotation on each one. Many such gifts were shared during the weekend to make each handmaiden of Bahá’u’lláh feel cherished and loved. Friends who had been unable to attend the retreat were not forgotten and cards full of love have been sent from all those blessed to be able to participate.
Members of a local Ruhi Study Circle (book 2) were invited to join in with the tranquillity zone sessions because they were interested in offering these as part of their service project.
How about setting up a weekend retreat in your area? It is very simple. Through it’s simplicity great and wonderful feelings are produced and everyone wants to be part of it. A retreat helps bonding, fellowship and a greater love to grow and be nurtured among the friends.
Tayside/Arbroath Shelagh Gudmundsson (email@example.com)
Harmony Half Hours – These sound very exciting and are planned for this area on a monthly basis. From knowledge gleaned, they will be similar to a Tranquillity Zone, with prayers music and quiet reflection. Look forward to some pictures in next issue.
Glasgow Mahrokh Majidi (e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org)
The magnificent exhibition in St Mungo’s museum has been a big attraction in Glasgow for visiting friends, so this group has not met for a while. On Wed 19th December at 11am some of the group will meet for coffee in John Lewis’s Coffee Shop (in Buchanan Galleries – not the restaurant). If you are in the vicinity please feel free to join them. As this is very informal it is a good place to take friends. Maybe see you there.
Ayrshire Lizbeth Thomson and Mandy Hepburn (email@example.com)
The Ayrshire branch currently meets every three weeks and is studying healing and balancing your inner self – wonderfully relaxing. The benefit of meeting with others and studying together creates such a loving bond. One non-Bahá’í who attends regularly has stated how much the experience of gathering together is a blessing in her life. We all feel the love generated by the group.
I know from experience there are times when I feel tired or can’t really be bothered with anything – making the effort to go to the branch meeting is exactly what I need. It offers something so far removed from the outside world, and gives solace and strength to carry one on.
Do you have a branch in your area? Can we help you to set one up? Remember it is not an exclusive club for Bahá’ís. Wherever there are women a branch is a centre where we can focus our energies. It is an aid to assist us to reach our goals, a place where loving bonds with the women in the whole community are realised. Most importantly it is a regular occasion for offering the healing message of Bahá’u’lláh to all around us.
Ruhi Study Circles
Have you thought of doing a Ruhi study circle? It is an incredible experience. Find out if one could be started in your area. You could request training to be a teacher! Have you considered setting up a tranquillity zone? Any thoughts about enhancing your 19 Day Feast? Please share your thoughts, actions and inspiration with us.
Five Year Plan
We have been busy on your behalf studying the Five Year Plans from the National Spiritual Assembly and the Council so that we can align our plan with theirs. May we ask for your loving prayers for our guidance and protection while we formulate this plan. It is very exciting to be at this incredible stage in the development of the Faith in Scotland. So many wonderful things are happening. On the notable occasion when the National Assembly visited these parts hosted by our Council, the members gave so much love and encouragement to the Scottish community. For those who could not attend this meeting a little aside to say that the blackboard behind the Assembly had the word’s ‘Please remember that your Council loves you’ – a very simple yet touching message. We, too, would like to pass this message on to the women and girls in the community. Please remember that we, too, love you and are here to serve you in whatever capacity we can.
With Loving Greetings from your ABW.
A bit of late news...
Barbara Alexander, Lizbeth Thomson and Venus Alae-Carew
at the ABW table in Castle Douglas.
The Association of Bahá’í women was delighted to have a stall at the ‘Calling all women’ conference in Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway. The ABW table was beautifully decorated and was visited by most of the conference participants, many asking questions and taking leaflets. The Dumfries local dance group (Waking Dreams) was invited to take part in the programme. Their performance of the Equality dance was most effective, leaving all those present visibly moved.
Bahá’ís from several communities cooperated to make this a very successful day and we wish, in particular, to send our warm thanks to the members of the ABW (Scotland) for their presence and the beautiful and most effective display they supplied.
The maid-servants of God must reach a station
wherein they themselves shall comprehend the realities and meanings, to give
clear explanations for each word and the fountains of wisdom gush forth from
the reality of their hearts like a full flowing stream.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p.94