This is one of a series of articles about what is happening in neighborhoods around the Portland Metro area. Contact us to find out what is happening in your neighborhood.
NE Portland is building a pattern of community life
Within the landscape of NE Portland, we see “unfolding processes, emerging structures, and enduring fellowship.” We have become aware of necessary elements that must be in place and functioning effectively to realize “a steady stream of friends…” proceeding through the first Ruhi course, Reflections on the Life of the Spirit. We are setting a pattern of positive community life, as are communities all across the world, as we strive to develop a spiritual neighborhood.
We learned that spiritual conversations and invitations to a spaghetti dinner by a few individuals could bring together a study circle of 12 neighbors and newly-made friends. Coming together for the first session, we experienced the joy of being together to learn about the life of the Spirit. There was excitement as we became more acquainted and quickly agreed upon a day for weekly sessions.
Our 2 tutors explained the process; it was made clear that we are all collaborators, that tutors are individuals who have studied the series of courses in the Ruhi Institute and are qualified to tutor. As tutors they continue to deepen their understanding and walk with us in a mutual process of learning. Copies of the Ruhi Book 1 were issued to us. Two collaborators were issued books in Farsi and Spanish.
The hosting tutor asked the study circle if all of us like to pray, because each study session opens with music and prayers. There was unity of thought about the value of prayers. The tutor explained that one of the services in this study circle is to visit 2 friends and study a prayer with them.
The other tutor was asked to present an introduction to the Baha’i Faith, as a few collaborators needed an overview before beginning Ruhi 1. This tutor also shared about her Baha’i family in Iran, which prompted questions and revealed particular interest on the part of collaborators.
We moved on then to begin reading the Baha’i Writings and meditate on their meaning. We were encouraged to memorize short quotations such as, “Let your eye be chaste, your hand faithful, your tongue truthful and your heart enlightened”. Our tutor shared with us that she tries to follow the first three and then finds her heart is enlightened. She urged us not to resort to dictionaries for the meanings of words, assuring us that in time we will gain a sense of their meaning. Sitting in our circle of chairs in the living room, we wrote answers in the first sections of the book and shared them with the group.
In the warmth of a spiritual setting such as this Ruhi 1, fellowship can endure. The friends closed the study circle with a prayer and engaged in friendly conversation over refreshments brought by one of the collaborators. We have made a beginning with a pattern in NE Portland. There will be other core activities including devotional gatherings, children’s classes, junior youth groups and new study circles.
Baha’is around the world are working with their neighbors to build spiritual neighborhoods, to strengthen these communities to take charge of their own spiritual, social and intellectual development. We invite everyone interested to help build a healthy rhythm of community life:
- Building friendships
- Getting together for devotional gatherings
- Teaching children
- Channeling the energy of the junior youth into positive action
- Studying together to develop our individual and collective capacities
- Applying principles in service to humanity
Contact us to learn more.