It is a long and beautiful journey by train from Yazd to the capital city of Tihran in the northern part of the country, where the BIHE classes take place. On the trip, I pass through six other cities, the central deserts of Iran, and different landscapes and geographies too numerous to mention.
My journey normally starts at 6:00 a.m. since the train always leaves on time. The station where I board is inside the city limits so I have to pass through residential neighborhoods to get there. I can easily see which houses have early risers and which don’t. Those who wake up at dawn have turned on their lights or sprinkled their courtyards with water, while the houses of those who still sleep sit dark and quiet. As soon as I leave the city, I enter a wide dry desert with endless brownish yellow sand and the occasional green spot made by desert plants.
At some times of the year, I can see the full sunrise, which is magical. Just before the sun rises, the sky gradually changes color, from red to orange, then suddenly the first bright rays appear over the horizon, transforming the red glow of the sky to a light blue. As the sunshine reaches my face, the light dazzles my eyes and warms my skin, and I feel joy at being an early riser, a witness to the first light of morning.
The closer I come to Tihran, the more green plants and farm lands I can see. After passing the city of Naeen, I see cotton fields. They stretch out on either side of the train like great green cloths dotted with white polka dots. Farmers work on the land and sometimes they raise their heads to glance at the passing train. Some of them wave to me, and I wave back. The honesty and simplicity of rural people is so admirable.
Before arriving in the Tihran Railway Station, I pass through the urban areas of the city. Small houses like tiny cubes stuck together form the heavily populated poor neighborhoods. Wet clothes hang in front of windows and children are playing in the dust and dirt. It seems that the capital has confined all its poverty to the suburbs in order to maintain the beauty of its luxurious downtown.
On this long journey, I come from the calmness and silence of the desert to the noise and crowds of the capital city. At first, the noise of the city seems shocking to me, but gradually I adjust to the change of scene, becoming more and more absorbed in the life of the city and always amazed by the giant buildings. The long and beautiful journey from Yazd to Tihran is almost like a pilgrimage for me — a journey to a sacred place, a place of learning, where I can sharpen my vision so I can see worlds far beyond Iran’s desert landscape.
When I was twelve years old, our spiritual education teacher, Mr. Zabihi, a middle-aged man who had a good reputation in the local Bahá’í community, took our class on a short trip to visit the fort erected by the Bábís at Shaykh Tabarsi in Mazandaran province. That trip has always been and will always be the best memory of my teens. It was a beautiful fall morning, and I woke up very early to go to my friend Shaghayegh’s house, where all of the students in the spiritual education class were to meet. I packed a snack and my notebook in my bag and set out for my friendís house. We had already read about the events at Tabarsi in our class, so we were excited and curious to visit the place for the first time.
When the bus arrived, Mr. Zabihi told us to board and take our seats. Once we were seated, he began to speak. As he recounted the events of Tabarsi, I felt as if I was traveling back in time. ... (continued)
Some years ago, I enrolled in a class at an English institute with the goal of improving my English. At the first meeting of the class, I found our professor open-minded and ready to accept new ideas. She had read widely and was eager to know more, so I decided to speak with her about my religion, even though I was not sure what her reaction would be.
At the institute, there were strict rules that included not speaking about any religion that was not Islam. If I disobeyed this rule, I might not get my diploma. Still, I yearned to speak with this open-minded teacher about my religion.
I was surprised when, during the third meeting of the class, my professor asked me this question:
Congratulations and thank you for this garden. This oasis. This temple. It has lifted my spirit.
— Patricia Ranzoni, Maine poet and Bucksport Poet Laureate
In her essay, Sahba captures the spirit and voice of one more soul whose potential has been muted (hopefully just for a time) by the profound forces of time, place and humanity’s baser nature. Thank you for helping the Sahbas of the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education in Iran develop and share their voices beyond the confines of their current circumstances.
— Stephen Karnik, Chief Administrative Officer Bahá’í International Community, New York
A copy of e*lix*ir just came up on my computer screen.... A sense of the future arts came into my heart, and I am silenced. Oh my stars, we have begun!
— Esther Bradley-DeTally, Author of Without a Net: A Sojourn in Russia
I am writing to say that Issue #3 of e*lix*ir has moved me deeply. I felt transported ... by a wide range of emotions, from gratitude to humility.
— Allison Grover Khoury, Children's and YA Editor and Blogger