art ~ spirit ~ transformation

e*lix*ir #15, Special Issue on Iran
Winter 2022
Personal Reflections



“Their only crime...”

Holy Soil

Holy Soil: The Endurance of the Bahá’ís of Iran by Ighan
Hadigheh: A Bahá’í House of Worship in Tehran by Saba
The Blue Prayer Book by Hannan Hashemi
In Front of the School by Nava
The Roll-Away Pumpkin by Tanin Azadi
The Castle at Maku by Nogol Sadri

The Scent of Roses

The Scent of Roses by Nooshin Mavaddati
A Great Green Enignma by Mehrsa Mastoori
My Tiny Fruit Garden by Foad Bahrami
My Blessed Spot by Hannan Hashemi
Spring in My Grandmother’s Yard by Morvarid Ighani
The Garden of Memories by Sama Khalili

Candles in the Darkness

The Candle in My Family by Alhan
A Shower of Bullets by Daniel Sabet Rasekhi
From Thief to Benefactor by Foad Bahrami
The Green Handprint by Nava
The Kolahduz of Barfurush by Sama Khalili
An Immortal Man by Taranom
The Whisper by Andisheh Taslimi


From A Tale of Love by Mahvash Sabet
translated by Shahin Mowzoon and adapted by Sandra Lynn Hutchison

Personal Reflections on Bahá’í Texts

Calamity: The Path to Eternity by Hannan Hashemi
The Way Home by Daniel Sabet Rasekhi
The Light in the Darkness by Sama Khalili
From Your Inmost Being by Taraneh


A Small Light in a Dark Room by Andisheh Taslimi
Hope for the Future of Iran by Mehrsa Mastoori


Painting and Interview with Shahriar Cyrus by Mehrsa Mastoori
Resilience by Lynn Miller

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Ann Sheppard

The Light in the Darkness



My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it. — Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words, Part One, No. 51

Growing up, I always enjoyed reading The Hidden Words. Part Two of The Hidden Words, which was revealed in Persian, was more comprehensible to me than Part One, which was revealed in Arabic. During children’s classes, I always got away with not memorizing prayers, but I never skipped The Hidden Words. I remember that when my grandfather died, I stood in front of the largest crowd I had ever seen in my ten years of living and recited four of The Hidden Words I had memorized the day before. In the days before the funeral, I cried a lot because I did not want to face the crowd, but I am glad I did because that recitation was one of the proudest moments of my life.

As someone who was raised in a religious family, I somehow did not grow up to be a believer. It took me a while to feel sure of my faith. As a child, I did not find God to be kind and loving. In school, the teachers taught us Islamic beliefs, and these were very different from the beliefs I had grown up with. One thing that my school and the youth classes I attended had in common, however, was that most of the people who attended believed that no one was as loving and generous as God. This was hard for me to accept, because so many people close to me were suffering because of what they believed. Seeing my uncle lose his business; my dad unable to keep a job; my aunts, cousins, and uncles fleeing the country; and other relatives getting imprisoned did not help strengthen my faith.

When I read Hidden Word No. 51, I was reminded of all the uncertainties I have had to live with, but I also felt I could find some purpose in them. The phrase “outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy” calmed my mind and seemed like an answer to my doubts. Why, if God was so kind and merciful, were some people suffering while others lived so freely? Such questions had been draining my energy, and I never felt I could find an answer for them. But reading this Hidden Word, I was reminded that I must put my trust in my creator.

When we put our trust in God, we, very gradually, come to see things differently; our point of view starts to shift. The more trust we put in God, the lighter our souls feel. As the Hidden Word tells us: “Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit.” Of course, the hardships will never go away, but when I read this Hidden Word, I felt they became more bearable. When our hearts are open to God, I believe we can draw an unimaginable amount of strength from within. When I read this Hidden Word, I felt as if I were standing on a solid rock that no one could move.

Living in Iran, even in your own house, can be a challenge. Every day when the doorbell rings, my first thought is that it could be intelligence officers coming to search our home and arrest someone in the family. And every time the bell rings, I have to remind myself that even if that happens, the outcome will be still good. The only thing they can never take away from us is our faith. And if my God says there is a light in every sorrow or difficulty, then I can have no doubt.