Fetters, freedom, devotions

This story starts with prejudice and ends with admiration. It is a humbling reminder that when I see with physical eyes, I tend to judge, misconstrue, or simply not honor; when I let (or am forced to let) the spiritual eyes to see, then the soul connects, recognizing the nobility of creation and the God-given talents with which all have been called into being…

Tara Ellis, Mitko and Jamey Heath at the Garden of Ridvan in the Holy LandThe first day of my pilgrimage in the Holy Land, I was sitting at the Pilgrim Center waiting for our guide to start our orientation. I was sitting there, heart-broken, focused on my own plight, firmly placing myself in the center of the universe. Then a group of three came into the room; one of them was a beautiful young woman with multiple tattoos all over her arms and more colors in her hair than the rainbow has. That was enough for me to start the judging. How could such people show up in this holy place, I thought. Of course, I soon caught myself that I am being judgemental so I tried to focus on something more positive. But I did have these judging thoughts and that is why I am sharing them now.

Then the guide invited the group to share a prayer. And then Tara, that same lady I had just judged for her looks, and Jamey, her talented husband, started singing a most beautiful prayer in such harmonious voices that tears started flowing down my cheeks. How could I judge them for their appearance?

Lo and behold, during these 10 days of bliss, during prayers, during meals, during walks and friendly talks, I was honored with Tara and Jamey’s friendship and they both offered such encouragement and strength that I will never forget them. The best part came just as we were to bid farewell at the Tel Aviv airport — Tara came to me to share how from the moment she saw me praying at the Shrine of the Bab, she recognized in me a kindred soul, and then told me the story of how her reliance on Baha’u’llah has brought her a spiritual victory that for the longest time has eluded her. That talk with her stands as one of the enduring spiritual gifts that was bestowed on me during Pilgrimage.

Devotions by Tara EllisLast November I had a brief encounter with Tara at the Thanksgiving Baha’i Conference in DC and recently I’ve reconnected with her via Facebook. So this morning it was through Facebook that Tara shared the joyful news of the completion of her “Devotions” album. She posted a video for the song “Fetters” that is so beautiful, so inspiring — I wish I could post it here but I am not sure if one can do that with Facebook-hosted videos. At any rate, here are the words for the song:

O MY SERVANT!
Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more.

(Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

So, this is the recommended course of action for all of you: go to the Crimson World online store and buy Tara Ellis’ Devotions albums! Right now 🙂

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