3 Mashiyyat 166 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: Dif Juz, “Crosswinds”
I first noticed the dark storm clouds as I was walking from a restaurant on Park Street to the Washington Hotel Coffee Room on Lakeside Street. The clouds were a deep grey-blue-black and I was glad they weren’t over me. I got a good view of them as I walked along South Shore Drive at the bottom of Monona Bay, and I could feel it. Change was in the air.
I felt a few raindrops on the last block of my walk, and as I walked into the coffeehouse I could see that it was getting darker out. Apparently, my sense of timing was immaculate. Shortly after I got my drink and sat down to my journal it began to pour, with a few rumbles of thunder. The screen door to the patio was open, and the raindrops falling on it were making quite a racket.
A little bit later I felt a cool breeze come in through the screen off the patio. Then it became clear that things were changing. I knew that this was the last day of summer weather. It was in the seventies when I left my house, and I knew the high temperature the next day would be in the fifties. The autumn weather was finally beginning to assert itself.
It continued to rain for most of the two hours I was there, but when it came time for me to go to the Feast of Mashiyyat at the Baha’i Center a few doors down, amazingly, the rain had stopped. I walked outside, but even though my walk was barely more than 100 feet, I could see that a drama was playing out in the sky above me. Storm clouds of differing shades rolled through and constantly changed shape, casting a slightly eerie glow on the street around me. I wish I could stay and watch, but the Feast was going to start in a few minutes.
The nineteen months of the Baha’i Calendar are named for nineteen attributes of God, and this month, Mashiyyat, means “Will.” The prayers at the beginning of the Baha’i Feast–known as the devotional part of the Feast–were focused on God’s Will. They were beautiful and inspiring prayers. Then we began the meeting portion of the Feast where we would discuss community affairs.
Suddenly, a strange noise outside brought the meeting to a halt. At first we heard the wind pick up suddenly and dramatically, but shortly thereafter, it began to sound like thousands of pins and needles were falling from the sky. One person said, “That doesn’t sound right.” Everyone looked out the window and saw pea-sized hail falling outside. People immediately began worrying about their cars, and about the roof at our Baha’i Center. But just as quickly as it began, it ended.
We continued our meeting, had a nice social gathering afterwards, and then I got a ride home. As we were driving home, the gusts of wind continued. I got home, went to bed, and as I lay in my bed, I could here the wind howling outside. I found it strangely peaceful.
The high winds have continued throughout the day today–sometimes with clouds, sometimes with rain, and sometimes with sunshine. A lot of people feel gloomy about the weather. But to me, the change of seasons always brings a sense of freshness. I feel like celebrating it–just as I would celebrate every new season…