The Gate Swung Wide, and Nobody Really Heard…

…but many can still hear the echoes of that new age opening, and the view through that humble Portal gets wider and more dazzling with every passing year.

This is a small shout-out to the Baha’is of the world, who today are joyfully remembering, as a great and holy Figure known as “the Bab” — an Arabic word which means “gate” or “door” — had predicted in 1844: “This very hour will, in the days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals…”   Bay Street, Wall Street, Tiananmen Square and Hollywood Boulevard don’t yet shut down on May 23, but millions of people, in the world’s greatest cities and in some of the most out-of-the-way neighbourhoods you can imagine, will be recalling a quiet, thoroughly marvelous conversation in southern Iran, a dramatic dialogue that begins the most recent of the world’s great spiritual traditions. 169 years is not quite enough to appreciate what that meeting of two young men meant,* but we’re learning.

There’s not a lot of poetry in this space, but years ago I wrote the following on a day like this, thinking of a 25-year-old merchant of Shiraz and the flaming young scholar who had suddenly realized the object of a years-long quest:


 Today the world changed.

 Today, a young man

who did not watch the game of the week

told a secret.

They called him a merchant.

Used cars were not in his traffic.

 Nobility kissed commerce.

 He did not crow

I am the Greatest!

for a mass of sedentary millions.

 I am the Gate of God

He whispered

to a road-weary audience

of one.

A final resting place in this magnificent shrine, a golden symbol of the promise of 1844.

* But it’s FIVE YEARS TOO MANY for seven innocent members of the Iranian Baha’i community, who have been locked up for the crime of  working for global harmony, justice, and peace. It’s a great and terrible story, one of the bitter sub-plots of the chronicle of the “planetization of mankind“, as a Christian thinker described it. (It’s happening. Fitfully, inevitably.)