11. My Journey from Atheism to Religion.
Updated: Jul 12
One day, in a state of openness to the unexpected, I came across a new neighbour labouring in an unkempt vegetable garden. Her gardening outfit of choice was a surprisingly unflattering pink towelling jumpsuit.
Keen to get to know my fellow residents, I invited this sweaty new friend into my flat and we introduced ourselves.
As a well-known feminist, I was surprised when it was Suzi herself who began to talk enthusiastically about the equality of men and women. This wasn’t a dialogue I had been expecting.
Intrigued now, I listened with growing attention as she asked if I knew about such matters as the first women’s suffrage conference and the first women’s suffrage martyr.
Humbly admitting my ignorance, I began to learn about a woman who was such a greatly respected poet that the Shah of Iran himself, in this very male-dominated nation, held her in high esteem.
Then Suzi asked if I’d like to read some more about this unique figure, Tahereh. To mix metaphors, the die was cast and I was hooked. One book followed another, as I learned about the very subjects – life after death, social justice, principles of education, and many more – that had been the focus of passionate enquiry for much of my life.
Over 3 days and nights I used every moment of whatever spare time could be snatched between teaching and parenting to devour the many books Suzi shared with me, whilst in passionate conversation we discovered so very much in common with two otherwise vastly different lives.
Although it may seem sudden now, after those 3 extraordinary days I was like a new creation. I found to my surprise that I now recognised myself as a Baha'i. Suddenly I recalled a conversation the previous year with another Susie, whose mother had 'randomly' predicted that if I ever became religious again, I would be a Baha'i. Equal only to the sheer joy and wonderment this realisation brought was a sense of irritation. Why, I asked myself, after all my years of passionate search, had I never found the source of this before? And how did Suzi, admittedly no great feminist or intellect, know about it years before myself?
And that’s where Barry Crump fits in. Because it was he – renegade hunter, author and raconteur – who did a search of his own and found Lena. And Lena found the Baha'i Faith from Shirley Charters who, as legend had it last time I knew, simply read a newspaper article about it back in the ‘50’s and found herself hooked forever.
Shirley turned out to be a kind of Johnny Appleseed because, thanks in large part to her, Lena, Barry, Suzi, and the considerable number of spiritual ‘seekers’ they went on to inspire, the Baha'i Faith is today widely known and respected in this country, and increasingly around the world. And all this is the fruit of those great Teachers - Abraham, Christ, Baha’u’llah and that divine company - who brought us to this pivotal time in the development of our mutual Home, the earth.
"These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated." - Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf.
"I am, O my God, but a tiny seed which Thou hast sown in the soil of Thy love, and caused to spring forth by the hand of Thy bounty." - Baha'u'llah,