I’ve just completed my nine days pilgrimage in the twin cities of Akka and Haifa. This was an overwhelming experience. There’s a term for the state that I was in: God intoxication. I’ve walked the same paths walked by manifestations of God. I’ve visited the shrines of Baha’u’llah, the Bab and Abdu’l-Baha, the prison city of Akka, the terraces surrounding the shrine of the Bab, the House of Abbud, the Mansions of Mazra’ih and Bahji, the house of Abdu’llah Pasha, the House of the Master and pilgrim houses, the burial sites of the members of the Holy family and the administrative buildings of the Faith. I met eight of the nine Universal House of Justice members and five International Teaching Committee members. I saw pictures and portraits of the Blessed Bab and the Blessed Blessed Beauty. I made friends and belonged to a family of people on a voyage similar to mine. For my nine days here, the Pilgrim Reception Center and the Pilgrim houses in Haifa and Akka were my homes; I only went to my guest house to sleep.
How can I explain the experience of pilgrimage? There is really nothing that I can write here that will adequately describe the myriad of feelings and thoughts that I experienced in these nine days. I didn’t necessarily feel how I thought I’d feel at various points and emotions hit me at unexpected moments. A common feeling was that of inadequacy and doubt that I deserve this bounty or am equal to the responsibility of it. As I listened to members of the ITC and the UHJ speak at the pilgrim talks, I felt both better and more intimidated, better because it seems that even they grapple with feelings of inadequacy, and intimidated because there is so much being done and I need to find my role, and make my contribution towards creating a better world. There are so many people doing great acts of meritorious service. I’m inspired to think about the future and to consider what my best self can do, and then take actions to achieve those things.
Tonight, after I circumambulated the shrines of the Bab and Abdu’l-Baha, I stood on the terraces and felt the breezes, smelt the flowers and listened to the sound of running water as suggested by one of the counsellors. I looked at the cities of Haifa and Akka and tried to imagine what they would look like in 5 years, in 10 years. I can’t imagine what they looked like in the time of the Central Figures of the Faith. But the biggest question on my mind was where do I go from here. In what ways will I use my experiences from my pilgrimage, the inspiration and the blessings and transformations that I’ve experienced to make a better life from this point on?