Creating Unity with Friendship, Fun, Social Vitality, and Laughter: One Couple’s Special Feast

My home is the home of peace.
My home is the home of joy and delight.
My home is the home of laughter and exultation.
Whosoever enters through the portals of this home, must go out with gladsome heart.
This is the home of light; whosoever enters here must become illumined. . . .
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in Compilation of Compilations I: 397

Shari and Jerry Meyer used what they learned in the Wilmette Institute course Creating Unity with Friendship, Fun, Social Vitality, and Laughter (faculty, Susanne Alexander, Wendi Momen, Fariba Vahdat) to create a special Feast, which was their last one in Centerville, Utah, before moving to Oregon. Shari and Jerry have been married for forty-three years. Jerry is recently retired from his position as the Assistant Director of the Davis County Library in Centerville. Shari grew up in a Bahá’í family and has recently retired from serving for ten years as an Auxiliary Board member for the Bahá’í Faith in Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. Here is how the two of them described their special Feast.—THE EDITORS 

Shari Meyer Speaks First: “Jerry and I hosted the Feast of ‘Alá . . . on the theme of joy and delight. We used the readings I posted to the forum [for Creating Unity with Friendship, Fun, Social Vitality, and Laughter] a few days ago. . . . We had eight present, and we each read three or four of the short selections, reading one each and taking turns until they were done. We finished with the song “Joy Gives Us Wings,” which can be found at the website ruhi.org under Reference Materials, Music. You can play it directly from the site. It is one of the songs taught in grade 1 of children’s classes. . . .

“[After the business portion of the Feast,] I explained that I had prepared foods for the social portion that are reputed to bring happiness to the body. We had mixed berries with yogurt and papaya, fresh vegetables, green tea, and dark chocolate. In the invitation to Feast, we had asked everyone to bring a funny story related in some way to the Faith. I began with a story of a funny dream I had many years ago, and Jerry told two funny stories about Ruhiyyih Khanum. Then others began sharing stories and jokes. Everyone laughed a lot, and eventually other funny stories were shared. This kept the group all together and enjoying each other’s company. I served the friends personally and only when everything had been offered did I suggest they might help themselves to seconds on anything.

“As the friends were leaving, I asked them to ‘go out with a gladsome heart.’ I think this may have been the best Feast we have ever hosted.”

Jerry Meyer Added This: “I wanted to add my impressions on the Feast as well. I think the Feast was a resounding success that, to me, shows how the lessons learned in this class on Creating Unity can help build fellowship.

“One aspect that Shari did not mention is that we are in the process of getting ready to sell our house and move out of state. This makes our contacts with our community bittersweet since we know we will not be here too much longer.

“In our process of weeding out our possessions and papers we discovered something special that we shared at the feast. Shari’s father had written a letter to Shoghi Effendi regarding some music he had composed. We found the original letter written in response by Ruhiyyih Khanum on behalf of the Guardian. On the back was a handwritten note from the Guardian to Shari’s father. You can imagine that this was quite a treat for those present to see and handle themselves. We will be sending this to the National Archives soon.

“We also had each guest take away a small gift, either a Bahá’í postcard collected by Shari’s mother or a small toy moose. We have an odd tradition in our family about the “Ayyám-i-Há moose” delivering gifts; Shari’s brother has given us untold numbers of toy moose over the years.

“There were unique aspects to this Feast, but I think that the idea of focusing on joy and laughter was very engaging and applicable to many different situations. Finding ways to encourage humorous storytelling in particular is something that I think we can utilize in our new community.”

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