Learner Inspired to Become a Better Example by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Example and Methods in His Trip to North America

Candyce Ricco, a retired Bahá’í living in East Branch, New York, enjoys hiking, Candyce Riccokayaking, gardening, knitting, word games, three daughters, six grandchildren, and her Great Dane Sam, not necessarily in that order. She also raises chickens, an easy hobby that she says forces her outdoors during the worst of winter. She became a Bahá’í in 1979 but says that she feels that she has “just begun” her “spiritual journey.” She also says that Wilmette Institute courses (she has taken nine!) “are integral to this journey,” as she is an isolated believer and needs “to drive one and a half to three hours just to meet and enjoy the fellowship of other Bahá’ís.” In November 2015 she took ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Visit to North America: How It Teaches and Inspires Us for the second time. But she is still learning more about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and about herself, perhaps inspired by the spiritual forces being released as we reach the one hundredth anniversary on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets of the Divine Plan. Here Candyce tells her story in her own way:

“I so enjoy reading the posts from others, both instructors and students. I have read them all and from them gained some insights I may have missed out on just reading the generous selections of reading for each unit. Since this course is a repeat for me, some of the material was very familiar, but I am still struck by the enormity of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey to North America. Some of the personal experiences I read through tears just imagining what it was like to see Him. The most important point, it seems, is that without this momentous journey, the North American Bahá’í community might have faltered and fallen into the forgotten pages of history, instead of becoming a model for world unity and racial and gender equality.

“This course is like peeking into that time in history, allowing us to bask in the energy created by the Master’s presence . . . to become mobilized by the example set by these early believers who had so little, and yet accomplished so much, solely out of love for, and the desire to be obedient to, ‘Abdul-Bahá’s wishes.

“The skills I acquired or improved in the course were several. I know that the desire to share the Faith with seeking souls runs deep in people of the Bahá’í Faith. Learning how others teach always helps to pave the way, getting over the initial hurdles of fearing that the wrong words will be chosen or that rejection may occur. We must keep moving forward, not getting bogged down by people who don’t see the Bahá’í Faith as the answer to the world’s chaos . . . just moving on and always setting an example by which others will judge the faith favorably.

“Every time I have taken a course with the Wilmette Institute I have come away a stronger Bahá’í . . . every time. A broader view becomes instilled in me, so that I can better see how the Faith is changing me and the world around me. I am less troubled by the dire condition of society and by the coming catastrophic events that will be necessary to usher in the process of the Greater Peace.

“I am praying for detachment and am now looking forward to a time with fewer material concerns. These concerns can take up too much space in my head, so eliminating excess is a process I am diving into now.

“How do I plan to use what I have learned in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Visit to North America? That is easy: by setting a better example; by sharing what I have learned (the details of the Master’s journey as well as the notes and diaries of souls He touched); and by praying fervently for seeking souls to cross my path.”

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