Did you ever wonder why so many of the world’s great religions come from the Holy Land? Me, too.
That area of the world just seems to generate a sense of mysticism and wonder, and produce many of the prophets who brought so much of humanity their belief systems. In fact, four of the major religions—Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith—all have their roots within a few miles of each other in what is now Israel.
My family and I went on a Baha’i pilgrimage there back in 2009. The world centre of the Baha’i Faith—on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, about ninety miles north of Jerusalem—has beautiful, world-renowned gardens and terraces. The founders of the Baha’i Faith, the Bab and Baha’u’llah, are both buried in the area, and Baha’is visit those inspirational places with a spirit of meditative prayer and reflection.
At night my family and I would wander the streets of Haifa, sometimes visiting the Baha’i Shrines to say late night prayers, and other times going to an evening talk by one of the members of the Universal House of Justice, the democratically-elected body that administers the worldwide Baha’i community.
And on other nights, we would try to discover the best falafel joint in the whole city.
So we’d ask the locals where to find that falafel place, and they never disappointed us. Walking the streets on those warm Mediterranean nights, and just being in the Holy Land, put me on cloud nine. Maybe that’s why so many musical ideas kept creeping into my mind. During those late nights I remember an unknown melody playing and re-playing in my ears. Whether I was eating a meal, taking a ride in the elevator to my hotel room or walking the streets of Haifa, the melody wouldn’t leave me alone. Soon, I realized that the melody perfectly fit a short prayer from The Bab that also kept returning to my head over and over again:
Say: God sufficeth all things above all things, and nothing in the heavens or in the earth but God sufficeth. Verily, He is in Himself the Knower, the Sustainer, the Omnipotent. – Baha’i Prayers, p. 27.
I couldn’t get it out of my consciousness. I found myself whistling the tune wherever I went, humming it over breakfast, walking down the hallway, or even during the talks we heard.
Finally, the song took life in 2010, when I recorded it with Juno award winning producer Joby Baker. He helped take that song to a level I never imagined it could go, and I was overjoyed. There’s really nothing more euphoric, in my opinion, than the sweet feeling of watching your own creation come to life, especially when the lyrics have so much meaning for me.
But here’s the funny part—even though we had finished the song and I loved it, I realized I felt a little bashful about putting it on my new album.
You see, I used to feel a bit private when it came to my beliefs as a Baha’i, and that made me somewhat reluctant to mix my faith and my career life. I guess I just thought that no one was really that interested in hearing what I thought about the world, or felt deeply in my soul. But since the release of that album back in 2010, I’ve found more and more that there really is no separation between the two. Not only can career and belief intertwine, they should.
We all face a lot of darkness in the world, and many people see very little hope around us, especially when we turn our gaze to the news or to Facebook trends. But if we can all light just one candle, then that will serve to bring about a tremendous amount of light. I hope this song of mine can light that one small candle.