Reflecting Home

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….

(From a reported utterance of `Abdu’l-Baha’, published in Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 3, 28 April 1918), p. 40)

In the early 1970’s, my grandmother challenged the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico to make city facilities accessible to those with mobility challenges, and won.  She raised seven children, five boys and two girls.  Her home was the defacto center for most Baha’is in central New Mexico, because there was no other meeting place.  That house on Carlisle was always filled with visitors, some looking for refuge, some looking for family far from home, some just coming to chew the fat.  Her home was a magnet…

And then, when I was eleven, she and my grandfather came to live with our family.  They had grown old, and their health was failing.  Though we lived in southern New Mexico, far from their old friends, my grandmother quickly went to work making new friends and transforming our home into a magnet. 

Many years later, I returned to New Mexico, following travels that had brought me a great deal of both joy and sorrow.  My grandmother had passed long before.  My only momento of her was a heart made of a pink stone which sat on her desk as a paper weight while she organized the multitude of projects she was involved in.  But her legacy followed me.  Soon after my return, I met and fell in love with a man who had been one of those who had both chewed the fat and sought refuge with my grandmother.  Her example became the model on which we built our home.

Grandma - Ruth Smith

What is most remarkable about my grandmother is not just her example of advocacy and hospitality, but that she accomplished so many things trapped in a body crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. As those who have  suffered from an immune disorder can tell you, it isn’t just about the pain.  The fatigue and exhaustion, the depression and lack of motivation can be debilitating, even in mild cases.  But  by the time she was thirty-five, she was confined to a wheel chair.  It was not a mild case. 

What gave my grandmother the impetus to accomplish so much?  I have to believe it was the Gift that was given to her by a woman named Rezi Sunshine when my father was young boy.  Many tell me that I am like my grandmother in tempermant- somewhat moody and sometimes overly dramatic.  I also have rheumatoid arthritis, though a much milder case, and currently in remission.  I know that my moodiness and histrionics come from a tendency towards depression and anxiety.  But my grandmother passed that Gift to me through my parents, and now it sustains me when I work in the world or open my home.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. selina maitreya
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 00:01:27

    Beautiful Amalia. Your Grandmother was a beacon of light for many and you were truly gifted to have her love so directly. Wonderful to read your words and I so love the fact that you and Rob two huge lighting bolts, illuminate the sky (and earth) together.


    • amaliacarmel
      Nov 26, 2010 @ 00:19:31

      Thank you, Selina. I wish I had had the wisdom in those years living with my grandmother to learn more from her! And with a man like Rob, well, it’s easy… Shaaazam! Love and light back at you. Happy Thanksgiving!


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