How I became a Bahá'í will probably reflect on who I am as a person.
I first heard of the Faith's existance from a man who visited the art shop where I worked part-time, back in 1973 in Plainfield New Jersey. The man appeard a little weird to me by his attire, his speach and his smell. He was Gary Rea Arth. He said he was a Native American, although he did not look it. He said he was a psychologist - OK. He also said he was a Bahá'í, whatever it meant at the time. He also used to snif tobacco; it gave him a strange odor. But on and all he was a very sweet man. He never taught me the Faith, he just said he was Bahá'í and hoped it would trigger my curiosity. It did not.I used to work full time in a show store in Westfield, where I lived with my parents. One day, a French couple came to the store with two young ladies. The woman wanted to buy a pair of shoes and I took care of her because I spoke French. One of the young ladies looked attractive to me but she wouldn't even give me the time of day. I befriended the older couple in the hope to find friends for my parents who rarely went out of the house.Fate had it that they became my friends instead. I discovered later that the attractive young woman was the room-mate of the other young woman who was their daughter. Both girls lived in Quebec City and travelled twice a year to NJ for a visit. One day in the conversation, I discovered they were Bahá'ís.On the next visit to NJ, in June 1974, I fell in love with Paule, the roomate. Our courtship lasted only one week, where Paule took me on "dates" at Bahá'í homes for firesides. In Marion Jack's biography, Roger White describes Bahá'í women teachers as "dangerous", oh yeah! At the end of the week, I declared my belief in Bahá'u'lláh, signed my card and asked Paule to marry me. We were married 3 months later. Now, the epilogue to that story is that, although I declared and signed my card in June of 1974, I truly became a Bahá'í in Arizona, in September 1975. But that is another story...
Here it is:
Less than a year after we were married, Paule and I moved to Tucson Arizona where we found out College education is far cheaper that New Jersey. We had no money and all our belongings fitted in a Camaro car. We took a job as husband and wife housekeepers. We were lodged and fed. Paule was a cook and housekeeper and I was the driver and the gardner (Ha! Bahá'u'lláh surely has a sense of humour. I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth).Needless to say that my services were mediocre. Our boss did not want us to hold Bahá'í meetings in our quarters. Paule was OK, she's a terrific cook and she is charming and French.
One night, I was plunged in a deep depression. The house was dark. Everyone was asleep escept me. Paule refused to wake up and talk to me. Poor thing, she was tired of cleaning a big house and cooking her quiche loraine. After walking about aimlessly in the night, I took refuge in our small bathroom. I started to pray for guidance.
That night, I truly prayed for the first time in my life, and lo.... a vision appeared. The walls of the bathroom disappeared, the darkness of the night dissipated and in front of me appeared an endless verdant plain at the end of which stood in full splendor the Shrine of the Báb.
I collapsed on the toilet seat in total humility and I was crying my head off. The joy that filled my heart was boundless yet there was no particular message or guidance. Just JOY. The vision was gone and I was a Bahá'í