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April, 2004

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha’i Teachings

Volume 8, Issue No.4




— Celebrating the Earth
— Nature and the Divine Will
— Valerian: Nature's Herbal Tranquilizer
— Stumping for Low-Impact Forestry
— Looking for Production Assistant
— Readers Respond to Questions
— Whole Foods Recipe Swap
— Readers Request Assistance
— Question of the Month
— Letters
— Purpose of the Newsletter/Subscriptions




"The Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens." — Baha'u'llah ("Gleanings From the Writings of Baha'u'llah," page 250.)

Earth Day is celebrated in the United States and Canada on April 22. Therefore, an April issue dedicated to honoring the Earth's healing gifts and to protecting the environment seems more than timely.

First, you will find an article on the benefits of the herb Valerian (garden heliotrope) written by a master gardener and herbalist.

Then, we offer a story about an environmentally conscious logger who promotes high standards of land stewardship by using low-impact forestry. This method of wood harvesting treads lightly on the forest floor, does not damage neighboring trees, and unlike high-impact industrial methods, leaves behind a recognizable, diverse forest.

Regarding the natural world, it should be mentioned that all the major religions make a fundamental connection between the Creator and creation. Therefore, nature is fundamentally sacred, not to be recklessly exploited. This too, is the essence of Bahá'í belief.

The environment is given distinctive emphasis among the worldwide, diverse Baha'i communities, both large and small. The source for this unique focus is implicit in the Baha'i pivotal principle — the oneness of humanity. This unifying principle generates a unique and dynamic worldview that seeks cooperation, not competition, among the world's peoples and urges the creation of innovative, sustainable ways to renew and to share the world's resources for the benefit of all, including the planet itself.

This topic is beyond the scope of this small newsletter, but the following sources clearly indicate the leadership that Baha'i communities demonstrate, in both word and deed, regarding environmental concerns and raising the general consciousness of people around the globe:

"International Environmental Forum," started by the Baha’is: and

Also: updated position statements on the environment from the Baha'i International Community (BIC): (There are many more links here, such as

these: and )

Sources submitted by Greg Kagira-Watson





"Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God's Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise." — (Baha'u'llah, "Tablets of Baha'u'llah," page 141)





In today's world of instant pharmaceutical fixes for every ailment imaginable, it is good to remember the marvelous properties of herbs. Their remedies, often regarded as folklore, are truly healing miracles. A prescribed medication may work wonders and have immediate results, but for each pill we take, there is an effective remedy from Mother Nature.

>From personal experience, I know I am not alone in the belief that a cure for what ails us often grows right where we live. Certain herbs under our feet or growing in our flower gardens have been healers long before the apothecary ground up ingredients and marketed them as potions.

As the Baha'i writings remind us: "... if you find what is required in a single herb, do not resort to a compounded medication...." ("Baha'u'llah and the New Era," J.E. Esslemont, Page 106)

Our lives are becoming more harried with each passing year. Doctors routinely prescribe pills to help us unwind, and take them unthinkingly, because society has taught us that popping pills is acceptable. There is another, more ancient way to relieve stress.

Valerian (Valeriana officialis), is also known as garden heliotrope. Now and then, I have sipped a beverage steeped from the root of this plant at moments when I am unable to unwind.

Valerian is a peculiarly scented tea. Some have described the smell as offensive as old, sweaty socks, so take this into consideration before you visualize yourself sitting down to a relaxing, pleasantly fragrant cup of steaming tea.

This old-fashioned perennial has a distinctive, overpowering sweet aroma that some may find offensive. The stem is erect, grooved, hollow, hairy near the base and sometimes branched above, with four-to-eight pairs of dark green leaves that resemble Jacob's Ladder, a plant cousin. The white-to-pinkish flowers can grow 4-inches across and expand as they open. The plant can grow up to 5-feet tall.

Valerian blooms in June. It likes rich soil with plenty of water and prefers damp meadowland, grassland or stream banks. It does best in full sun to partial shade and will grow at sea level to 6,600-foot altitudes.

Valerian makes a beautiful background planting for the flower or herb garden. It grows wild in many places in North America and has naturalized in parts of the northeastern United States. It is propagated by crown division in the spring or fall. Set plants in the garden, 1 foot apart. The plant is hardy to Zone 4. It tolerates a wide range of soil Ph.

Harvesting the roots in the spring or fall saves the healing "virtues" of valerian. At this time, the vitality of the plant is in the root, not the herb or flower. Dry the clean root quickly in your oven at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, until brittle. Or, chop the roots into small pieces and put them in herb baskets in a cool dark place to dry.

When roots are completely dry, store them in glass jars out of the sun. The fresh root can also be tinctured in alcohol. Herbalist John Lust says use only fresh root stock. (It needs to be dried to preserve it for use all year.)

To prepare a calming tea, infuse 1 teaspoon of root in 1 pint of water. It should be taken cold over the course of the day. It is very bitter. Adding honey or another sweetener makes it easier to swallow.

Valerian is a "does everything" herb. Some historic and anecdotal uses are: reduction of mucus from colds; improvement of the circulation; reduction of anxiety, fatigue, high-blood pressure and insomnia. It is also reputed to help level out irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cramps, muscle cramps, nervous pain, spasms, stress and ulcers.

In Roman times, this plant was used for heart palpitations and irregular heart beat. James A. Duke, in his book, "The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authorities on Healing Herbs," says it also lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow to the heart and improves pumping ability.

On a much lighter note, cats are attracted to valerian. You may find them rolling in your garden, enthralled by this plant. You might want to make your furry friend a valerian pillow and watch your pet unwind.

NOTE: As always, I must remind you that the use of healing herbs should be undertaken with great consideration and thought. If you are on a medication, please consult with your doctor before adding or changing any prescriptions. Herbs used willy-nilly are not completely harmless and often can be downright harmful.

Valerian has the potential side-effect of increasing the effect of any medication that causes central nervous system depression. If you are taking a medication that causes drowsiness, such as a muscle relaxant, sleeping pills or anti-depressant, valerian will increase the effect of that medication, including alcohol.

Pat Blake is a master gardener and herbalist who runs a naturescaping business, Native Way, that specializes in gardens in ecologically sensitive areas. Her designs use indigenous healing and edible plants that keep conservation, wildlife and people in mind. Along with her husband, Bob, she runs a therapeutic foster home. She finds that the very act of gardening is healing to the body and spirit. A member of the Baha'i faith, she consults and speaks regularly to groups on a variety of topics pertaining to healing herbs and gardening. You can reach her at:





As morning mist began to lift, dozens of people in small bands slowly wended their way up a wooded, pine-scented slope at Ray Brusila's 80-acre farmstead in Warren, Maine USA.

Traveling from distant towns, they came to watch an on-site, low-impact forestry demonstration given by logger Sam Brown.

One visitor that morning was Mitch Lansky of Wytopitlock, Maine, author of "Beyond the Beauty Strip: Saving What’s Left of Our Forests." Like his friend, Brown, Lansky is an advocate of sustainable forestry and a keen critic of Maine’ s industrial forestry practices.

Brown, a long-time member of the Baha'i faith, lives in rural Cambridge, Maine, at the edge of the state’s heavy logging industry. A dairy farmer turned full-time logger, he has been stumping for the Low-Impact Forestry Project (LIFP) for many years.

To him, advancing sustainable forestry is critical to the future of both the state's and the world's woodlands. It means managing the woods as if the forest matters. Low-impact forestry is just like it sounds — a system of wood harvesting that has a low impact on the environment. The system also aims at boosting local labor and markets and at cultivating high-quality forest management.

"This is an alternative to the whole hysteria of the clear-cutting issue," Brown said. "It’s another way to look at the forest. There are not just two basic choices — clearcutting or preservation. Low-impact is long-term, selection harvesting."

Or, as Lansky summed it up, ". . . after the cutting is done, there is still a recognizable and functional forest. . . . A gradual removal of select trees permits the forest to develop in height, volume and diversity."

'Forwarder' to the Future

Brown, who stands about 6-foot-5-inches tall with his steel-toed boots on, was wearing the pine-sap-stained chaps, sweaty cotton work shirt and bright-orange hard hat with ear protectors characteristic of the logging breed. His deep voice carried well above the breeze and murmuring crowd.

His star attraction that morning was his custom-rigged, tracked Dion forwarder and trailer, a Canadian/ Scandavian logging machine-hybrid with low ground pressure. This machinery creates far less environmental impact than a cable skidder used by many commercial loggers.

The Dion forwarder was as magnetic as Brown’s message to the mostly male crowd. They edged nearer for the sheer thrill of watching metal and grease, gears and levers, work with amazing grace.

The forwarder is not yet a common method of logging in the northeastern United States. But Brown is not selling equipment. It’s not really the machine, it’s who is behind it, he believes. There is no one technology that epitomizes low-impact forestry. That wood-harvesting method could use a small skidder or a four-wheel-drive tractor, a radio-controlled winch or even a draft horse. The idea is to match the technology to the location, he said.

"This is not a ‘no-impact’ system; it’s low-impact. This machine will leave a mark on the land. But it’s minimal," he said.

Brown’s laid-back nature and dedication to what he believes are higher standards of land stewardship, are qualities that seem part of the low-impact project, as a whole. LIFP advocates, however, are quick to point out that low-impact forestry is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

"This is long-term, not short-term economics. It involves landowner, logger and forester. You use permanent woods trails and less skidder roads. Minimum damage to soil and remaining crop trees takes top priority," Brown said.

The Dion forwarder is part of a short-wood system, he explained. Trees marked out by a forester are felled and limbed by a chain-saw operator. Wood is typically bucked at the stump and carefully winched (usually as a single stem) through the remaining crop trees to a woods trail instead of being dragged, tree-length, through the woods.

"This reduces damage to trees alongside the roads. Soil damage is confined to the woods trails," he said. Skilled directional felling —getting a tree to fall where you want it to — is also critical in preventing nearby tree damage.

The forwarder is designed to maneuver on relatively narrow trails. These trails are laid out in an intensive system, approximately 150 feet apart (as opposed to 40 feet apart in other systems), he explained. Permanent trail systems allow easy access to every tree. This in turn, allows for long-term flexibility in harvesting and marketing.

By way of contrast, in high-impact operations, heavy skidders travel over almost every square foot of forest to gather all the trees. High-cost, big machinery is designed to move huge volumes of wood all at once, forcing the operator to focus on production and quantity rather than quality.

"It (high-impact logging) relies on brute power, using a conventional winch operated from a cab that pulls many stems at once,” Brown says.

Brown’s relatively small, low-built forwarder crawls along on tracks like a mechanical lizard. When empty, a forwarder has about the same ground pressure as an 180-pound person. When loaded, tracks reduce soil compaction. The forwarder’s excellent traction enables it to climb steep hills and to glide over boggy spots without chewing up terrain.

But Does It Pay?

Unlike the "cut-and-run" mode of wood harvesting, low-impact forestry will not make the wood lot owner or logger a quick buck. But it pays well in the long run.

"Low-impact produces half as much volume per hour as conventional systems; therefore, the costs are greater. I can make money this way, if I can find landowners who want to do it. In the long-term, once you’ve got your land set up with large trees and quality wood, you can cut fewer trees and generate more dollars per acre," Brown said.

Lansky described a 600-acre wood lot owned and selectively cut by Mel Ames of Atkinson, Maine.

The land, growing large hemlock, oak, spruce and other trees, and managed conservatively for nearly half a century, has allowed "an average volume of around 15 cords per acre in 1960 to rise to more than 35 cords per acre today," Lansky said.

Ames was able to minimize skid-trail size and damage to residual trees by using a small, narrow 1970 International tracked skidder.

"The quality of the wood has improved, so that sawlogs make up 65 percent of the total volume, and some of that volume includes high-value veneer. The 'retired' Ames "only needs to cut three cords a day in the morning to make an average of $300. His woods average more than a cord per acre per year of growth — and some of his better sites average up to three cords per acre per year of growth," Lansky said.

"Mel’s early 'investment' cuts more than broke even, but now they are paying off handsomely. This compares favorably with the very best yields expected from

(high-impact) intensive management based on clearcuts, planting, pre-commercial thinning and herbicide spraying," Lansky said.

But what about larger commercial logging operations? Does the low-impact system apply there?

Professional forester Barbara "Barrie" Brusila of Warren, Maine, believes that the low-impact system "definitely applies" to the industrial forest areas of the state, as well.

"The potential is there. It would require a lot of changes, some sociological. They need to have a different kind of road system. You’d have to be using different equipment, like the kind of forwarder Sam Brown is using," she said.

For more information about the Low-Impact Forestry Project, e-mail Sam Brown at: An informative, recent book by Mitch Lansky is: "Low-Impact Forestry: As If The Future Mattered," published by the Maine Environmental Institute.





The newsletter is still in need of one person to be the Production and Circulation Assistant to help with mailouts and updating of the mailing list. There is more information about this position at the end of this newsletter.





The following responses are for Ardeshir who asked about how to take care of the


Care and Feeding of the Soul

Dear Ardeshir:

To my way of thinking, the soul is fed best on a light diet. Hyacinths alone would suffice, if we take the advice of the 12th-century Muslim poet and sheik who said, "Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul."

Perhaps he had an intimation of what Baha'u'llah later refers to as, "the fragrant, the holy and multicolored hyacinths of My knowledge." ("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah," page 322.)

From such verses, I would surmise that spiritual fragrance, truth and beauty are perfectly suited to the tastes of the soul longing for substance.

Perhaps that is also what the Japanese poet Ryokan implied when he wrote: "Abandon this fleeting world, abandon yourself. Then the moon and the flowers will guide you along the Way." But who knows what a Zen poet might mean? Perhaps he is suggesting that the soul grows from listening to silence. After all, the moon and flowers are speechless.

The soul, being mysterious, delights in mystery. It finds refreshment in gazing at the stars and dwelling on infinity. It stretches and grows by questioning things. It is filled by the pure flame of a candle glowing in the dark; it feeds on the milk of morning light.

Rumi, the mystic poet, says that being hungry for all things spiritual is good for the soul: "Being hungry is better / than the maladies that come with satiety."

The soul, he says, thrives on love and laughter.

"When you go to buy a pomegranate, / pick the one that's laughing, / that has its rind cleft, / so that through its broken-open-ness / you get some information / about the seeds. . . .

"Keep the love of holy laughing in you. / Don't visit sad neighborhoods. Let / laughter lead you to the right people."

Eat and enjoy! — Anonymous

Acquiring Perfections

Dear Ardeshir:

"Moral life" 'Abdu'l-Baha is reported to have said, "consists in the government of one's self." "Immortality" — that is, the spiritual life — "is government of a human soul by the Divine Will.” (1)

Taking care of my soul includes daily prayer, and once a year, fasting. Baha’u’ llah reminds us that prayer and fasting are the twin pillars of every religion.(2)

I also contribute to the Baha’i Fund. The majority of the world’s religions include tithing of one kind or another, or admonitions to give to the poor.

I strive to acquire virtues, as Christ said – "build up treasures in heaven."

(3) Doing good deeds and acquiring the attributes of God (virtues) fulfills, in part, our purpose in life. We are also created to know and to worship God. (4)

Life in this world is a preparation for the life to come:

"That world beyond is a world of sanctity and radiance; therefore, it is necessary that in this world we should acquire these divine attributes. That divine world is manifestly a world of lights; therefore, man has need of illumination here. That is a world of love; the love of God is essential. It is the world of perfections; virtues … must be acquired. That world is vivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit; in this world we must seek them." (5)

'Abdu'l-Baha explains how to go about acquiring divine attributes:

"To gain entrance into the Divine Kingdom — knowledge of God — love of God – faith — philanthropic deeds — self-sacrifice — severance from this world — and sanctity and holiness." (6) — Claire Cline, Augusta, Maine USA

Quotes in order:

(1) Love, Power and Justice — W.S. Hatcher, page xxviii

(2) Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book of Baha'u'llah, page 13

(3) Matthew 6:19

(4) Baha'i Prayers (National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States), page 4

(5) Foundations of World Unity — 'Abdu'l-Baha, page 63

(6) The Promulgation of Universal Peace — 'Abdu'l-Baha, page 226





Millet Cakes

2 cups millet

Water for steaming

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons tahini (sesame butter)

1 tablespoon Tamari soy sauce

Vegetable oil

Wash 2 cups of millet. Put millet in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. Cover grain with about 1-inch of cold water (about the length of the first joint of your index finger.) Add salt. Cover pot and bring to boil. Lower immediately, and let steam for about 40 minutes, until millet is thoroughly cooked, light and fluffy. A "pot saver" used under the pot keeps the millet from browning and sticking.

Meanwhile, chop parsley. Prepare a side dish such as steamed greens or salad.

When millet is done, place it into a large bowl. Let steamed grain cool a bit. Add chopped parsley, tahini and soy sauce. Mix ingredients with a wooden spoon, and for a few minutes, "knead" the mixture inside the bowl with your hands. It will be a bit sticky. Squeezing the millet mixture will blend it into a more cohesive consistency.

Form mixture into small, roundish cakes, roughly 1 1/4-inches thick. Make sure they are firmly packed, so they don't fall apart during cooking. Pour enough vegetable oil in a large skillet to cover bottom of the pan. Don't use too much oil, or cakes get greasy. Heat skillet until oil is hot and add millet cakes. Fry golden brown on each side. Wait until one side has a crispy crust before turning wth spatula. They're delicious sprinkled with a little extra soy sauce and a few are surprisingly filling and satisfying.

This monthly recipe swap is for sharing healthy recipes that use whole foods, fresh, low-fat ingredients and that have little or no sugar. One recipe per month will be used in this newsletter, depending upon length. Please make sure recipes are checked twice before sending, so there are no missing ingredients or incorrect amounts. Looking forward to your recipes!




Looking For Remedy for Inflammation

I fell out of the back of a bus in February and have injured both legs so severely, that I have been pretty much bedridden and in pain. Does anyone know of any remedies for inflammation? It is most painful on my left leg. I fractured my right ankle, and it is still swollen, but I have to lean on that one to get around. Inflammation is the worst. It burns all the time. — Joan, New York City, USA




Someone I know is in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease. Are there successful, alternative treatments that can replace or supplement the powerful drugs that produce side effects? The disease is allegedly incurable and progressive. Has anyone ever heard of a recovery? Or, of it being slowed or halted? If so, I hope you can supply specific information and sources, rather than generalities. Thank you! — Inquiring Reader




Thanks for 'Hands for Healing'

Dear Editor:

Thank you for providing such an excellent health resource ("Healing Through Unity").

Only today did I read the January 2004 issue, but not because of disinterest. In December and January, I was recovering from surgery, and other personal demands interfered with timely attention to e-mail. I have read issues since January, and now I see the material that prompted subsequent reader responses.

I want you to know that I considered the article "Hands for Healing," a valuable, informative article. You clearly had no promotional agenda but simply gave a balanced overview of the method.

I also liked (the sidebar) "Putting the Heart Back into Nursing." I felt excited to know that nurses seek to offer warmth and personal interest in patients. I truly received that sort of care in my hospitalization after my surgery at West Virginia University Medical Center (Morgantown).

When I awoke in the surgical intensive care unit, I knew where I was and why, but I felt pathetic. I still had the breathing tube in my throat, an arterial line in one arm, an intravenous line in the other and a urinary catheter. Because of the nature of the surgery to my brain, I had a tendency to feel off balance and nauseated; therefore, a couple of times just shifting my position slightly in the bed resulted in vomiting.

The staff readily and cheerfully cleaned me and the bedclothes; thus, I did not feel at all embarrassed nor ashamed. The nurses and doctors had pleasant demeanors each time they came to check me or to do something to me.

The next day, I went to a regular room in hospital, and I experienced a rapid recovery. That made me very happy and optimistic, and my continuing experience with the good-natured staff gave me a favorable view of human nature. I realized the betterment of my health intended by the surgery, even though I got some other problems in the bargain. Still I can function much better than I could a year ago.

I thought of my medical experience when I read an article in the Washington Post this winter, concerning the objection (maybe even resentment) by the nursing profession that television and movies have not depicted nurses as true skilled professionals but rather as laborers. — Johnson Maxey (Fredericksburg, Virginia,


A More Helpful Web Site

Dear Editor:

I would like to thank you for printing the letter that I wrote in response to a request from Arthur regarding a possible solution for his wife's trapped neuropathic pain. However, I was just informed that the suggested Web site: that was printed in the newsletter can only be viewed by Hong Kong readers, so I am afraid Arthur will not get the benefit of learning more about this apparatus. The Web site where he will be able to view the particulars, if he so desires, is:

Thank you for your kind assistance. I sincerely hope Arthur will find a remedy for his wife. And I wish to thank all of you for the wonderful articles and the work you are doing to help people around the world. Our prayers are with all of you. — J.S. Wong, Hong Kong

Wants Clearer References

Dear Editor:

I was just rereading the January 2004 issue. Regarding Baha'i prayers, I noticed that on two separate occasions, the reference only mentioned the page number. I went to my prayer book (printed in the United States), and neither selection from the (newsletter) text corresponded with prayers from the prayer book.

I would like to ask that fuller elucidation on references be given; such as: What prayer book is being referred to, what section, i.e. healing, forgiveness, etc., so that we can refer to the proper prayers and make use of them if we wish. The references in other articles seem to be in order and need no adjusting. Thank you. — Foster M. Buckner, California, USA

Dear Foster:

You are right. There are a number of different Baha'i prayer books, and that can cause confusion. Your suggestion is greatly appreciated. — Editor




All of us have had healing experiences — physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Please share your stories and other ideas about staying healthy in a stressful world. Your articles do not have to be long — just a few paragraphs will suffice. Encouragement is a big part of a healthy lifestyle, and sharing stories and ideas that work for you brings encouragement to others.




You can visit the web site, obtain back issues and the Healing Through Unity Course at:




"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. None of the material published in this newsletter is intended to be a substitute for the advice of your physician. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Freedom, Maine, USA.


Many thanks to all of you who share helpful ideas for "Healing Through Unity" Newsletter. We welcome submissions from everyone. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor.

Please e-mail your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to newsletter editor Lynn Ascrizzi, at:


Please e-mail all new subscriptions, subscription cancellations and e-mail address changes (please include old address along with new one) to --



The newsletter is still in need of one person to be the Production and Circulation Assistant to help with mailouts and updating of the mailing list. This person would be responsible for sending the newsletter to readers each month (10 issues per year; it is not published during July or August), updating e-mail addresses and adding/deleting subscribers. This person must know Microsoft Outlook 2000, should have good computer skills and be well-organized, orderly, and efficient. This task requires about 4 to 5 hours per month. If you are interested to serve in this voluntary position for the newsletter, please contact -- Thank you!

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