From the window at the back of the house I can see the sky, just now turning from pitch black to that early morning, gray blue.
The silouettes of the forest trees stretch out long, skinny and black, still bare and skeletal from winter, but ready to bring forth a new season of life.
The sun, is rising in the east.
We sit there praying, the six of us - four siblings and two parents, full from breakfast and hot, strong persian tea. Lulled by the melody.
It is the single most vivid memory of my childhood, that prayer, those moments together. Chanted every morning during this time of the year*, as we sit in the chilly living room, dawn just breaking, awake long before we usually do.
My mother and father will have waken well before us, to set the table fully, and prepare bread and cereals, fruit and yogurt. They wake us up, no matter our age, and they've managed to make 6am utterly joyous, something to look forward to as you go to bed the night before. We are all a bit sleepy, groggy, still warm from our beds.
For the first time in over a decade I am back in that room, just me with the two of them this time, but I can feel my sisters and my brother with us as we pray.
I know that in their respective corners of the world they will also rise when it's still dark, alone or with their families, to welcome back this yearly ritual.
But I also know they are here with us. That each one of them, at some point in their own early mornings, will think of my mother and father, and of my father's chanted prayer for the Fast.
And they will smile to themselves, think fondly of the blessed years we spent all together in this home, and probably like me, say a little prayer of gratitude. Thankful to have been born into a family that has taught us that what is sometimes hard and frustrating - the abstinence all day from food and drink - can somehow be the most joyous event of the year.
* as a Baha'i, this is a most precious period of the year: the nineteen day long Fast. From sunrise to sunset, Baha'is all over the world do not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset, every day from March 2nd and ends on March 20th - with the celebration of Naw-Ruz, the start of the new year.
** the photos are some of my old submissions for nineteen days. the project is back again this year, for the fourth time, and there is an outstanding group of photographers participating this year, so I strongly encourage you to visit it daily!