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Hazel Mori 

poet, The Philippines

...Here is a poet performing the service for which she is best qualified, anwering truthfully the question which prosterity will ask of the early generation of Bahá´í pioneers, and perhaps with particular ardour of the women among them...

A Bahá´í since 1941, Hazel Mori has at various times been an educator, drama and basketball coach, secretary, marine surveyor, statistician, and health planning consultant. For more than ten years she served as treasurer of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá´ís of the Philippines. She is married and has fourteen grandchildren...

Excerpts of a review by Roger White, from the BAFA newsletter, January 1991.

Her collection of poems, Prickles and Plums is available for $4.95 (softcover) or $10 (hardcover) from: The Bahá´í Publishing Trust of the Philippines, P.O. Box 4323, Manila 1099, The Philippines.

Letter: Mark Tobey and "Sara's Dilemma"
...I know Sara, for she was a valued member of the Philippines Bahá´í community for some time, but I am ashamed to say, I never realised her status as an artist - just as she never thought of me a poet and writer, either. How could she? I was always presented as the treasurer or another pioneer perhaps.

Detail of a painting by Mark Tobey Detail of a painting by Mark Tobey.

Mark Tobey was a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Seattle when I became a Bahá´í in 1941 and intermittently was elected at whatever times he was using Seattle as his base. I knew him as a devoted Bahá´í in the years preceding his award-winning status and rise to international recognition, and thereafter, he had the same problem as Sara and he learned to cope, early.

"We have to protect ourselves," he told me once. "People think artists and writers have all kinds of free time just because their creative periods don't fit the regularity of a normal business day. Creative thinking never appears to others to be working, but it is the essential prelude to creative execution."

First of all, Mark had his own criteria of service to the Faith, and developing as an artist was a prime service to the Bahá´í Faith in his own evaluation of priorities, but he willingly rendered other services, also. If elected to the LSA, he served, making note of the regualar meetings, but not guaranteeing availability for other times. Feasts were always on his calendar and he sometimes hosted these. Holy Days he loved, and he participated to the fullest extent in making them beautiful, reverent, memorable or joyous events. He often attended the regularly scheduled weekly public meetings, but we learned not to expect him. He never refused a request to speak publicly for the Faith, but insisted on choosing his own chairperson and colleagues.

He asked to be exempted from committee work, except for "Mark Tobey, working artist". Yet he would lend counsel and expertise to an ad hoc committee for some special project - a proclamation or approach to academic or cultural groups, for example.

"Creative artists, musicians, writers, must not be bogged down by detail," he advised me at another time. "If there is someone else who can do it, even if it takes longer, or if someone can learn, pass on the job. We have to start serving, even if ineptly. It's selfish not to involve others." (Tell your LSA, Sara!)
Mark consulted with his Local Spiritual Assembly about his needs - among other things he arranged that only one member of the LSA should have his address and his studio address and know his approximate available hours. He made the choice, and took care that the person should be one who could enter quietly without knocking and sit quietly until Mark's concentration, painting, or meditating ebbed, and he spoke.

And so, my fellow creative Bahá´ís: Assert your own worth and rise in your own mind to your profession as a service to the Faith; consult with your Local Spiritual Assembly; establish your priorities and have the stamina to stick to them and require others to observe your need...

Excerpts from the BAFA newsletter, July 1990, page 3.

  • Poem:Attar of Roses, BAFA newsletter, June 1994
  • Poem: This night, BAFA newsletter, March 1994
  • Poem: A Walk with Roger, BAFA newsletter, September 1993
  • Letter: Roger White, BAFA newsletter, September 1993
  • Reviewed: Her poetry collection: "Prickles and Roses" by Roger White,
    BAFA newsletter January 1990
  • Letter: Mark Tobey and "Sara's Dilemma", in the BAFA newsletter July 1990

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