Jean, Saguenay, Québec

Jean has worked in construction for many years. He is a tinplate worker who specializes in industrial buildings. Prayer is a central part of his life, even at work.

The kind of construction work that my colleagues and I do is very dangerous. We work for a large enterprise and are often on the roof of enormous structures. I started praying every morning at my place of work, before starting my day, to ask God to protect us. My coworkers noticed it and asked me what I was doing. I explained to them and later several of them, believers as well as atheists, recognized the importance of praying and of putting our affairs in the hands of God. They started joining me for prayers. I talk about prayer a lot with my coworkers. We started having a relationship based on spirituality and it creates a nice atmosphere.       

When I pray, the others don’t make fun of me. Even if they say that they don’t pray themselves, they recognize that it is important to ask for help to get through difficult situations, whether by praying or wishing for things to go better. As for me, prayer is essential to my life. Praying is a special time between oneself and God. It is also a kind of discipline, just like for the guy who goes out jogging every morning. It has a calming effect and is very beneficial.    

Prayer has always been part of my life. I went through very tough times when my mother passed away. She was only 59, much too young to die, and I found it unfair. This really got to me, because my mother was very important to me, she was an example for the whole family. She really was a saint. At that time I completely stopped believing, despite the fact that I had been raised in a very religious family. Following my mother’s passing, I started on a personal journey that led me to the Bahá’í Faith.   

I am really happy to be part of this community. Here in Québec, we used to have a great sense of community and our Christian values would motivate us to help our neighbours, but today, that is gone. We lost all that and it is sad. It is as though when we dropped the Catholic religion we threw out the baby with the bath water.

Now, I have regained a sense of community and I have the pleasure of sharing prayers with friends during spiritual evenings that my wife and I organize at home every other week. Each time we have a different theme like detachment, gratitude, patience or creativity.

People of all ages and backgrounds participate. Medical doctors, dentists, academics and construction workers, like me, come together without prejudice and without any regard for social class. Everyone is equal. All these people say prayers together and read quotations on the theme of the evening and then socialize together.  

From time to time we let the youth take over, including my youngest daughter, Ariane, who is fourteen, and they organize the evening. We enjoy listening to them because they challenge us. They often say: “Wake up! Stop talking and start doing!” 

We have such strong bonds of trust! We share many emotions. I prepare some good food. We have so much fun together and often people don’t want to leave and we go on until midnight.