I was born in July 1947 in Swansea. I was originally from a Christian background, specifically Catholic, but became disillusioned, and as an adult didn’t go back to the church. My experiences within the Catholic Church made me very wary of organised religion. The Benedictine monks had disciplined their students with beatings and although encouraging reading, condemned me when they found me reading Darwin`s ‘Theory of Evolution’, so in 2005 when I was approached by my Bahá’í friend Geoff Akhurst and asked to attend some meetings, I didn’t want to know. Geoff and I were good friends, sharing an interest in photography, but in 2012 when I was about to retire I lost touch with him.

In December 2012 I had a very bad accident and was in hospital for three months in intensive care with little hope of recovery. I was in a coma with a punctured lung. During that time I had a near-death experience. It was the middle of the night. I was in an induced coma when a bright light drew me towards my mother and father and other family members who had died. My mother spoke to me saying “you don’t want to be here do you?” to which I replied “No, I`ve got too much to do back home”. The light faded and within the next few days I came out of my coma and realised I needed something more in my life; I needed to find God again. My sisters scoffed at the ideas I had, especially the Baha`i Faith. It was a difficult time for me. My condition was so severe that a priest was sent to give me the last rites and as he began to bless me I awoke and said, ”what are you doing, I`m not going anywhere”. We laugh about it now but at the time he was deeply shocked at my sudden awakening.

A couple of months later, in 2013, I met up with Geoff again and told him about my accident and experiences. He invited me to the Welsh summer school which was a pivotal moment in my life. At first I was totally overwhelmed. I didn’t understand a word of what all these Bahá’ís were talking about. I had no clue what I was supposed to do so after a day of confusion I went to the bookshop and bought a book by Moojan Momen, The Bahá’í Faith and Buddhism, and spent the rest of the summer school reading it. During that time many Bahá’ís stopped by to chat and see how I was and it was this welcoming, loving environment that brought me closer to the Faith. I had a family and the children were wonderful. Comparing it to my early experiences in the church, I was given an insight into the spiritual unity and oneness of the Bahá’í Faith. After that summer school I spent a few months going to meetings and investigating the message of Bahá’u’lláh and finally became a Bahá’í in January 2014. Since then I have begun to meditate again and have become more tolerant and at peace with myself. My sisters have noticed the difference and no longer scoff at the ideas in the Faith.

With Bahá’í friends at Rita Green‘s home

I have a wonderful relationship with Abdu’l-Bahá whose picture sits opposite my chair. Every morning I greet him and say “How are you today Boss?” I go into what I call my meditation bubble and spiritually connect with God. I still have many tests, like the death of my friend Geoff, but can deal with them better using prayer and meditation.

Holy Day celebration in Jim’s home

I enjoy belonging to the community and have just recently been voted onto the LSA, a challenge I’m looking forward to. I also want to become more involved with the interfaith groups, getting people together and sharing our commonalities. I would also love to go on pilgrimage and to visit the holy sites in Haifa and Akka.

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Jim Hughes

Swansea, August 2017

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