“Within Greenacre’s Mystic Charm and Calm” 1
“IT APPEARS A SINGULAR thing,” the reporter wrote, “that so many famous people could have been attracted to this little town up in Maine. . . . But as soon as one arrives at Greenacre and gets to know that wonderful woman, Miss Sarah Farmer, the life and the spirit of the Greenacre movement, wonder vanishes.”
We don’t know this reporter’s name, but he spent a day in Eliot during the second week of August, 1899, recording his impressions in a long news feature printed in the Lewiston Saturday Journal on the twelfth of the month: “Within Greenacre’s Mystic Charm and Calm: The Remarkable Colony of Ideals That Has Been Grafted Upon a Prosaic Maine Country Side.”
Green Acre 2
In a group of people who came to see Him on August 21 was a girl who said, “‘I have to beg your assistance. Tell me what I am fitted to do so that I may occupy myself with it?’” He asked her, “‘Do you believe in Me?’” When she replied, “‘Yes,’” He answered, “‘Be a perfect Bahá’í. Associate with Bahá’ís. Learn the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Then you will be assisted in whatever you undertake to do.’” she responded, “‘I am a good Jewess,’” and He told her, “‘A good Jew becomes a Bahá’í. The foundation truth of the religion of His Holiness Moses and His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh is one. Turn yourself towards Bahá’u’lláh and you will get peace and tranquillity. …’” She threw herself at His feet and cried.
17 August 1912, Talk at Green Acre, Eliot, Maine 3
How wonderful it is! How powerful the spirit of man, while his body is so weak! If the susceptibilities of the spirit control him, there is no created being more heroic, more undaunted than man; but if physical forces dominate, you cannot find a more cowardly or fearful object because the body is so weak and incapable. Therefore, it is divinely intended that the spiritual susceptibilities of man should gain precedence and overrule his physical forces. In this way he becomes fitted to dominate the human world by his nobility and stand forth fearless and free, endowed with the attributes of eternal life.
Wednesday, August 21, 1912 4
During the visit of a group of Bahá’ís with the Master, a young girl came in and said, ‘I have come to ask for your assistance. Please tell me what I am fitted to do so that I may occupy myself with it.’ The Master asked, ‘Do you have trust in me?’ She replied, ‘Yes.’ He then said to her, ‘Be a perfect Bahá’í. Associate with Bahá’ís. Study the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Then you will be assisted in whatever you undertake to do.’ She then said, ‘I am a good Jewess.’ The Master then said:
“A good Jew can also become a Bahá’í. The truth of the religion of Moses and of Bahá’u’lláh is one. Turn toward Bahá’u’lláh and you will acquire peace and tranquillity, you will hear the melody of the Kingdom, you will stir people’s souls and you will attain the highest degree of perfection. Be assured of this.”
When she heard the Master’s words she was so impressed that she threw herself at His feet and wept.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained some aspects of the divine philosophy and teachings to the pastor of the Portsmouth church. The pastor said that he had included some of these teachings in his pamphlets and some people had taken offence. The Master said, ‘Constancy in all things brings forth fruitful results.’
Mrs Tatum said, ‘I feel so dejected today. I am unhappy with myself.’ The Master replied:
“This is a sign of progress. The person who is satisfied with himself is the manifestation of Satan and the one who is not satisfied is the manifestation of the Merciful One. An egotist does not progress but the one who thinks himself imperfect will seek perfection for himself and will progress. If a man has a thousand good qualities, he must not look at them. He must search always for his shortcomings. For example, if a man has a building which is well-constructed and fully decorated but which has a small crack in one of its walls, he will, no doubt, forget the rest and turn his whole attention to repairing that crack. Furthermore, the attainment of absolute perfection for a human being is impossible; thus, however much he may progress he is still imperfect and has above him a point higher than himself. And the instant he sees this point he will not be satisfied with himself. It is for this reason that when someone called Christ ‘Good Master’, He replied that there is only One who is good and that is God.”
Another lady told ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that she had lectured in America on universal brotherhood and unity. She was pleased to see the Master in America promulgating these high ideals and that she was going to continue to spread these teachings in the Western states of America. The Master said to her:
“We must endeavor as much as we can to exterminate spite and perversity so that people may be delivered from the shackles of superstition. You must serve in this way and become the cause of the unity of the world of men.”
He spoke in the same vein with everyone. There were two people, Dr and Mrs Moore, who had been antagonistic towards the Cause of God from the very beginning. However, they had become so attracted and transformed that they came into the Master’s presence with great humility and pledged themselves to the service of the truth. The transformation of such people is a momentous task which will produce great results.
In the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went by automobile to the home of Mrs [Kate] Ives and sat next to the driver, which is where members of His entourage usually sit. He sat there until the party arrived. When a number of the friends had gathered, He went with them to the hill of Monsalvat. As soon as He arrived about four hundred people sang songs of praise to Him in unison. He addressed this gathering on the necessity of founding the school for the investigation of religions which Miss Farmer wished to establish on that mountain. A moving picture of this gathering was taken.
The gathering was also characterized by a renewed enthusiasm, ardor and love, which seemed to draw all hearts. It was an auspicious day.
He then went to Mrs [Esther Annie] Magee’s home where He dined with a group of friends. He spoke to them about the proofs and evidences of the existence of God and the composition of elements according to the will of the Almighty.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘Within Greenacre’s Mystic Charm and Calm.’” 239 Days in America, 21 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/21/within-greenacres-mystic-charm-and-calm/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 129-130. ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 264. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/19#916420712 ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=6#section150 ↩