The Home Stretch 1
‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ’S JOURNEY ACROSS America is almost complete. One hundred years ago today he rode the train from Sacramento to Salt Lake City, the first leg of his return trip across the continent. In thirty-nine days he will step aboard the SS Celtic, at the White Star Line piers along the Hudson River near West 18th Street in Manhattan, and sail for Liverpool.
That leaves us less than six weeks to bring to a conclusion all the many threads we have explored in the past 200 days. It’s a race to the finish, and we still have a lot of things to say.
The Journey East: Teaching on the Train 2
That night ‘Abdu’l-Bahá again did not accept the suggestion that they get pullman accommodations, and He and His companions slept in the chair car. The next morning, Sunday, October 27, one of the ladies to whom He had spoken the day before came to say that she accepted the Teaching of Bahá’u’lláh. More people conversed with Him throughout the day. …
Again that night Mahmúd and the others requested ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ís permission to secure pullman accommodations, and, again, He declined, preferring to sleep in the chair car.
Sunday, October 27, 1912 3
When the Master emerged from the Pullman section of the train to take tea, the Jewish lady returned, saying that she was convinced of the truth of this Cause and that she had accepted the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
Today the Master spoke beautifully about the existence of God and other subjects. During a conversation, an individual questioned Him about His purpose in traveling to America. The Master replied:
“I have come to America to raise the standard of universal peace and to promote the unity of mankind. My aim is to create love and harmony among the religions. But some people ask me, ‘Is your country developed? Is it prosperous and has it good trees, sweet fruits, beautiful animals and swift Arabian horses?’ But I speak to them of the trees of the world of existence, of the fruits of human virtues and of heavenly morals and traits and call people to the Kingdom of God.”
Such explanations transformed the minds of the hearers and created love and sincerity in their hearts.
In the afternoon we changed trains for Salt Lake City. The Jewish lady was so attracted to the Cause that she tried to change her ticket so that she could accompany the Master from Denver to Chicago. However, she was unable to do so, which made her unhappy as she was to be separated from the Master. The Master then gave her the addresses of some Bahá’ís she could contact.
The Master occupied Himself for about an hour reading many letters from the friends. He later spoke about the days of Baghdád and the apathy and ignorance of the populace. He said:
“How they reproached us, but they were ignorant of the future of the Cause. They did not know that the Cause of God can make an atom a brilliant sun, bestow the magnificence of Solomon on an ant, give eternal honor to debased ones and endow the ignorant ones with divine knowledge.”
We suggested that He obtain a Pullman berth but He would not permit this, saying, ‘The seats are comfortable. We can lean back and sleep.’
26 October 1912, Talk at Assembly Hall, Hotel Sacramento, Sacramento, California 4
There are some who believe that the divine bounties are subject to cessation. For example, they think that the revelation of God, the effulgence of God and the bounties of God have ended. This is self-evidently a mistaken idea, for none of these is subject to termination. The reality of Divinity is like unto the sun, and revelation is like unto the rays thereof. If we should assert that the bounties of God are not everlasting, we are forced to believe that Divinity can come to an end, whereas the reality of Divinity enfolds all virtues and by reason of these bounties is perfect. Were it not possessed of all these perfections or virtues, it could not be Divinity. The sun is the sun because of its rays, light and heat. If it could be dispossessed of them, it would not be the sun. Therefore, if we say that the divinity or sovereignty of God is accidental and subject to termination, we must perforce think that Divinity itself is accidental, without foundation and not essential.
God is the Creator. The word creator presupposes or connotes creation. God is the Provider. The word provider implies recipients of provision. Another name for the Creator is the Resuscitator, which demands the existence of creatures to be resuscitated. If He be not the Provider, how could we conceive of creatures to receive His bounty? If He be not the Lord, how could we conceive of subjects? If He be not the Knower, how could we conceive of those known? If we should say that there was a time in past ages when God was not possessed of His creation or that there was a beginning for the world, it would be a denial of creation and the Creator. Or if we should declare that a time may come when there will be a cessation of divine bounties, we should virtually deny the existence of Divinity. It is as though man should conceive of a king without country, army, treasury and all that constitutes sovereignty or kingdom. Is it possible to conceive of such a sovereign? A king must be possessed of a dominion, an army and all that appertains to sovereignty in order that his sovereignty may be a reality. It is even so with the reality of Divinity which enfolds all virtues. The sovereignty thereof is everlasting, and the creation thereof is without beginning and without end.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
A passenger on the train accepts the Faith after a brief conversation with the Master
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Menon, Jonathan. “The Home Stretch.” 239 Days in America, 27 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/27/the-home-stretch/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 173-174 ↩
- ’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=8#section218 ↩
- 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, 377-378. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#514094256 ↩