’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey So Far: Month Three 1
Today marks the end of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s third month in America. We thought we’d take this opportunity to look back at some of the highlights of the past month…
New York City 2
‘Abdu’l-Bahá searched every face and every heart, encouraging the beginners, urging the learners, directing the more advanced, opening vistas of the spiritual world to their inner vision, inviting them, by His words and examples, to enter this world, and, while walking on the earth, to react to the divine realities instead of the material facade that covered the true spiritual environment.
Diary of Juliet Thompson, 12 July 1912 3
But the very next day [July 11] another picture, of very different children, was superimposed upon this.
In the afternoon around three o’clock I returned with Rhoda Nichols only to meet Him just going out with the Persians. He smiled, then walked swiftly toward the river, but Ahmad, dropping behind, called to Rhoda and me: “Come along with us to the Harrises’.” We should have known better than to go, for the Master had not invited us, but we couldn’t resist the temptation. So we followed up Riverside Drive, then West End Avenue, till we came to Ninety-Fifth Street, where Mr [William Hooper] and Mrs [Gertrude] Harris live. A tenement house neighbourhood.
As we approached Ninety-Fifth Street, there we saw them: the different children. There must have been nearly a hundred of them, playing in the street with their hoops and balls. But, when the Master drew near, all shining white in His long flowing robes, they immediately stopped playing. It all happened instantaneously. The next moment they had fallen into formation and were marching down the street behind Him (we had turned east toward Central Park), some of them still rolling their hoops. Without one word they followed, their little faces almost solemn. They made me think of a real and beautiful Children’s Crusade.
We came to the house where the Harrises live and walked up five steep flights, but when Mrs Harris opened her apartment door and Rhoda and I saw a table inside set only for the Master and the Persians, we backed away terribly embarrassed and lost no time in getting downstairs. After all, we couldn’t have foreseen a luncheon at three o’clock!
When we opened the street door, there were the children again, surrounding the house, silently looking up at it. A little yellow-haired girl came running up the stoop to me. She seemed to be the spokesman for the others. Breathlessly she asked: “Please, ma’am, tell us. Is He Christ?”
I sat down on the stoop while the whole crowd of children swarmed and pushed around me. “I will tell you all about Him,” I said. Then I whispered to Rhoda: “Go upstairs again, dear, and let the Master know what is happening.”
She returned with a wonderful message from the Master, an invitation to all the children to come to a feast to be given specially for them at the [Edward and Carrie] Kinneys’ house next Sunday.
Thursday, July 11, 1912
After morning prayers and meditation, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá bestowed His favors upon the friends and well-wishers, especially on Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper and other friends from California, confirming and assisting them. While He conversed with the friends, He also wrote Tablets in response to petitions from the believers.
Among those who visited Him today were two eminent clergymen: one was Dr Grant, the minister of the Church of the Ascension, and the other Dr Ives of the Brotherhood Church of New Jersey. They have frequently visited the Master showing Him the utmost respect and reverence.
In the afternoon there was a meeting of the friends at the home of Miss Juliet Thompson. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged them to hold as many meetings as possible. ‘Promise each other’, He said, ‘to visit one another’s homes so that it may be the cause of promoting love and happiness.’ After His eloquent discourse, sherbet and sweets were served and then He left the meeting.
At the evening gathering at His house ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on the degrees and station of creation, the maturity of the world and the magnitude of the Dispensation of the Ancient Beauty. The meeting lasted until dinner was ready. He sat at the table and invited all the friends from America to dine with Him. At this point a lady asked, ‘Up to the present time, not a single woman has appeared as a Messenger from God. Why have all the Manifestations of God been men?’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:
“Although women are equal to men in abilities and capacities, there is no doubt that men are bolder and physically more powerful. This distinction is also apparent in the animal kingdom, for example among pigeons, sparrows, peacocks and others.” 4
Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York, 5 July 1912 5
When man casts even a cursory glance of reflection upon the question of the universe, he discovers it is very ancient. A Persian philosopher was looking up into the heavens, lost in wonder. He said, “I have written a book containing seventy proofs of the accidental appearance of the universe, but I still find it very ancient.”
Bahá’u’lláh says, “The universe hath neither beginning nor ending.” He has set aside the elaborate theories and exhaustive opinions of scientists and material philosophers by the simple statement, “There is no beginning, no ending.” The theologians and religionists advance plausible proofs that the creation of the universe dates back six thousand years; the scientists bring forth indisputable facts and say, “No! These evidences indicate ten, twenty, fifty thousand years ago,” etc. There are endless discussions pro and con. Bahá’u’lláh sets aside these discussions by one word and statement. He says, “The divine sovereignty hath no beginning and no ending.” By this announcement and its demonstration He has established a standard of agreement among those who reflect upon this question of divine sovereignty; He has brought reconciliation and peace in this war of opinion and discussion.
Briefly, there were many universal cycles preceding this one in which we are living. They were consummated, completed and their traces obliterated. The divine and creative purpose in them was the evolution of spiritual man, just as it is in this cycle. The circle of existence is the same circle; it returns. The tree of life has ever borne the same heavenly fruit.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
A Feast for neighbourhood children
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Sockett, Robert. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey So Far: Month Three ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” 239 Days in America, 11 July 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/07/11/abdul-bahas-journey-so-far-month-three/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 110. ↩
- Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 335-336. https://archive.org/details/diaryofjuliettho0000thom/page/332/mode/2up ↩
- ’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=5#section109 ↩
- 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, 220. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#822663976 ↩