May 12: According to Mahmud, "In the morning, after prayers, the Master had tea and remarked that `Although we have not had sufficient rest yet we have to go to Montclair today to speak at the Unity Church there.'
He left with His companions, took a ferry for New Jersey and later boarded a train for Montclair. After an hour's journey, we arrived at the home of Mr [Charles] Edsall, through whom the rector of the church had invited the Master. After greeting the friends, `Abdu'l-Bahá went to the church where the rector, Dr Edgar S. Wiers, was waiting for Him at the entrance. He took the Master's hand most reverently and accompanied Him to the pulpit, as well as showing us to our seats. After the service, he introduced the `Great Mystery of God' saying, `Today we shall read from the New Gospel, that is, from the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh instead of the Bible.' The minister then read a few selections from previously translated Tablets and said:
A few years ago a monument was erected in Genoa, Italy. Its purpose was to commemorate the memory of a Protestant martyred by the Catholics through religious prejudice. On the statue was engraved these wise words, `The greatest achievements of the last centuries have been the elimination of religious prejudice and the extension
of human thought.' But now I say that these words have not been fully realized and prejudice continues to hold its sway to a degree.
Now there comes a matchless Cause which does away with all prejudices. It is the new teaching of the Bahá'í Faith, which has stirred the religions of the world and has sacrificed some twenty thousand persons to root out prejudice. The East has always been the dawning-point of divine religions. That land is the mother of all religions. The West is in extreme need of such peace because of its excessive armaments and its many wars.
Although it has spread only recently to the West, the Bahá'í Cause will erelong encompass the entire hemisphere. And now from the leader of this mighty Cause you will hear an important message. It is truly our good fortune that this holy man is journeying in many parts of the world and has now come to this church to deliver the news of the great peace to us. I am greatly honored to introduce His Holiness `Abdu'l-Bahá `Abbás and to say that He is one of the great prophets of the world and one of the chosen ones of God."
After this introduction the Master stood up and the entire congregation, out of respect, immediately rose and remained standing until He bade them be seated with a wave of His hand. He spoke in a melodious and eloquent voice, beginning His speech by discussing the oneness of God and His Holy Manifestations and concluding with the statement that in every age the Sun of Truth appears within a sign of the zodiac. At the end He chanted a very touching prayer. As at every such meeting, the effect of `Abdu'l-Bahá's talk had to be seen, for it is difficult to describe.
As `Abdu'l-Bahá left the church, many surrounded Him and shook His hand, each one attracted, each heart full of eagerness, each soul inclined towards the Master and every eye turned towards Him, each supplicating and yearning for the confirmations of the Kingdom. Not one mind was bereft of eagerness and no heart failed to be immersed in the sea of joy."
`Abdu'l-Bahá returned to Mr Edsall's home where several Bahá'ís and seekers had gathered, including the minister and his wife, to have lunch with Him. All were overjoyed to be with Him. `Abdu'l-Bahá was exceedingly happy and the gathering became the envy of heaven.
After lunch and a little rest, another group came to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá and another meeting was held with eagerness and excitement. The Master spoke with animation, encouraging the friends and guiding the true seekers. Before He left, the minister brought out the church's guest book, requesting that the Master write a prayer in His own hand. He do so at once:
He is God! O Lord! O Pure One! Thanks be to Thee that, traversing mountains and deserts and crossing the great ocean we were enabled to reach this country and utter Thy Name and manifest Thy signs in these regions. Even in this church we have raised our voice to Thy Kingdom like unto Elijah. O God! Attract the members of this church to Thy beauty, protect and shield them in Thine own shelter and bless them.
Signed `A `A
Time passed so happily that the Master promised the friends in Montclair a second visit. He then returned to New York.
In the evening `Abdu'l-Bahá went to the Grace Methodist Church in New York to speak to the public meeting of the Peace Forum. He spoke on the purpose of the Prophets of God, the peace and unity of humankind and the coming of Bahá'u'lláh who would establish and promote these divinely-ordained teachings. His talk ignited such a fire in the listeners' hearts that all became as moths with scorched wings. In this meeting, too, the members of the audience, with one accord, stood when the Master appeared before them, which seemed extraordinary to everyone. . . ."
If only we could be there!
May 13: New York Peace Society . . .`Abdu'l-Bahá as "the Beauty of God and the Glory of the East"
The next several days have a focus on peace, with a talk at the New York Peace Society and then the conference at Lake Mohonk. But the Master was not feeling well. Juliet Thompson notes, "The Master was really too ill to have gone to this Conference. He had been in bed all morning, suffering from complete exhaustion, and had a high temperature. I was with Him all morning. While I was sitting beside Him I asked: 'Must You go to the Hotel Astor when You are so ill?' 'I work by the confirmation of the Holy Spirit,' He answered. 'I do not work by hygienic laws. If I did,' He laughed, 'I would get nothing done.'" (Diary of Juliet Thompson, 285).
His exhaustion must have related to the pace of His days. Mahmud notes: "From morning until the afternoon there was a constant stream of visitors and friends. Then the Master went to another meeting of the New York Peace Society [at the Hotel Astor]. The moment He entered the spacious hall of the Hotel Astor, the audience broke into such hearty cheers that the very walls of the building echoed. There were some two thousand people in the audience and when Mírzá Valíyu'lláh Khán-i-Varqá and I wished to enter, there was no room. However, the Persian fezes we wore were like crowns of honor and signs of respect. Whoever saw us knew at once that we were the servants of His threshold and assisted us to pass through the crowd until we reached `Abdu'l-Bahá so that we could record His words.
Many people welcomed `Abdu'l-Bahá with beautiful flowers of varying hues. The beauty of this great peace congress and the eloquence of all the speakers are tributes to `Abdu'l-Bahá.
|Anna Garlin Spencer|
Mrs [Anna Garlin] Spencer introduced `Abdu'l-Bahá, describing Him as the Prophet of the East and the Messenger of Peace. Dr Grant spoke of the calamities that had befallen the Master and His imprisonment for the sake of establishing peace among the peoples of the world. The Consul General of Persia [Mr Topakyan] referred to `Abdu'l-Bahá as the Beauty of God and the Glory of the East. Professor Jackson, who had visited Persia, said that peace, prosperity and security would only be attained through this blessed Cause. The president of the society [Dr Stephen S. Wise] then gave an explanation of `Abdu'l-Bahá's name and welcomed Him most warmly. The Master stood and a great excitement rippled through the audience. Although the Master was tired owing to His many speaking engagements and the difficulties of the journey, and His voice was hoarse, He delivered an incomparable speech. First He thanked the audience for its great love and kindness. He then spoke about the problems associated with peace, giving an explanation of some of the verses and commandments of Bahá'u'lláh regarding unity and the oneness of humanity. The audience was deeply moved.Every eye beheld that gathering as a court of power and majesty where all, like poets, praised in the most beautiful words and verses the Temple of Servitude. Verily, no desire remained unmet for us, the servants of His threshold. We witnessed with our own eyes the victory and confirmation of the Abhá Kingdom. `Abdu'l-Bahá repeatedly said, `Although I say always that I am `Abdu'l-Bahá, a servant of God, still people refer to me as a messenger and a prophet. It would be better if they would not attribute such titles to me.'
In the evening there was a meeting at `Abdu'l-Bahá's residence with people from India and Japan. He spoke to them in detail, saying:
India had a great civilization in former times. That civilization spread from that part of Asia to Syria and Egypt; from Syria it was extended to Greece from whence it found its way to Arabia and Spain. Again, from Spain it spread over most of Europe. The world of man, however, has not yet reached its maturity. The time will come when this material civilization will be infused with divine civilization. Universal peace will be realized and people will become angelic. That will be the time of the world's maturity."
Any one of these "scenes" mentioned merit more details and thoughtful reflections: Juliet's kind personal attentions to the Master; the stream of visitors; the dramatic cheers and introductions at the Peace Society meeting; the gathering at His hotel of people from India and Japan (how did they know to gather? Who was the catalyst for this meeting? So many questions.)
|Anna Garlin Spencer|
From Wikipedia: Anna Garlin Spencer (1851–1931) was an American educator, feminist, and Unitarian minister. Born in Attleboro, MA, she married the Rev. William H. Spencer in 1878. She was a leader in the women's suffrage and peace movements. In 1891 she became the first woman ordained as a minister in the state of Rhode Island. In Providence she was commissioned to develop the Religious Society of Bell Street Chapel which was to be devoted to the religious outlook of James Eddy. She compiled Eddy’s views into a Bond of Union to which members of the new society would subscribe. She was later associated with the New York Society for Ethical Culture (1903–1909) and the New York School of Philanthropy (1903–1913). In 1909, she signed onto the call to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Over a long period she was a popular lecturer and wrote on social problems, especially concerning women and family relations. Her writings include Woman's Share in Social Culture (1913) and The Family and Its Members (1922). . . . In 1893, she spoke at the World Parliament of Religion during the Chicago Fair. In 1903, she became an associate leader of the NY Society for Ethical Culture.
Had she heard of the Faith at the WPR? The world of connections was astonishing. No wonder walls were echoing as `Abdu'l-Bahá made His entrances. . . .