Montclair--West Englewood: Unity Feast! A thrilling joy . . .
Mahmud writes: "As the Master had previously invited the friends in New York to a Unity Feast in Englewood, He prepared to leave Montclair in the morning. Although most Americans do not awaken until after sunrise, some friends and their children were waiting an hour before dawn to see Him and to receive His blessings. Then another group arrived and received His bestowals.
`Abdu'l-Bahá left Montclair at half past eight in the morning, passed through New York, and after changing trams four times and passing twice by the river, He reached Englewood. Tired from the journey and the warm weather, having traveled from morning to noon, He briefly rested at the home of Mr [Roy] Wilhelm. Meanwhile, the friends began to arrive from the surrounding areas and gathered on the lawn adjoining the house. The meeting was arranged in a circle under the trees, with almost two hundred people seated at the table and being served by the Bahá'ís. Everyone enjoyed the delicacies and was extremely happy.
The green lawn under the shade trees was strewn with flowers so that it seemed as if an embroidered carpet had been spread, every design indicative of the power of the Covenant of the Ancient Beauty. To see the Master walking in this green, flower-covered garden, with a gentle breeze blowing, the purity of the air, the cleanliness of the surroundings and the rejoicing of the friends, was most pleasing; all seemed to vie with one another to please the Master.
When `Abdu'l-Bahá entered the circle, He delivered a very eloquent address on the greatness of the Cause, the influence of the Word of God, the importance of the meetings of the friends and the need for unity among the friends of God. He counseled them to be truthful and faithful. Afterwards He strolled in the rose garden. `Abdu'l-Bahá gave His permission for His photograph to be taken and was photographed in two groups. In one He is seated in the garden with His Persian servants standing around Him and in the other He is seen with the friends, some of whom are seated while others are standing.
A minister and another important personage came to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá. He invited them into Mr Wilhelm's house and spoke with them until dinner was ready. He later left the house to take a brief stroll. When the friends were seated at the table, He took vials of attar of rose in His hand and anointed, perfumed and blessed them all, one by one. He thus made them the anointed of the Court of Servitude and the recipients of the spirit of devotion to the Threshold of God, for the bounties of the Holy Spirit had descended and the favors of God encompassed all. Standing in the center of this assemblage of lovers, He spoke to them in a voice that was sweeter than honey then returned to Mr Wilhelm's house.
That the friends were ecstatic today need not be stated, since their Host was the Beloved of the Covenant; their meeting was an assembly of love and amity, and the surroundings were green and verdant with trees in full bloom perfuming the air. There was a pilaf, a very delicious Persian dish that had been prepared for the occasion, sherbet, a Persian drink and many sweets. Everyone was happy at the unity of the gathering. The Master said:
This meeting will be productive of great results. It will be the cause of attracting a new bounty. This day in which we have come together is a new day, and this hour a new hour. These meetings will be mentioned in the future and their results will be everlasting in all the divine worlds.
There were two more meetings: one in the afternoon and the other in the evening in Englewood for some of the friends who were not able to take part in the first meeting. They took their seats in the garden adjoining Mr Wilhelm's house, sitting on chairs and benches in rows. After a short walk, `Abdu'l-Bahá joined the visitors, sat down among them and requested the chanting of a prayer. He then spoke eloquently, encouraging the friends to spread the fragrances of God. As He was about to leave, one of the seekers asked Him, `What are the new teachings of this Cause that are not to be found in the other great religions?' The Master stood in the center of the garden and summoned all to come near. They came and stood in two rows. The Master walked between the rows and spoke. His explanation was so magnificent that everyone was astonished. During His discourse a carriage and automobile passed near by. As they neared the gathering and saw `Abdu'l-Bahá, the carriage passengers stopped, alighted and they, too, heard His speech and were attracted to the teachings.
The Master described, one by one, the teachings of the Manifestation: the unity of humankind, universal peace, association with all religions, forgiveness of enemies, the prohibition of cursing foes, the equality of rights of men and women, the establishment of the House of Justice and the International Tribunal, compulsory education for both boys and girls, the prohibition of wars between nations and governments, and the harm of all forms of prejudice, be they racial, religious, sectarian, patriotic, political and so on. He spoke on these teachings extensively and in detail. At the end, He asked the audience whether these principles had been brought by past religious dispensations and recorded in their books. They all responded `No'. The inquirer was so overwhelmed that he clapped his hands in delight, expressing his joy and gratitude.
Because it was a moonlit night, this talk was given in the garden, so it was not recorded but these explanations can be found in `Abdu'l-Bahá's other addresses. After the meeting, He remarked, `If these persons were to be confronted with the question, what new teachings did Christ bring other than changing the laws of the Sabbath and divorce, they would be utterly confounded.'
`Abdu'l-Bahá stayed in Englewood for the night."
And Juliet writes: "Almost a week passed before we saw our Lord again. Then, on the twenty-ninth of June, we met Him at West Englewood. He was giving a feast for all the believers in the grounds around Roy Wilhelm's house, the "Feast of Unity" He called it.
I went with dear Silvia Gannett. We walked from the little station, past the grove where the tables were set--a grove of tall pine trees--and on to the house in which He was, He Whose Presence filled our eyes with light and without Whom our days had been very dim and lifeless.
Ah, there He was again! Sitting in a corner of the porch! I sped across the lawn, forgetting Silvia, forgetting everything. He looked down at me with grave eyes, and I saw a fathomless welcome in them.
For a while we sat with Him on the porch. Then He led us down into the grove. There He seated Himself on the ground at the foot of a pine tree and called two believers to His right and left. One was Mrs Krug in her very elegant clothes, the other a poor and shabby old woman. But both faces, the wrinkled one and the smooth, pretty one, were beautiful with the same radiance. I shall never forget that old woman's shining blue eyes.
The great words He spoke to us then have been preserved. I will not repeat them. Besides I remember them too imperfectly. But He said one thing which woke my whole being: "This is a New Day; a New Hour."
By the time He had finished, the feast was ready, but just as it was announced a storm blew up--a strange, sudden storm, without warning. There was a tremendous crash of thunder; through the treetops we could see black clouds boiling up, and big drops of rain splashed on the tables.
The Master rose calmly and, followed by the Persians, walked out to the road, then to the end of it where there is a crossroad. A single chair had been left there and, as I watched from a distance, I saw the Master take it and sit down, while the Persians ranged themselves behind Him. I saw Him lift His face to the sky. He had gone a long way from the house; thunder still crashed and the clouds rolled frighteningly low, but He continued to sit perfectly motionless, that sacred, powerful face upturned to the sky. Then came a strong, rushing wind; the clouds began to race away; blue patches appeared above and the sun shone out. And then the Master rose and walked back into the grove. This I witnessed.
Later, as we sat at the tables, two hundred and fifty of us, He anointed us all with attar of rose. I was not at a table but sitting under a tree with Marjorie Morten and Silvia. The Master swept toward us in His long white robes, forever the Divine Shepherd.
"Friends here?" He smiled, "Friends?"In His voice was a thrilling joy. With a look that shook my heart, so full was it with the musk of His Love, He rubbed my face hard with the attar of rose.
He passed among all the tables with His little vial of perfume (which Grace Robarts swears was almost as full at the end as in the beginning) anointing the forehead of every one there, touching and caressing all our blind faces with His tingling fingers.
Then He disappeared for hours."