Last year on this day Farhad Naderi sent an e-message: "When I read this passage [below] this morning I felt inspired to share it with the team."
“There hath branched from the Sadratu'l-Muntaha this sacred and glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness; well is it with him that hath sought His shelter and abideth beneath His shadow. Verily the Limb of the Law of God hath sprung forth from this Root which God hath firmly implanted in the Ground of His Will, and Whose Branch hath been so uplifted as to encompass the whole of creation. Magnified be He, therefore, for this sublime, this blessed, this mighty, this exalted Handiwork! . . . A Word hath, as a token of Our grace, gone forth from the Most Great Tablet -- a Word which God hath adorned with the ornament of His own Self, and made it sovereign over the earth and all that is therein, and a sign of His greatness and power among its people . . . Render thanks unto God, O people, for His appearance; for verily He is the most great Favour unto you, the most perfect bounty upon you; and through Him every mouldering bone is quickened. Whoso turneth towards Him hath turned towards God, and whoso turneth away from Him hath turned away from My Beauty, hath repudiated My Proof, and transgressed against Me. He is the Trust of God amongst you, His charge within you, His manifestation unto you and His appearance among His favoured servants . . . We have sent Him down in the form of a human temple. Blest and sanctified be God Who createth whatsoever He willeth through His inviolable His infallible decree. They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch, are lost in the wilderness of error are consumed by the heat of worldly desires, and are of those who will assuredly perish.” (Baha’u’llah, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in 'The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah')
Sacred and glorious . . . Branch of Holiness . . . exalted Handiwork . . . most great Favor . . . Trust of God. . . . How lucky we are to have the person of Abdu'l-Baha in this dispensation! And I feel "favored" to be considered as part of the team that has arisen to study and promote dialogue around Baha'i research and this sacred journey of the Master to the West.
Teamwork, we are building teamwork as we deepen our knowledge of this sacred journey. Far from distracting us from our central purpose, I feel it is drawing us to a more sublime comprehension of our current-day opportunities and challenges. For one, there is a mystical reality in drawing closer to the Master. We forget some of our petty worries and sense of separation from others by gazing upon His face, listening to His words, following stories of His days. I am galvanized!
Meanwhile, May 3 in Chicago
Mahmud writes: "From early morning friends and inquirers visited `Abdu'l-Bahá in twos and threes, all profusely offering their thanks and praise for the favors they had received from Him.
"Today the members of an association of Indians residing in Chicago, who had previously attended `Abdu'l-Bahá's receptions, arrived as one body and after obtaining His permission, read Him an address of welcome:
"From the Society of Indians Residing in Chicago to His Holiness `Abdu'l-Bahá `Abbás. In the Name of God! We, the members of the Society of Indians Residing in Chicago welcome you to this country. The Cause that has brought your Excellency to this country is most surely a source of honor and grace to us. Asia has always been the dawning-place of religions: Muhammad, Christ, Buddha and Confucius were born in that enlightened continent; and we confidently believe that at this time, too, Asia will again usher in the universal principles of accord. The Bahá'í Cause, like the Cause of the Buddha, will be a source of uniting nations and will be a fulfillment of the teachings of our forefathers. . . .
"We feel happy when we realize that through your Excellency, the means for the acquisition of Western arts and sciences will become available for those in the East and that the youth of Persia will come to these parts to acquire material knowledge and broaden their thinking and will return to their homes to benefit their brothers and sisters in the East on the road to progress.
"Further, we believe that our country, India, will greatly benefit from a visit from your Excellency. The lack of unity between the Hindus and Muslims has kept them in the utmost contention and strife. As your Excellency's teachings are very much like the teachings of our religious leaders, they will undoubtedly unite them and make these contending nations one. We are certain that you will receive the same warmth and honor in India as here in America.
We pray to God to give your Excellency long life so that you may be enabled to convey your message to all mankind.
"We are, most beloved Master, your sincere friends, the members of the Society of Indians Residing in Chicago.
"More people gathered, forming a large group. The Master gave a public talk at the hotel on the gradual weakening of man's physical and material powers and the effect on man of divine civilization and spiritual education. All were struck with the charm of `Abdu'l-Bahá's expression and the power of His argument. They openly expressed their conviction that the true salvation of the world of humanity lay in following the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. The address by the Society of Indians and the testimony of others are examples for the fair-minded of the degree of attachment and attraction of the people, just as `a drop expresses oceans.'"
Then, Mahmud shares an interesting story related to the House of Worship:
"In the evening the Bahá'ís consulted. `Abdu'l-Bahá sent us there and later joined us. He spoke briefly to the meeting but on the subject of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, the Master said, `I will not discuss this matter. It is the business of the consultative assembly.' Later He added: `If I were to speak about the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, it would have to be built at once.'"
What do you make of this? I suppose He wanted the process to unfold naturally, given the Baha'i resources and strength.
There is a confusion about Mahmud's chronology in the next paragraph: "In the early evening `Abdu'l-Bahá gave a very eloquent and impressive address for the Theosophical Society, which fascinated the audience, especially the members of the society." [This talk was actually given the next day. See PUP 87–91.]
Mahmud then notes: "Some of the friends had asked whether they could take photographs of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Several photographs were therefore taken in the park across from the hotel by Mr and Mrs Killius, two of the devoted believers. In one of the photographs `Abdu'l-Bahá is standing with a flower in His hand. In another He is with His entourage and in the third He is standing among the believers. Although photographs of the Master had been taken in other cities, these are better and more lifelike."
Allan Ward notes that the newspapers chronicled the news that 223 were indicted for a lynching in Fort Smith, Arkansas (p. 54). Sad!
Ward also notes that `Abdu'l-Bahá often walked in the morning and evening through Lincoln Park and through the zoo, taking the friends with Him and talking, sometimes allowing photographs. A story he relates is as follows:
From the zoo He led the friends toward the lake, sat on a bench, motioned the friends to do likewise, and discussed unity with them. He said, “Some of you may have observed that I have not called attention to any of your individual shortcomings. I would suggest to you, that if you shall be similarly considerate in your treatment of each other, it will be greatly conducive to the harmony of your association with each other. . . .”
So--here's a great lesson for us to remember, from His time in Chicago.