It is interesting how Mahmud's account of Juliet's painting (below) is so brief and objective, so different than her own. This underlines how varied the experiences of individuals intersecting with
`Abdu'l-Bahá was. But it may also signalize how the Persian men may have had a challenge seeing how important the Western women were to the Cause and to His journey.
`Abdu'l-Bahá seems to have such a special regard for everyone--and He took the women seriously.
Mahmud writes: "As `Abdu'l-Bahá is to go to Montclair tomorrow, He bade farewell to the friends. Today He admonished and encouraged the friends, exhorting them to love and unity and to refrain from differences and disagreements. Then, at the request of Miss Juliet Thompson, He went to a photography studio where several photographs were taken. As she is an artist herself, she drew `Abdu'l-Bahá's likeness with her own hands in a few days.
Many people were present in the afternoon. `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke with a minister about the prosperity of humankind and the oneness of the world of humanity.
Mrs Smith, a member of one of the distinguished families in Philadelphia, had recently embraced the Cause and had requested a Persian name. She was given the name
Tábandih [Light-giver] by the Master. As she had a headache, He prescribed some medication for her, saying:
You must always be happy. You must associate with joyous and happy people and be adorned with divine morals. Happiness has a direct influence in preserving our health while being upset causes illness. The basis of eternal happiness is spirituality and divine virtue, which is not followed by sorrow. But physical happiness is subject to a thousand changes and vicissitudes.
Have you heard the story of the emperor who looked into the mirror and became very sad and despondent? He said, `Oh! What a healthy and vigorous body I had but how worn it has become now! What a handsome face I had but how ugly it has become now! What graceful stature I had but how bent my body has become with age!' Thus he spoke one by one of the physical conditions of his youth and expressed his sadness at their loss. Such is the end of the physical happiness.
Another friend asked about tribulations and unexpected accidents. `Abdu'l-Bahá replied:
The chain of creation is interwoven in a natural law and divine order. Everything is interlinked. A link cannot be broken without affecting that natural order. Everything that happens is in conformity with this order and is based on consummate wisdom. Because it is decreed by God that every plant that grows must wither, all flourishing vegetation must fade away, every combination must disperse and all compositions must disintegrate. These are the necessary consequences of that universal law and of all relationships and is interpreted as divine decree.
In every meeting `Abdu'l-Bahá gives this kind of philosophical explanation to complex problems, thus illuminating the hearts."
Interesting, about health and about how everything is interlinked. We live in a time when stress seems unavoidable--and of course more and more people face various maladies. Joy as remedy--how to remember that when faced with pain?
Juliet writes: "The next day, 20 June, we went to Mrs Kasebier's--Lua, Mrs Hinkle-Smith, and I--in the car with the Master. I shall never forget the Master's beauty in the strange cold light of her studio, a green, underwater sort of light, in which He looked shining and chiselled, like the statue of a god. But the pictures are dark shadows of Him."
Gertrude Kasebier, I assume, is the photographer to whom Mahmud refers. Isn't this a great shot of her? She was influential as a person who inspired women to become photographers--and was also known for her paintings of Native Americans. I must track down which photos she took of Abdu'l-Baha.