Who was `Abdu'l-Bahá, and why did He come to the West?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July 11, 1913 Abdu'l-Baha's Sense of Humor

Sorry I am a couple of days late with this! 

Earl Redman writes: 

On 11 July ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took the train to Ismailia in hopes that the change of climate would help improve His health. In spite of the effects of the heat, His sense of humour was undiminished when He wrote to Ali-Kuli Khan: ‘Praise be to God you are spending your days in a delectable, verdant and refreshing place. We too are, praise be to God, enjoying ourself  in the hot weather of Port Said with its excessive humidity, dust and dirt, while suffering with nerve fever. As the friends are comfortable, Abdul-Baha is in the utmost joy’.
            Before He left for Ismailia, He met with his attendants and a few pilgrims and told them of all the meetings He had in America and how He had found the Americans to be very spiritual people. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told His audience about Fred Mortensen who had ‘been so anxious to meet the Master that he risked his life by concealing himself under the train till he reached Green Acre, Maine’. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá praised Fred’s courage. The Master also said that He had again met Fred, along with his wife, when He went to Minneapolis. He called that later meeting a confirmation of the Holy Spirit.

Ok, we know it is a "proof of nobility" not to complain about things and even be happy in a state of poverty, discomfort, illness, and the like--but this is truly amazing! What an example! And what a mixture of humor and sincerity! 

Just yesterday, when someone asked how I was, I was very expressive about my dislike of the Texas heat and the summer in general. Hm. . . . And I am mostly in air conditioning, without excessive humidity, dust, dirt, and nerve fever! Always, there are lessons from the Master. 

ah, and dear Fred Mortensen. What a life he had!  Here's the account from The Diary of Juliet Thompson: 

A night when a horrifying young man came to a meeting at the
Kinneys’ house. From head to foot he was covered with soot. His
blue eyes stared out from a dark grey face. This was Fred
Mortenson. He had spent half his boyhood and young manhood in a
prison in Minneapolis. Our beloved Albert Hall, who was interested
in prison work, had found him and taken him out on parole and given him the Bahá’í Message. But Albert Hall was dead when the Master came to America.

Fred Mortenson, hearing that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was in Green Acre, and
having no money to make the trip, had ridden the bumpers [on
freight trains] to His Presence.

He came into the meeting and sat down and was very unhappy when the Master, pacing back and forth as He talked, took no notice of him. “It must be that He knows I stole a ride,” thought Fred (who told me all about it afterward). But no sooner was the meeting over and
the Master upstairs in His room than He sent for Fred.
Fred had said nothing to anyone about his trip on the bumpers, but
the minute he entered that upstairs room the Master asked smiling
and with twinkling eyes: “How did you enjoy your ride?” then He
took from Fred’s hand his soot-covered cap and kissed it.

Years later, during the First World War, when the American
believers sent ten thousand dollars for the relief of the starving
Arabs, the messenger they chose to carry the money through the
warring countries was: Fred Mortenson. The Master declined the ten
thousand dollars, relieving the Arabs Himself by His own hard labour. He
went to His estate near Tiberius and Himself ploughed the fields
there; then stored all the grain in the Shrine of the Báb.

So, it is interesting that 'Abdul-Bahá is remembering certain things about His time in America, and that He reminds us of Fred's courage and transformation--a potent reminder than there is hope for anyone. 

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