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

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16, 1912

Kenosha -- Chicago; eyes like parting lovers; musical poems; publicity; exhortations. . . . 
Mahmud writes: "In the morning `Abdu'l-Bahá prepared to leave for Chicago. The believers, `like iguanas,' gazed at Him with eyes like those of parting lovers. He remarked:
See what the power and influence of Bahá'u'lláh have wrought. Consider how He has brought the Japanese, the Americans and the Persians all under the shadow of one word and caused them to love one another.
Along the way He spoke of the steadfastness of the believers of the East. He arrived in Chicago in the evening and a continuous stream of friends came to see Him. Some of them wanted to give Him some money but, despite their pleading and entreaties, He would not accept it and instead requested that the money be distributed among the poor. Some reporters had published their articles in the newspapers, which the Master appreciated. 
Shahnaz Waite & friends
(not sure which is Shahnaz)
At a gathering of the believers in the afternoon, some of the friends had arranged a musical program at which poems written by Mrs [Louise] Waite (who had been given the Persian name Shánaz Khánum by the Master) were sung to piano accompaniment as the Master descended the stairs. The Master walked among the friends in such a manner that everyone was moved, overcame their reserve and shed tears of joy and love. A clergyman came forward and supplicated `Abdu'l-Bahá: `O Thou Prophet of God, `Abdu'l-Bahá, pray thou for me.' The Master bestowed His blessings upon him.
The Master spoke to the friends about the bonds of love which unite the hearts. At the conclusion of the meeting, He called to Mrs True, saying, `Because of your desire and insistence we came to this house but now we must go to a hotel.'
In the evening He exhorted the friends in sweet and expressive words to spread the fragrances of God, to proclaim the Words of their Lord and to show kindness to His friends. Afterwards, some were privileged to have private interviews with Him. After dinner He told us to pack our things to move to the hotel. In the automobile, He seemed to be depressed. He said:
I am bearing the discomforts of this journey with stop-overs so that the Cause of God may be protected from any breach. For I am still not sure about what is going to happen after me. If I could be sure, then I would sit comfortably in some corner, I would not leave the Holy Land and travel far away from the Most Holy Tomb. Once, after the martyrdom of the Báb, the Cause of God was dealt a hard blow through Yahyá. Again, after the ascension of the Blessed Beauty, it received another blow. And I fear that self-seeking persons may again disrupt the love and unity of the friends. If the time were right and the House of Justice were established, the House of Justice would protect the friends.
He then spoke about how disunity began in the Islamic cycle, saying, `Because of certain people who sought to fulfill their personal desires and who yet counted themselves among the supporters of the religion, the foundation of Islam was completely uprooted.' He continued in this vein until the automobile arrived at the hotel."
I've never thought of iguanas showing yearning or sadness in their eyes and will refrain from telling my iguana story from my days in Puerto Rico!  But we can imagine the feelings of the friends as the Master leaves Kenosha. 
The music and poetry sound delightful but the sadness of the Master later--oh my. We don't think of His downcast heart or realize His worries, often. He was, at once, aware of so many realities yet veiled from realities.  How would this Faith be protected--and be different from those that went before? We cannot quite comprehend the role of the Master during those times--in these days, when the House of Justice guides us. 

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