My name is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. My qualification is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. My reality is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. My praise is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Thraldom to the Blessed Perfection is my glorious and refulgent diadem, and servitude to all the human race my perpetual religion . .. No name, no title, no mention, no commendation have I, nor will ever have, except ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This is my longing. This is my greatest yearning. This is my eternal life. This is my everlasting glory.
An attempt I strongly feel should now be made to clarify our minds regarding the station occupied by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá and the significance of His position in this holy Dispensation. It would be indeed difficult for us, who stand so close to such a tremendous figure and are drawn by the mysterious power of so magnetic a personality, to obtain a clear and exact understanding of the rôle and character of One Who, not only in the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh but in the entire field of religious history, fulfills a unique function. Though moving in a sphere of His own and holding a rank radically different from that of the Author and the Forerunner of the Bahá’í Revelation, He, by virtue of the station ordained for Him through the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, forms together with them what may be termed the Three Central Figures of a Faith that stands unapproached in the world’s spiritual history. He towers, in conjunction with them, above the destinies of this infant Faith of God from a level to which no individual or body ministering to its needs after Him, and for no less a period than a full thousand years, can ever hope to rise. To degrade His lofty rank by identifying His station with or by regarding it as roughly equivalent to, the position of those on whom the mantle of His authority has fallen would be an act of impiety as grave as the no less heretical belief that inclines to exalt Him to a state of absolute equality with either the central Figure or Forerunner of our Faith. For wide as is the gulf that separates ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá from Him Who is the Source of an independent Revelation, it can never be regarded as commensurate with the greater distance that stands between Him Who is the Center of the Covenant and His ministers who are to carry on His work, whatever be their name, their rank, their functions or their future achievements. Let those who have known ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, who through their contact with His magnetic personality have come to cherish for Him so fervent an admiration, reflect, in the light of this statement, on the greatness of One Who is so far above Him in station.
That ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá is not a Manifestation of God, that, though the successor of His Father, He does not occupy a cognate station, that no one else except the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh can ever lay claim to such a station before the expiration of a full thousand years—are verities which lie embedded in the specific utterances of both the Founder of our Faith and the Interpreter of His teachings. …
‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s own statements, in confirmation of this warning, are no less emphatic and binding: “… My station is the station of servitude—a servitude which is complete, pure and real, firmly established, enduring, obvious, explicitly revealed and subject to no interpretation whatever… I am the Interpreter of the Word of God; such is my interpretation.”
. . . From such clear and formally laid down statements, incompatible as they are with any assertion of a claim to Prophethood, we should not by any means infer that ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá is merely one of the servants of the Blessed Beauty, or at best one whose function is to be confined to that of an authorized interpreter of His Father’s teachings. Far be it from me to entertain such a notion or to wish to instill such sentiments. To regard Him in such a light is a manifest betrayal of the priceless heritage bequeathed by Bahá’u’lláh to mankind. Immeasurably exalted is the station conferred upon Him by the Supreme Pen above and beyond the implications of these, His own written statements. Whether in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the most weighty and sacred of all the works of Bahá’u’lláh, or in the Kitáb-i-‘Ahd, the Book of His Covenant, or in the Súriy-i-Ghusn (Tablet of the Branch), such references as have been recorded by the pen of Bahá’u’lláh—references which the Tablets of His Father addressed to Him mightily reinforce—invest ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá with a power, and surround Him with a halo, which the present generation can never adequately appreciate.
He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as the Center and Pivot of Bahá’u’lláh’s peerless and all-enfolding Covenant, His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His light, the perfect Exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word, the embodiment of every Bahá’í ideal, the incarnation of every Bahá’í virtue, the Most Mighty Branch sprung from the Ancient Root, the Limb of the Law of God, the Being “round Whom all names revolve,” the Mainspring of the Oneness of Humanity, the Ensign of the Most Great Peace, the Moon of the Central Orb of this most holy Dispensation—styles and titles that are implicit and find their truest, their highest and fairest expression in the magic name ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá. He is, above and beyond these appellations, the “Mystery of God”—an expression by which Bahá’u’lláh Himself has chosen to designate Him, and which, while it does not by any means justify us to assign to Him the station of Prophethood, indicates how in the person of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized. …
“O Thou Who art the apple of Mine eye!” Bahá’u’lláh, in His own handwriting, thus addresses ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, “My glory, the ocean of My loving-kindness, the sun of My bounty, the heaven of My mercy rest upon Thee. We pray God to illumine the world through Thy knowledge and wisdom, to ordain for Thee that which will gladden Thine heart and impart consolation to Thine eyes.” “The glory of God rest upon Thee,” He writes in another Tablet, “and upon whosoever serveth Thee and circleth around Thee. Woe, great woe, betide him that opposeth and injureth Thee. Well is it with him that sweareth fealty to Thee; the fire of hell torment him who is Thine enemy.” “We have made Thee a shelter for all mankind,” He, in yet another Tablet, affirms, “a shield unto all who are in heaven and on earth, a stronghold for whosoever hath believed in God, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing. God grant that through Thee He may protect them, may enrich and sustain them, that He may inspire Thee with that which shall be a wellspring of wealth unto all created things, an ocean of bounty unto all men, and the dayspring of mercy unto all peoples.”
“Thou knowest, O my God,” Bahá’u’lláh, in a prayer revealed in ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s honor, supplicates, “that I desire for Him naught except that which Thou didst desire, and have chosen Him for no purpose save that which Thou hadst intended for Him. Render Him victorious, therefore, through Thy hosts of earth and heaven… Ordain, I beseech Thee, by the ardor of My love for Thee and My yearning to manifest Thy Cause, for Him, as well as for them that love Him, that which Thou hast destined for Thy Messengers and the Trustees of Thy Revelation. Verily, Thou art the Almighty, the All-Powerful.”1Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Available at www.bahai.org/r/553653426
He alone had been accorded the privilege of being called “the Master,” an honor from which His Father had strictly excluded all His other sons. Upon Him that loving and unerring Father had chosen to confer the unique title of “Sirru’lláh” (the Mystery of God), a designation so appropriate to One Who, though essentially human and holding a station radically and fundamentally different from that occupied by Bahá’u’lláh and His Forerunner, could still claim to be the perfect Exemplar of His Faith, to be endowed with super-human knowledge, and to be regarded as the stainless mirror reflecting His light. To Him, whilst in Adrianople, that same Father had, in the Súriy-i-Ghusn (Tablet of the Branch), referred as “this sacred and glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness,” as “the Limb of the Law of God,” as His “most great favor” unto men, as His “most perfect bounty” conferred upon them, as One through Whom “every mouldering bone is quickened,” declaring that “whoso turneth towards Him hath turned towards God,” and that “they who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch are lost in the wilderness of error.” To Him He, whilst still in that city, had alluded (in a Tablet addressed to Ḥájí Muḥammad Ibráhím-i-Khalíl) as the one amongst His sons “from Whose tongue God will cause the signs of His power to stream forth,” and as the one Whom “God hath specially chosen for His Cause.” On Him, at a later period, the Author of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, in a celebrated passage, subsequently elucidated in the “Book of My Covenant,” had bestowed the function of interpreting His Holy Writ, proclaiming Him, at the same time, to be the One “Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.” To Him in a Tablet, revealed during that same period and addressed to Mírzá Muḥammad Qulíy-i-Sabzivárí, He had referred as “the Gulf that hath branched out of this Ocean that hath encompassed all created things,” and bidden His followers to turn their faces towards it. To Him, on the occasion of His visit to Beirut, His Father had, furthermore, in a communication which He dictated to His amanuensis, paid a glowing tribute, glorifying Him as the One “round Whom all names revolve,” as “the Most Mighty Branch of God,” and as “His ancient and immutable Mystery.” He it was Who, in several Tablets which Bahá’u’lláh Himself had penned, had been personally addressed as “the Apple of Mine eye,” and been referred to as “a shield unto all who are in heaven and on earth,” as “a shelter for all mankind” and “a stronghold for whosoever hath believed in God.” It was on His behalf that His Father, in a prayer revealed in His honor, had supplicated God to “render Him victorious,” and to “ordain … for Him, as well as for them that love Him,” the things destined by the Almighty for His “Messengers” and the “Trustees” of His Revelation. And finally in yet another Tablet these weighty words had been recorded: “The glory of God rest upon Thee, and upon whosoever serveth Thee and circleth around Thee. Woe, great woe, betide him that opposeth and injureth Thee. Well is it with him that sweareth fealty to Thee; the fire of hell torment him who is Thy enemy.”
And now to crown the inestimable honors, privileges and benefits showered upon Him, in ever increasing abundance, throughout the forty years of His Father’s ministry in Baghdád, in Adrianople and in ‘Akká, He had been elevated to the high office of Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, and been made the successor of the Manifestation of God Himself—a position that was to empower Him to impart an extraordinary impetus to the international expansion of His Father’s Faith, to amplify its doctrine, to beat down every barrier that would obstruct its march, and to call into being, and delineate the features of, its Administrative Order, the Child of the Covenant, and the Harbinger of that World Order whose establishment must needs signalize the advent of the Golden Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation.
The immediate effect of the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh had been… to spread grief and bewilderment among His followers and companions, and to inspire its vigilant and redoubtable adversaries with fresh hope and renewed determination. …
Yet, as the appointed Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant and the authorized Interpreter of His teaching had Himself later explained, the dissolution of the tabernacle wherein the soul of the Manifestation of God had chosen temporarily to abide signalized its release from the restrictions which an earthly life had, of necessity, imposed upon it. Its influence no longer circumscribed by any physical limitations, its radiance no longer beclouded by its human temple, that soul could henceforth energize the whole world to a degree unapproached at any stage in the course of its existence on this planet.
Bahá’u’lláh’s stupendous task on this earthly plane had, moreover, at the time of His passing, been brought to its final consummation. His mission, far from being in any way inconclusive, had, in every respect, been carried through to a full end. The Message with which He had been entrusted had been disclosed to the gaze of all mankind. The summons He had been commissioned to issue to its leaders and rulers had been fearlessly voiced. The fundamentals of the doctrine destined to recreate its life, heal its sicknesses and redeem it from bondage and degradation had been impregnably established. The tide of calamity that was to purge and fortify the sinews of His Faith had swept on with unstemmed fury. The blood which was to fertilize the soil out of which the institutions of His World Order were destined to spring had been profusely shed. Above all the Covenant that was to perpetuate the influence of that Faith, insure its integrity, safeguard it from schism, and stimulate its world-wide expansion, had been fixed on an inviolable basis.
His Cause, precious beyond the dreams and hopes of men; enshrining within its shell that pearl of great price to which the world, since its foundation, had been looking forward; confronted with colossal tasks of unimaginable complexity and urgency, was beyond a peradventure in safe keeping. His own beloved Son, the apple of His eye, His vicegerent on earth, the Executive of His authority, the Pivot of His Covenant, the Shepherd of His flock, the Exemplar of His faith, the Image of His perfections, the Mystery of His Revelation, the Interpreter of His mind, the Architect of His World Order, the Ensign of His Most Great Peace, the Focal Point of His unerring guidance—in a word, the occupant of an office without peer or equal in the entire field of religious history—stood guard over it, alert, fearless and determined to enlarge its limits, blazon abroad its fame, champion its interests and consummate its purpose. …
The cloud of despondency that had momentarily settled on the disconsolate lovers of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh was lifted. The continuity of that unerring guidance vouchsafed to it since its birth was now assured. The significance of the solemn affirmation that this is “the Day which shall not be followed by night” was now clearly apprehended. An orphan community had recognized in ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, in its hour of desperate need, its Solace, its Guide, its Mainstay and Champion. The Light that had glowed with such dazzling brightness in the heart of Asia, and had, in the lifetime of Bahá’u’lláh, spread to the Near East, and illuminated the fringes of both the European and African continents, was to travel, through the impelling influence of the newly proclaimed Covenant, and almost immediately after the death of its Author, as far West as the North American continent, and from thence diffuse itself to the countries of Europe, and subsequently shed its radiance over both the Far East and Australasia.2Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By. Available at www.bahai.org/r/565667412
How great the blessedness that awaiteth the king who will arise to aid My Cause in My Kingdom, who will detach himself from all else but Me! Such a king is numbered with the companions of the Crimson Ark—the Ark which God hath prepared for the people of Bahá. All must glorify his name, must reverence his station, and aid him to unlock the cities with the keys of My Name, the omnipotent Protector of all that inhabit the visible and invisible kingdoms. Such a king is the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of creation, the fountain-head of blessings unto the whole world. Offer up, O people of Bahá, your substance, nay your very lives, for his assistance.1Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá”u’lláh, www.bahai.org/r/204457703
The first Queen of the world to study and to promote Bahá’u’lláh’s great Teachings has been Her Majesty Queen Marie of Rumania, one of the queens of this twentieth century who stands highest in intellect, in vision, in clear understanding of the new universal epoch now opening. Her Majesty received the book “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era” by Dr. J. E. Esslemont and a note from the writer of this article who first visited Bucharest, Rumania, in January, 1926. The Rumanian Queen, grand-daughter of the renowned Queen Victoria of the British Empire and of Czar Alexander II of Russia, both of whom received Tablets from Bahá’u’lláh in their day, read this volume until three o’clock in the morning and two days later, on January 30, 1926, received me in audience in Controceni Palace, in Bucharest. Her first words after the greeting were, “I believe these Teachings are the solution for the world’s problems today!” The account of that historic morning appeared in “The Bahá’í Magazine” in Washington, in June, 1926, but very illuminating letters written by Her Majesty that same year show how deep was her confirmation. Here is one written to her loved friend Loie Fuller, an American then residing in Paris, which after these ten years can be published for the first time:
Lately great hope has come to me from one, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a personal follower of Christ. Reading, I have found in His and His Father Bahá’u’lláh’s Message of Faith all my yearnings for real religion satisfied. If you ever hear of Bahá’ís or of the Bahá’í Movement which is known in America you will know what that is! What I mean, these books have strengthened me beyond belief and I am now ready to die any day full of hope; but I pray God not to take me away yet, for I still have a lot of work to do.
Other letters record that first of all she was teaching her young daughter Ileana about these beautiful truths. For ten years Her Majesty and her daughter, H.R.H. Princess Ileana (now Archduchess Anton), have read with interest each new book about the Bahá’í Movement as soon as it came from the press.
As we know she wrote three marvelous articles about these Bahá’í peace Teachings in 1926, and as they were syndicated each article appeared in nearly two hundred newspapers in the United States and Canada. Many millions of people were thrilled to read that a Queen had arisen to promote Bahá’u’lláh’s plan for universal peace. Quickly these articles were translated and published in Europe, China, Japan, Australasia and in the Islands of the seas.
Received in audience by Her Majesty in Pelisor Palace, Sinaia, in 1927, after the passing of His Majesty King Ferdinand, her husband, she graciously gave me an interview, speaking of the Bahá’í Teachings about immortality. She had on her table and on the divan a number of Bahá’í books, for she had just been reading in each of them the Teachings about Life after death. She asked the writer to give her greeting to Shoghi Effendi, to the friends in Írán and to the many American Bahá’ís who she said had been so remarkably kind to her during her trip through the United States the year before. Also, she graciously gave the writer an appreciation of these Bahá’í Teachings in her own hand-writing, for Volume IV. of the “Bahá’í World.”
Meeting the Queen again on January 19, 1928, in the Royal Palace in Belgrade, where she and H.R.H. Princess Ileana were guests of the Queen of Jugoslavia—and they had brought some of their Bahá’í books with them—the words I shall remember longest of all that Her dear Majesty said were these: “The ultimate dream which we shall realize is that the Bahá’í channel of thought has such strength, it will serve little by little to become a light to all those searching for the real expression of Truth.”
Another happy audience was in Her Majesty’s lovely summer palace “Tehna-Yuva,” at Balciĉ, on the Black Sea, in October, 1929. Again in the home of Archduchess Anton at Mödling near Vienna she and her mother received me on August 8, 1932, and in February, 1933, and Her Majesty made this great statement which was used as the frontispiece to “Bahá’í World,” Volume IV.:
Then in the audience in Controceni Palace on February 16, 1934, when Her Majesty was told that the Rumanian translation of “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era” had just been published in Bucharest, she said she was so happy that her people were to have the blessing of reading this precious Teaching.
How beautiful she looked that afternoon—as always—for her loving eyes mirror her mighty spirit; a most unusual Queen is she, a consummate artist, a lover of beauty and wherever she is there is glory. Perhaps too, a Queen is a symbol, people like to have their Queen beautiful and certainly Queen Marie of Rumania is one of the most lovely in this world today. Her clothes, designed by herself, are always a “tout ensemble” creation so harmonious in colors they seem to dress her soul. She received me in her private library where a cheerful fire glowed in the quaint, built-in fireplace; tea was served on a low table, the gold service set being wrought in flowers. There were flowers everywhere, and when she invited me into her bedroom where she went to get the photograph which I like so much, as I saw the noble, majestic proportions of this great chamber with its arched ceiling in Gothic design, I exclaimed in joy, “Your room is truly a temple, a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár!” There were low mounds of hyacinths, flowers which Bahá’u’lláh loved and mentioned often in His Writings; there was a bowl of yellow tulips upon a silken tapestry in yellow gold, a tall deep urn of fragrant white lilacs, and an immense bowl of red roses. Controceni Palace is the most beautiful palace I have seen in any country in the blending of its colors and III its artistic arrangements.
Her Majesty is a writer as well as an artist, and Her Memoirs entitled “The Story of My Life” were just then being published in “The Saturday Evening Post.” She told me she writes two hours every morning unless her time is invaded by queenly duties, charity duties, family duties. She was pleased with the sincere letters that were pouring in from all continents giving appreciations of her story. She told me the American people are so open-hearted and that from the United States children, professors, farmers’ wives and the smart people had written to her, the tone in all their letters revealing Her Majesty’s entire sincerity and the deep humanity of her character. One teacher wrote Her Majesty that in her childhood each one lived through his own childhood: another said, “All who read your story have their own lives stirred!” The Queen remarked, “And this is a very satisfactory criticism for an author.”
A most pleasing letter had just arrived from Japan from a girl there who thanked God Who had allowed her to live in a period in which such a wonderful book had been written! “This,” said the Queen, “is one of the nicest appreciations I have ever heard.”
Then the conversation turned again to the Bahá’í Teachings and she gave a greeting to be sent to Shoghi Effendi in Haifa. Later she mentioned an incident in Hamburg when she was en route to Iceland in the summer of 1933. As she passed through the street, a charming girl tossed a little note to her into the motor car. It was: “I am so happy to see you in Hamburg, because you are a Bahá’í.” Her Majesty remarked that they recognized a Bahá’í and this shows a spirit of unity in the Bahá’í Movement.
Her Majesty said to me, “In my heart I am entirely Bahá’í,” and she sent me this wonderful appreciation: “The Bahá’í Teaching brings peace to the soul and hope to the heart. To those in search of assurance the Words of the Father are as a fountain in the desert after long wandering.”
And now today, February 4, 1936, I have just had another audience with Her Majesty in Controceni Palace, in Bucharest. As I was starting to walk up the wide ivory toned stairs carpeted with blue Iranian rugs to the third floor suites, at that very moment over a radio came the rich strains of the Wedding March from “Lohengrin,” played by an orchestra. It seemed a symbol: the union of spiritual forces of the East and Europe! Again Queen Marie of Rumania received me cordially in her softly lighted library, for the hour was six o’clock. She was gowned in black velvet and wore her great strands of marvelous pearls. The fire in the grate beamed a welcome with its yellow-glowing fragrant pine boughs and large bowls of yellow tulips adorned the apartment.
What a memorable visit it was! She told me she has a friend in ‘Akka, Palestine, who knows Shoghi Effendi and this friend recently has sent her pictures of ‘Akka and Haifa; the two were playfellows when they were children and met in Malta. She also told me that when she was in London she had met a Bahá’í, Lady Blomfield, who had shown her the original Message that Bahá ‘u’llah had sent to her Grandmother Queen Victoria in London. She asked the writer about the progress of the Bahá’í Movement especially in the Balkan countries.
“Since we met two years ago,” said Her Majesty, “so many sad events have happened! I look on with a great deal of sorrow at the way the different peoples seem to misunderstand one another; especially now that I have become very lonely in my home, I have all the more time to think over these problems, and I’m sometimes very sad that I can do so little. However, I know that the right spirit and the right thoughts go a long way towards that unity of hearts which I haven’t given up the hope to see before I pass on.”
She spoke, too, of several Bahá’í books, the depths of “Íqán” and especially of “Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh” which she said was a wonderful book! To quote her own words: “Even doubters would find a powerful strength in it, if they would read it alone and would give their souls time to expand.”
Her Majesty kindly promised to write for “Bahá’í World,” Volume VI, a special appreciation and to send it after four days.
I asked her if I could perhaps speak of the broach which historically is precious to Bahá’ís, and she replied, “Yes, you may.” Once, and it was in 1928, Her dear Majesty had given the writer a gift, a lovely and rare brooch which had been a gift to the Queen from Her Royal Relatives in Russia some years ago. It was two little wings of wrought gold and silver, set with tiny diamond chips and joined together with one large pearl. “Always you are giving gifts to others, and I am going to give you a gift from me,” said the Queen smiling, and she herself clasped it onto my dress. The wings and the pearl made it seem “Lightbearing,” Bahá’í! It was sent the same week to Chicago as a gift to the Bahá’í Temple, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and at the National Bahá’í Convention which was in session that spring, a demur was made-should a gift from the Queen be sold? Should it not be kept as a souvenir of the first Queen who arose to promote the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh? -However, it was sold immediately and the money given to the Temple, for all Bahá’ís were giving to the utmost to forward this mighty structure, the first of its kind in the United States. Mr. Willard Hatch, a Bahá’í of Los Angeles, California, who bought the exquisite brooch, took it to Haifa, Palestine, in 1931 and placed it in the archives on Mt. Carmel where down the ages it will rest with the Bahá’í treasures.
Inadequate as is anyone article to portray Her Majesty Queen Marie of Rumania’! splendid spiritual attitude, still these few glimpses do show that she stands strong for the highest Truth, and as an historical record they will present a little of what the first Queen did for the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
Whether Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í, Haifa makes pilgrims of all who visit her. The place itself makes mystics of us all—for it shuts out the world of materiality with its own characteristic atmosphere and one instantly feels one’s self in a simple and restful cloistral calm. But it is not the characteristic calm of the monastic cloister—it is not so much a shutting out of the world as an opening up of new vistas—I cannot describe it except to say that its influence lacks the mustiness of ascetism, and blends the joy and naturalness of a nature-cult with the ethical seriousness and purpose of a spiritual religion.
Every thing seems to share the custody of the message—the place itself is a physical revelation. I shall never forget my first view of it from the terraces of the shrine. Mount Carmel, already casting shadows, was like a dark green curtain behind us and opposite was a gorgeous crescent of hills so glowing with color—gold, sapphire, amethyst as the sunset colors changed—and in between the mottled emerald of the sea, and the gray-toned house-roofs of Haifa. Almost immediately opposite and picking up the sun’s reflection like polished metal were the ramparts, of Akká, transformed for a few moments from its shabby decay into a citadel of light and beauty. Most shrines concentrate the view upon themselves—this one turns itself into a panorama of inspiring loveliness. It is a fine symbol for a faith that wishes to reconcile the supernatural with the natural, beauty and joy with morality. It is an ideal place for the reconciliation of things that have been artificially and wrongfully put asunder.
The shrine chambers of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are both impressive, but in a unique and almost modern way: richly carpeted, but with austerely undecorated walls and ceilings, and flooded with light, the ante-chambers are simply the means of taking away the melancholy and gruesomeness of death and substituting for them the thought of memory, responsibility and reverence . Through the curtained doorways, the tomb chambers brilliantly lighted create an illusion which defeats even the realization that one is in the presence of a sepulchre. Here without mysticism and supernaturalness, there is dramatically evoked that lesson of the Easter visitation of the tomb, the fine meaning of which Christianity has in such large measure forgotten—”He is not here, He is risen.” That is to say, one is strangely convinced that the death of the greatest teachers is the release of their spirit in the world, and the responsible legacy of their example bequeathed to posterity. Moral ideas find their immortality through the death of their founders.
It was a privilege to see and experience these things. But it was still more of a privilege to stand there with the Guardian of the Cause, and to feel that, accessible and inspiring as it was to all who can come and will come, there was available there for him a constant source of inspiration and vision from which to draw in the accomplishment of his heavy burdens and responsibilities. That thought of communion with ideas and ideals without the mediation of symbols seemed to me the most reassuring and novel feature. For after all the only enlightened symbol of a religious or moral principle is the figure of a personality endowed to perfection with its qualities and necessary attributes. Earnestly renewing this inheritance seemed the constant concern of this gifted personality, and the quiet but insistent lesson of his temperament.
Refreshingly human after this intense experience, was the relaxation of our walk and talk in the gardens. Here the evidences of love, devotion and service were as concrete and as practical and as human as inside the shrines they had been mystical and abstract and super-human. Shogi Effendi is a master of detail as well as of principle, of executive foresight as well as of projective vision. But I have never heard details so redeemed of their natural triviality as when talking to him of the plans for the beautifying and laying out of the terraces and gardens. They were important because they all were meant to dramatize the emotion of the place and quicken the soul even through the senses. It was night in the quick twilight of the east before we had finished the details of inspecting the gardens, and then by the lantern light, the faithful gardener showed us to the austere retreat of the great Expounder of the teaching. It taught me with what purely simple and meager elements a master workman works. It is after all in himself that he finds his message and it is himself that he gives with it to the world.
The household is an industrious beehive of the great work: splendid division of labor but with all-pervading unity of heart. Never have I seen the necessary subordinations of organized service so full of a sense of dignity and essential equality as here. I thought that in the spirit of such devoted co-operation and cheerful self-subordination there was the potential solution of those great problems of class and caste which today so affect society. Labor is dignified through the consciousness of its place and worth to the social scheme, and no Bahá’í worker, however humble, seems unconscious of the dignity and meaning of the whole plan.
Then there was the visit to the Bahjí, the garden spot of the Faith itself and to Akká, now a triumphant prison-shell that to me gave quite the impression one gets from the burst cocoon of the butterfly. Vivid as the realization of cruelty and hardships might be, there was always the triumphant realization here that opposite on the heights of Carmel was enshrined the victory that had survived and conquered and now was irrepressible. The Bahjí was truly oriental, as characteristically so as Mt. Carmel had been cosmopolitan. Here was the eastern vision, full of its mysticism, its poetry, its spirituality. Not only was sombreness lacking, but even seriousness seemed converted into poetry. Surely the cure for the ills of western materialism is here, waiting some more psychological moment for its spread—for its destined mission of uniting in a common mood western and oriental minds.
There is a new light in the world: there must needs come a new day.