June 14, 2010

How Juliet Thompson heard about the Baha’i Faith

Juliet Thompson, (1873-1956) was a prominent early American Baha’i and artist. She was in Paris where she learned about the Faith and became a Baha'i in 1901. After a few years she settled in New York. In 1909 she went to 'Akka on pilgrimage and met 'Abdu'l-Baha, to whom she became devoted. When He arrived in New York in 1912, she followed Him everywhere and He agreed to allow her to paint His portrait. Juliet wrote a moving story about Mary Magdalen which was published in 1940. She describes here how she first heard about the Faith from Laura Barney – Laura is the believer “whose imperishable service was to collect and transmit to posterity in the form of a book, entitled "Some Answered Questions," 'Abdu'l-Bahá's priceless explanations, covering a wide variety of subjects, given to her in the course of an extended pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 259)

“It was Laura who gave me the Message, bringing to me the greatest of gift in earth and heaven and changing the whole direction of my life. It happened in this way: I had been almost fatally ill and was slowly recovering in Washington when I said one day to my brother, "Coming so close to death makes you think. And I have been thinking lately that it is time for another Messenger of God." The very next day Laura burst in on me, taking me by complete surprise, for I had not heard of her return from Paris. ‘Yesterday, Juliet,’ she said, ‘I was in Bar Harbor. Tomorrow I sail from New York for Palestine. But I couldn't sail without first seeing you to tell you why I am making this pilgrimage. Juliet, the Christ-Spirit is again on earth, and-as before-He is in Palestine.’

“During my illness, the night of the crisis – months before Laura came to me -- I actually saw 'Abdu'l-Baha. In the midst of physical anguish and with darkness closing down on me, I had felt a great pulsation of love from the head of my bed and thought that my mother must be sitting there. I turned and, instead, there sat a Figure built up of light, with a dazzling turban and hair like a flow of light to His shoulders, and with His hands cupped on His knees. Jesus is here, I thought peacefully and glided away into sleep. And when I awoke the crisis was passed. Later my mother said to me: ‘That night of the crisis while I was praying I saw a great Light shining beside your bed.’” 
(Juliet Thompson, The Diary of Juliet Thompson)