May 14, 2011

'Abdu'l-Baha arrives at Chicago Baha'i Convention!

'Abdu'l-Baha had been in America less than a month when He took one of most historic actions of His entire journey.

The site of the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, the 'holiest House of Worship ever to be raised in the Name of Baha’u’llah’, was barren land on that chill, windy May day when 'Abdu'l-Baha, with His own hands, laid the comer-stone of that prototype edifice that would sooner or later change the face of human society.

The Baha'is of America were gathered at a Convention in Chicago just preceding that great event. Lua was addressing an assembled crowd of over a thousand. She had just returned from a triumphant teaching tour in California.

Lua's visit to California had been successful beyond all expectation, yet Lua was never fully aware of the influence she had on others. Her heart was always anchored in her love for 'Abdu'l-Baha – results she left to God and to the future.

Her presence in San Francisco in 1911, just preceding 'Abdu'l-Baha's visit to America, had been of great importance to another Baha'i, John Hyde Dunn. He has often told how he sought Lua out on every occasion for a private interview. She gave him generously of her time. No doubt one of Lua's 'inner promptings' told her that this was one of 'Abdu'l-Baha’s 'lost jewels'. Hyde Dunn, with his wife, Clara, would in a few years sail away to the Antipodes and open up the entire continent of Australia to the Baha’i Faith.

John David Bosch, who with his wife, Louise, pioneered to Tahiti and opened those South Pacific Islands to the Cause of God, also made a gift of his beautiful Geyserville, California, property to the Faith. It became one of the first and most influential of the Baha'i summer schools. It continues to function on an ever-expanding scale even until today. Mr Bosch has himself explained that it was the visit of Lua which inspired him to write to 'Abdu'l-Baha and offer his land for the benefit 'of the teachings of Baha'u'llah’.

These were a few of the teaching victories that Lua, the 'mother-teacher of the West', unwittingly brought to Chicago on that historic occasion, to by at the feet of her beloved Master, 'Abdu'l-Baha.

At the exact moment that this 'herald' of the Cause was addressing her fellow-Baha'is in Chicago, the exciting news was announced that 'Abdu'l-Baha had arrived at the Convention!

Imagine, if you are a Christian, the happiness that would have flooded every heart in Rome if, not long after the beginning of Christianity, the Apostle Peter or Paul had appeared in person at a huge gathering of the followers of His Holiness Christ.Then magnify that feeling a thousand fold, for Baha’u’llah, the return of Christ, Founder of the Baha'i Faith, had with His own Pen, in a written Will and Testament, appointed 'Abdu'l-Baha as His Successor, the One to Whom the entire world should turn. There were no doubts. It was a Covenant for all time.

'Abdu'l-Baha, the Son of the Promised One of all religions, was walking in their midst, on the face of the earth, here in Chicago. The moment His blessed countenance appeared in the doorway, a thrill of expectancy electrified the Convention hall.

‘At once, the vast concourse, as one person, arose' in breathless silence as the One Whom they had so long awaited appeared. How many times Lua described that unforgettable moment to her friends. All eyes were on her beloved Master as He slowly made His way towards the front. Tears of joy flowed. His smiling, radiant countenance lifted their hearts into another kingdom. That reverent hush was broken only by the soft, whispered prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving, and here and there a sob, torn from the depths of hearts which had longed so earnestly to witness this moment, but despaired of ever living to see it.

But it was true! He was here among them! 'Abdu'l-Baha! The Master! The Mystery of God! The Son of Baha'u'llah!

They knew that such a moment would never come to them again

No other Baha'i Convention in the glorious future history of His Father's Faith would ever share the presence of 'Abdu’l-Baha, the Centre of Baha’u’llah’s Mighty Covenant with mankind. It was indeed a moment unique, precious, history-making. At long last ‘Abdu’l-Baha faced His dearly loved followers in the West and spoke words of encouragement and inspiration. He told them about the great significance of the Temple whose foundation-stone was to be placed the followiag day. 'Abdu'l-Baha told them that this edifice 'was founded for the unification of mankind . . .'.

It is doubtful if many were able to take in His words until they read them later. Their heats were too full of the majesty and magic of His presence among them. Words did not matter. It was the heart and soul that understood the joy and wonder of it all.

The spirit of that hour was captured by the chorus as it sang in joyous harmony of the 'Great Day of God'.

The following day, Baha’is from all over America gathered in Wilmette on the site of the future Temple, a Temple which would be the most holy House of Worship ever to be raised in the Name of Baha'u’llah.

Lua was there on that occasion and heard the beloved Master say:

'The power which has gathered you here today notwithstanding the cold and windy weather is indeed mighty and wondeful. It is the power of God, the divine favor of Baha’u’llah [Glory of God] which has drawn you together.'

'Abdu'l-Baha predicted that out of this temple thousands of other temples would be born in all parts of the world, but that this House of Worship would be the mother of them all.

‘It marks’, He has written, ‘the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth.’

What a blessing for Lua and that relatively small group of Baha'is to be present on that memorable occasion with 'Abdu'l-Baha, to see and participate in the very earliest beginnings of the Christ promised Kingdom of God on earth.

'Abdu'l-Baha called upon the people of the various races and nationalities who were there to participate and turn a bit of soil on behalf of their own people. Finally, at the end, 'Abdu'l-Baha set the stone in place on behalf of all the peoples of the world, and the Mother Temple was born.

To the Baha’is assembled on that occasion, relatively few in number, with very limited resources, 'Abdu'l-Baha said, 'Make a beginning and all will come well.' Their task was to raise up a Mother Temple, and to conquer the world with the sword of Baha’u’llah's Teachings.

‘In the unseen world,’ He said, ‘the Temple is already built.’

(William Sears and Robert Quigley, ‘The Flame, the story of Lua')