August 15, 2011

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s simple manners and genuine love for children – as recalled by an American pilgrim in the Holy Land

That day -- the fourth of July -- He took us Himself to the Holy Tomb [The resting-place of Baha’u’llah at Bahji near 'Akka] in the morning.

I realize now why the Gospels are written so simply. I find I am only able to state bare facts. But these surely are more eloquent than all human comment on them. Let me give them to you, then --simply.

First, with a father's tender care, He came to the carriage with us and watched us start. At the house in Bahji He joined us -- in a cool, whitewashed room, its door and window-trimmings painted blue, the usual linen-covered divan lining its walls, under three wide windows. . . .

On a table was a single photograph -- Lua's. Our Lord called me to sit by His side; then, pointing to the photograph, said:

"Your friend!"

I got it and placed it on a little table close to His elbow, between the couch where He sat and my own chair. As I did this His face lit up with a smile of heaven.

Tea was brought in -- in the little clear glasses always used in 'Akka – and He served us with His own hands. Then, seating Himself again on the divan, He called the four children who were with us -- two of His own little grandsons (Shoghi Effendi and Ruhi) and the two Kinney boys -- and with a lavish tenderness, a superabundance of overflowing love, such as could only have come from the very Center and Source of Love, He drew all four to His knees, clasped them in His arms, which enclosed them all, gathered and pressed and crushed them to His heart of hearts. Then He set them down on the floor and, rising, Himself brought their tea to them.

Words absolutely fail me when I try to express the divine picture I saw then. With the Christ-love radiating from Him with the intensest sweetness I have yet witnessed, He stooped to the floor Himself to serve the little children – the children of the East and the children of the West. He sat on the floor in their midst, He put sugar into their tea, stirred it and fed it to them, all the while smiling celestially, an infinite tenderness playing on the great Immortal Face like white light. I cannot express it! In a corner sat an old Persian believer, in a state of complete effacement before his Lord, his head bowed, his eyelids lowered, his hands crossed on his breast. Tears were pouring down his cheeks.
(Juliet Thompson, ‘A Glimpse of the Master, from the Diary of Juliet Thomson’, World Order magazine, Fall, 1971)