October 19, 2011

The experience of accompanying Shoghi Effendi to the Shrines of Baha’u’llah and the Báb -- recollection by Hand of the Cause Ugo Giachery

A few times I had the great blessing of being permitted to accompany Shoghi Effendi to the Shrines of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahji and of the Bab on Mt. Carmel. As we walked along the paths of the gardens, I was very close to him, and there came a feeling I cannot well describe. He walked with much dignity and grace, his fine intelligent face glowing with an inner light; his steps, well-measured and rhythmic, seemed to bring his feet scarcely in contact with the path, as if he feared to disturb the sanctity of the ground on which he trod or to break the harmony all around him. During my lifetime I have met several kings and many great personages in the scientific, political and ecclesiastical worlds, but never have I had the feeling of rapture and bliss that I felt in those unforgettable moments when I was so close to Shoghi Effendi. I could feel that although his body was with us (as on all these occasions a small group of believers was following him), his mind and spirit were rejoicing in the infinite realm of reality where no time, space or human frailties exist. The joy that overcame me on such occasions was as if I had reached the highest pinnacles of freedom and of true immortality. I could have laid down my life then and there without regret or sorrow, so immense was the flow of divine grace that enveloped me.

The first of these occasions was the anniversary of the Birth of the Bab. The few Western Bahá'í men who were in Haifa at the time (spring of 1952) gathered with other male believers of Haifa, 'Akká and Nazareth in the hall of the Eastern Pilgrim House on Mt. Carmel, to await the arrival of the Guardian.[1] When he came we had readings and chanting of prayers in Persian and Arabic, and then he led us to the Shrine. He walked ahead, slowly, with the utmost dignity, his head bent slightly forward in reverence. I received the impression that he was greatly moved by the majestic tranquillity of the surroundings and by the importance of the occasion. I walked after him, joyously, free from pains and cares, breathless as a runner nearing his goal, anticipating the moment when I could prostrate myself at the Holy Threshold of the beloved Báb's Tomb. In the incomparable beauty of the gardens, the outer world had vanished, leaving only a feeling of complete peace and contentment.

In those days the superstructure of the Shrine of the Bab was but half erected; only the colonnade and the octagon were finished, and feverish efforts had been made the previous week to put into place the wrought-iron balustrade of the octagon section for this particular celebration. Shoghi Effendi stood at the door of the Shrine and anointed every one with attar of rose as we passed him. When the last had entered, he came in and prostrated himself, trying to contain his tears which were streaming from his eyes. When he rose, he stood silent for a moment, and then intoned a chant with such sweetness as cannot be expressed in words. His voice rose and fell with varied degrees of tonality, expressing sorrow and joy, exaltation and hope. I became unaware of place and time, transported on the wings of the chant to a remoteness filled with joy, into a stillness of space far above the toil and suffering of man, where I heard the hum of the universe in all its immensity. There and then my soul was eternally linked with Shoghi Effendi, the purest channel between man and eternity, between all the Prophets of God and His children. 
(Ugo Giachery, Shoghi Effendi, Recollections, p. 20)
[1] This Holy Day is celebrated in the Near and Middle East according to the lunar calendar