March 24, 2015

A gift from Africa for the beloved Guardian

Hand of the Cause John Robarts recalled the following during his pilgrimage in 1955:

Audrey and I had brought a kaross to the Guardian from Bechuanaland [today part of South Africa] -- a mat made from the skin of a springbok, inlaid with designs in other animal skins, black and white. On our first evening we laid it out on the floor beside his chair. It was a lovely thing. He said, "That is beautiful! Beautiful! I shall put it in the mansion."

That was in 1955. He died in 1957, and then the Hands [of the Cause] met for the first conclave in the mansion [of Bahji], just after his funeral. The large conference hall has twelve rooms leading from it, one of which was Ruhiyyih Khanum's bedroom. I searched every room but that one. I told Audrey, "I don't think the Guardian put the kaross in the mansion." She said, "He must have. He said he would. It must be there."

A year later at the second conclave, I again looked for the kaross, and finally asked Ruhiyyih Khanum if Shoghi Effendi had brought it to the mansion. She said, "Yes, indeed he did. Come into my room and see it." There it was on the floor beside his bed. She said, "That was his prayer mat. He loved it." 

Hand of the Cause Mr. Collis Featherstone photographed it for me. I held it in front of me as high as I could reach, and all that can be seen of me are my fingers. How proud that springbok must have been in its exalted state!
(Hand of the Cause John Robarts, ‘A Few Reminiscences about Shoghi Effendi, taken from Pilgrim Notes of January 1955, from the Film Retrospective, and from  Some Other Words of the Beloved Guardian’)