December 31, 2012

This is not an ordinary child, verily this is a precious and darling angel!

Dr. Baghdadi [an intimate of the Holy family who years later wrote a book about the time he spent with the family of Abdu’l-Baha] recounts how, on one of these visits [to Beirut] when Shoghi Effendi, a child of five or six years of age, accompanied his parents, the Greatest Holy Leaf and other members of the family there, he spent most of his time in Dr. Baghdadi's room, looking at the pictures in his medical books and asking questions. It seems Shoghi Effendi wanted to see something actually dissected; he was not satisfied with just pictures. This zeal for knowledge (and no doubt those large eyes, so insistent and intelligent) quite won over the young medical student who had a victim provided - a large wildcat - and proceeded to cut it up in front of Shoghi Effendi, one of his aunts and the servant who had shot it. They watched in absorbed silence. When it was over, and Dr. Baghdadi was asking himself how such a small child could have understood what it was all about, he was astonished to hear Shoghi Effendi recapitulating word for word the salient points of what he had described during his dissection. "I said to myself," Dr. Baghdadi then writes, "this is not an ordinary child, verily this is a precious and darling angel!" As one of Shoghi Effendi's subjects in 1916 was zoology, he must have recalled his first early lesson in anatomy. 
(Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl)

December 26, 2012

Shoghi Effendi’s desire to write even at a very young age

In his recollections of those early years one of the Bahá'ís has written that one day Shoghi Effendi entered the Master's room, took up His pen and tried to write. 'Abdu'l-Bahá drew him to His side, tapped him gently on the shoulder and said "Now is not the time to write, now is the time to play, you will write a lot in the future." Nevertheless the desire of the child to learn led to the formation of classes in the Master's household for the children, taught by an old Persian believer. I know that at one time in his childhood, most likely while he was still living in 'Akká, Shoghi Effendi and other grandchildren were taught by an Italian, who acted as governess or teacher; a grey-haired elderly lady, she came to call shortly after I was married. 
(Ruhiyyih Khanum, 'The Priceless Pearl')

December 20, 2012

Sarah’s Vision of Peace

On a hot June day in the year 1892, a middle-aged woman sat in a crowded lecture hall. Despite the heat, her face looked peaceful as she listened to the speaker talk about the life of the spirit.

Suddenly she grew tense, her expressive brown eyes lighting up with excitement. Drawing a pencil and paper from her purse, she wrote down these words: "Green Acre -- tent on riverbank -- all races -- religions -- music science -- understanding -- peace.''

That evening she told her father what had happened. "I was listening to a lecture, and the noise of traffic almost drowned the speaker's voice. I thought what a glorious thing it would be for poor, tired, struggling humanity to have some spot on earth where our bodies and souls might be refreshed at the same time.

"Suddenly I saw this need and with it how to begin to help. I saw a picture of Green Acre with its acres of beautiful fields and pines and the river with the Inn high above its bank. But instead of a small summer resort, it had become a great center of learning.. .There were all races and creeds there, and happy children and young people ready to learn how to make their lives of value. Peace was the aim of everyone's efforts…" The woman's face glowed with excitement and she continued. "I saw also that in the years ahead the conferences would grow into a school and the school into a university.. . dedicated to man's highest achievements in the arts, sciences, religion, and philosophy. The spiritual principles of the New Day would find their complete expression in the life of Green Acre. This is what you and Mother and I have always been working towards, but we saw only parts of the plan, and now I have seen it all!"