August 30, 2015

Lending a “shoulder” to ‘Abdu’l-Baha

On one of the occasions when the Master was in New York City in 1912 there were three automobiles awaiting Him and His party to take them from Hotel Ansonia to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Kinney for luncheon. 'Abdu’l-Bahá stepped into the first one with two of the Persian friends. As there was a vacant seat next to Him one of the attendants beckoned John Bosch to come. John later told a friend that:

“As I reached the door, 'Abdu’l-Bahá seized me by the hand and pulled me into the car, seating me at His right. He seemed very tired. Immediately He put His arm around my waist, dropped His head on my left shoulder, and with a deep sigh went to sleep. During the entire hour's drive, while the friends in the automobiles looked at the sights, 'Abdu’l-Bahá slept.” 
(Adapted from ‘In Memoriam’ section of The Baha’i World 1946-1950: ‘John David Bosch’, by Charlotte M. Linfoot)

August 23, 2015

An overwhelming desire to see ‘Abdu’l-Baha...

When the news came that 'Abdu'l-Baha was on the way to America, John Bosch had such an overwhelming desire to see Him he started for New York on April 12, 1912. At Chicago, hearing that 'Abdu'l-Baha was in Washington, he went there instead, only to find that 'Abdu'l-Baha had not yet left New York. So he hurried on to that city, arriving very early on a cold and snowy morning. As soon as he had secured his room in the Hotel Ansonia he stole to 'Abdu'l-Baha's suite and was admitted almost immediately. Relating his experience to a friend, he said:

When I entered the room I had a pocketful of questions to ask 'Abdu'l-Baha, but when I saw Him I suddenly felt quite empty. I never took the questions out. Eventually 'Abdu'l-Baha told me all that I had wanted to ask Him. Foolishly I remarked that I had come three thousand miles to see Him, and He smilingly replied, "I came seven thousand miles to see you." I told Him that I, being a foreigner, had not the capacity of a speaker and that my work so far had been to circulate books and a few pamphlets. 'Abdu'l-Baha said: "You are doing very well; you are doing better than talking. With you it is not words or the movement of the lips; with you it is the heart that speaks. In your presence silence speaks and radiates." Then tea was brought in and after we had both partaken of it 'Abdu'l-Baha said: "You are now one of the family. You may come and go as you please." 
(Adapted from ‘In Memoriam’ section of The Baha’i World 1946-1950: ‘John David Bosch’, by Charlotte M. Linfoot)

August 19, 2015

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to Montreal – Maxwell House

May and Sutherland Maxwell
Ruhiyyih Khanum explains that:

When 'Abdu'l-Baha consented to come to Montreal [in 1912] and arrangements were being made, my father [he wasn’t a Baha’i then] explained to Mother that though He would of course be their guest, he did not want to have the Master in his home but would engage a suite for him at the Windsor Hotel. All his sensitive Scots reticence shrank from the publicity and limelight that would be thrown on him as the host of such an attention-attracting guest as the Persian Prophet and His entourage would constitute. Mother was heartbroken, but she did not remonstrate, realizing perhaps that such things cannot be debated but must arise from the heart. The day before the scheduled arrival of 'Abdu'l-Baha, my father rushed into Mother's room, the largest bedroom, facing the garden and possessing three bay windows, and looking critically at her furniture declared: 'This is not good enough for ‘Abdu’l--Baha, I'm going right down to Morgans to buy a new set', and rushed off and immediately purchased and had delivered a bed, dressing table and chairs in white-painted Louis XV style. One can only imagine how great was her joy that her husband of his own accord should have felt the longing to have the Master under his own roof. He himself met the Master at the train and begged Him to accept the hospitality of his home. 
(Adapted from ‘The Maxwells of Montreal, vol. 1’, by Violette Nakhjavani)

August 10, 2015

The stone that became the “Cornerstone” of the House of Worship in Chicago

When the idea of constructing a Baha’i Temple in America was first proposed in 1903 there were very few Baha’is in the United States and Canada. By 1906 it is estimated that Baha’is resided in approximately 150 cities and that there were twenty-seven Spiritual Assemblies, including one in Honolulu and one in Montreal, Canada.

In preparation for this major undertaking, the Baha’is in various cities began holding meetings to increase support for the Temple, and several communities formed local treasuries to gather money for the project. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá continued to send letters of encouragement, expressing His wish for the friends to be united and supportive of this undertaking.

One Baha'i who made a unique contribution to the Temple project in 1908 was Esther Tobin, known to her friends as Nettie. She was a loving, humble woman who earned a meager living as a seamstress. After her husband's death in Detroit in 1892, she moved to Chicago with her two small sons, brother, and half-sister. Yet once there she could barely support her children; oftentimes she would buy groceries for the evening meal with money she earned during the same day. She had not attended school, which may account for her peculiar habit of using words out of context, a trait that often sent herself and her friends into fits of laughter. Paul Dealy, an early Baha'i, invited her to several Baha'i meetings, including those at the True home. It was in that home that she became a Baha'i, probably in 1903. Shortly thereafter, she was employed by Corinne True as a dressmaker and visited the True home one or two days each week.

Although Nettie Tobin worked actively as a member of the Women's Assembly of Teaching, she was troubled by her financial inability to contribute to the building of the Temple. After praying often that God send her something to offer as a gift, she reportedly heard a voice on several occasions that told her to find a stone. This is what she told her nurse Gertrude Triebwasser three and a half years before her passing:

August 6, 2015

The youthful handsome sage

Bahiyyih Khanum, the daughter of Baha’u’llah, recalled many years later that during their time in Baghdad ‘Abdu’l-Baha “was accustomed to frequent the mosques and have discussions with the religious doctors and learned men. They were astonished at his knowledge and insights, and he came to be known as the youthful sage. They would ask him, ‘Who is your teacher -- where do you learn the things which you say?’ His reply was that his father had taught him. Although he had never been a day in school, he was as proficient in all that was taught as well-educated young men, which was the cause of much remark among those who knew him. In appearance my brother was at this time a remarkably fine-looking youth. He was noted as one of the handsomest men in Baghdad.” 
(Adapted from ‘Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi’ by Myron H. Phelps)